A new Doctor and a new Christmas Carol? We got a few new things in season 5, including a new Doctor. Matt Smith took over for this season as the Eleventh Doctor. There were new Companions, too. At the start of season 5 we started with Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and by the end she was married to her high school sweetheart, Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill). He was with them on their travels on and off during season 5, but he fully joined them after the two were married, including this episode. Trust me, the Doctor never stopped using the name Pond for her, actually for Amy and Rory both.
This is important to know, as the Doctor had taken them straight from their wedding reception. This sets us up for this Christmas special. The Christmas special aired between season 5 and 6.
"A Christmas Carol"
It is Christmas Eve and Amy and Rory are in the honeymoon suite of a space cruiser. A distress call comes from their room out to space. The ship is about to crash and Amy is sending out a message for the Doctor. He gets it, sending back, “Come along, Pond.”
The ship is trapped in a cloud belt of a planet below and they cannot get permission to land from the owner. He is an old miser, much like Ebeneezer Scrooge, and allows nothing without payment or high cost loans. The Doctor has a short time to get them that permission, but doing so won’t be easy.
The man he has to get permission from is Kazran Sardick (Michael Gambon, who also plays his father, Elliot). The Doctor can see from his lack of empathy for a family begging for help for a family member, and his refusal of the ship to land, that he will be tough. He can also see from the arrangement of his furniture, and his father’s picture, that he is afraid of following in his footsteps. He hasn’t yet, which the Doctor points out. It does not help.
That sets the Doctor on a mission to find out who Kazran is. The fact that the Doctor does not know him throws the man off; everyone in Sardicktown knows him. That is when a video of him as a child (Laurence Belcher) starts playing. He is trying to get closer to one of the electrical fish who swim around in the fog of the planet. No one is there to help him. Instead, his father hits him for trying to get to one.
The Doctor sees an opportunity and goes back to help once his father leaves. This was the moment that Kazran realized he would always be on his own. A new memory forms as the Doctor goes back and helps him. This leads to luring a shark that can’t survive so low and the boy getting an icebox to keep the shark alive until they can take it where it belongs.
The Doctor also sees rows of other iceboxes, all filled with people. This is what Kazran takes for loans. Those who borrow money give a family member to be kept in an icebox until it is paid off. They release a woman, Abigail Pettigrew (Katherine Jenkins), so they can borrow her icebox, and end up taking her with them. Next to her icebox is a device with an eight on it. The Doctor soon finds out it applies to Abigail, but is distracted.
This whole time these memories are being made in the present day Kazran’s mind. Amy and Rory are still waiting with the rest of the crew of the ship to be saved. The picture of Kazran’s father is now of Abigail. She had so much fun that the boy said they would return every Christmas Eve to wake her. The Doctor feels like he needs to, so he does.
On one visit, Abigail sees that Kazran (Danny Horn) is a man now and finds him quite handsome.This time, she asks to visit her family. Her sister and her family invite the three in for dinner. The whole time these memories are cementing in the older man’s mind.
The seventh visit leads to what seems to be the start of a romance. It takes a turn though and the Doctor is told by Kazran he no longer wants the visits. The Doctor leaves a part of his sonic screwdriver with him in case he needs him; he says he won’t. In fact, his father finishes the machine he has been building and is celebrating with his son a few Christmas Eves later. The entire planet is now theirs. He does contemplate using the sonic, but stuffs the screwdriver in a drawer when he sees the Doctor outside the window.
In the present day, his Companions are still waiting.
Amy shows up as a hologram to plea to the man for his approval. He refuses, even when he sees the occupants of the sky-liner singing with hope. This is when Abigail’s secret is brought to light. When the Doctor says he will show him his future, he claims to already know it.
The question is, does he? Will he save the ship and see Abigail again? With the Doctor playing both the “Ghost of Christmas Past and Future” and Amy the “Ghost of Christmas Present,” it truly is like A Christmas Carol.
It is a good first Christmas outing for Matt Smith and the new show runner Steve Moffat. It is also the first Christmas episode that had very little time difference between the UK airing and the US at just seven hours. We still continue to receive little time between the UK and US showings.
Next up: "The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe"