‘The Christmas Invasion’ (TV)

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‘THE CHRISTMAS INVASION’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Sycorax Invasion

After enjoying Series 1 of ‘Doctor Who’ so much, I wanted to see Series 2!

This was David Tennant’s first season as the Tenth Doctor. I wondered what this new Doctor was going to be like after watching Christopher Eccleston’s portrayal of the character. I warmed to David’s Doctor after I first saw him. I was looking forward seeing more TV adventures with the Tenth Doctor and Rose.

I was slowly getting into ‘Doctor Who’ by 2006 and I wouldn’t have suspected that I would enjoy these episodes so much. Let’s see how David Tennant fares in his first season as the Doctor. We start off with ‘The Christmas Invasion’. The first scene is the ‘Children In Need’ scene transmitted in November 2005.

I didn’t watch this scene until I purchased ‘The Complete Series 2’ on DVD. This is a terrific seven-minute ‘Children in Need’ scene that introduces David Tennant as the Doctor. It was great to watch and it’s a really nice scene to establish Rose being unsure about whether to trust the Doctor or not with his new face.

Anyway, onto ‘The Christmas Invasion’ itself. And yes it’s Christmas time as well as the beginning of a new era for ‘Doctor Who’. This was the first ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas Special in 2005 to feature the first appearance of David Tennant’s Doctor with Billie Piper’s Rose. This TV tale also introduces the Sycorax.

‘The Christmas Invasion’ is a 60-minute special episode by Russell T. Davies. I like how Russell has Christmas in the familiar setting of Rose’s home as well as mixing in an alien invasion and introducing a new Doctor.

The TARDIS returns to present-day Earth in time for Christmas with Rose’s family. But the Doctor’s regeneration goes wrong and he becomes ill. The world soon needs him when the Sycorax invade.

In this episode, we don’t see the Doctor much as he’s mostly in bed and doesn’t do much. I wondered whether he would make a proper appearance since he didn’t seem to impress me at first.

But then, when the Doctor did get better, he’s on fine form and he gets to defy the Sycorax when they bully the humans. He challenges the Sycorax leader to a sword fight, making him the Earth’s champion.

David Tennant delivers an amazing performance in his first appearance as the Doctor. I didn’t know that he would become one of my favourite Doctors in the TV series as he imbues a lot in his performance.

I found it funny when David’s Doctor saved the world in his pyjamas before he choose his brand-new look of clothes. He’s also a person who gives no second chances to people who displease him.

Billie Piper is superb as Rose Tyler as she carries forward the heart and audience participation in this episode. Rose is worried when she sees her Doctor changed and isn’t sure what to make of him yet.

Rose clearly misses the old Doctor before he regenerated. But soon, she trusts the new Doctor when he gets to save the world. She still wants to continue travelling with him by the end of the episode.

Noel Clarke returns as Mickey Smith, Rose’s ex-boyfriend and Camile Coduri returns as Jackie Tyler, Rose’s mum. It was nice to see them in this Christmas episode and share how Rose reacts to the new Doctor.

Penelope Wilton from ‘Aliens of London’/’World War Three’ returns as Harriet Jones, who is now Prime Minister. It was nice to see her in this episode, although she does something that angers the Doctor.

The monsters are the alien Sycroax. When the Doctor’s ill, the TARDIS isn’t able to translate the Sycorax’s alien language for the humans to understand. This troubles Rose and it makes life difficult for the humans.

The Sycorax want to enslave humanity and they use blood control to persuade the humans to surrender. But the Doctor soon steps in and sorts out everything by sending the Sycorax away off into space.

The Sycroax spaceship hanging above London on Christmas Day was pretty awe-inspiring to watch. It put me in mind of the film ‘Independence Day’ when I was watching it. That is a terrifying image.

‘The Christmas Invasion’ has been an enjoyable and an exciting start to a new tenure of ‘Doctor Who’. David Tennant is superb starting off as the Doctor in this episode. I was looking forward to seeing more of what his Doctor was like and what adventures he would have with Rose Tyler as his companion.

The DVD/Blu-ray special features for this episode are as follows. As well as the ‘Children In Need’ scene set before this episode, there’s also an in-vision audio commentary with executive producer/writer Russell T. Davies; executive producer Julie Gardner and producer Phil Collinson.

