As is traditional, there was a seasonal dose of Doctor Who, and for those that do not live in the UK, be advised that for those that do, this is an almost mandatory part of Christmas, perhaps almost on par with the elderly relatives who in years gone by would dutifully bring the festivities to a complete halt at 3pm to listen to the queen’s speech. They might have now passed on, but the Queen has not, and so while she did still deliver at 3pm, I confess that I did not tune in to lister to her (well I guess that scuppers my CBE then), and yet did tune into Doctor Who, so I get to keep my citizenship.
As we watched, my initial reaction was disappointment, Father Christmas appeared, and my immediate go-to thought was, “Hey this is supposed to be Science-Fiction, not Fairy Fiction“, and wondered if this was about to be as bad as the infamous Star Wars Christmas Special, a production effort that was so bad that George Lucas reportedly said, “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.“. David Hofstede included the special in his 2004 book, “What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History.” In fact, he ranked it No. 1 and dubbed it “the worst two hours of television ever.”
Spoiler Alert: If you have not seen it and plan to do so at some point, stop reading now.
I was wrong, it actually did evolve into a rather decent episode.
Turns out that they were trapped in an unreal dream by dream crabs, alien beings that wrapped themselves around your face and plunged you into a dream while they consumed your brain. The cut and thrust of it all was for those that were trapped was to work out what was and was not real, and when they woke, to then work out if they really were awake or suffering from another delusion of a dream within a dream, and so this brought us well into the more cerebral SiFi domain of Philip K. Dick, where we try to come to terms with what is and is not real.
Favourite line, somebody points out that these Dream Crabs are just like the face-huggers in the Alien movie, and the Doctor responds as follows …
There was Also a nice twist in the telling of this tale as well
A rumour, had been cleverly planted in all our minds earlier on in the year from about August that they were going to kill off Jenna Coleman in this episode, this was public knowledge and an expectation most viewers held as they sat down to watch. As it proceeded they teased us with that, and even at one point towards the end appeared to have more or less finished her off, then at the last moment the rug gets pulled from under all that, and it becomes clear that she will be in next season after all because her end scene was simply another dream within a dream.
Is there a Message here?
Yes, in so many ways this was a wholly appropriate seasonal message.
Millions sit enthralled in an almost dream like state, ensnared to various degrees by the delusion that it was magic-baby day, because apparently a god became human so that it could then kill itself as a sacrifice to itself, and this was all done due to a magic talking snake tricking an ancestor into eating some fruit. Christian Theology basically involves packaging up that idea to craft the illusion that it is a reasonable assertion to make, but strip all the religious packaging away and inside the box this is what you find.
And so while this idea holds many ever so tightly in it’s grip, it then proceeds to slowly eat away at their brains – yep, this Dr Who episode was indeed pure fantasy and does not relate to the real world in any way at all :-)
Something tells my that the writer of this seasonal special, Steven Moffat, is not a religious chap.