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The New Series

The Christmas Invasion

25th December 2005

Writer: Russell T Davies

Director: James Hawes

Roots: The plot is remarkably similar to Lance Parkin's The Dying Days, Superman II (The hero is off, incapacitated, the baddies are lording over the leaders of the free world, and the boss guy makes a TV broadcast along the lines of "Superman, we need you".), and The Ambassadors of Death (UNIT encounter non-Martian aliens via a mission to Mars). The opening shot is straight out of Rose. The Doctor's post-regeneration condition is based on Spearhead from Space and Castrovalva, and his speech about humanity being noticed echoes the Brigadiers words to Liz shaw early in Spearhead. The hand scene evokes memories of The Empire Strikes Back, and the Torchwood weapon is similar to the Death Star. The Doctor mentions This is your life. Faction Paradox (bone-masked voodoo aliens using blood control). The ship hovering over London is very Independance Day. War of the Worlds. The Sycorax's first appearance looks a lot like the video to Bohemian Rhapsody. The Doctor's new costume looks very Jarvis Cocker and the glasses very Alfie. Joseph Campbell (the hand regrowth). Harriet's actions at the end are reminiscent of both Doctor Who and the Silurians and Thatcher's decision to sink the Belgrano during the Falklands War. The Doctor's six words could be a subtle reference to the fall of Thatcher, and Harriet's message to the US President is clearly inspired by common beliefs about the relationship between Blair and Bush during the invasion of Iraq. The writing is intended to evoke the style of Douglas Adams.

One of the coats he picks up in the wardrobe scene is the costume David Tennant wore in Casanova and another costume is a Hogwarts uniform, a reference to Tennant's role in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The costume room apparently includes each of the previous Doctor's costumes, but I can't spot any of them. The Doctor quotes The Lion King and mentions Arthur Dent from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The Christmas Tree plays Jingle Bells and the radio at Mickey's workplace plays So Here it is Merry Christmas. The Doctor's comments about wanting to be ginger could be a reference to DJ Chris Evans or to the "Merlin Doctor" from the novelisation of Battlefield. The satsuma is a reference to the fact that most Christmas stockings include a satsuma. Harriet Jones mentions the Queen's Speech.

Goofs: The layout of Jackie's flat (in particular the precise location of the doors) has changed since Rose.

If the United Nations doesn't know about Torchwood, then how does UNIT (which is part of the UN) know? [Perhaps UNIT knows but other parts of the UN don't.]

How can it be one third of the world's population ready to jump off high buildings? What about those parts of the world without tall buildings? Were they climbing trees?

If the "pilot fish" Santas detected the Doctor and wanted his energy to power their batteries, why don't the Sycorax seem to have noticed it until Rose and Mickey fiddle with the TARDIS scanner? [Presumably the pilot fish scavenge from the worlds the Sycorax plunder in their quest for minerals and slaves. They probably wanted the energy source before the Sycorax attack in case it was damaged during the attack.]

When the TARDIS is teleported to the Sycorax ship there isn't anybody standing on the edge of the nearby rooftop. Also, the windows seem to have been inexplicably immune to the sonic wave.

Why do Harriet and Alex hear the Sycorax language translated into English? They've never been inside the TARDIS, so why does its telepathic field enable them to hear the translation? [Perhaps it was overcompensating for its earlier failure.]

OK, it's fair enough that there is an exit from the Sycorax ship leading out onto the hull (though it felt wrong when I watched it), but why isn't it airlocked? [Perhaps there's some kind of forcefield that doesn't let air out.]

The Doctor's claim to be within the first fifteen hours of his regeneration cycle doesn't seem to work because he's already regenerated when he arrives on Christmas Eve - when it is still daylight, and yet it is broad daylight when he regrows the hand. Given the length of the day at Christmas it must be over 15 hours later. [perhaps the regeneration was still ongoing until he was woken up by the tea and the regeneration cycle doesn't start until after that.] And why isn't there any blood when his hand is cut off? [Perhaps it's a result of the regeneration energy.]

Why is the TARDIS teleported back to a different location than the one from which it was taken? And why are Harriet and Alex transported to the same location rather than the Tower of London? Furthermore, how does Jackine find the TARDIS within seconds of the teleport?

If the Doctor brings about the fall of Harriet Jones' government in Christmas 2006, then how can she serve three terms, as stated in World War Three?

If it's Christmas then why are all the trees we see in full leaf? [Global warming?]

Double Entendres: When told that the Doctor has two hearts, Jackie asks: 'anything else he's got two of?'

Dialogue Disasters: Jackie: 'What do you mean "that's the Doctor". Doctor Who?'

Dialogue Triumphs: Harriet Jones sends a message to the US President: 'He's not my boss, and he certainly isn't turning this into a war.'

'Sycorax strong. Sycorax mighty. Sycorax rock.'

The Doctor: 'Look at these people, these human beings. Consider their potential. From the day they arrive on the planet, blinking step into the sun. There is more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than. No, hold on. Sorry, that's the Lion King.'

Memorable Moments: The Doctor's triumphant return to health. The way he kills the Sycorax leader with a satsuma.

Continuity: Jackie knows a cleaner called Tina, who has a lodger who is a medical student. Jackie has had Howard from the Market staying over for a month or so. Rose has a cousin Mo. Both Rose and Jackie have a blood group other than A positive.

The sonic screwdriver can blow up the Christmas tree that attacks Mickey and the Tylers, the Doctor implies that this is due to interfering with its remote control.

The pilot fish behind the Santas and the tree can run their batteries off the energy of the Doctor's regeneration (and possibly also the residual vortex energy that is still in his system).

