Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Doctor Who and Downton Abbey Christmas episodes

I keep putting off commenting on the Christmas Day episodes of the above shows. Well, here's my thoughts.

Doctor Who was a bit odd. I don't mean odd as in strange or weird as its normally strange and weird. I mean odd as the story was a bit more straightforward than what I've come to expect from Stephen Moffat. Then again, maybe I'm getting used to his stories.

In any event it concerned the doctor crashing to earth in 1938 in a borrowed space suit and being helped by a lady played by Claire Skinner. He promises to help her in return, all she has to do is wish. Yeah.

So it's 1941 and she's had a telegram to say her RAF husband is missing presumed dead. She and the kids end up at a big house in the country wher the doctor is playing the part of the caretaker.

To cut a long story slightly less long, one of the kids goes through a present to a snowy tree world and disappears while following a wooden tree person.

Ok, that is a bit weird, I'll grant you that.

The doctor and the other kid follow and then the mum follows them. It turns out they are on Androzani Major (in a bit of name-checking to the last Peter Davidson story) and the bad humans are about to kill the trees with acid rain and the tree souls take refuge in Claire Skinner who pilots a big globe thing through the time vortex back to earth. And it turns out her husband isn't dead as he follows her trough the vortex as well.

So that's all ok, it's fine, not bad, I think as I look at my watch.

Then it goes brilliant as Claire Skinner convinces the doctor to go tell his friends he's not dead. He arrives outside Amy Pond's house and knocks on her (TARDIS blue) door. Amy answers and they stare at each other for a bit.

'So, you’re not dead,' Amy says. 'And a happy New Year,' smiles the doctor, embarrassed. 'River told us,' Amy finally reveals.

Karen Gillan is in full Amy frown mode. Is brilliant. That couple of minutes of them standing at the door makes me realise how sad it will be when Karen leaves next year. Sniff.

So, on to Downton Abbey.

According to the tv listings the episode lasted 2 hours. It probably did but in some ways it seems to have lasted about a week. There must have been about 27 advert breaks in it. Ok, 27 is an exaggeration. It was probably only 24.

For such a long running time not much actually seemed to happen. The main plot thread concerned Mary's impending marriage to Iain Glen, that actor bloke with the cool voice. It turned out that he was blackmailing her to marry him. As long as they were to be wed he was preventing the scandal getting out. You know, the scandle about her and the Turkish gentleman who went and died in her bed?

She discovers her dad knew about it when he tells her not to marry Iain Glen. Then she tells Wet Matthew. You remember Wet Matthew? He's the one who was paralysed in the war and then 'got better'. He was the one engaged to that nice Miss Swire who made the deathbed plee that he should get together with cousin Mary in order to be happy. Which then prompted him to go off in a huff and say that he could never marry cousin Mary and never forgive himself, etc.

Well, guess what? He's forgiven himself and asked cousin Mary to marry him. Honestly, you can't rely on him to make up his mind at all.

What helped the episode immeasurably was the complete absence of Lady Sybil and the Irish chauffeur. Let me state that I have no problem with the actress ho plays Sybil as she is quite pretty, and I don't object to the character. But that story line where she and the Irish chauffeur hooked up after displaying zero chemistry felt like a crudely engineered plot development that was jammed into the script as an afterthought.

Some other stuff happened involving a dog, and Bates was found guilty for murder much to the other character's surprise. Bates and his wife became slightly more interesting characters as they had to do all their scenes together in prison, and him in period manacles.

So, a slightly longer post than intended.