After what feels like forever (mainly because slogging through the sixth season of Dexter was a pain), I am back onboard the TARDIS to adventure through time and space with my favorite Time Lord and his two newly married companions. Seriously though, Season 5 of Doctor Who was without question, the single best season of the new series to date (I can’t comment on the quality of the old series cause I’ve never watched it). None of the other seasons even came close to matching just how good it was. There was only one episode in the entire season that I didn’t pretty much completely love (the first one involving the lizard people below the Earth’s surface). If the Christmas special for this sixth season is going to be any indication, this season of Doctor Who could be even better (and I’ve already seen the official season premiere, “The Impossible Astronaut,” and it is amazing). I normally don’t like the series Christmas specials at all, but this wasn’t just easily one of the best Christmas specials of the whole show, it’s also easily a top ten episode of the entire new series.
A spaceship where Amy and Rory are celebrating their honeymoon (and apparently indulging in sexual roleplaying games that involve Amy’s kissogram cop outfit and Rory’s Roman centurion uniform) suddenly begins to crash into the atmosphere of an unnamed planet (I think they never said its name. The Doctor isn’t on the same ship as them but regardless, he somehow knows to show up in the nick of time to save them. The only way to save them is to convince an unpleasant business man (who keeps human beings frozen as collateral against loans) to use his machinery which controls the atmosphere of the planet (because this planets cloud cover is home to flying fishes and sharks [it’s cooler than it sounds. i swear]). However, Kazran Sardick (Harry Potter‘s Michael Gambon, aka Albus “Motherf***ing” Dumbledore) is a regular Ebenezer Scrooge and can’t be bothered to save the 4000 people who might die on that ship. When Kazran nearly strikes a child but at the last moment decides not to, the Doctor realizes there’s more than meets the eye here. Breaking his own rules about rewriting time, the Doctor jumps back to Kazran’s childhood to try and befriend this scared, lonely child so he wouldn’t become a bitter, angry old man. I don’t want to spoil anything about the episode but needless to say it’s a thrilling and incredibly emotional tearjerker that pays homage to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol while still managing to come up with plenty of original material.
This episode reminded me of how stale and unimaginative every single Russel T. Davies Christmas special was (with the possible exception of the original one, which I only look back fondly on because it introduced me to David Tennant). It seems like Stephen Moffat is taking the easy way out by making a sci-fi adaptation of a beloved Christmas story, and then he makes it a heartbreaking meditation on time-travel, loss, and sacrifice that recalls my favorite episode of the entire series, Moffat’s earlier “The Girl in the Fireplace.” There are things I can’t talk about concerning the episode’s plot without feeling like I’m ruining things, so I just want to say that the episode made me cry like a little schoolgirl and for a nominally science-fiction children’s show, that’s always an accomplishment. It’s especially impressive since the tears weren’t shed for characters that I’ve become attached to for an entire season(s) like a Companion or a form of the Doctor, but instead it was about a simple love story between two characters I’ve only gotten to know for an hour. That’s Steven Moffat in a nutshell. He turns sci-fi conventions on their head and places emotionally impactful storytelling ahead of genre staples.
Like I seem to be saying with every review I’ve written so far today (this is number three), I could probably write a lot more, but I still have to write a review for two episodes of Justified so that I am finally completely caught up with my blogging. That will be a massive weight off my shoulder. Especially so I can sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of my weekend. I’m going to a concert tomorrow and then hanging out with a friend afterwards. I really don’t want to spend the rest of this awesome weekend wondering if I have any blogging left do. One of the reasons I started this blog is because I didn’t have a real social life so I needed some constructive way to direct my free time. Suddenly, I actually have friends again and I live in a city where there is a never ending supply of fun things for me to do. I’d apologize for my blog suffering, but I do this work for me, and I’ve never been happier than I have these last two months (and especially these last two or three weeks).
Final Score: A