Yes, I know it was a few days ago now but I’m still recovering from the trauma. My kids are too. They found the mawkishness so excruciating they had to hide behind the sofa. Just why was this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special so painfully bad?
The easy answer is to blame Steven Moffat. He, after all, is the series producer and he did bash out this particular episode. But I personally think the rot goes much deeper than that. Moffat, remember, is perfectly capable of writing a properly scary, weird, well-crafted Doctor Who episode: viz, the Weeping Angels, one of the greatest ever. But he is operating within a culture of grotesque decadence and complacency. Like some bloated, pox-ridden Mughal Emperor, the whole Doctor Who enterprise has long since grown so delighted with its own charm, wit and quirkiness that it has abandoned all its self-critical faculties. Pampered, cherished and indulged by the BBC, virtually guaranteed decent ratings, Doctor Who now thinks it’s so big and clever it has no need to follow the conventional rules of dramatic entertainment like, say, having a half-way comprehensible plot or coherent characters or a narrative structure. Instead it has become a tedious cycle of mild peril interspersed with escapist whimsy and lots and lots of immensely-pleased-with-themselves in-jokes.
Matt Smith hasn’t helped. His Who makes everything seem so easy you really wonder why you bother watching because you know whatever trouble he gets into – *brief furrowed brow moment* – is very swiftly going to be followed by some fly remark and cavalier trick pulled out of the hat which resolves the problem in a trice. His latest assistant, Clara, is – remarkably – more annoying still. Yes, she’s hot – as many of Doctor Who’s assistants have been of late. But surely the most important requirement of a Doctor Who assistant is not that they act as eye candy for dirty old Dads like me, nor provide chaste love interest for the Doctor, but rather that they get into deep trouble and require rescuing.
Yeah, OK, so it may be very post-modern and PC and Grlll Power, and all, that to have female assistants who are, like, bold, and sassy and totally unflappable in all situations. But where exactly is the drama in that, let alone the plausibility? Clara (at least to judge by her accent and dress sense – though, unaccountably, she lives in what looks very much like a fairly rough council block) is a middle class human girl who – unlike a Time Lord who has travelled through millennia’s worth of space – probably hasn’t grown up seeing Daleks, Cybermen etc as a routine part of her life. Yet not once – in the Doctor Who Christmas Special at least – did Clara display any noticeable perturbation at the divers monstery horrors she witnessed. Well, certainly no more concern that you’d show, say, if you’d gone to Waitrose to buy some eggs and realised they were completely out of Burford Buffs with the extra-delicious, extra-yellow yolks.
And we haven’t even got to the prevailing sentimentality yet. OK, so it didn’t quite reach Song of the Oud levels of dripping mawkishness, but for about a decade now – I blame Russell T Davies for starting this trend – your typical Christmas Doctor Who episode has been so sodden with cheap, easy-won, spray-on heightened emotion it makes the Death of Little Nell look grittier than the ear-removal scene in Reservoir Dogs. This one was no exception.
READ MORE: telegraph.co.uk
This is an article from the telegraph.co.uk that has been brought to your attention By the Doctor Who Hub
How do you feel about The Time of the Doctor Christmas special?