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Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

A Christmas Carol originally aired in 2010.

If you’re my babysitter, why are you climbing in the window?

Because if I was climbing out of the window, I’d be going in the wrong direction. Pay attention.

– Kazran and the Doctor get things straight

A Christmas Carol might just be the best Doctor Who Christmas Special ever produced, if only because it’s such a brilliantly obvious idea, executed with the show’s traditional wit and charm. Russell T. Davies tended to write the Christmas Special in the style of a gigantic blockbuster episode of Doctor Who, but Moffat adopts a slightly different approach to what has quickly become the annual tradition of the Doctor Who Christmas Special.

Davies traditionally had the Doctor collide with genres of Christmas television viewing. The Christmas Invasion was American blockbuster sci-fi, The Runaway Bride was fun odd-couple comedy action film, Voyage of the Damned was a disaster flick in space and The Next Doctor was a celebration of quaint Victoriana. In contrast, Moffat has Doctor Who collide with beloved children’s stories in his first two Christmas Specials. His second two are burdened with dealing with left-over plot threads.

A Christmas Carol is perhaps the most effective distillation of “Doctor Who as a story” that the show has ever managed, on top of being a wonderfully moving piece of Christmas television and hitting on the major themes of the Moffat era as a whole.

Turning back the clock...

Turning back the clock…

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Hannibal – Potage (Review)

Hannibal continues to move apace. Serialisation can often be a tricky beast, because it relies heavily on pacing. Reveal too much too fast and none of the plot beats carry enough weight. Drag out your revelations and your game-changing twists, and things feel too slow. The sense of progression is lost. On top of that, and something which is easily overlooked when it comes to serialisation, the key is to ensure that each episode exists as its own entity, while remaining a part of the whole. As often as one might use the “chapters of a book” analogy for episodes of The Sopranos or The Wire, this tends to ignore that each episode generally tended to be structured as its own entity. While a part of a larger story, each episode was its own self-contained unit of story.

Potage seems to suggest that Hannibal is finding its feet in the area, and carefully pacing itself. We are peeling back the layers on the eponymous psychiatrist at a pace that is neither too fast nor too slow. The evidence is mounting and his moves are becoming more brazen, but he retains his air of mystery. Since Lecter is a character who only really works with that sense of mystery, it’s a shrewd balance between progressing the plot and retaining the character’s appeal. Potage demonstrates the show has quite a knack for it.

The good doctor?

The good doctor?

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