‘The Christmas Invasion’ rating – 8/10


 

‘DOCTOR WHO – THE CHRISTMAS INVASION’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Sycorax Invade the Bookshelves

This is a faithful novelization of a ‘Doctor Who’ TV episode!

After enjoying reading and listening to ‘Rose’ the Target novelization/audiobook by Russell T. Davies so much, I was looking forward to reading the next book in the four Target novelizations on four ‘Doctor Who’ new series TV episodes for 2018. This is ‘The Christmas Invasion’ novelization/audiobook!

This ‘Doctor Who’ novelization is by Jenny T. Colgan, who contributed a number of ‘Doctor Who’ stories over the years for BBC Books and Big Finish. In fact, for the Tenth Doctor era, Jenny wrote the audio ‘Time Reaver’ and the book adventure ‘In the Blood’ for the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble.

It’s interesting two of these four new series ‘Doctor Who’ novelizations are by writers who have adapted their books from scripts by the original authors. Jenny T. Colgan (‘The Christmas Invasion’) adapts from Russell T. Davies, whilst Paul Cornell (‘Twice Upon A Time’) adapts from Steven Moffat.

I’m not sure why BBC Books went with this approach and had two different writers write novelizations based on a Russell T. Davies script and a Steven Moffat script. This is especially when the two authors themselves are doing a novelization each. RTD did ‘Rose’ and Moffat did ‘The Day of the Doctor’.

But I suppose it’s rather nice to have two different writers’ interpretations on ‘The Christmas Invasion’ and ‘Twice Upon A Time’ whilst also enjoying the ‘Rose’ and ‘The Day of the Doctor’ novelizations at the same time. I’m just happy I’m reading these novelizations in chronological order.

I think it’s clear from reading ‘The Christmas Invasion’ novelization that Jenny T. Colgan is a huge fan of the Tenth Doctor era of ‘Doctor Who’. This is clear in her afterword at the end of the book, but we’ll get to that. I do like how Jenny faithfully novelized ‘The Christmas Invasion’ TV script into book.

The novelization is of course based on the first ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas Special transmitted on the 25th of December 2005 by Russell T. Davies. It’s also the first story to feature the first appearance of the Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant. I was very intrigued at what this novelization would be like.

Jenny T. Colgan’s novelization of ‘The Christmas Invasion’ isn’t as meaty as Russell T. Davies’ ‘Rose’ novelization. Jenny doesn’t change much in terms of the plot, writing in the style of the Terrance Dicks novelizations. From reading the book, I felt engaged regarding the tale’s events and characters.

The book is divided into 20 chapters with a prologue at the beginning and an epilogue at the end. Like I said, the book contains an author’s afterword by Jenny T. Colgan at the end. The chapter titles of the book are taken from some Christmas songs. This was a nice touch regarding the book’s context.

The audiobook is read by Camile Coduri, who plays Jackie Tyler in the ‘Doctor Who’ series. Camile comes fresh from doing the ‘Rose’ audiobook. It was nice to hear her read again for ‘The Christmas Invasion’ audiobook. Again, she doesn’t provide authentic voices for the characters in the adventure.

But she does provide the same enthusiasm and energy reading the stories as she’s done before in the ‘Rose’ audiobook and other ‘Doctor Who’-related productions. She’s still into her character of Jackie and provides decent voices for the Tenth Doctor, Rose, Mickey and Harriet Jones in the audio.

So what can I say about ‘The Christmas Invasion’ novelization that makes it different from the TV episode? Well, the prologue features a brand new scene not shown in the episode. It’s a scene where the Guinevere One team observe the probe in space. The project’s origins also get explained.

Chapter 1 of the book is literally the scene set straight after ‘The Parting of the Ways’ where the Ninth Doctor regenerated into the Tenth. This is of course the 2005 Children in Need sketch featuring the Tenth Doctor and Rose in the TARDIS before the actual ‘Christmas Invasion’ tale begins.

I’m very pleased this scene is included in ‘The Christmas Invasion’ Target novelization as it’s really part of the story despite being separate from the episode and being shown on Children in Need night in 2005. I re-watched the Children in Need scene before I got down to reading the novelization.

