Writer: Russell T. Davies
Director: James Hawes
Producer: Phil Collinson
Series: 2, Christmas Special
Companions: Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke)
Summary: After “The Parting of the Ways”, the new Tenth Doctor takes Rose back to Earth. Rose is both distraught and confused, as are Jackie and Mickey. Jackie dresses the Doctor in Howard’s bathrobe (which has fruit hidden in it–Chekov’s Gun!) and put him in bed. While this happens, Harriet Jones and Daniel Llewllyn are giving a press conference for Guinivere I, a space probe headed for Mars. However, the probe is swallowed up by a spaceship belonging to the Sycorax.
While Rose and Mickey go shopping, they are attacked by robot Santas. They rush home and discover a new Christmas tree which spins and attacks them. Rose rushes into the bedroom to wake the Doctor and gives him his sonic screwdriver. The Doctor stops the tree, but it’s too soon. The Santas are actually “pilot fish” who’ve tracked his regeneration energy.
The Sycorax have sent messages to the UN, prompting Harriet Jones to put word out to Torchwood. Suddenly, several people with A+ blood enter a trance and start walking up to the highest places they can to jump.
The Sycorax transmat Harriet Jones and UNIT staff and demand surrender. Llewllyn is reduced to a skeleton when he tries to reason.
Meanwhile, Mickey and Rose have moved the Doctor into the TARDIS, but the Sycorax transmat them as well. Rose and Mickey rush out, but Mickey inadvertently drops his tea flask, and the Doctor breathes in the fumes as the console sparks from the tea.
Rose botches the Shadow Proclamation and the Sycorax, which signals to her that the Doctor is awake. The Doctor assesses the situation and realizes the Sycorax are using blood control on the jumpers. He disables this, calling their bluff. He then quotes The Lion King and challenges their leader to battle. In the midst of their fight, the leader cuts off his hand, but there’s still enough residual energy to regrow his hand. The Doctor successfully gets him to surrender, but as he walks away the Sycorax advances toward him and the Doctor hits him with a satsuma hidden in the pajamas. He tells the Sycorax to back off: Earth is defended.
After everyone is safe and sound, the Doctor tells Jones there are more aliens out there. Jones gives the order and the Sycorax ship is destroyed by Torchwood as they retreat. Harriet justifies her actions as self-defense, but the Doctor isn’t happy and whispers into her aide’s ear as he leaves.
When our heroes return home, they discover from TV that Harriet is having to fend off rumors of ill health and a vote of no confidence. The Tenth Doctor, now dressed in his trademark suit and pants takes Rose to new adventures.
Review: I have to admit, when Eccleston left after only one season, I began to doubt the new efforts. If they couldn’t keep a Doctor for more than one season, what’s the point of being invested in him? Fortunately, Tennant quickly me new confidence. His himor and mellower attitude is well-played. It’s also interesting that this is a program that doesn’t forget the Doctor is fallible. Was Harriet justified? Was the Doctor? This is one of the great strengths of New Who–not shying away from showing that actions have consequences. I think this was a great episode.
Overall Rating: 10/10
Continuity: The Doctor quotes the Brigadier from “Spearhead From Space”. Harriet Jones’s reaction to the Sycorax is similar to the Brigadier’s reaction after defeating the Silurians in “Doctor Who and the Silurians”. The UK also manned a mission to mars in “The Ambassadors of Death.” The Doctor’s ability to regrow a hand suggests a rationale to the numerous bodies Romana went through before deciding a new one while regenerating in “Destiny of the Daleks” The old hand is retrieved by Jack Harkness in “Everything Changes”, the first episode of Torchwood. It is returned to the Doctor in “The Last of the Time Lords”. It created the Meta-Crisis Doctor and infused Time Lord DNA into Donna in “Journey’s End”. In the Doctor’s wardrobe, we see clothes worn by Steven Taylor in “The Celestial Toymaker”. We also see the Sixth Doctor’s waistcoat from “The Two Doctors” and a scarf similar to the Fourth Doctor’s that the Seventh Doctor wore in “Time and the Rani.” The TARDIS also materializes in motion in “The Runaway Bride”. Harriet Jones’s line about the Doctor not always being there is a theme of the Torchwood: Children of Earth mini-series. The Eleventh Doctor also complains about not being ginger in “The End of Time” part 2. The robot Santas return in “The Runaway Bride”. The Sycorax return in “The Pandorica Opens.” It is Harriet Jones’s forced resignation that would later allow the Master, as Harold Saxon, to become the new prime minister in “The Sound of Drums.” Other stories where the Doctor engages in swordfights are “The Sea Devils”, “The Masque of Mandragora”, “The Androids of Tara”, and “The King’s Demons.”
Trivia: This was not the first Christmas episode for Doctor Who. That would be “The Feast of Stephen”, part 7 of “The Daleks’ Master Plan”. “The Unquiet Dead” could also count as a Christmas-themed episode, despite not airing on the actual holiday.