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Monday, 26 December 2005 - Reviewed by Jason Wilson

"The Christmas Invasion" was a home-grown "Independence Day"-esque adventure with more brain to it.

A great way to introduce the tenth doctor, though it waould have been nice to see more of him. Generally I find post regeration trauma something a bit old hat now, and something to be got through as a necessity, so that a new era can properly get going. However, it's all new to the new fans I suppose......

Generally the episode had good pace and built up well. The Christams menace bits worked well though it would have ben nice to have had a bit more of them. They seemed to do their bit and then go too soon. The build up of the alien menace was good, with Penelope Wilton a strong presence- let's hope this character gets used again. It was, I suppose, predictable that the doctor would stagger from his sickbed to save the day but Tennant did it with such quirky style that it was wonderful. He's going to be excellent. Not quite such a domianting presence as Eccleston, but commanding in a different way nevertheless. A new man with a new enthusiasm for life, the time war-scarred brooding doctor laid to rest.

Plenty of good doctorish moments in evidence here- particularly at the end when, having routed the aliens, he breates the PM for an unnecessary (maybe) attack on them. Lovely stuff. And for me the best "scre moment" was the hypnotised people climbing onto the roof. Would they jump? Probably not on Christmas day, but it worked.

This episode was bursting with great ideas like this, and an extra chunk of time would have been nice to let them all swim around a bit more. Nontheless a good shot, dramatic and funny, and gets the "new doctor" out of the way so next series can begin in full swing.

Won't it be good to have a doctor with some longevity again? With two seasons and two specials under his belt Tennant will, in terms of screen time, be the longest doctor since Davison. If he does a third season he'll be the longest since Tom Baker. At last- an era that will be a proper era. Roll on season 28!





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Monday, 26 December 2005 - Reviewed by John Masterson

Like last season’s ‘The End of the World’, Russell T. Davis has delved into the Douglas Adams ideas box and reshaped the Vogon destruction of Earth into ‘The Christmas Invasion’ complete with a new Doctor in the guise of Arthur Dent. So far, so familiar.

Since this episode is being broadcast as the Big Christmas Hit, it is carefully – if not cynically - constructed to engage an audience who might not necessarily be watching. The first twenty minutes or so concentrate on Rose Tyler’s (Billie Piper) hapless family as they battle with their mundane Christmas and a host of festive horrors. The new Doctor sensibly stays in bed. We wouldn’t want to alienate the audience too soon. Stick with the folks we can relate to.

The next twenty minutes or so are culled straight from ‘Quatermass’ and are delivered with thrilling special effects and a dramatic score. After that, it’s Christmas pantomime time as David Tennant – revived by a cup of tea - strides out of the TARDIS (“He’s behind you!”) to confront the kind of highly camp, over-blown and two-dimensional villan that so typified ‘Doctor Who’ of old. To write the Doctor as Earth’s legendary saviour demands a powerful performance. This wasn’t it.

There’s a big plastic button that mustn’t be pressed, a gallant swordfight that we’ve seen in many adventure yarns normally scheduled for this time of year, and a big explosion. Oh, and there’s lots of London landmarks and union flags just to remind us all that the Doctor is British. Please!

As for the new Doctor, I kept yearning for the gravitas of previous incumbent, Christopher Eccleston. Tennant’s performance was overly enthusiastic and steeped in comedy (saving the day by throwing a satsuma). I never thought I’d see an episode of the current ‘Doctor Who’ which would remind me of Colin Baker’s overblown and clownish debut in ‘The Twin Dilemma’ – right down to the hackneyed scene of Tennant in the TARDIS wardrobe with a scarf around his neck.

Now that ‘Only Fools and Horses’ has shuffled off to the TV archives, I imagine we can look forward to annual festive adventures of the Tyler family. However, just what the production team will do, when Billie Piper finally departs (as indeed, she must) is anyone’s guess. Sending ‘Doctor Who’ away from the council estate and back into space seems highly unlikely.





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Monday, 26 December 2005 - Reviewed by Leighton Calvert

First off I have to say, David Tennant is an amazing Doctor Who!!!