I like how the novelization explores Rose’s journey in accepting the Doctor as a changed man. She’s clearly unhappy with the Doctor’s change of appearance since she was so used to the Ninth Doctor. I like how Rose gets frustrated with the Doctor being weak and helpless for the most part of the story.

Gradually in the story, Rose comes to like the new Doctor. This is especially when he wakes up and comes to save the day by fighting the Sycorax leader on top of their spaceship. The moment where Rose throws a sword at the Doctor to catch it and she calls him ‘Doctor’ is where she’s accepted him.

In the book, it’s established that the Doctor upgraded Mickey’s laptop during the Slitheen crisis in ‘World War Three’ with his sonic screwdriver. I’m not sure if that’s what happened in the TV version of that story, but I’m willing to go along with it. Perhaps a novelization of that TV story could confirm it.

Anyway, it explains how Mickey is able to gain access to the military’s website in order for him and Rose to see what’s going on with the Sycorax and everything. Jenny T. Colgan clearly relished having Mickey to plug his modem into the phone line for his laptop. How times have changed since then. 😀

It’s indicated in the novelization that the Tenth Doctor picked up his London-like accent from Rose. This was interesting to discover especially since the Ninth Doctor was previously Northern accent-sounding. Is this a case for all the Doctors where they pick up various accents off from their companions?

There’s a bit of history given on how U.N.I.T. moved their base into Tower Hill which features prominently in later episodes of the Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi eras. Apparently the Doctor didn’t like the move of U.N.I.T.’s base to Tower Hill. This does sound like the Patrick Troughton Doctor joke. 😀

I really like Daniel Llewellyn’s character development in the novelization compared to the TV version. More background is given on him as a character, especially in how he developed the Guinevere One project. He easily becomes anxious when the project goes wrong and he meets U.N.I.T.

I especially like the interaction Daniel Llewellyn has with Sally Jacobs in the novelization. There’s a scene where they’re sitting outside together, having a cup of coffee at night-time. There’s a hint of a romantic connection between the two, which wasn’t hinted at very strongly during the TV episode.

By the way, I like the Welsh accent Camille Coduri provides for Daniel Llewellyn in the audiobook. It’s a subtle Welsh accent that isn’t done over-the-top and feels believable when you listen to it on audio. It matches to how Daniel Evans’ performance as Daniel Llewellyn for the TV episode sounded.

There were a number of deleted scenes cut from the TV version of the episode that have reinserted themselves back into the novelization. One of these deleted scenes is where Daniel Llewellyn arrives at U.N.I.T. for the first time with Major Blake and he marvels at how superior U.N.I.T’s technology is.

There’s also the scene where the Doctor struggles to find a new catchphrase when he struggles to say “Fantastic!” like the Ninth Doctor did. He eventually settles on “Molto bene!” in the novelization. I found the scene a bit awkward when I watched it on DVD. But it was okay in the book.

The Sycorax are greatly written in the novelization. I just loved it when I was reading the Sycroax’s guttural alien dialogue in the book. I had a go saying the lines myself and it’s not so easy I can tell you. 😀 Camille Coduri’s voice is treated when she speaks the lines of the Sycorax leader in the audiobook.

It was tense reading those scenes where the Sycorax became merciless and unwilling to give the humans the compassion they deserve. The Sycorax leader’s treachery is greatly handled in the novelization, especially when he’s about to stab the Doctor in the back after their sword fight is over.

The Robot Santas scenes were equally delightful to read to as well as the killer Christmas tree in the Tylers’ flat. It was tense when the Robot Santas opened fire on Rose and Mickey during their Christmas shopping. I liked how the build-up is made in the book before the Robot Santas attacked.

I also like how the metaphor of ‘pilot fish’ is elaborated in the book, especially when Mickey looked up the term on his laptop with Rose nearby. It did feel rather rushed when Mickey explained it to Rose in the TV version. But in the novelization, there is that time to process all the information in.

