tek's rating:

Doctor Who - A Christmas Carol, on BBC One (UK) / BBC America (USA)
A.V. Club; BBC; Christmas Specials Wiki; Council of Geeks; IMDb; TV Tropes; Wikia; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; Vudu

This is the sixth Christmas special of the revived Doctor Who series. (I have a tendency to think of it as the fifth Christmas special, because it's hard for me to think of The End of Time as such. But I'm wrong.) It aired in the UK on Christmas 2010, and it's the first Doctor Who episode to air in the US on the same day as the UK. I don't think I got to watch it until a couple days later, though. Maybe. (I posted my review on facebook on December 27, 2010, which I know because of my activity log. But as I edit dates into this opening paragraph in 2015, I don't know if that's actually the day I watched it. Not that it matters.) Anyway...

Let me just start by saying, God bless us, every one... especially Steven Moffat. Um... let's see. This shouldn't be too hard to summarize. Of course it takes place after the end of season five and before season six. I should say, I've seen countless movies and shows and things based on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, some more original than others. But this is perhaps the most original iteration I've seen. It begins with a ship entering the atmosphere of some planet which is, I guess, an Earth colony at some point in the future, though it all seems quite Victorian. Anyway, the atmosphere actually seems to consist largely of ice clouds, which cause some manner of interference, the upshot of which is that the ship, which has 4,003 passengers on board, is going to crash on the planet, killing them all... plus Amy and Rory, who are on the ship trying to help out, not that they're much use. The Doctor, meanwhile, shows up in the home of Kazran Sardick, an old miser who is the only person who can control a machine which can control the clouds... a machine which his father had invented years ago. The Doctor must convince Kazran to use the machine to fix it so the ship can land safely, but he doesn't want to. So, the Doctor comes up with a plan....

Here it is. Kazran is clearly a very Scrooge-like character. And the Doctor decides to do a Christmas Carol type of thing... which normally I think wouldn't be allowed by the rules that generally govern this show, but let's just ignore that, because... shut up. He sets up a projector which shows something Kazran himself had started filming when he was 12 years old, and the Doctor casts himself as the "Ghost of Christmas Past." However, he doesn't remain in the present long, but rather takes the tardis back to when young Kazran was recording the thing, and becomes a part of the show, himself, which old Kazran continues watching in the present, as he slowly begins to gain new memories of his life as it is reshaped by the Doctor's interference in the past. I should mention that the ice clouds contain fish as well as sharks, which can swim in the fog, which means they sometimes descend to the level in which people on the planet live. Which is pretty awesome, though it can also be pretty scary. Um... but also, Kazran's father has been cryonically freezing people as collateral for loans he's made to these people's families. One of these frozen people is a young woman named Abigail. She gets released by the Doctor and young Kazran for a reason involving a shark, which I don't really want to explain. But the important thing is that after that, for the next several years, the Doctor and Kazran always show up to release her again, just for Christmas Eve, to spend the night with them (traveling to various places in space and time). And eventually, Kazran is a young man himself, and he and Abigail fall in love.

There's a tragic twist, however, of which the Doctor remains unaware, until later on. I don't want to spoil it, but it results in Kazran deciding not to release Abigail from cryonic suspension again after that. So it seems the Doctor's plan to turn old Kazran into a good man failed. Finally, Amy makes a holographic appearance as the Ghost of Christmas Present, though that's not nearly as important (or as long) as the stuff in the past. And the Doctor also plays the Ghost of Christmas Future, but the twist is which Kazran's future. I liked that bit. And... that's what finally worked. Though at the same time, the plan backfired, so... something else had to be done. Still, there was a happy ending. Even if we know... ultimately a certain tragedy can't be avoided, we don't have to see that, and at least the ship is saved. And I dunno what else to say, except that there was a great deal about the episode that was terribly funny, as well as quite moving, very beautiful, both emotionally and visually... I loved seeing fish swimming around in the air. And I loved just how fresh such an old story became. It was really bloody amazing....

specials index
Christmas TV movies index

Doctor Who Festive Specials
BBC; Tardis Data Core; Wikipedia

10th Doctor: The Christmas Invasion * The Runaway Bride * Voyage of the Damned * The Next Doctor * The End of Time, parts 1 & 2
11th Doctor: A Christmas Carol * The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe * The Snowmen * The Time of the Doctor
12th Doctor: Last Christmas * The Husbands of River Song * The Return of Doctor Mysterio * Twice Upon a Time
13th Doctor: Resolution * Revolution of the Daleks * Eve of the Daleks
15th Doctor: The Church on Ruby Road

Untitled Document Novella: A Christmas Carol
(The following are adaptations and parodies I've seen or want to see. There are many more I've either forgotten or never seen, most of which I'd have no interest in.)

Films: Scrooge (1951) * Scrooge (1970) * Mickey's Christmas Carol * Scrooged * The Muppet Christmas Carol * A Christmas Carol (2009) *
The Man Who Invented Christmas
TV movies: The Stingiest Man in Town * A Christmas Carol (1984) * A Christmas Carol (1999) * A Christmas Carol: The Musical * Karroll's Christmas *
A Christmas Carol (2019)
TV episodes: see Holiday Parody Episodes