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Monday, 26 December 2005 - Reviewed by Calum Corral

Well, I don't know about Tony Blair but I was certainly making sure that my Christmas dinner was well out of the way in time for Dr Who.

It does seem amazing that in the history of the programme, there was only one episode broadcast on Christmas Day and for the BBC to give it such a huge fanfare this time round was incredible ... I never thought I would see the day!

However, when I first heard about killer Santas and Christmas trees, I think you could be forgiven for fearing the worst.

But the series of clips which we had seen beforehand including the spectacular crash landing of the TARDIS and London under attack certainly put my mind at rest (however there were little in the way of spectacular effect surprises - even the xmas tree was on the Jonathan Ross show but that great clip may well have ensured a bigger audience for the show because it was so good) I do appreciate it is always a delicate balancing act between how much you can give away and how much you should keep secret before it goes out on air.

So did The Christmas Invasion impress? Yes. It was a great hour of fun with some superb lines, impressive graphics and a new Doctor. Comparisons are bound to be made with Christopher Eccleston and whether Tennant was up to the task. I think he was very good, likeable and fun to be with. He actually seems very Doctor-ish! That is probably the highest compliment you can pay to him.

The thing I liked about Eccleston was that he actually brought something to the role which I don't think the original show had. But Tennant right from his introduction was on excellent form. The thrilling spinning Christmas tree was fantastic and the fight sequence was well coordinated. He made a terrific arrival actually against these dastardly villains. The Dr has carried out a sword duel before (was it The Kings Demons? The Sea Devils?) so this is in keeping with Who and Hartnell was involved in a few physical battles. The destruction of the spacecraft at the end and the Dr's angry reaction to Harriet Jones was reminiscent of Dr Who having a go at the Brigadier at the end of Dr Who and The Silurians - I am sure that is where Russell T Davies drew the inspiration from. It was a bit like The Belgrano.

I thought the mass signal to all the humans with blood group A+ was very well handled and quite scary. Russell did very well to draw out the emotion as mums were horror-struck, crying at their children to stop. That part of it was very dramatic and I would imagine quite scary for kids watching, especially as it looked that humans were going to walk off roofs to their death.

One minor gripe about the stories is that Cardiff and London seem to be the same place? Am I the only person who notices this? Continuity? Pah!

I have to say I really like Rose's Mum - I think she is a great character and a good foil for the Dr. I am still not sure about Mickey. I just can't really warm to him and while that is the point, he sometimes seems to be more of a hindrance than anything else. His character just doesn't seem to be developing any further but just seems to be going in circles with Rose.

For me though, the highlight of the programme was the good old British cup of tea waking up the Dr in the Tardis. What a brilliant and funny touch by Russell!

The clip montage was terrific at the end and the clips of K9 and the Cybermen were thrilling. I think David Tennant will be a very good Doctor and clearly seems to revel in the character. He was hilarious when replying to the Sycorax with a big deep throaty response! I loved that bit!!! The villains seemed a bit Lord of the Rings inspired.

So The Christmas Invasion - the highest rated Dr Who story probably since The City of Death - pressed all the right buttons, provided a very festive feel, and Dr No.10 made a terrific entrance. The show was sprinkled with some great humour and very wittily written by Russell. All round a great production. Roll on the next series!





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Monday, 26 December 2005 - Reviewed by Paul Condon

As a fanboy of far too many years' standing, I honestly think that the seriously OUTSTANDING David Tennant has the potential to be the best ever Doctor. Forget about my childhood memories of Tom Baker. Forget about the New Adventures version of the 7th Doctor. Forget about re-evaluating Hartnell thanks to the recons and audios.

David Tennant is going to be it, boys and girls. Honestly.

The episode itself was one of the finest bits of family-friendly Christmas Day entertainment that's ever been shown in Britain. A few hours ago, I watched the UK Gold retrospective of the 'best TV Christmas moments' and I'm honestly neither lying nor deluding myself when I say that a similar programme retrospective programme shown next year would DEFINITELY feature The Christmas Invasion in its Top 10. And as for any of those old mizzos who might believe that 'The Feast of Steven' could have been better - well, I listened to the audio and watched the recon earlier today too. It's RUBBISH.

So a huge, HUGE round of applause for Jackie's mountain of carrier bags. Massive cheers for Rose's reborn faith in the Doctor. An enormous guffaw of glee for some fanboy retcon nonsense about how the regeneration process actually works. A high-five for Phil Collinson, Julie Gardner and - of course - the mighty Russell for pulling off an outstanding piece of Joe Public-friendly science fiction that would have kept families up and down the country transfixed. A huge, HUGE sigh of pity for any of you who are so fixated on 'serious' (ie, dull, humourless and tediously self-referential) Doctor Who that you failed to find much to enjoy in tonight's episode.

"No second chances."

