2MTL 181: "A Christmas Carol" Reviewed

It was certainly a Christmasy Christmas special Steven Moffat provided us this year, although it DID bear a few resemblances to one from a few years ago. Here's my take on "A Christmas Carol." Many, many thanks to BBC America, Worldwide, and the mothership in Cardiff for bringing the show to the U.S. on the original trasmission date!

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  1. Well, Chip, I liked it a lot more than you did — but, then again, I'm a new Whovian who has not yet seen "Voyage of the Damned," so maybe "A Christmas Carol" will suffer by comparison once I see it. There have been moments, in the "catch-up" viewing I started once "The Big Bang" premiered, where my awe and wonder at some of the show's elements have been ever so slightly diminished by realizing, "Oh, they had already done that…" On the other hand, I will always memories of the pleasant, uninformed first reactions I had to such episodes as "The Beast Below" to make them special to me. What does that t-shirt say, "You Never Forget your First Doctor" — even if, perhaps, there are some cases of "Oh, strange new world!" / "Tis new to thee" along the way?

    I have to admit, I didn't catch on to the "disturbing subtext" you did for Abigail's predicament — but, as you allowed, this is a fairy tale, so it is no more disturbing than, say, Sleeping Beauty spending most of her time encased in glass, unconscious, waiting for her prince to come. And at least *this* sleeping beauty gets to save the world with a song, a wonderful moment (even if I thought that song was the weakest in the episode — I wish they had gone with one of the lovely, quintessentially British carols used throughout the rest of the episode) and very fitting for "Doctor Who," a show all about saving the world in unconventional and often very lovely ways. I didn't understand the "technobabble" behind it, but it was lovely all the same.

    I couldn't tell whether you thought the abuse of young Kazran was a bridge too far or not. I appreciated the honesty and the fact that the show didn't shy away from it (or, in fact, actually depict the blows – did they?) — it made Gambon's character far more real (more real than even Ebenezer Scrooge), and gave me a lot of sympathy for him (and made me that much more glad that the Doctor was in his life). But perhaps I'd feel differently had that issue affected me personally, much as, I gather, reaction to "Vincent and the Doctor" depended a large degree to one's personal experience with chronic depression.

    Anyway, thanks for your review and your great podcast. Any chance you'll spend two minutes on your initial impressions of the series six trailer?

  2. Hello – I am an off/on listener of your podcast. I like the briefness of your commentary and I do admire another nuWho fan that is in the US.

    I did not agree with your commentary about "The Christmas Carol". I did catch your podcast about Season 5 overall so I do know your opinoin about the new arc/theme. Somehow the friends at my work are also Tenth Doctor fans as well.

    THe Christmas Carol is a fairy tale as the above commentator wrote. I think the "dangerous subtext" about abusing children and the woman's situation was a part of the fairy tale. The former is key within the motif of the fairy tale because that's how the resolution begins. For example, in Hansel & Gretel, there is child neglect by the stepmother. The conflict then comes in Hansel & Gretel finding their way outside of the dark wood. In fact the other famous story, Little Red Riding Hood, also incorporates this theme of child neglect. There is always a way out of that neglect in the genre of a fair tale, and in the case of "The Christmas Carol" this achieves two things; the saving of the space ship falling down and the saving of M.Gambon's character from being an evil guy.

    Yes, there was the problem of the Doctor being a manipulator, but then again the Doctor has done this in several instances. In "The Waters of Mars", he manipulates time in order to save the space station commander for his own conscience. In a way, this Doctor embraces youth, but drags the problem of being an old man at the same time.

    For the other Christmas specials – they were a bit grand. In "Voyage of the Dammed", there was the focus of the Doctor being a pious man, and helped by the angels. The catch here is to save a life not so much of a holistic approach with the chosen crew in the Voyage of the Dammed slowly falling away. I think at the end, the space-ship Titanic only had a midshipmen left or something.

    But then this is my .02. Please keep up with the podcast and it's nice to hear other's opinion on a same topic.

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