Third Time Lucky

DW 4 d

Christmas Review #1 of 12

They are peculiar things, traditions. As I said in the previous post, this is the second year that fazzinchi.co.uk has run a series of twelve Christmas telly reviews and that, in my mind makes it a tradition. “Voyage of the Damned” as if you didn’t know was this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special and was the third one that this production team have created for our Christmas viewing pleasure, following The Runaway Bride in 2006 and The Christmas Invasion the year before that.  So, if that’s not a tradition then I’m a monkey’s uncle. The fact that this year’s has already been commissioned and that 2009’s installment is almost certainly one of that year’s three specials would suggest that we can feel quite assured that this is one tradition that seems here to stay. The question is… whether it’s a tradition that is worth maintaining?

Yes, yes, 100 times, yes!

Voyage of the Damned was a disaster movie in the mould of Poseidon Adventure or Towering Inferno and unashamedly so. The main talking point though, and one of the major reasons that a staggering 12.2m people tuned in to watch was the Kylie factor.  The pop phenomena played Astrid and, although anagram spotters were disappointed, she played a waitress aboard the startship Titanic that was on a themed cruise to Earth.  She befriended the Doctor along with suitable smorgasboard of characters that can only be found in said disaster movies, to form an unlikely band of associates fighting their way to freedom.

So long as one doesn’t think about it too hard, the plot was jolly enough and ticked all the right boxes for a festive Doctor Who adventure and it also superceded the two previous Christmas specials in terms of story-telling.  The additional 11 minutes that made this a 71-minute tale seemed to be added to the top and tail to, respectively, build up the tension and get a little extra closure at the end.  The served to create an altogether more refined pace than we are used to in the 44 minute versions and, consequently, did nothing but help.  The acting was not quite up to the standard that I have come to expect from new Who but this is likely due to the fact that (a) I’m not a big fan of Clive Swift, and (b) Kylie hasn’t come a great distance as a thespian since her time on Neighbours.  However, it was more than watchable with David Tennant being given some great material to get his teeth into and there were great cameos from Russell Tovey (Midshipman Frame), Geoffrey Palmer (Captain Hardaker) and Bernard Cribbins, who I was delighted to see is coming back later in Series Four.

Of course, no DW adventure would be complete without villains and monsters.  This year’s crop were Angels whose halos turned into deadly frisbees and the marvellous, machiavellian Max Capricorn as played by George Costigan who was the evil mastermind of the piece.  Special mention should also go to The Mill whose work on the starship Titanic was at times breathtaking.  Another great tradition of the Christmas special is the preview trailer at the end and the snippets of episodes one to seven were mouthwatering… go and have a look, go on.  As we countdown the days to the next episode, “Partners in Crime” we will have series two of Torchwood to get stuck into soon.  The folks at BBC Wales continue to spoil us.

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