The Christmas invasion (2005)
About this episode
This episode was first broadcast on 25 December 2005. It was written by Russell T Davies and directed by James Hawes. The showrunner was Russell T Davies.
The tenth Doctor comes tumbling out of the Tardis and has his first adventure.
In 2005, this was the first Doctor Who Christmas special ever - something that the BBC never let us forget in the preceding weeks - and apart from the Children in Need special it was the first outing for David Tennant as the Doctor, and everyone was still wondering whether he would be up to it. There are also mentions of a mysterious organisation called Torchwood that nobody knew anything about yet.
Fortunately, three years (and two Christmas specials) later the episode still works well.
Good things about this episode:
- It's well-made, well-paced and well-acted.
- The tenth Doctor is excellent fun to watch.
- For the fans of the 'classic' series this whole episode is a game of spot-the-reference-to-previous-regenerations.
- The mix of high drama (one third of the earth population being held hostage) and farce (the tea, Harriet Jones' over-the-top televised plea for the Doctor to return) sort of works.
- Torchwood turned out to be a disappointment, didn't it? In 'The Christmas invasion' they come across as an efficient if misguided organisation with weapons that actually work against the aliens. In the spinoff series, we ended up with a handful of otherwise unemployable misfits with soap-operatic sex lives instead.
- This episode sets up a jingoistic British government with a Prime Minister with a ruthless streak. After seeing 'The Christmas invasion' I was looking forward to seeing this explored further in later episodes, but that never happened.
- Which brings us to Harriet Jones, Prime Minister. Heroic Harriet Jones was fun. Bad-ass Harriet Jones was even more fun. Why oh why couldn't we keep her for just a little bit longer? Also, the way the Doctor brings her down just grates. We're used to seeing the Doctor use his wits to defeat his enemies. It's jarring to see him start a vaguely misogynistic whispering campaign to put an uppity, elderly female in her place.
The bottom line