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Doctor Who Christmas Special 2012 - dorsetgirl
December 27th, 2012
03:02 am
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Doctor Who Christmas Special 2012

So - Doctor Who Christmas Special; centrepiece of the Christmas schedule. Not anyone's finest hour, I think.

I was very happy to see Vastra and Jenny, but not that sold on the rest of the story. In fact there were several bits (can't remember which, of course), which I thought were seriously clunky writing. I know there was one conversation where I sat thinking "For Christ's sake, couldn't you at least try to make it not look like an info-dump?" Some of the dialogue was terrible, and the scene "establishing" Clara as a barmaid was so truncated as to be actually taking the piss imo.

My thirteen-year-old kept sitting there saying "This is so boring," and I couldn't disagree. Russell used to write the occasional story that would bore the kids and I would think, "Yes, I can see why a child might be bored at this point, but for me this is perfect". Not so Steven, unfortunately.

I spent quite a lot of the hour thinking it was a stupid idea to use a Christmas Special to introduce a new companion. Too much establishing to be done, not enough story. It wasn't until the next day that I remembered that Russell had had no choice but to use his first Christmas Special to introduce a new Doctor, and even though I never took to Ten, that story was brilliant. I think Moffat gets too hung up on plot for my taste and forgets about character and depth, and worst of all, he doesn't write emotion.

I do remember seeing a comment years ago to the effect that he does write emotion, but he tangles it up in the plot where some people simply can't access it. I think I must be one of those people, because during Russell's tenure I would regularly be reduced to tears, or moved to great joy or simply jolted into awareness of the undercurrents in various relationships. (Like Ida, in The Satan Pit - "the scientist, still running from Daddy" / "the things that men do"; just little things in passing that instantly give you a view of a character as a whole person, with a lifetime of experience behind them). Either Moffat just doesn't do that, or I am consistently missing it.

I thought the mystery at the end of the Snowman thing was quite interesting, but unfortunately I'd spent most of the death scene thinking "Yeah, OK, she's the new companion, obviously she's not going to die so can we please just move along?" It should have been utterly transfixing that she actually did die, but I'd just got bored by that stage.

My kids hated Amy and Rory, and they hate Matt's Doctor, so I'm not entirely sure what keeps them watching nowadays. I loved Rory, and I like Eleven far more than I ever liked Ten, but I wasn't too keen on Amy and I found the whole River Song thing just tedious at the time. Of course, after it's all over and you realise how clever it was, I suppose it would be quite good to go back and watch those episodes again, but I don't think it's ever going to happen. Moffat seems to like the whole "Wait until you've seen it all and then it will make sense" business, but I'm a simple-minded soul, I want to enjoy each episode on its own merits, not by remembering fifty tiny details to check off in a year's time.

It's all a far cry from Series One: the kids and I would watch each episode, totally spell-bound, and then we would immediately rewind the tape and watch it again; sometimes we'd even watch a third time straight after. And then I would watch again on Monday morning, sometimes twice in a row, partly so that I could lust after Chris in private, but mainly to lose myself in the richness of the story-telling and the depth of emotion. "Emergency Program One" in The Parting of the Ways was heartbreaking - in fact the whole episode was a complete roller-coaster. I remember feeling completely exhausted by the end of it. I truly long for a return to the kind of total immersion I felt in Father's Day and Parting of the Ways. Even Boomtown had moments of great poignancy, such as when you realise that you've never before seen the Doctor just sitting chatting and laughing in a café.

I've been waiting for - what? three years now? - it feels like forever, for a return to the glory days. This Christmas Special wasn't it.

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(4 comments | Leave a comment)

Date:December 27th, 2012 11:43 am (UTC)
It's interesting to hear your viewpoint - particularly the point you make about emotion - for me (and it's such a personal thing) I didn't like how emotionally affecting Russell's stuff was, I didn't enjoy being 'upset' and so I prefer the arguably more distanced Moffat. That said, whilst I liked Amy, she still wasn't my favourite and my favourite modern Doctor is still 9 and I think always will be. It will be interesting to see where they go in the new series given that the Amy arc tied into the first sight of Eleven and has carried all the eps so far...
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Date:December 27th, 2012 11:27 pm (UTC)
Not just me then - if I read this right, you too find Moffat's stuff emotionally more sterile than Russell's. Obviously whether one thinks that's good or not is another matter, but for me I hardly ever watch tv and I want to get full value when I do! Feeling all the emotions is what kept me watching Chris's Doctor and is probably why I don't watch much else - I just don't get engaged enough to want to spend my time watching. In fact, I'm not sure I've watched more than an hour or two of television since the end of Ashes to Ashes, apart from Doctor Who.

my favourite modern Doctor is still 9 and I think always will be

Me too, definitely. Yes, I do know it's only fiction, but I honestly loved that man.
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Date:December 27th, 2012 05:25 pm (UTC)
I find I often don't appreciate the Christmas episodes properly on first viewing. It's only on rewatching that I catch little nuances and moments that I missed first time.

At Christmas there's the distraction of other people around, when normally I watch alone. And one is stuffed with food with a couple of glasses of wine on top of that and just staying awake can be a challenge. Plus it's usually the only thing on Christmas Day I actually want to watch, so it's not a case of thinking 'well that's over, now what's on next' and moving on.
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Date:December 27th, 2012 11:33 pm (UTC)
I think it was the only programme we all watched on Christmas Day, too. I did insist on watching Call the Midwife, though, which cleared the room quite satisfactorily!

Perhaps I'll watch again - if I remember before it disappears off the iPlayer. The old VHS doesn't work, BBC DVDs cost far too much and I haven't yet got round to thinking about one of these new hard-disk recorders! I accept that it's easier nowadays to watch several times, but personally, I think that a programme should work at the first viewing - it's a bit difficult to find the motivation to watch something a second time if it was boring the first time. Or perhaps I'm just lazy.
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