Xmas Marks the Spot

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The long, long tail of Doctor Who and all of the people who have played significant parts in its 53 year history have created a diaspora which have touched nearly every facet of mainstream entertainment.  Going through any of the ‘Who Not Who!’ sections will bear witness to that.  That reach also extends to Christmas Specials, those that is that have nothing to do with Doctor Who.  So if you’re saturated with Cybermen or done with the Daleks you might want to try these ‘Who Not Who’ Christmas niceties.

  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  What’s a Bond movie doing here you might ask…  As it happens crucial periods of the plot occur over Christmas.  If you’re allergic to the ‘forgotten Bond’ then a reappraisal is in order.  The Who hook here is the luminous Diana Rigg from The Crimson Horror as the fated Tracy.  Also appearing are George Baker from Full Circle, Bernard Horsfall from Planet of the Daleks (and several other stories) and James Bree (Full Circle again).  Tonally this Bond movie, probably because it hewed more closely to the source material than any other, stands apart from the others.  Even Telly Savalas strikes a more grounded tone than a viewer might expect.  It’s an underappreciated gem.
  • Just as every Doctor Who fan his or her ‘own Doctor’, or there’s a Sherlock Holmes for every generation (we’re partial to Jeremy Brett ourselves), so to there is an adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol’ for any generation.  Quite apart from the Matt Smith variation, our preference goes to a lavish trans-Altantic 1984 TV version starring George C. Scott as Scrooge and featuring Mark ‘Turlough’ Strickson as a young Scrooge.  David Warner from Cold War and too many Big Finish audios to count was a suitably put-upon Bob Cratchit.  And if you want a truly deep Doctor Who cut, Timothy Bateson who played Mr. Fezziwig had a scene-stealing gem of a time in as Binro the Heretic in The Ribos Operation.  While some might question Scott as Scrooge, there is a wonderful sense of faithfulness to the Dickensian text at work here that makes it re-watchable annually.
  • With the last selection, we here at THT Worldwide confess a bit to our Diana Rigg infatuation.  On the same day, December 25th, 1965, that The Feast of Steven aired over on ITV The Avengers aired a Christmas episode for the ages.  ‘Too Many Christmas Trees’ was at once terrifically Dickensian, even featuring a scary Santa, and had that Avengers dash of panache which set it as required Christmas fare.  Also in the episode were Edwin Richfield from The Sea Devils and The Twin Dilemma and Robert James from The Power of the Daleks and The Masque of Mandragora. It’ll ruin you for other Christmas-themed stories.