The 10th Doctor is an utterly distinctive and instantly legendary characterization. You can say he has bits of Troughton and Tom Baker, but really, he's his own man. Speaking internal monologues out loud constantly, stylish/geeky, boyish one minute then with the authority of God the next, no Doctor has been this sure footed in their first story since William Hartnell.

Tennant's "Robot" was The Children In Need Special, and that wasn't even a story. This is his "Ark In Space". Could he match Tom Baker in the legendary stakes? YES.

Where I was maybe a wee bit unsure if he might be too young to carry the authority the role needs in the CIN special, there's just nothing else on the screen when he gets going in this story, in the end, TCI all comes down to him and his brilliant performance. David Tennant is an acting genius, be in no doubt. Incidentally, he doesn't do much till the last twenty minutes, and I haven't even mentioned the big spaceship yet.

It is irritating that we have to wait so long for the new Doctor to strut his considerable stuff, and I feel this is a cynical decision in the hope the audience will go "We can't switch over now, David Tennant hasn't done anything yet". It's marketing, and I feel a bit cheated in the same way I do when they don't kill Jason at the end of a Friday The 13th film, not for dramatic reasons, but because it suits the producers more than the audience.

But to the actual story. TCI is epicly epic on an epic scale that scales the scales of scaling. It's huuuuuuge!!! You've gotta love the confidence RTD and his merry gang have just now, to push British television to these kind of heights. The story does sag like a souffle in the middle, but is possessed of enough genius moments and dialogue that you won't give a damn about that by the end.

James Hawes proves again his massive ambition when it comes to visuals. What's nice is, unlike the dark streets of The Empty Child, TCI's most memorable scene is in brilliant sunshine. What a contrast for the CV. Expect him to be snapped up by Hollywood anytime soon. We're so lucky to have a director of this world class (and a writer and lead actors too of course).

In the end, this story bodes so well for the future. The Piper/Tennant chemistry is instant, he even gets on with Rose's Mum. You just want to be around these people, even Rose's Mum.

Series 2 will be even better than series 1, and you can chop off my hand if that isn't so.

P.S. David Tennant is an amazing Doctor Who!!





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Monday, 26 December 2005 - Reviewed by Billy Higgins

My overriding conclusion from an initial viewing of The Christmas Invasion was that Russell T Davies (as ever) got a lot more things right than wrong.

A prime-time Christmas Day slot would come with certain caveats – nothing too demanding in terms of plot, plenty of gimmicks, plenty of knockabout dialogue between the main characters and plenty of effects. And I think RTD and his merry men and women polled four from four in that count.

I was a bit concerned that too much of the Christmas angle would descend the show into high farce but, in truth, it was a lot more minimal than I expected and, as the killer Santas and Christmas trees had been trailed beforehand, I actually felt the writer only did what he had to in order to justify the title.

The Santas were genuinely menacing (rather like the Autons in Rose, I’d have liked to have seen more of them, but accept there’s only so much you can shoe-horn in) and the spinning tree was a bit of harmless flotsam. Can’t imagine it would have gone down too well with the “purist”, but gimmicks such as this do appeal to the mainstream audience, and it’s their interest which will keep this show floating at the front of the BBC flotilla.

I thought the story was a good romp (the hour flew by). As I said earlier, it had to be simple enough to keep a tiring Christmas audience awake, with a regular sprinkling of “wow, look at that” if they were starting to nod off. Obviously, there were holes in the plot if you can be bothered digging, but I can’t. Even if I could, season of goodwill and all that!

It was actually more Star Trek TNG than Doctor Who in a lot of places for me, but I greatly enjoyed the former, and had no objections to such a spectacle. And it was a spectacle. It looked like a movie – and a well-made one at that.

I liked the Sycorax (and was pleased The Doctor finished off their leader – gave the promise that the dark side remains intact) and was also pleased Harriet Jones finished off their spaceship. The Margaret Thatcher/Tony Blair analogies (the former in respect of Harriet’s physical makeover from the previous series and the latter in terms of transition from popular leader to warmongering megalomaniac – allegedly) were obvious, but worthy.

And what about the new Doctor?

Watching David Tennant on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross on Friday night (funnily enough) I thought he looked pretty weary, even allowing for having to put up with Ross at his oafish worst.

