An Englishman in LA on Doctor Who The Husbands of River Song
♦ Our man in Los Angeles, ROBERT CAVE, takes a look at the latest episode of the new series of Doctor Who
Hello everyone, there are festive spoilers here for the 2015 Christmas episode of Doctor Who. If you want to remain pure of knowledge about anything that happens in The Husbands of River Song, you should probably stop reading this review now and should maybe consider having your head removed and stuffed into a bag, but that might be a spoiler too.
So, we finally have a fitting finale to the River Song saga, for the moment, at least. She has her fans and detractors. I am definitely a fan, so was happy to see her turn up again like a penny that while not actively bad, is definitely playfully mischievous, to the delight of some and the exasperation of others.
Like her or not, this was very much a story that revolved around her, The King Hydrofax stuff was pretty lightweight and disposable in comparison like a Christmas stocking filler which is ironic, considering how original it is in comparison to show runner Steven Moffat’s previous Christmas tales. In the past he has given us retellings of a Christmas Carole and stories that borrowed so heavily from a certain successful film franchise about Aliens the fact was actually acknowledged by the characters at the time. But you really can’t complain when your stocking fillers are of the caliber of Greg Davies and Matt Lucas.
I loved the insect-y concierge too, mainly because he reminded me of a Doctor Who alien from the 1984 Marvel comic strip The Shape Shifter, drawn by John Ridgway. If the Doctor Who production department want to draw inspiration from the rich and sometimes overlooked corners of the various Doctor Who comic strip spin-offs they could do a lot worse than plunder from the creatures in the backgrounds of the drawn by Ridgway and Dave Gibbons.
We had misdirection galore in the promos and first half of the episode, again mainly focusing on River, implying that she had perhaps met the Doctor only once before in his narrative timeline. Misdirection has become something of a signature of Moffat’s run as a whole. It’s his last line of defence against a Doctor Who fandom that can spin whole storylines (many of them fantastically engaging) from a single line of dialogue or prop spotted at a location shoot. But while misdirection might enable the production team to stay one step ahead of the fans, but it does sometimes make for slightly less fulfilling narratives. If the team got away with it here, and I think they just about did, it was because Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston really sell the idea of a last night together at the singing towers of Darillium as foretold in River Song’s first two-parter Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead. They gave us a sense of an ending that was absent from the Name of the Doctor.
And we still got a happily ever after, because this is no ending. River will still have plenty of adventures we haven’t yet seen, many of which we will probably never actually see, because now River is set to appear in the Big Finish audio adventures. If we ever hear the dulcet tones of Jim the Fish it is more likely to be there than on our TV screens. But then again, I figured we’d never see Darillium either, nor the Doctor returning to Gallifrey to send Rassilon into exile (yes, I’ still thinking about that).
Doctor Who will return, and so will its latest spin-off, Class. Although we don’t yet know quite when, and what adventures the TARDIS will be taking us to, what I do know is that I am already looking forward to watching the first episode of the next series, whenever it finally arrives.