Monday, December 26, 2011

Thoughts on Doctor Who & Downton Abbey Christmas Specials

America really needs to adopt this quirky, but totally great British tradition of having some of its prime-time shows do one-off Christmas specials that actually air on Christmas. Of course it won't ever happen here in America where ratings and Nielsen are what matters, but it's nice to have access to those happening across the pond. With that said, I did watch the latest Christmas specials of two of my favorite shows yesterday, Doctor Who and Downton Abbey, and they were just delightful. My thoughts are below, but only my Doctor Who thoughts are spoilery since Downton Abbey's second season hasn't even aired in America yet.

Doctor Who

I'm not quite sure what to make of this episode. I enjoyed it surely and there were some tears shed especially towards the end, but there were parts that felt a bit off. Maybe it was my mind trying to put the Narnia-esque storyline with talking trees and big robots all together or the somewhat silly forest life force inhabiting a person only to be dispersed in the stars. I have to say, however, Matt Smith was still as wonderful as ever as the Doctor. The first half was very fun/funny really tapping into the "this show is for kids and it's Christmas dammit" tone what with the backwards helmet, the lemonade faucet, and the hammocks for bed. But of course the show is at its best when it tries to tap into just a bit of sadness which was evident in the mother's ordeal of not telling her kids on Christmas that their father had been killed or the Doctor's everlasting feeling of loneliness. In true Christmas fashion though both were fixed by the end and as contrived and saccharine the resolutions turned out to be, I was, as the Doctor would say, "Happy Tearing. Humany Wumany." The end especially with the Doctor reuniting with Amy and Rory (a most pleasant surprise to me) was fantastic. With all the craziness and drama they've all been through the past two seasons, it was nice for them to have this moment. There was also something very affecting to the Doctor spending time with his friends like that or maybe it was seeing the Doctor/Smith cry. I am dreading ever more how they handle permanently separating the Doctor from the Ponds sometime next season. B

Downton Abbey

This past season, which again hasn't aired in America and won't until this upcoming spring, had more than a few story-lines that frustrated me to no end, but the cast has always been up to the task. My favorite storyline, I have to admit, is the continuing saga of Matthew and Mary whose relationship I had grown to deeply care about as the season progressed. Most of this I attribute to the actors Michelle Dockery and Dan Stevens. I say all of this because I was particularly glad that they weren't shortchanged in this Christmas special. With that said, I found this Christmas special quite engrossing. In fact this episode felt more like a season finale than what we actually got a few weeks ago and while there were some characters and story-lines that had to be pushed aside, I felt they shone proper light to those that needed more resolution especially as the next new episode won't be until autumn of next year. As I tried to keep spoilers out, I shall stop now, but I do have to say Maggie Smith steals every scene she's in. This is true for the season, the special, and life in general. A-

I started off this entry wishing American TV would copy the ways of British TV, but then I realized that I probably shouldn't be too hasty. The quirky British scheduling means that I now have to wait 9-10 months for the new episodes for both of these shows. That wait, especially with how each ended their respective specials, is damn interminable. They say patience is a virtue, but I'm not really the virtuous sort.

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