Doctor Who Christmas Special: ‘The Husbands of River Song’ – Review

“Every night is the last night for something. Every Christmas is the last Christmas.”

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(C) BBC

The Doctor Who Christmas Specials have been hit or miss throughout the shows revival and now we have the 11th Christmas Special and the 6th one that Steven Moffat has written. While the Christmas Specials are supposed to be light-hearted and fun, we have had some that have been darker and taken a more serious tone, like The Snowmen and A Christmas Carol both written by Moffat. I tend to like the stories that take a more serious tone and keep the silliness to a minimum. So when it was announced that River Song will be making her appearance in this year’s Christmas story, I had some reservations about The Husbands of River Song.

I’ll be the first to admit it I am not a big fan of River Song. When I heard she was going to be in the Christmas special I just shuddered and thought this Christmas Special would be pretty bad. Plus I imagined Steven Moffat writing a script that was too cute and full of itself and be lacking the most important thing – a story. Well, it was lacking in the story department but the silliness was not as bad as I had originally feared. What we got, was most likely the last appearance of River Song, as it appeared that Steven Moffat is tying-up loose ends and giving River Song one last fling with The Doctor before she ends up heading of on that fatal adventure when The Doctor first meets her. That’s my opinion anyway as he gave her the sonic screwdriver that has the memory chip so he can download her into Cal when that time comes for her in Forest of the Dead. Still, it was a pretty nice send off as she gets to meet and spend time with the Doctor she didn’t know about.

The Husbands of River Song basically centered on River trying to get a diamond out of King Halifax’s head so that she can reap the financial gains from it. Then the story turns into a chase story as River and The Doctor are being chased by the cyborg body of King Halifax… and that pretty much sums it up. Oh, the ship crashes and they eventually arrive on to sell the diamond but it appears to be filled with criminals, which The Doctor and River just eventually do not try to save (as they are criminals and not worth saving. Which isn’t very Doctor-like but there you go, less criminals in the universe). But the strength of this Christmas Special is the chemistry between Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston, and this is what saves this story from being an absolute stinker.

The chemistry between Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston, in my opinion, works a lot better than when she was paired with Matt Smith. River was too much of a personality for Matt Smith’s Doctor and mainly hogged all the scenes with him based on River’s over the top personality. While Capaldi is able to play it up also and be able to bounce off her perfectly and be just as over the top as River. It was also pretty good seeing The Doctor being the companion as River did not know who he was. Adding the sarcastic remarks and looks were pretty funny too. I especially liked when The Doctor did the whole “It’s bigger on the inside” bit for once.