The Husbands of River Song by Steven Moffat
Starring Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston
Warning: Spoilers (how many people read that in the River Song voice? Its almost unavoidable when watching episodes she’s in!)
Christmas Specials are historically, one of Moffat’s weaknesses. While ‘The Snowmen’ is a classic, his other 4 efforts (A Christmas Carol, Last Christmas, Time of the Doctor and The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe) have all been rather middling if with the occasional moment of brilliance. It’s understandable – the Christmas specials have to be more accessible/light hearted than normal who because you get families tuning in who don’t watch it on a week to week basis, and after a brilliantly dark and convoluted series 9, you could argue this kind of episode was what was needed. It’s light on content, which means the middle sags a bit, but the opening 20 minutes are pretty damn funny, and the final 15 are rather touching as Moffat wraps up the last missing link in River Song’s storyline, as her and the Doctor visit Darillium, the planet they’re fated to spend their last night together on.
Given there was an in joke about flowcharts in the episode (something fans constantly joke you need to keep track of her storyline) here is my (hopefully correct) summary of episodes in order from River’s point of view:
Let’s Kill Hitler – The Wedding of River Song – The Pandorica Opens – Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone – A Good Man Goes To War – The Impossible Planet/Day of the Moon – The Angels Take Manhattan – The Husbands of River Song – Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead – The Name of the Doctor. And now my head hurts!
See? All over the bloody place! While I am a fan of Moffat’s writing style – I can see why casual viewers get put off by stuff like this – I’m not even sure I’ve followed that correctly! Now back to the episode itself…
Capaldi and Kingston had a natural chemistry together, yet a very different kind of chemistry than that between her and Smith. Greg Davies was a splendid addition as the OTT ‘head in a bag’ King Hydroflax, whose rants and threats of death were hilarious. Matt Lucas is something more of an acquired taste, but he was fine here, if slightly superfluous to events.
I’m not going to touch on the plot, because that just isn’t the point of an episode like this. Not as clever as Last Christmas or as funny as the Snowmen, it comes 3rd out of 6 for Moffat’s Christmas specials for me. Shorter review, than normal, but hey, this isn’t the kind of episode that its fun to pick apart.
One final note: the Doctor’s explanation of his new regeneration ‘a thing happened’. A hilarious statement that sums up the mess that was ‘Time of the Doctor’ that I will use from now on when referring to that episode.
Overall, a light hearted Christmas treat with little substance, but plenty of flavour. River Song’s story comes to a fitting conclusion (at long last we can put those flowcharts away!).
Rating: 4 out of 5.
I’ll be back with a review of Sherlock: The Abominable Bride, after New Year. Merry Christmas everyone.