DOCTOR SCROOGE - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Bah humbug, says Chris Morley...

The end of Matt Smith's time in the TARDIS, when it came after a long time held off, brought with it yet another Christmas regeneration - a relatively recent bit of scheduling for the handy little trick by which Time Lords cheat death. But the first product of a new cycle of them granted to the Doctor seemingly at least initially presented the new man as a bit of a Scrooge. On the face of it, a massive gamble. But had Steven Moffatt simply cast his mind back 50 years, 1 month & 2 days and thought “that'll work”?

Peter Capaldi, his new leading man, was old enough to remember that first episode of Doctor Who himself & seemingly happily trod a similar path to William Hartnell, undergoing a Scroogelike transformation from flinty old miser into a more rounded character helped at least initially by a teacher from Coal Hill School as Clara Oswald, later to be joined by Danny Pink in taking over from Ian Chesterton & Barbara Wright as basic humanities lecturer to the man she's recently seen change face & personality, seemingly starts off on an uphill battle to remind him of just who he is & what he does.

A long time after being guided towards who he should be by Chesterton, stepping in to stop him belting an injured caveman with a rock after the TARDIS takes the Gallifreyan grandfather, his two unwilling passengers & beloved granddaughter back to the dawn of man. Fittingly soon after his own maiden outing, the Twelfth Doctor would find himself in similar territory to the man he'd started out as, Into The Dalek giving him cause to look back over his first tangle with the wheeliebins with dictatorial ambitions.....
“See, all those years ago, when I began.....I was just running. I called myself the Doctor, but it was just a name. And then I went to Skaro. And then I met you lot and I understood who I was. The Doctor was not the Daleks.”
Big tick in the “good man” box there, even after flippantly claiming he doesn't have to care!

But underneath the gruff exterior he evidently does believe the human race to be worth saving, the process of mellowing carrying over into Last Christmas as he meets Santa Claus himself in the flesh.

But, as with Robin Hood in Robot Of Sherwood the big question is simple - is he the real deal, or is he just fantasy?
SANTA: Okay. Right. Clara Oswald. Mostly favours travel books, science kits, strict ban on hair products. Marginal for the naughty list, '93. Tut, tut, tut. Believer until the age of nine. Why did you stop?
CLARA: Because you're a fairy tale. I grew out of fairy tales.
SANTA: Did you, Clara? Did you really?
Even she herself must have been wondering how she could have expected to get that one past Saint Nick after the trip into Sherwood Forest.
DOCTOR: Your choice. Wherever, whenever, anywhere in time and space.
CLARA: Well, there is something, someone that I've always wanted to meet. But I know what you'll say.
DOCTOR:Try me.
CLARA:You'll say he's made up, that there's no such thing.
CLARA: It''s Robin Hood.
DOCTOR: Robin Hood.
CLARA: Yeah. I love that story. I've always loved it, ever since I was little.
And where Robin had Maid Marian, the Doctor had someone special of his own, though by the time of their last meeting she at least initially fails to recognise him in a neat inversion of her own introduction to the man who will become her husband before they share a final festive season together & their story ends.

“Times end, River, because they have to. Because there's no such thing as happy ever after. It's just a lie we tell ourselves because the truth is so hard.”
While he may struggle with the truth, his next Christmas sees him back doing what he does best - being the hero however reluctantly! Perhaps the first item on his list of things he really doesn't want to do, though, is change, until a ghost of Christmas past in a sense  helps him see that he must......

“Well then, here we go. The long way round.”
And as the end comes an affirmation of his key values before Capaldi's final bow.
“Let's get it right. I've got a few things to say to you. Basic stuff first. Never be cruel, never be cowardly, and never, ever eat pears! Remember, hate is always foolish. and love is always wise. Always try to be nice, but never fail to be kind. Oh, and you mustn't tell anyone your name. No one would understand it, anyway. Except, ah!... except children. Children can hear it sometimes. If their hearts are in the right place, and the stars are too, children can hear your name. Argh! But nobody else. Nobody else, ever. Laugh hard, run fast, be kind. Doctor, I let you go. “

With which Moffatt also exits from running the show, handing over to Chris Chibnall to introduce perhaps the biggest change of Doctor yet - she's a woman now! And retrospectively she won't get a Christmas special of her own outside her brief cameo here, at least to date.

She will, though, at least prove herself to have taken in some of her previous self's parting words- which we can surely class as a start, only half an hour implied to have passed between her emergence as the latest product of the regenerative process & getting back on her feet in a remarkably quick turnaround!

There's also a bit of explanation of the basics to do nearly a year on from the last episode to air on December 25, into the bargain.
“I was thrown out of my TARDIS. Oh, I've lost my TARDIS. It was exploding and then it dematerialised. Don't panic. Not the end of the world. Well, it could be the end of the world, but one thing at a time. “.
Having eventually recovered the old Type 40, time to go out into the universe for Chibnall's own attempt to take things back to basic principles circa '63. Leaving things nicely poised pre-Spyfall just in time for January 1,2020! Still not Christmas, though....

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