Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas Carol

A brilliant Dr Who riff on the Charles Dicken's story, with wonderful performances from Matt Smith, Michael Gambon, and good acting too from Katherine Jenkins, whose spellbinding singing was magnificent. It had humour, tension, exuberance, and Matt Smith has made the part of the Doctor very much his own, with a unique style that makes him appear older than his years, and wonderfully inept with human relationships. There is definitely a Troughton-like quality to his Doctor. The younger leads who played younger versions of Gambon's character were also very good, and Stephen Moffat's sparkling script took us on a wonderfully paradoxical twist and turn through time. Murray Gold had two days to compose words and music for a completely new song that is sung alongside some well known ones, and he is a magician, there are no other words, for coming up with such a marvelous song so rapidly. I'm definitely going to get some Katherine Jenkins on CD.

Elsewhere there was a very dark version of Murder on the Orient Express, with significant departures from the book, making Poirot very much an upholder of the law and utter repelled by what he sees as a lynch mob. Removing Pierre, the Wagon-Lit conductor, from the list of suspects made the rationale for the murder taking place on the train simply an opportunistic
random event, and the obtaining of the spare uniform thereby became a complete loose end. Suchet's Poirot was very much out of character, ranting about the need for the law, where the Poirot of the book - and earlier stories with Suchet - have shown that he was capable (like the best private detectives, such as Sherlock Holmes) - of seeing the difference between justice and legality. Here, instead, an older Poirot (and perhaps an older Suchet) was morose and angry at the murderers, and yet came to see that justice and law could differ, and yet seemed, in the final scenes, to be weary with the world. Psychologically, whatever liberties it took with the book, it places Poirot far closer to becoming the character who we see in "Curtain", and I wonder if that was intended.

The weather on Christmas Day was surprisingly warm - unfortunately last night was so cold the pipe to the outside tap burst, but now fixed, thank goodness for a plumber who turned out - and it was good to be able to go out in the day to enjoy the warm sunshine, and no bitterly cold wind, for a morning walk. Fortunately there were no creepy shadowy figures pursuing me along the beach, unlike the unfortunate John Hurt, in "Whistle and I'll come" where he picks up a strangely carved ring and is menaced by a malignant force, seen only out of focus, or in scratching sounds, or rapping violently on the door of the hotel where he is the sole visitor in the cold winter months. Gemma Jones was also brilliant as his wife, portraying a passive, uncommunicative Alzheimer's patient, but in a few moments, indicating that despite what her husband thought, there was a mind trapped within a body, helpless to communicate. It was an extremely dark and bleak script, quite terrifying in not showing anything of substance, and will haunt me for some time to come.


Anonymous said...

It was certainly an interesting take on the Dicken's story, but as a Doctor Who story was a complete failure, boring to say the least.

TonyTheProf said...

I disagree; I thought it was fantastic, one of the best stories yet. Why did you find it boring?