A review by Nalini Haynes
- Director: James Hawes
- Writer: Russell T. Davies
- Stars: David Tennant, Billie Piper, Camille Coduri
The ‘Christmas Invasion’ is the first of the Christmas specials in New Who but the second Christmas story: ‘Unquiet Dead‘ is also set on Christmas Eve. This review refers to the end of ‘Parting of the Ways’, you have been warned!
At the close of the previous episode, the Doctor (Eccleston), kissed Rose to transfer the Time Vortex to himself, saving Rose from certain death. After returning the Time Vortex to the TARDIS, the Doctor begins to regenerate… turning into David Tennant.
The Doctor barely had time to explain to Rose before he transitioned and then collapsed. In the ‘Christmas Invasion’, he wanders outside the TARDIS – parked near Rose’s mum’s house – still dressed like the previous doctor before collapsing. Rose then emerges to find her mum and Mickey wondering who the Tennant Doctor is, before helping Rose carry him back to Rose’s mum’s flat.
After settling the Doctor in men’s pajamas and the spare bed, Rose and Mickey venture to the shops to buy Rose’s mum a Christmas gift. Shades of the New Who pilot emerge when Santas in plastic-looking masks start shooting at Rose and Mickey.
Later a Christmas tree goes berserk.
When aliens contact Earth via television, Harriet Jones, Prime Minister, asks for the Doctor. UNIT serves Harriet although not particularly successfully.
The Doctor strolls around, Arthur Dent-like, in his dressing gown for most of this episode. Towards the end, he even makes a comment relating himself to the Hitchhiker’s Guide character, just for those who missed the visual reference.
Harriet’s mannerisms, strongly evocative of her as back-bencher in ‘Aliens of London’ (season 1, episode 3), are cute if overdone. She seems uncomfortable in her role as prime minister, almost as if the writer doesn’t feel comfortable with a female head of state. Although I kind of liked the reference to Harriet’s first appearance, I really didn’t like the overtones of Harriet’s inability to feel comfortable in her role.
When the Doctor decides to attack Harriet Jones to bring down her government, his attack is peculiarly misogynistic: it’s unlikely such an attack would have been as successful against a male head of state. Do not like.
The ‘Christmas Invasion’ consists of two minor stories with a tenuous link between the two; the link is an excuse for combining two stories that can’t stretch for an episode each. Although less than superlative, the ‘Christmas Invasion’ is a fun story. How many stories have murderous Christmas trees attacking people? Maybe more than I realize as, unlike CJ, I don’t make a habit of watching cheesy horror movies. The ‘Christmas Invasion’ is a hilarious romp for those wanting something different for their Christmas viewing, something poking fun of the season and its trimmings instead of being sentimental. Highly recommended family viewing.
Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5 stars
My review copy is part of the Doctor Who series 1 – 4 box set on bluray; thanks to Roadshow.