For we are, without a doubt, experiencing the best EVER Doctor Who right now. And with David Tennant on board, things are only going to get better.





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Monday, 26 December 2005 - Reviewed by James Main

That was the most spectacularly executed transition from one doctor to another - RTD in his brilliant understanding of Doctor Who used Rose not only to express the viewpoint and feelings of the audience but to direct it and give it a big shove. Rose's distress at losing 'her doctor', suspicion, feelings of being abandoned and cheated with something less that what she had are familiar to any one who saw 'their' doctor go away and be replaced by some weirdo imposter. Billie Piper's role (and that of all the other returning cast members) was to nudge the audience into accepting the new doctor and to sanction our approval when it came... not that we needed any help!

David Tennant is truly wonderful and clearly has a very good idea of what the Doctor should be like without trotting out an imitation of anything that has gone before (a frequent mistake or anyone after Tom Baker). He also comes across as though he is having a whale of a time which makes everything he does all the more watchable. Personally I am over the moon- my kind of Doctor is back... he's witty, quick, fun, has masses of gravitas and huge piercing eyes (and isn't telling everyone to shut-up nor is he wearing a self-consciously modern or macho leather coat).

So much of the special harked back to those parts of the series that made it wonderful...

...a flawed friend in Harriet Jones making the same mistakes that the Brigadier would made every four weeks. Though with RTD's writing and Penelope Wilton's endearing performance the character is so much more understandable - making her divergence from the Doctor's moral stance even more troubling. And what a brilliant and almost chilling demonstration of the power of rumour in the Doctor's 'don't you think she looks tired' term-ending technique - this is great pen vs sword stuff for kids wilst being anything but patronising to adults.

We had the wonderful wierdness of a skinny bloke in jim-jams crossing broad-swords with a caped fleshy fiend miles above London - but played with the same conviction and professionalism that the series started with -before pantomime and camp took over. Great quirky ideas like bood-control and pilot fish designed to enthuse children about biology and the idea that a monster could even be your own race 'defending' itself against a retreating ship.

Mind-expanding, cheerful, fun but without farting or burping (and hopefully none heading our way) and the cybermen, baroque androids and K9 are coming.





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Monday, 26 December 2005 - Reviewed by Russell Thorpe

A fantastic episode which really set the scene for the oncoming series. The highlights for me included: Discovering Torchwood; Seeing UNIT in action; Harriet Jones, who was one of my favourite characters, destroying herself and being traitorous. This was a FANTASTIC plot twist.

However, I cannot help but feel some things really did not work in the favour of the series. The Father Christmases had very little explanation around them, and could have worked a lot more in favour of the script, especially after the hype. The series seemed to be going a lot more star trek orientated with random teleportations moving the storyline along, which shouldn’t be encouraged too often.

By the way, why did Mickey and Harriet understand the english being spoken by the Sycorax? They aren’t involved with the TARDIS.

Also, the Doctor throwing the satsuma at the button to kill off the Sycorax leader was ridiculous. Again, no more deus ex machine, please.

All in all, despite the downfalls I think that this really helped to push along the next slice of Dr Who. The character development for some characters was really good - not (in my opinion) for the Doctor, whose script was embarrassing due to its attempts to be random. This really just doesn’t work as eccentric, which is more how the Doctor needs to come across.





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Monday, 26 December 2005 - Reviewed by Alan McDonald

Long six months, wasn't it?

It's a testament to RTD and his team that the time which has elapsed since The Parting of the Ways has seemed almost interminable. From the moment we heard 'Barcelona' we've been waiting to see this, hoping desperately that the change of Doctor wouldn't spoil the formula. So, was it worth the wait?

Oh my, yes.

That said, the first fifteen minutes of 'The Christmas Invasion' are a bit of a mixed bag. The regenerated Doctor is suitably exciting, mysterious and loopy. Billie Piper's Rose is, as ever, superb (can you imagine the shambles if she'd left the show?). A couple of things ring a bit naff, though. With the main body of the Sycorax plot being so much fun, you do cringe a little at the (poorly realised) robot Santas and killer Christmas tree. If 'Rose' taught us anything, it was that things which worked in the seventies for the show (the Autons etc) really don't now. It all feels a bit shoehorned in. We couldn't have had a single Sycorax warrior (maybe even disguised as Santa to begin with) as a scout who tries to kidnap the Doctor?

Still, the Doctor's 'pilot fish' explanation works, just, and we are propelled on to far firmer ground as the show does Independence Day, UK-style. It's nice to see Harriet Jones return to face a threat greater than farting aliens (it still guts me watching the box set that the Slitheen two-parter is ruined by that ridiculous 'gas exchange' business). The UNIT bunker is superb, as well. Very CTU.