I didn’t get the vibe from any of Tennant’s soundbites that he relished the prospect of hanging around in the role beyond a third season. Of course, he may have been genuinely concerned at the reaction to his first episode. If the latter was the case, then he should only leaf through this Forum (and I’m sure others) for reassurance.

David Tennant IS The Doctor.

A terrific performance. Stole every scene he was in and, while I was a huge fan of Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor and felt he was an impossible act to follow, Tennant shows every indication of being capable of achieving the impossible.

He doesn’t have the physical presence of his predecessor, but the role will be written to take that into account. And, anyway, you get the impression he can take any line in any script and make it his.

This really was a remarkable start to his tenure. Energetic, funny, charming, chuck in any adjectives you wish. In terms of screen time, he had less than might normally be expected for the lead role, but almost all the lines I scene I recall instantly had Tennant in them. I always thought he was going to be brilliant, now I know for sure.

And the episode-closing little segue of treats to come “in the spring” has me genuinely thirsting for the start of what I believe will be the finest-ever Doctor Who season.





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Monday, 26 December 2005 - Reviewed by Michael Stead

It's colours to the mast time . . .

Highly enjoyable to watch. It was good Christmas Day television in the spirit of recent Christmases, fairly Indiana Jonesish at points, with a fun sword-fight.

There were some nice references to similar adventures. The Hitchhiker's Guide Arthur Dent comparison was made explicit, without going beyond the Dr. Who boundaries, because both Pertwee and Baker spent parts of their first stories in pyjamas. There was also the Star Wars moment when the Doctor's hand was cut off. I liked this moment, which presented a typical problem, but solved it in an unusual way, that was not out of keeping with Dr. Who's particular mythology. It has added an element to the regeneration lore, which I feel is likely to reappear in the future. It has also left a situation with the Doctor's severed hand having fallen to earth. I suspect this will be forgotten; but it does raise some questions about what might happen if it falls into the wrong hands - what if 'Torchwood' get hold of it. How much could the hand regenerate itself - along the lines of Eldrad? The 'Torchwood' moment, with the energy weapon being fired was also There was even something self-referential, with the scene where the new costume is being chosen, being very like the one in Castrovalva, with a similar angle on the Doctor looking in the mirror shot.

I particularly liked Tennant's take on the Doctor, primarily because he seemed to so enjoy taking on the role. One of my biggest complaints about Eccles was that he seemed to be deigning to play a role that he felt was beneath him. Tennant threw himself into it with gusto. Personally I enjoyed what he did and felt that he brought something fresh to the role. I enjoyed the whole concept of the Doctor finding out who he was in his reaction to what was going on around him. How he would react to the big red button, etc. And I felt that he carried off potentially naff lines such as 'This new hand's a fighting hand' and 'No second chances, I'm that kind of man' with great panache.

As for the aliens. The evil santas and deadly tree seemed amusing and memorable and quite appropriate for the transmission slot and the 'pilot-fish' 'explanation' seemed just about acceptable. The Sycorax, or Sickbags, or whatever they were called also seemed fine, but I liked their 'helmets' (which seemed typically Whoish) more than the faces underneath (which seemed a little Deep Space 9ish). What was missing was any background as to their motivation, which seems to be a more deep-seated problem of the 45-60 minute format, which doesn't give as much time for character development as the old 4 episodes used to allow. I liked the design of their spaceship, inside and out, and although I desperately dislike the present TARDIS interior, I was pleased to see some variation on it, with the spiral staircase and the wardrobe room.

Penelope Wilton was excellent, and watching the episode through a second time showed how her final decision to do a General Belgrano on the Sickbags was fully consistent with her actions leading up to that point and was quite justified, despite what the Doctor had to say: he isn't always around to save the day and the Earth must be prepared to defend itself. I was quite pleased with the balance that was left, because the Doctor was in danger of doing a Bob Geldof and snuggling up to the Prime Minister; instead he was left as an anti-establishment figure. The whole situation was very 'Silurians', where the Brigadier blows the monsters up at the end, so it was in keeping with the history of the show.

