Review: Doctor Who Christmas special delights Special

Posted Dec 26, 2015 by Tim Sandle
This year's Doctor Who Christmas special served up plenty of action and the probable final meeting between the Doctor and the character River Song. Warning: this review contains spoilers.
A promotional image for The Husbands of River Song  the Doctor Who 2015 Christmas Special.
A promotional image for The Husbands of River Song, the Doctor Who 2015 Christmas Special.
The Husbands of River Song was the eleventh Doctor Who Christmas special (since the series was revived in 2005) and the twelfth overall (only once, back in 1965, had the series in its original run been broadcast on Christmas Day.) No Doctor Who Christmas special has, on the face of it, been particularly brilliant when compared with the episodes that make-up the core television series. However, many have proved entertaining and this year's contribution was equally as exhilarating and frenetic as some that have gone before.
Doctor Who is incredibly popular in the U.K., as well as Australia, Canada, and U.S. However, it was a bold move to reintroduce the character of River Song (otherwise the Doctor's wife) to an edition aimed more at a general audience than simply one comprised of devotees. River Song has appeared in many episodes since 2008. However, this is in a complicated fashion as her timeline runs in a different direction to that of the Doctor's (backwards from the Doctor's perspective.)
River Song is portrayed with tremendous energy and energy by the actor Alex (Alexandria) Kingston. If this is to be her final appearance, she couldn't have gone out better. The Doctor too, is in fine form. Played by Peter Capaldi, the opening moments where the Doctor grumbles about Christmas are delightful. A note stuck to the TARDIS states "Carol singers will be criticised." The interaction and dialogue, penned by showrunner Steven Moffat, between the Doctor and River Song is delightful.
The main story — jewel heist plot — provides the backdrop. Where the stops lags a bit is with the villain, a head-swapping overlord called King Hydroflax. The use of two comedians, Matt Lucas and Greg Davies, grates after a while as their pained attempts to be comical irritates after successive appearances. The funniest moment comes from Capaldi, when he enters the TARDIS and acts as if he doesn't know what it is: "Sorry. I’ve always wanted to see that done properly…”
However, there are some good action scenes. The Doctor is mooted to eaten; an intergalactic cruiser, full of the worst of criminals, gets set to crash into a planet; and a new way of reacting to the expression "off with their heads" is played out finely.The only letdown is the idea of a floating cruise ship strays into the same territory as the 2007 episode Voyage Of The Damned.
If anything, the episode is about the fourth dimensional romance between the Doctor and River. They finally get their night together — one lasting 24 years — beneath the Singing Towers of Darillium. The idea is that this episode feeds into River's first appearance, in 2008's double-episode Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead.
A solid episode for Christmas. Digital Journal rating: 3 out of 5.