Then things get really, unexpectedly, dark. Having millions - billions - of innocent people wandering to the tops of buildings, preapred to jump off, was far more affecting than death rays or bomb threats. Real people, watched by their loved ones, about to commit suicide. It's a deeply unsettling thought, and RTD at his best, when all the camp is put aside.

Things go from bad to worse and Rose, quite understandably, decides to run and hide. She's done the honourable thing in the past, but without the Doctor at her side she feels lost and helpless.

It's worth mentioning here that the Rose sub-plot, although it may well be ignored in the final analysis of many, was the strongest aspect of the episode for those of us who watched the last season so avidly. This was the most 'new-Who' aspect of 'The Christmas Invasion'. Rose has seen the man who changed her life forever, who she was willing to die for, change into a stranger, a helpless stranger who can do nothing for her any more. And she's devastated. It's like the worst break-up anyone could experience because it's so inexplicable, so alien. Her tears when she tells Jackie that the Doctor is gone and her little turn and hug when Mickey notes how much she loves the Doctor are up there with anything from 'Dalek', 'Father's Day' or 'Parting' in terms of quality writing and acting.

So, the Doctor is useless or worse, the Sycorax are poised to massacre a third of the population, Harriet and Rose have tried their best but have failed. It's the end.

And then the Sycorax leader startes to speak English.

Once again, RTD's keen eye for spine-tingling moments comes into play as our heroes realise what is happening, the camera pulls in to the TARDIS and ... the Tenth Doctor calmly opens the doors and delivers a line clearly nicked from Buffy. Possibly better-used, though. And who cares when we are all cheering anyway? A beautiful moment, and from here David Tennant OWNS the screen. So many highlights come flying that it takes multiple viewings to really appreciate them - 'Am I ginger?', 'Oh, that was rude', 'No, wait, that's the Lion King'. Five minutes into this sequence and you are in no doubt (and I'm sure this counts for the new generation of kids raised on Chris Ecclestone, too) that this is the Doctor, and he is absolutely 'a whole new man'.

Another shaky moment now, as RTD's ambition maybe outstrips the show's capabilities a little as the fight is taken outside to what is clearly a beach with an AWFUL matte painting in the background ('The Long Game' is no longer the worst offender on this front now). Keeping the fight indoors with a hole in the floor leading out of the ship might have been a better call. Still, Tennant's energy carries us along all the same.

Another little complaint - if, as the commentary and extras on the BBC website suggest - the fight was painstakingly rehearsed for 5 days, WHY does the director insist on filming the whole thing from the chest up, thus missing most of the swipes and parries?! Is it purely to maintain the already shaky illusion that this is taking place on the outside of the ship? Bit of a misstep.

So, the Doctor wins after some nifty hand-growing that would make Luke Skywalker go green with envy and the BEST lines of any new episode - 'Witchcraft!', 'Timelord.' - and the earth is saved in time for a quick rant about the uselessness of satsumas. and just before we get our happy ending, we see a flash of the old, darker Doctor, still very much alive behind Tennant's grin. No second chances, indeed.

And we're still not done, yet. Harriet Jones' decision to fire upon a retreating foe is both shocking and understandable, a lovely moment of moral ambiguity that helps unleash a little more of the Doctor's darkness. Tennant plays this scene as well as CE played any of his key scenes in season 1, again boding well for what is to come.

And, since it's Christmas, we get the family dinner and the fanboy-pleasing 'Doctor dressing' scene. His wardrobe is every bit as extensive as you'd expect!

But by far the most pleasing aspect of this episode comes at the very end, and it comes from Rose. Watch as she and the Doctor gently reestablish their friendship, and gaze at each other with a suggestion of even more. She leans in with an excited, relieved smile and looks happier than ever at the prospect of being with him. Whether this was picked up in the writing, Piper's acting, the directing, or all three, it is a moment of brilliance, because Rose takes the audience with her. This new Doctor is complete, strong and just as much the man we love as before, but with suggestions of something new, less-damaged. It's an exciting new start.

A final word on David Tennant. While casting Chris Ecclestone was impressive and turned out to be a great piece of thinking, it may actually be Tennant's casting which really guarantees Doctor Who's long-term future and audience. He has enough of the new, darker essence introduced by Davies and Ecclestone to stand comfortably in the new format, but long-term fans will be delighted by just how noticeably 'Doctor-y' he is, from mannerisms to costume. Let's just hope the depth that the writers gave Ecclestone's Doctor is maintained.

Can't wait to visit New Earth is spring - it's going to be a long three months.





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Monday, 26 December 2005 - Reviewed by Mark Hain

How to begin....

Christopher Eccelston was an excellent doctor. Someone who could express the feelings of deep sorrow and resignation The Doctor would have been going through after the destruction of Gallifrey. He also had the ability to be light hearted and show moments of charm. After such a long break and what had happened within the universe of Doctor Who, it was what the series needed and he was fantastic.

