The last Modern Recap-itulation for 2016 was also the last Doctor Who story of it’s kind as well. From the old 405-line recordings right through to today’s cap addition, Doctor Who was always made in glorious standard definition, but that was about to change.
Change was also the watchword for The Next Doctor, at least in terms of Christmas specials. Where Voyage of the Damned was large and heavy on spectacle, The Next Doctor wisely pulled back to something much smaller, personal, and much more Dickensian, and was all the better for it.
But The Next Doctor was also the first Christmas Special which began to tip more towards the fan than the general public. There’s a knowing quality to the dialogue and specific interactions with Jackson Lake which are enhanced by a deeper understanding of Doctor Who and what makes it work structurally which lean in to the fan experience, and you can tell Tennant is having fun with it. Tennant also had a better villain to play off of as well. While the Cybermen were the putative monsters they once again were better slotted in as the metallic mafia to Dervla Kirwan’s Miss Hartigan. She quite literally provided the color punch and effervescence needed against the gray of a Cyber-winter.
We could have done with less of the Dickensian depiction of children’s workhouses or the hulking Cyber-king, but then every Christmas special needs a little spectacle doesn’t it? Our recent re-watch of The Next Doctor raised our esteem for it, and we bet the new caps will be quite estimable in their own right.
Actual new Doctor Who beckons. Can’t wait!