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Review: Doctor Who – The Christmas Invasion

The Invasion Reviewed!

Doctor Who: The Christmas Invasion

We present our review of Doctor Who's Christmas Special!

Doctor Who's The Christmas Invasion is upon us, with murderous Santas, spinning Christmas trees and a full-scale alien invasion heralding the arrival of David Tennant's Tenth Doctor. Most of the overtly Christmassy elements appear in the first half of the story, as the vanguard of an alien invasion force dons various festive disguises to attack the Doctor's companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper); the arrival of the Sycorax invasion force – in scenes redolent of Independence Day – sees Rose attempting to take over the Doctor's heroic role, with the Time Lord himself stuck in bed in a post-regenerative funk. Later on, the more obvious Christmas trappings vanish in favour of more subtle (though equally seasonal) themes of peace and rebirth; there are a few none-too-subtle jibes at the British government's foreign policy in there too, as Prime Minister Harriet Jones refuses to kow-tow to American demands to attack the alien spaceship. In retrospect, the Americans might've been right; the Sycorax are a savage bunch, given to trials by combat and indiscriminate murder, and poor Rose isn't really up to the task of taking them on without the Doctor's help.

Fortunately, he’s revived at the last minute and steps into action to defeat the bad guys (clearly this Doctor has a finely-developed sense of dramatic timing). Tennant leaps into the role of the Doctor with gusto, effortlessly stealing the show in the few scenes where he's conscious; it feels like he's always been the Doctor by the end of the episode. Oddly – given that Russell T Davies has said that he tends to write for 'the Doctor' rather than 'the Tenth Doctor' – there's a little bit of self-aware "what sort of man am I?" bumph when the Time Lord first arrives on the scene, though Tennant plays up the differences, delivering a spikier, more ruthless character than Christopher Eccleston's Ninth incarnation, with a nice line in righteous moral indignation.

It's hard to believe the Christmas Special only lasts an hour; it manages to pack a feature film's worth of incident into its short running time, with visuals to match. There are one or two moments when the effects waver a little, but on the whole, this blockbuster TV movie is a worthy substitute for the traditional Christmas film – certainly, the sight of the Sycorax battleship looming over Nelson's column easily beats watching yet another bloody wedding in Albert Square…

by Stephen Graves

Read our exclusive interview with The Christmas Invasion director James Hawes in
TV Zone #197

Doctor Who ©BBC
Review © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone #197, see below for ordering options
TV Zone #197
January 2006
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