For whatever reason Doctor Who always has a special on at Christmas, usually they’re overly corny and unnecessarily on the nose, but I guess how else would people know that it was essentially a Christmas special if they didn’t constantly remind us that the episode was happening on Christmas?
The episode itself was fairly good but again fell into the trap of being overly corny and unnecessarily on the nose as so many of its predecessors. It’s a weird one because this story itself (as so many previously) was unnecessarily shoehorned into a half Christmas half regular story which if a person were to watch it back would make this episode pretty hard to watch.
There will be spoilers for this episode and what went before in this review.
This was Capaldi’s first adventure since Clara went off into the sunset at the end of series 9 and in many ways it was a freeing of the character. No longer was the focus on the sidekick, but rather on the Doctor and his relationship with River. I felt that the Doctor and River had good chemistry together, especially when you consider that this was their first time meeting on screen. It helped the episode immensely because most of the other stuff was at times a bit of a struggle.
One of the biggest problems I had with the episode was that the antagonist of Hydroflax. It was fine but came across more as a nuisance than a proper villain of the piece. The addition of people like Matt Lucas and Greg Davies could have made for some fun characters, however it became overly silly at times and not in a particularly good way, it looked cheap.
The relationship between the Doctor and River is what carried the episode and what was some weak writing. River has been a part of the show since the fourth series, so has been one of the most consistent parts since the show was revised. It was always going to have to come to an end due to the fact that time naturally will naturally catch up on Alex Kingston and her first appearance (where she dies) will look silly compared to her last one.
With that in mind I do think they handled her send off well, it’s a shame that she won’t be showing up in the show again. I’ve always enjoyed recurring characters who only show up in a few episodes every series (if at all) who don’t require an introduction, it gives the audience someone relatable and recognisable and I think that’s always important. It’s a bit like when Captain Jack used to show up, when you get a cool character who appears randomly it adds a lot to the episode, and River did on many occasions do exactly that. There is a reason that the best villains in Doctor Who are still the Daleks, Master/Missy and the Cybermen.
All in all it was a solid episode of Doctor Who, the acting and the strength of the relationship between the Doctor and River made for a good episode. There were still major problems with the writing and the episode was overly cheesy and tacky, as seems to now more often than not be the case, but I think it’s forgiveable and made for a nice send off to an important character in the shows timeline. It was a nice conclusion to River’s story arc.
So what did you think of The Husbands of River Song? Are you gutted that River won’t be appearing any more? Are you wondering how a random scavenger can run a successful business? Or do you just want them to show us a sitcom of the Doctor and all his wives? Well leave a comment and share those thoughts.