Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Husbands of River Song by: Steven Moffat directed by: Douglas Mackinnon: Off With His Head: A Pantomime

The Husbands of River Song was written by Steven Moffat, directed by Douglas Mackinnon, produced by Nikki Wilson.  The story stars Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, Alex Kingston as River Song, Matt Lucas as Nardole, and Greg Davies as King Hydroflax.  The story was originally broadcast on 25 December 2015.

Now I haven’t reviewed any of the television series for this blog of mine which is a bit odd considering that the premise of this blog is Doctor Who Reviews.  After a month of writing reviews of the Virgin New Adventures it is time for me to dive into the television series with the annual tradition of the Christmas Special.  Now the Christmas Specials haven’t always been the best episodes of the series with some being some of the worst in years.  This year we were given a story called The Husbands of River Song which gave the fandom a groan as not many people like River Song especially recently.  With that said I went into this with pessimism even though I’m usually an optimist and I was pleasantly surprised with what we got.  It isn’t the best episode in the world, but it was mainly an alright story with a few moments of really funny bits that actually hit.  The way you need to look at this story is as a Christmas Pantomime for the majority of the run time which really works as a story.


The plot involves the Doctor, recovering from the loss of Clara Oswald, being mistaken for a surgeon who has been sent to operate on the husband of River Song, King Hydroflax, who is a genocidal maniac in the style of a Stephen Thorne performance.  The surgery requires retrieving the most valuable diamond in the world from the King’s head, but River wants to have the Doctor just cut off his head so the diamond can be retrieved and Hyroflax, who is a genocidal maniac, will be killed.  Also because of the thirteen lives rule for Time Lords, River doesn’t recognize her actual husband.  So the Doctor gets to be the companion for an episode while River ends up stealing the TARDIS so she can sell the diamond.  This takes the story to a starliner full of criminals where they end up selling the thing where by the end of it all the flaws of the story show their heads.


To get into the good bits of the story is how Peter Capaldi’s Doctor interacts with Alex Kingston’s River Song.  When River has no idea who the Doctor is she reveals that she has more than one husband, whom she doesn’t love, but uses it as a way to get what she wants.  She also has a tendency to steal the TARDIS to get her aims and doesn’t really care who gets hurt.  It’s a great performance between them especially with a lot of the visual gags.  When River realizes that the man she has been with is the Doctor they go on their last date as described in Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead which is a really poignant scene.  It provides closure to their story arc even if the arc wasn’t the strongest over all.  The humor also is really on point for most of the episode.


With all this positivity there are still a lot of problems, mainly the supporting cast is boring.  I barely remember a thing about them and even with some creative designs they don’t leave a good impression.  The last ten minutes of the story also get really sappy but still try to infuse some comedy into the scenes which doesn’t work.  But still probably the best Christmas Special since A Christmas Carol in 2010 and from me it gets 60/100.

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