25 December 2008

Bravo, Doctor!

It's always tough when you build something up and then have to wait to see whether the finished article lives up to its own hype... and a prime example was laid before us on Christmas Day, with the latest 'Doctor Who' Christmas special. We've had some quite gripping specials in the past few years ... and at least one which completely failed to grab my attention, so which would it be for 2008? The hype began as far back as November, with a three-minute teaser aired as part of the Children In Need programming. The promise of multiple Doctors peaked our interest, but would it be enough to carry the BBC One Christmas night schedule?

Having seen the show this evening, which successfully interwove Victorian Christmas imagery with Cybermen, a funeral scene and a hot air balloon, and topped it off with 'steampunk' references (a sub-genre of SF that I particularly like), I found it most entertaining. Yes, the promise of the appearance of the 'Next Doctor' was the carrot that was dangled quite effectively. I won't reveal how that works itself out - for those who haven't watched the show yet. We do also get images of all the Doctors (Classic and new series) - an important milestone.

However, did this hour-long entertainment present us finally with a moral? Tonight's show seemed to be centred on emotions, from the fearsome threat of the robotic Cybermen, through to a very personal trauma of a father who loses his wife and family, and eventually his identity. Throughout the tale we are working alongside the Doctor, who aims once again to help. The father learns he can find the hero within himself, and not by pretending to be someone he is not. At the conclusion of the adventure, we find our cast are brought together around a Christmas dinner table. And, for once, that even includes our lonely Time Lord.

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