By Jonathan Morris, Antiscribe.com
Well, now that we’ve put to bed another Christmas holiday, it’s important to look back on things that are most important: which, if you’re a fan of Doctor Who, means the yearly Doctor Who Christmas Special.
Since 2005, no December 25 has gone by without the BBC airing a new Who episode (though they’ve only aired on Christmas here in the States since 2008); typically, the Christmas specials have served as something of transition between seasons for the series, and sometimes as a thematic preview of the season that is to come. Under Russell Davies’s tenure as show runner, the Christmas specials were generally “event” episodes that were arguably the most high-profile of their year. The original 2005 episode, “The Christmas Invasion,” for instance, served as the beginning of David Tennant’s acclaimed run as the Tenth Doctor, while 2009’s “The End of Time, Part 1,” marked the beginning of the Tenth Doctor’s end (the second part aired on New Year’s a week later). 2006 saw “The Runaway Bride,” a rather comedic episode that guest-starred popular British comedienne Catherine Tate, offering a transition between the Doctor saying goodbye to his former companion and soul mate, Rose Tyler, and his next companion, Martha Jones. “The Voyage of the Damned” in 2007 represented the most publicized and highest rated episode of Doctor Who since its relaunch, as the producers scored the coup of getting pop star Kylie Minogue to play the Doctor’s companion for the episode, which was an incredibly fun outer space pastiche of Titanic and The Poseidon Adventure. Minogue, if you’re not aware, is something of the British Commonwealth’s equivalent of Madonna, if Madonna, like Minogue, had just come back from a very high-profile and successful battle with breast cancer. 2008 was a standalone special, the first of five straight holiday themed specials that built to Tennant’s farewell from the series in the next year’s special. Called “The Next Doctor,” it starred David Morrissey (a name who had been bantered about by Whovians as a potential future Doctor) as someone claiming to be “the Doctor,” whom the audience is intended to believe could be the Doctor’s next incarnation (spoiler – he wasn’t). Other than playing off of the audience knowing that Tennant’s tenure as the Doctor would be ending, this had actually been the weakest of all the specials to date. Basically just a Doctor fights the Cybermen episode with a nice little mystery wrapped around it, “The Next Doctor” also featured a somewhat controversial finale, by Who standards, with a raging, 100 foot Cyberking marching across Victorian London. Traditionally, you have to understand, that whenever a Who episode took place somewhere in Earth’s past, history would remain largely unchanged; with Davies’s creative tenure coming to an end, this episode broke that rule with gusto, leaving it to Stephen Moffat, as the next show runner, to essentially write it out of existence.