From reading the book, it’s indicated that the Doctor actually met Arthur Dent in his travels. Wait a minute! So ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ continuity fits in with the ‘Doctor Who’ continuity? How come the Earth isn’t blown up then? Or did all that happen in a parallel universe? 😀

In the book, instead of being teleported down to Earth by the Sycorax at the end, the Doctor takes everyone including Rose, Mickey, Harriet Jones and Alex in the TARDIS. This was an intriguing change in the novelization compared to the TV version. I’m unsure which version works better in this regard.

I liked that scene where Harriet Jones justifies her reasons for blowing up the Sycorax spaceship to defend her planet and the human race. In many respect, Harriet Jones is correct in her fears and actions in this case. But it doesn’t stop the Doctor’s anger and disappointment on what she’s done.

I like the moment in the book where the Doctor realises that his eyesight is rather fuzzy when he’s looking at things and he puts on his glasses. This gets featured in the final chapter of the book where he’s watching Harriet Jones on the news. At least it explains why the Tenth Doctor wears his glasses.

The book’s final chapter where the Tenth Doctor invites Rose to accompany her on his travels in the TARDIS is very well-handled. It especially goes to show how far Rose has come in her journey to accept the new Doctor and how the Doctor especially wants Rose to come with him in feeling better.

The epilogue at the end of the book details Jackie and Mickey’s reflection over events in the story. Jackie is upset when the TARDIS leaves with her daughter inside and Mickey is saddened about losing his former girlfriend to the Doctor. Sally Jacobs’ reflection over events gets depicted as well here.

The audiobook ends on a rather peculiar note. The author’s afterword by Jenny T. Colgan gets read by…Camile Coduri. This is rare to find in an audiobook of a ‘Doctor Who’ novelization. I’m not sure if this is right for Camile Coduri to read the author’s afterword, as the author should read it herself.

The author’s afterword however is very lovely to read, especially in terms of how Jenny gives the background to how she came to write this ‘Doctor Who’ novelization in the first place. She shares her nostalgic memories of Target novelizations; new series ‘Doctor Who’ and David Tennant himself.

‘The Christmas Invasion’ novelization has been a nice book to read and listen to. I really like how Jenny T. Colgan has faithfully adapted Russell T. Davies’ script into prose. Her love for the Tenth Doctor era shines throughout this book. I especially enjoyed hearing Camile Coduri reading the story.

‘Doctor Who – The Christmas Invasion’ rating – 8/10


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4 thoughts on “‘The Christmas Invasion’ (TV)

  1. David Tennant just smashes it as the Doctor, he is the only actor to play the role were i knew straight away his tenure was going be awesome, he just came in like he’d played the part for years he just got it.

    This is when i used to get excited about Doctor Who, RTD & Tennant was my favourite era of NuWho, i remember rewatching this a dozen times & loved Tennants performance.

    I wish the show was this good now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Simon.

      Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘The Christmas Invasion’.

      I’ve been watching these ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas Specials with David Tennant lately and was thinking the same thing. I wish the show was as good as it was back then in the RTD era with David Tennant. I can’t seem to get into the new series these days.

      Like you, I enjoyed the BF audios, the classic TV series and the RTD era of the new series more than I enjoy what’s in the Steven Moffat era. I know I’m looking forward to seeing the new era with Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker, but even then I’m getting a sense it won’t be as good as what was in the RTD era that I grew up with and loved.

      I love David Tennant’s performance as the Doctor in this episode as well as his whole era. I’ve seen ‘Nativity 2’ with David Tennant in it and I don’t think he’s lost the Doctor at all. He’s just brilliant!

      Thanks Simon.

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

  2. Enjoyed your thoughts on the novel adaptation Tim, always loved this story as David Tennant was awesome from the get go, tempted to get the audio for this as you rated it highly.

    In Tim We Trust lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Simon.

      Glad you enjoyed my thoughts on ‘The Christmas Invasion’ novelization/audiobook by Jenny T. Colgan. It’s a lovely, faithful adaptation of Russell T. Davies’ script and her love for the Tenth Doctor era shines throughout. Hope you enjoy the audio when you get to hear it.

      I’m currently reading/listening to ‘The Day of the Doctor’ novelization/audiobook. And oh boy, have I got a lot to say about this one! Expect me to write the longest review on a Target novelization/audiobook ever thanks to Steven Moffat. 😀

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

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