Friday, February 3, 2006


I realize I'm very late with this - here it is, Black History Month, and I'm talking about a Christmas special! But since I'm not a Gallifreyan Time Lord, I don't have the capability to personally backdate my entries.

It took far longer than expected for me to finally see this 'Doctor Who' holiday special because I just couldn't coordinate an earlier opportunity with my guardian angels, "Markhael". And then there were just so many other stories which I needed to give attention first in the last two weeks.

By the way, there will be spoilers within, so proceed if you dare.

Anywho, here it is.

First let me assure the Americans who won't see this for awhile that, despite being a sci-fi holiday special, there is nothing on a par with the 'Star Wars' atrocity from nearly thirty years ago.
When this special was being filmed, I read some behind-the-scenes reports about the scene in the town center. There was mention that one of the props dressing the set was a copy of a newspaper that had as its headline: "Footballer's Wife In Sex Scandal". (Or something to that effect.)

That was pretty exciting - I thought I had a lock on a link between 'Doctor Who' and 'Footballers' Wives'. But I kept an eye out for a shot of it in those scenes when the "pilot fish" show up, but if it was there, I missed it. Seems to me it was just an attention to detail in case the camera did happen to pick up a shot of it in the chaos.
I was happy to see that nothing in the special negated my assertion that the mention of Arthur Dent by the Doctor was a legitimate crossover. I always hate having to go back and rescind a previously declared crossover of the week.

Which is what I had to do the last time the Doctor and Rose visited stateswoman Harriet Jones of Flydale North (in the episodes "Aliens In London" and "World War Three"). Because those episodes saw the Prime Minister (presumably Tony Blair) assassinated and Big Ben demolished, they no longer could jibe with the established view of the world in either Earth Prime or Earth Prime-Time.

When I did a weekly spotlight over the summer on each episode of the revived 'Doctor Who', I tried to place that story in the same dimension as 'The West Wing'. But as was rightly pointed out to me by Will Devine, 'The West Wing' established a different female Prime Minister for that dimension at the same time when Harriet Jones should hold the post.

I finally settled on the dimension in which three TV series now exist - 'The Agency', 'The District', and 'Prison Break'. (You can read those essays here and here.)

Because of some innate sense of cosmic balance with the TARDIS, the Doctor and Rose once again arrived in this dimension when their counterparts had departed it for another. And since the Doctor was incapacitated for much of the adventure, and since Rose, Jackie, and Mickey wouldn't have noticed the difference, all of them acted as if they truly did belong in each other's lives.

(By this point in Time, Rose probably knew this wasn't her true Mom and best friend if Harriet Jones was Prime Minister, but she was savvy enough not to rock their alt. world by telling them.)

For all I know, that dimension's Doctor and Rose will spend Christmas 2006 with the Jackie Tyler of the main Toobworld.
If we do assume there to be an alternate dimension for TV sketch comedy, there must be a connection to this episode, thanks to one of the Sycorax pilot fish that took on the appearance of a Christmas tradition. One of the most memorable sketches to come out of the original incarnation of 'Saturday Night Live' was "Killer Christmas Trees", and the whirling dervish of a terrible Tannenbaum might have found inspiration in that alternate dimension.

(Thanks to a Lenny Henry sketch and the Comic Relief vignette "The Curse Of Fatal Death", we know the Doctor would exist in that world.)
Every writer for 'Doctor Who' should have the option to bring something new to the character that was never revealed before. That's how we got the whole concept of Gallifrey and the other Time Lords, and regeneration. But it shouldn't feel too jarring a concept, as if it came out of left field. That's the sensation I got from the 8th Doctor's declaration that he was part himan in the 1996 TV movie; the same uneasiness I felt watching the 6th Doctor go through his crazy spell after regeneration.

It happened again this time, during the battle with the Sycorax leader. The Doctor's fightin' hand was sliced off. But because he was still within the 15 hour safety zone of his regeneration, he was able to grow a new one.

It just didn't feel kosher, not that I know if they keep kosher on Gallifrey or not. But now it provides a crutch for future Doctors to pull off weird amendments to their regenerations as well.
We got our second mention of 'Torchwood' in the series. (The first was by the Anne Droid during that futuristic version of 'The Weakest Link'.) We learned that Torchwood is an organization so highly classified that not even the Prime Minister is supposed to know about them.

They are the Black Ops group who will be operating out of Cardiff in their own spinoff series, as they rush to protect Great Britain's interests in UFO and alien activity before UNIT or America's CIA can get involved.
To defeat the Sycorax, Torchwood utilized an alien device they recovered from an incident ten years before. I'm not sure if that was meant to refer to the chronology of 'Doctor Who' or not. In the Real World, we got the TV movie of 'Doctor Who' in 1996, but it took place at the dawn of the new Millennium.

It might be interesting to look at the timelines for such shows as 'The X-Files', 'Stargate SG-1', and the various 'Star Trek' series to see if there's anything that might correlate to the energy beam used by Torchwood.
Somehow Captain Jack Harkness will be brought back from the Future where we last saw him so that he will come a new member of Team Torchwood. And considering what Torchwood did to bleep off the Doctor, I think it might be likely that he's responsible for escorting Jack back in Time to serve as his mole within that organization.

But I could be wrong. I often am. Maybe we'll find out once 'Torchwood debuts next year.
Of course, if the world of Harriet Jones is in an alternate dimension, that probably means I have to leave 'Torchwood' behind in that dimension as well. It all depends on whether or not we see the Prime Minister again during the run of the series.
For the true 'Who' aficionado, I'd guess the scene in the TARDIS wardrobe room was a high point, as the 10th Doctor picked out his new duds to fit his new look and personality. We got to see the clothes worn by the 3rd Doctor and maybe a pork-pie hat and a long scarf as well. (I only got to see that scene once so far, so I can't be certain on those.)

I like the new look for the Doctor. It's a stylish updating for the 21st Century that still suggests the flow of the 4th Doctor's comically bohemian look. It's distinctive without standing out too much from those around him - when he's among the people of Earth, at any rate. He should be able to blend in with most places he visits on Earth within 100 years in either direction from the present.
When this finally comes out on DVD, it better include the vignette from last year's "Children In Need" telethon as part of the story!
Well, that was my take on 'The Christmas Invasion'. Just a little while longer and the new series will begin, and I already know of one link I'm hoping to make - with 'Red Dwarf'!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Toby, the hand growing back didn't sit well with me, and I can't say i'm too excited about torchwood because I feel it's a cop-out to UNIT. Just bring Unit back with a new series. Torchwood really wont fit into the Doctor Who universe because of past UNIT stories.

Michael C.