Personally I enjoyed having UNIT brought back into play, but it was a shame that there has been no significant characters developed within UNIT - a problem due again, I suspect, to the much shorter story lengths. The added issue of introducing the Torchwood format left even less time for UNIT, but did intrigue me - why has Torchwood's staff been cut by a third just recently?

Billie seemed to do what she was required to do fairly well, which seemed principally to accept the change between Doctors. The main problem with her is that she is fairly wet as a companion. Faced with a regenerating Doctor and an alien invasion she decides to hide in the TARDIS with her mummy. Perhaps Polly would have done the same, but I can't imagine Jo Grant or Sarah Jane Smith or Leela or Ace, or virtually any of the others doing that. We have had much more positive female role-models in the past.

As for Mummy Tyler and the wet boyfriend, I find them very tedious. I suppose if they were not there we would simply end up with a succession of wet background characters brought in to do not very much, so they are useful in that they soak up these duties. But I am not in the least bit interested in what happens to them.

Overall I felt that it was 60 minutes well-spent in the company of the Doctor. The general tenor was right, with the Tom Baker Wind-in-the-Willows format, where a spilt cup-of-tea helps to save the day (or at least paves the way for courage and humour to save the day). And there were some interesting visual moments, such as the murderous spinning Christmas tree, and the eerie sight of people standing on the edge of high buildings, which had a very 1970s feel to it.

I am looking forward eagerly to seeing Tennant take a proper stab at the role in his first season. After a year of being very much at the fringes, when so many people we happy about the return of the series, I feel that there is now something for me to celebrate too.





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Monday, 26 December 2005 - Reviewed by Anthony Leek

First off, I want to thank Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) for getting the rights to broadcast Doctor Who in Canada. Watching episodes of Doctor Who when I was younger on TV Ontario in the early 1990s got me interested when CBC announced the new series. I think if I didn't watch it when I was a child, I would not find Doctor Who as exhilarating as it is.

I must admit, this was a fantastic episode, partly because of the great acting, the production value, and especially because it gave us a taste of what the next Doctor is going to be like. The introduction of David Tennant is incredible, although at the beginning is a little overboard as he seems irrational and spotty. Fortunately, you quickly adapt and his speech in the spaceship is brilliant. Tennant is going to be a wonderful Doctor and looks to be most promising for the series as a whole. As long as the stories and dialogue are well written, Tennant can do anything.

The special effects and costumes are wonderful in Christmas Invasion. The Sycorax look especially menacing. The ship looks massive and the TARDIS showing up on earth was wild. I find the greatest advantage the new series has is it computer graphics. It gives a stronger sense of realism and brings out the best of Doctor Who.

Supporting characters do fine jobs with the script, not making them seem pointless and expendable. I really thought that UNIT soldier on the Sycorax spaceship was going to live. I did find Jackie as a more supporting character in this episode than in the previous ones and she always seems a little out of it making everything fit into place. I do wish they explained the evil Christmas tree and the Santas.

My biggest complaints are the some of the under copies from other movies such as the hand cutting off scene, and some of the dialogue. However, it adds Doctor Who style to it, and actually makes it somewhat better. I know the writers can be original and hopefully will improve in the next season. I find it hard to find many faults in this episode mostly due to the fact there are so many positives.

The action sequences were very well done and although Tennant does not seem like the brute that would swing a sword that well, but remember that Peter Davison was not very tough looking either and he did fine against the Master in The King's Demons. The best part and most defining moment with the Doctor is when he threw the orange at the release switch when the Sycorax leader tried running after him. His quote "No second chances, I'm that sort of a man." sets him apart from the rest of the Doctors. Tennant does a great job balancing the seriousness and humorous parts of the character.

The end sequence with Harriet Jones and the Doctor is most powerful. His comment to her was strong and showed his anger very well. I think the darker side of the Doctor might come out in the second season. Jones' reply "I'm sorry." under her breath was the realization to herself that the Doctor is more powerful than anything she could imagine.

All in all, it was an amazing episode and the preview for 2006 is looking even better. The return of old characters is the main reason everyone including myself should be interested in. Too bad it will be at least three months until the first episode of the new season. At least BBC Kids has the older series on at night.