The worst Doctor Who Christmas specials are the ones that are impenetrable to casual audiences, because there's nothing worse than sitting around with your extended family on Christmas Day—expecting a fun, heartwarming fantasy adventure—only for everything to be tangled in so much backstory that it loses the non-Whovians in the room. Most people know the gist of what Who's about, of course, but I still think these specials are an important way to recruit new fans, and too many of the show's recent Yuletide adventures have been alienating messes with added fake snow.
There's none of the weirdness of Series 6 when River fancied Matt Smith's very boyish and whimsical Doctor, thankfully, so now they're more like an old married couple whose love's matured beyond physical attraction. It's like seeing cool parents hanging out, reliving their lost youth, getting into scrapes they should know better to avoid. The Doctor even laughs for what seems like the first time in years, simply happy to be in River's presence—a woman who treats him as he treats his earthly companions, always keeping him on his toes.
The storyline's a little thin and you're instantly going to forget a third of what happened, but in the moment "The Husbands of River Song" is a dazzling flash of fun and laughter.
- The Christmassy street the TARDIS landed in was the exact same set used for the trap street in "Face the Raven", right? I may be wrong, but it looked exactly the same. If it was the same set, they could have disguised it better. If it wasn't, why mirror trap street so much?
- So, River is 200-years-old now because her life span's been augmented. This obviously means she can return plenty more times in the show's future. Nice to see her famous TARDIS diary again, too. I liked the idea she's getting anxious about her own destiny, seeing as the diary's about to run out of pages and it's entirely possible The Doctor gave it to her knowing how thick it would need to be.
- Considering the brouhaha caused by some scenes in ITV's Jekyll & Hyde when it began, I was a little surprised by how graphic that sequence was of a man basically unzipping his own head like it was a purse. A fantastic visual, wisely shot from behind while The Doctor took the edge off the horror with a funny remark, but still… too much for little 'uns watching?
- The new sonic screwdriver was used, but it seems the sonic glasses are still around as an alternative. It certainly makes more sense for The Doctor to pop on specs to analyse visual things, rather than wave a screwdriver at it and read a display.
- River has a sonic trowel, because she's an archaeologist. The Doctor thinks it's embarrassing, so gets her a proper screwdriver on their date.
- Anyone else think Hydroflax's enormous robot body was a combination of Games Workshop Space Marines and the red-armoured Baymax from Big Hero 6?