David Tennant on the other hand (as several other reviewers have stated) IS The Doctor. I am American so I really don't know this guy as an actor. I know he is well known in the UK and I know he has theatre in his background but I simply can NOT believe how much I love this Doctor in such a short amount of time. I will admit that part of it is relief that RTD and the boys found someone talented and worthy of the role but it is so much more than that. Several reviewers have said some of the things I am going to say but this is how I feel so I'll sound like a parrot through some of this review.

David Tennant is in this show for about 20 minutes. Some people have said it's not a good thing but I believe the buildup is excellent. In some of my reviews of Season 1 I stated that I kind of got tired of the Earth episodes. I really liked all of Series 1 and I understand budgetary reasons but I would have liked to have a few alien worlds in the mix. Hopefully that will happen this season or the next. At any rate, this episode was perfect even though it was yet another Earth episode. If there were plot holes, I didn't see them or I didn't care. Yes, the Santas got alot of play before TCI aired and they didn't really play a role but they were just the small fish and that's the way it was. Also, it helped tie in to make this a Christmas episode (because there wasn't a whole lot about the show that made it "Christmasy"). Tennant takes a hold of this role and never looks back. Someone said he had an interview where he didn't seem interested in going on for the third season. I really don't believe this after seeing his performance last night. He took a part of just about every Doctor so far and made the role his own. He mimicks our own questions about what type of Doctor he is. Is he an intellectual like Hartnell, a clown like Troughton, a physical and intellectual warrior like Pertwee and so on.... We don't know yet, neither does he and Tennant revels in it. Where Eccelston clearly liked the role (especially in the first couple) and commanded respect because of his tone, this Doctor has a wide range of emotions. In the span of 1 minute he shows he can be humorous, goofy, funny and extremely commanding with amazing believability. He speaks a word of the Sycorax (when he asks the leader if he is a cowardly name) so it appears he knows of them (very Doctor-ish, even if he doesn't know them he acts as he does, with authority and pulls it off perfectly). He has a better opinion of humans (at least until Harriet Jones betrays him) as he talks to the Sycorax leader about their potential instead of just calling them "apes". I could go on and on but Tennant is amazing and I don't at all say this lightly--he really could be the best Doctor ever. Just to put this in perspective I love Doctor Who and every single Doctor has many aspects I love. Tennant seems very capable of encompassing them all and you can feel his love for this show.

As for the episode, I could see where some people might think it was slow at times before the Doctor wakes up but I didn't care. We waited for years before Series 1 and even then the wait until this episode from "The Parting of the Ways" seemed like a lifetime. As a huge Doctor Who fan, I don't see any of these episodes as slow. For god's sake they are only an hour long. Some of the older episodes were up to three or four hours long! Yes, the Doctor could have regenerated and been just fine but that would have been a contradiction. RTD knows and shows how much he cares for Doctor Who by making Tennant's regeneration just that: An unpredictable process that is complicated and can be very unpredictable to say the least. Plus, as I said before, it makes Tennant's entrance that much more powerful.

Harriet Jones didn't mean a whole lot to me, she was a good actress in the role in World War Three and it is neat that she ends up being Prime Minister but her use of weapons to kill the Sycorax didn't bother me as much as the fact that it was Torchwood that did it. I feel that Captain Jack was one of the best companions Who ever had and he grew enormously in the short time he was in the Tardis. The fact that in his first "appearance" he is a party to murder like this is disturbing. Hopefully the fact that Torchwood lost 1/3 of his staff means that he had not joined them yet or that in Torchwood's first episode their side is explained because as it stands I don't like it. The fact that Harriet destroyed them though and that the Doctor says he gave them the wrong warning shows volumes about how they both feel. Harriet grew up quite a bit (though she still feels she needs to flash her badge which was amusing as was the Sycorax leader saying "Yes we know who you are") and though it was hard for her she felt that to protect the Earth this ship had to be destroyed. A far cry from the woman who hid behind a couch when the Slitheen were attacking. The Doctor on the other hand wanted to be more optimistic than his predecessor about the human race and might have been but after the destruction of the Sycorax ship he has no choice but to admit that humans are dangerous to say the least. He also shows just how much he is a master of human nature by planting the seed of her defeat with just six words. A brilliant way of showing how everyone has stayed the same, and yet changed dramatically since Season 1. Rose has grown up as well. Several times she takes charge and several times she explains herself and her positions quite clearly in a very short amount of time. Again, a far cry from the girl working in a department store and unsure of her place in life. All around an excellent episode. Very entertaining, a great idea of what is to come and an absolutely brilliant performance by a very worthy 10th Doctor.

Last of all the shots of what's to come was AWESOME! The Cybermen and K-9 in motion! Sarah Jane Smith, those cat people, Queen Victoria.... I'll have to agree with a few others that have said, this could very well be the best season of Doctor Who ever. I can't wait!!!