Last week saw the annual Christmas spectacle pass us by. As we reveled in our families and gifts a plenty we were granted one of the greatest gifts of all, a new episode of Doctor Who. The Husbands of River Song premiered for us in the states at 8pm (central) on Christmas Night.
Staring Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston this story was written by Steven Moffat and directed by Douglas Mackinnon. All in all in will set you back the fairly standard 60 minutes for a Christmas Special which means an hour and a half with commercials interruptions. Spoilers after the leap.
Synopsis (spoilery bits beyond this point)
The Doctor is recruited by an obvious henchman who mistakes him for the greatest surgeon in the world who was hired by River Song to take the head of King Hydroflax, a tyrannical cyborg. Upon meeting River the Doctor finds that she does not know who he is, she simply does not recognize face number thirteen and does not have a photo of him. Hydroflax is dying from a diamond to the brain, but not just any old diamond, it’s the Halassi Androvar (aka Moffat fell asleep on his keyboard) the most famous diamond in the universe.
Hilarity ensues, the Doctor learns that River often borrows the TARDIS without permission, and a sonic trowel is employed. (You know for those times you are digging in ancient ruins and think this could be a little more sonic.)
On the cruise ship of the depraved and murderous River attempts to sell Hydroflax’s head, only to find her buyer is really a Hydroflax loyalist. Thank the heavens Deus ex Robotic Body interrupts and saves the day just long enough for Deus ex Meteor Shower to happen. The damage done to the Harmony and Redemption by the meteor shower sends the craft crashing into a nearby planet, killing all of the ruthless dictators and war criminals in the process.
In the Tardis the Doctor awakens to find River unconscious. Opening the doors reveals the burning wreckage of the Harmony and Redemption that is until a quick jump forward in time to find a man searching for survivors. The Doctor tells him to open a restaurant facing the singing towers of Darillium, another quick jump forward equals reservations for 4 years time on Christmas night, and finally one last jump forward for the actual dinner. Time travel is fun afterall.
The Doctor gives river a sonic screwdriver and all of that nonsense from Forest of the Dead seven years ago tells us this is River’s last night with the Doctor, thank goodness it is 24 years long.
What to Like
- This story is funny, with most of the great lines coming from Alex Kingston, although Capaldi gets a fair amount as well. It is really good to see that after the darkness during Hell Bent the Doctor appears to be able to laugh again. A smile looks good on Capaldi.
- There is a fair amount of continuity fun going on in this story, right down to the fact that it closes the River Song story. She can’t come back because she doesn’t know this face, and it writes a very nice ending to their love story, and yes I think the Doctor really does love River Song.
- Seeing a flip out of all the “damsels” was a nice nod to the classic era. Anytime that we can get William Hartnell’s face on the screen is fantastic. We wonder how this works with #1’s already surprisingly low “Bacon” number of 3.
- Quick, witty and fun and not a child in danger to be found, this is a great Christmas episode and who hasn’t wanted to take off the head of a family member on Christmas?
- The performances are excellent, the effects spectacular and it is the best giant Robot on screen since the 28th of December 1974.
What not to like
- The story isn’t perfect, there are plot holes the likes of which can be found in Star Wars Episode VII. (We will get to those next week, maybe if the spoiler time period has elapsed on the greatest movie of all time). WE’ll just throw this one out there, How the fuck does she get a picture of the War Doctor?
- We cannot help but think that Moffat will be tempted to “save” River from her fate in the Library. The man seems unable to kill off a character for real and Capaldi’s Doctor has had 4 billion years to sort out a way to save her that 10 wouldn’t have known about.
The Husbands of River Song wrapped up the Christmas holiday with a nice big bow. Funny as hell, full of laughter and silliness only to end on a somber heart felt moment is the perfect expression of what Christmas is really about. The story gets a very solid 4 out of 5, losing a point only because it was overtly silly and written for people a little on the sauce.