Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ranking the Doctor Who Xmas Specials

Finally saw this year's special and can put in a best to worst list with the others:

I know the singing was to save lives, but couldn't he have found another way?

  1. "The End of Time I, II" (2009) -- Problematic, but moving. Was very hard to see Tennant go. Was even harder to sit through the nonsensical resurrection of the Master. Haven't watched it in a while? Go read a synopsis and try to convince yourself the story was any good. You might persuade yourself it was good enough, but you won't be convinced. (That this is the best of the specials, confirms what we already knew: the specials aren't actually very special. Well, maybe just special enough. It's still an oasis of Doctor Who in the long gap between new episodes.)
  2. "The Next Doctor" (2008) -- A better stand alone episode than "The End of Time," but I placed it just behind out of deference to Tennant's last go. The giant Cyberking stomping around London was ace. David Morrissey nearly stole the show as Jackson Lake, no mean feat, and in so doing, I thought, helped bring out the best in Tennant. The moment where the Doctor realizes what's going on was played with subtle brilliance. I'll always love Tom Baker, Peter Davison, and John Pertwee, the Doctors of my youth, and Matt Smith is also quite good, but Tennant is clearly the most talented actor to play the role; even though he was given a bit too much (enough to choke a horse) melodrama to sell by Davies & company, he never seemed to let it interfere with his performance. 
  3. "The Runaway Bride" (2006) -- There's a bit of a drop-off in quality here, "The Next Doctor" was much better, but Catherine Tate was like a splash of cold water to the face after the long good-bye to Rose. This one shook things up and had a manic energy I appreciate a little more in retrospect. It helps that Ms. Tate later got a season to flesh Donna out. Had she been a one-off, I might've been less kind.
  4. "A Christmas Carol" (2010) -- Just finished this and, after reading a reaction immediately before sitting down to it that was along the lines of "best Xmas special EVAR!" had high hopes, which were largely dashed. It wasn't horrible. But that's Pond and Rory's honeymoon? Remind me why I like them again? Also not fond of the casual flaunting of the rule against having the Doctor flit around the timeline once embedded; what's to stop him now from jumping forward or backward as needed to get a code he needs in a given moment? Nothing except the writers pretending going forward that he didn't do it this time. The episode had its moments (shark!) but it felt like a missed opportunity to do something ... well, clever ... with the idea of the Doctor getting to be the Ghost of Christmas Past. 
  5. "Voyage of the Damned" (2007) -- I'm putting this one ahead of "The Christmas Invasion" because I pumped up Tennant's finale, which was, as I said above, a bit of a mess actually, and am taking it out on Tennant's debut. "Voyage" didn't get reviewed very well, so I didn't expect much going in. Frankly, I watched it twice, but it didn't do much for me and I barely remember it. I thought Kylie Minogue turning into sparkle dust, or whatever happened, was unbearably silly, and I didn't think much of Ms. Minogue as a companion throughout anyways. Just meh.
  6. "The Christmas Invasion" (2005) -- Yes, Tennant's debut, so significant, but it was largely irritating that he was barely in it. And Rose's mum drove me nuts here. She actually made Rose unlikeable for an episode. I thought Eccleston was brilliant through his season and wasn't sure what to make of Tennant coming in. Had high hopes for the future, but was mostly frustrated by this one.
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