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THE CHRISTMAS INVASION
Just come from watching this story for the 17th time or so and I must say its lost NONE of its vision, none of its energy, none of its warmth and action. It's just perfect! Really. It's a brilliant idea to have the Doctor sick and in bed for most of the story and David is terrific in bed and out! Rose takes us through the vantage point of her story but she sort of gives up and the focal point becomes not just Rose but Mickey, Jackie and Harriet Jones. We see this adventure through their eyes. I also have to admit that I just love Adam Garcia who plays the aide to the PM. He does what he can with a bit part and he's great, too. I wish he could have become a companion of some kind. I also have to say that I don't find the Harriet Jones joke, "I know who you are," funny but at the time and even now I take it as a stroke of her down to Earth, unintimidating nature. And it works from that viewpoint, that she's not on some high horse. And in the context of JOURNEY'S END, I also can't be that mad at her for her betrayal at the end of this story when she orders TORCHWOOD to fire on the Sycorax ship and destroy it...yet the message they might have brought back was that the Earth was defended. On TORCHWOOD, if they can destroy the ship like this why couldn't they destroy the pot smoking aliens in the awful CHILDREN OF EARTH story? They certainly went down twenty notches in strength from 2005 to 2009.
Anyway, the entire opening is just terrific. The CHILDREN IN NEED special is just great, oh and a word about the DVD RELEASES: don't bother. Try to get them off the TV because the DVD releases change the music, change the order of the scenes, don't have DVD text info, and just all around suck. The only good thing the DVDs have is the outtakes and the deleted scenes and possibly behind the scenes stuff. They are not even good for DOCTOR WHO CONFIDENTIAL because they cut those down from what they were too. SO if you only care about the actual show, it's best seen from off air versions. The CHILDREN IN NEED special on the DVD is edited, and the music is less effective and different AND there no TARDIS sound effects inside and the cloister bell doesn't ring! it does ring in the on air version. Anyway Billie and David are spot on perfect in this scene, Rose's shakiness at a new Doctor just magnficent and the repurcussions of that just marvelous. We really didn't get that with ROBOT much or CASTROVALVA. FOrtunately we got a companion trying to adjust in TWIN DILEMMA but here, with a great big alien invasion, Rose just can't cope and she's not the big shot she thought she was (although that changes in NEW EARTH and TOOTH AND CLAW where she's just so annoyingly coy and gushing that it makes one want to throw up--doesn't she ever learn and become humble?) and she can't cope throughout, really giving up on the Doctor. On top of that the Doctor changed because he wanted to SAVE YOUR LIFE, you dumb bimbo. Didn't she know that or did she forget all that? Maybe she didn't realize that is what happened.
Noel Clarke is just great, and to me he's like a companion already and when will he get the chance to travel via TARDIS? Jackie's also great and she's just about a companion, staying up at the Doctor's bedside, wishing him well, noticing he hasn't changed that much when he tells her that all he needs is for her to shut up, and falling asleep at vigil at his bedside, her head on his bed. She's just great and her realness is conveyed via the food thing, the holiday fetish, and the being on the phone. Here, the alien invasion is tempered with Christmas and with everyday life and the apartment again and the people in it. The emotionality of the whole thing hits home: people on the roof ready to jump, the man who blames himself because he put a vial of blood on a Space Faring Satellite that the aliens use to control A positive blood types. Not one scene is wasted or silly or stupid. Life goes on even after the Sycorax ship is destroyed as we see with Christmas (?) dinner (or has some time gone by since the ship was destroyed? Could it be a day or so later than Christmas or has Harriet's government been brought down in half a day?). The timing might be wrong or maybe it's New Year's Day but the implication is it is the same night AND that it's a day or so later...so who knows? Maybe things are not perfect and I"m sure that DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE article in the special on this story/season tells us the chronology of it but it doesn't matter so much. The ideas are spot on, the setting of "snow" falling, it's really ash, is nice bit and Rose's reconciliation with the Doctor, moving on from Mickey again is just very nice. Mickey seems to finally get the hint. Jackie is still worried but this Doctor and she seem to have a better working relationship. He even hugs her, bringing it on himself by opening his arms to her. "Speaking of trouble."
THE MUSIC IS JUST WONDERFUL!
David is very Tom Baker throughout, even putting on a scarf in the welcome "try on clothes scene". That's not a criticism, he wears Tom Bakerisms well and does a great job. His sword fighting scenes are brilliant and his power just shines through from the moment he steps out of the Tardis doors to the end. In fact, his scenes when he destroys the attacking Christmas Tree (brilliant bit that with Jackie screaming, "I'm gonna get killed by a Christmas tree!") are powerful, too. Love that Mickey is brave as all get go, facing down the Tree, running from the brass band ("go shopping with you and get attacked by a brass band!), dropping the tea which saves the Doctor (and which Jackie was trying to say might help all along), closing the TARDIS doors, and trying to save Rose while being held by a Sycorax. He and Jackie both try to keep Rose from turning miserable (and they almost succeed) when she's given up ("Mom, take a look in the sky --there's a great big alien invasion and I don't know what to do. I've seen all that stuff with him but when I'm stuck at home, I'm useless and all we can do is run and hide and I'm sorry!"). Without Jackie and Mickey or characters and actors like the actors who play them this story would seem very hopelesss and terrible indeed and maybe that's why the special suck so much, they are missing people like this and there is little to no continuity with that universe or the characters' backgrounds and we care very little for them and have no invested history with them. With Jackie and Mickey and Harriet we do. Love teh Britishness of having a picnic when the end of the world is coming as Mickey comments about.
The Sycorax are at first suitably alien and very scary. They're very OUTER LIMITS like in their disguises and in a good way. The alien spaceship over London emulates the 8th Doctor novel THE DYING DAYS with the Ice Warriors but it works better here to be honest but I like THE DYING DAYS. Oh and during DYING DAYS, the Doctor is laid up for a bit just like here. Although that Doctor saved a cat, something this Doctor might not do (but should, just because David doesn't like animals, doesn't mean the Doctor shouldn't). Another stolen bit is the whole SUPERMAN 2 thing. Harriet's plea is just like the President's plea in that movie. Similarly, although circumstances are different, SUPERMAN is sidelined by not really being SUPERMAN. Here, the 10th Doctor might as well have turned human when at one point Rose tells Jackie that only one of his hearts is beating. In addition, the Sycorax, WONDERFULLY made up and designed and costumed, resemble the ideas of Klingons, only perhaps better brought to the screen. Still, if you're going to steal, steal from the best and these four sources are some of the best. I'm also sure I heard of blood control someplace else too but enough of that. The thing is RTD knows, here at least, what to do with all these sources.
Love the sword fight and the Doctor's attitude seems positively happy "Cheers, big fella" until he's betrayed and double crossed by the losing commander. Like the no second chances thing but that could get tedious and not fit into the Doctor's character at all but I think by and large they do/did a great job with that all the way through to recent specials (as much as I hate those specials and even in JOURNEY'S END he puts his hand out to Davros to save him and in DOOMSDAY in a cut scene, he offers the Cyberleader a chance to leave and talk in the TARDIS).
THE CHRISMAS INVASION is one of DW's shining moments and perhaps the best way to regenerate a Doctor. It's certainly one of the best, if not the best, regeneration story to date. And I doubt it shall ever be topped. David, Noel, Billie, and the rest of large cast do a great job. Thanks!