Mickey works in a garage and now has a laptop. His blood group is not A positive.

The British Rocket Group are responsible for the Guinevere One space probe which is en route to Mars.

UNIT now have a base inside the Tower of London and software that can translate alien languages in a few hours.

Harriet Jones is now Prime Minister, having won a landslide majority. Her first term is already being called a golden age, making Jackie 18 pounds a week better off. There is an act of Parliament banning her autobiography. Her blood group is not A positive.

The Sycorax travel in spacecraft with a rocky hull. When their ship hits Earth's atmosphere above London it creates a sonic wave that shatters window glass in the capital. They think that the Earth has a tribal leader. They wear bone helmets. Their culture is obviously influenced by an equivalent of voodoo, using blood control for mass hypnosis, referring to curses and witchcraft. Blood control cannot be used to kill somebody as it's hypnotism and the survival instinct is too strong. They have an armada and sanctified rules of combat. They have teleportation technology and practice a slave trade. Their leader claims that they describe the darkness. They have energy whips which can turn a human into a skeleton with one blow.

The Doctor's condition somehow causes the TARDIS's translation effect to fail [as the TARDIS is known to help the Doctor's regeneration and used to draw power from the Eye of Harmony on Gallifrey. With the destruction , perhaps it is diverting power from other systems to help the Doctor.] In his post-regenerative coma state he has enough energy [artron energy, or left over vortex energy from The Parting of the Ways?] to power the pilot fish's batteries for a couple of years. His recovery is due to tea as it is a simple heated infusion of free radicals, antioxidants, and tannin. He always wanted to be ginger (c.f. the "Merlin" Doctor from the novelisation of Battlefield). He can tell the blood group of human blood by tasting it. His hand is cut off (this is the one with the slight weakness in the Dorsal Tubercal from the Children in Need Special), but as he is within the first 15 hours of his regeneration cycle, he has just enough energy to grow a new one in seconds. He says that this new hand is "a fighting hand", possibly suggesting that either he has some control over his regeneration or that regeneration gives abilities needed to survive in a hostile environment [c.f. the "forced regeneration seen in The Taking of Planet Five]. He chooses a suit and long coat from the TARDIS wardrobe as his first set of clothing. He wears glasses (but not all the time).

The British Royal family are all A positive.

Torchwood is so secretive that the Prime Minister and the UN are both supposed to be ignorant of its existence. They have a weapon created from a ship that fell to Earth 10 years ago which is capable of destroying the Sycorax ship.

Links: Rose says that one bottle of the Doctor's blood could change the future of the human race, possibly an allusion to Dalek. The Doctor's two hearts (first seen in Spearhead from Space) are mentioned. Harriet Jones was seen in Aliens of London and World War Three. Mickey and Rose's Christmas shopping trip goes past Henrik's (Rose). Jackie's friend Bev was first mentioned in Rose. The energy coming out of the Doctor's mouth is from The Parting of the Ways. One of the newsreaders was seen in Aliens of London/World War Three. The Major mentions that Martians look completely different to the Sycorax (The Dying Days). Harriet mentions a code 9 - the code for monitoring systems detecting the presence of the Doctor in Aliens of London. The Major calls the Doctor "the stuff of legend" - a reference to the Doctor's long association with UNIT. Torchwood is the name of the forthcoming spin-off featuring Captain Jack. There are two references (one in a speech, one in the "tickertape" section of News 24) to Harriet's Cottage Hospital plans (Aliens of London). The Doctor uses the ninth Doctor's phrase "fantastic" as a final coda to his previous incarnation

St Stephen's clock tower has scaffolding, a reference to the damage inflicted in Aliens of London. Rose says that her accessing the heart of the TARDIS (The Parting of the Ways) has been wiped from her memory. Mickey mentions the scanner picking up TV (Aliens of London). Rose's speech to the Sycorax mentions Article 15 of the Shadow Proclamation, the Slitheen parliament of Raxicoracofallapatorius, the Gelth Confederacy, the Mighty Jagrafess, and the Daleks. The wardrobe scene is intended to mirror equivalent scenes from The Twin Dilemma and Time and the Rani. The wardrobe room contains Steven Taylors's stripy jumper and the mirror from Castrovalva, as well as a Time Lord robe.

Extras: There is an update to Mickey's website covering his suspicions about the Guinevere One Space Probe. There is also a site dedicated to the mission, supposedly run by The British Rocket Group. The original BBC 1 Christmas broadcast, and the New Years Day BBC 3 repeat were followed by a 15 minute interactive episode called Attack of the Graske for those with digital TV. There is also a commentary on the BBC website.

Location: London, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, 2006.

Unrecorded Adventures: Rose has learnt that the Doctor has two hearts. The Doctor says that he hasn't seen blood control "for years". He claims that Arthur Dent was a nice man, implying that he has met him.

The Bottom Line: 'I've no idea who I am, but you've just summed me up.' Doctor Who's first ever Christmas Special also has the job of introducing the new Doctor. Although it is slow in parts, Rose's clear inability to cope without the Doctor and the Doctor's return only to defeat the Sycorax single-handed with ease makes up for this. David Tennant is superb as the Doctor, and already differentiating himself from Chris Eccleston's Doctor. Yes, the plot could be a lot stronger, with the Santas and tree being completely irrelevant, but it hardly matters. This is the ideal material for a Christmas Special.


Thanks go to all the folk who commented on The Christmas Invasion in the Bloopers thread on Outpost Gallifrey's forum. Without them, the goofs section would have been a lot smaller.

You visited the Whoniverse at 4:34 pm BST on Tuesday 18th April 2006