Who Reviews: The Husbands of River Song
By Steven Moffat
Reviewed by Jeffrey Zyra
“Every night is the last night for something. Every Christmas is the last Christmas.”
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 would 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; with 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 off 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 meets a Doctor she didn’t know about and had some time with him.
The Husbands of River Song was short on story as it centered on River trying to get a diamond out of King Halifax’s head so that she can reap in the financial gain 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 that they eventually arrive on to sell the diamond and 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 and now a restaurant on the planet where the ship crashed later on in the future for The Doctor and River to dine in. 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.
I really liked the chemistry between Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston. In my opinion I believe this combo 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 with Capaldi he 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. That was pretty good and the sarcastic remarks and looks were pretty funny and I especially liked when The Doctor did the whole it was bigger on the inside bit for once.
The whole point of the story was The Doctor seeing River for the last time and when that was revealed on the ship when he said “Hello Sweetie” it became apparent what was going on and it was a nice touch. Since we had a series of seriousness it was good to see something different and having a happy ending for The Doctor and River for once was pretty good and I am sure some fans got choked up watching the final scenes at the restaurant looking at the singing towers. That was a pretty good moment and a good scene to end on for The Doctor River relationship.
For the most part if this was any other story it would not be a good Christmas Special but the fact that it was River’s swan song made it a lot better. The story was blah but the plot of River and The Doctor was pretty good and Alex Kingston did not annoy me all that much like she did in most of the Matt Smith stories. The chemistry between the two was really good and it is too bad this might be the last time this pair meets but who knows Steven Moffat has changed his mind before. Overall a pretty decent Christmas story saved by the two stars who were brilliant together.