“Do you know, in nine hundred years of time and space, I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important before.”
Elliot Sardick was dead to begin with. A line familiar in its structure to readers of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, but in content is the basis of Steven Moffat’s ‘A Christmas Carol’. Airing on Christmas Day 2010, it sought to achieve what Doctor Who does best – reinvention. We follow a man called Kazran Sardick (as beautifully played by the late Michael Gambon), haunted in theory by the ghost of his abusive father, and in actuality by Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Kazran was a vindictive businessman who squeezed money from the poor, cryogenically freezing their loved ones until their debts were paid. His control was assured by his violent taming of flying sharks, thus asserting dominance over the sky. When the Doctor (Matt Smith) cascades down his chimney and asks for help using the fish to guide a crashing spaceship, he refuses point blank. This inspires the Doctor to Scrooge him (can I use Scrooge as a verb?), forcing Kazran to reconcile with his heartless views. The Doctor changes his history, spending every Christmas with both him and one of the frozen prisoners, hoping to warm him to the festive spirit. It is a story in which Moffat finds a familiar format and finds it ripe for innovation, using time travel as the link between crucial messages about social class and forbidden love. This is perhaps what makes Doctor Who such a perfect fit for Christmas. Most Christmas specials try to appeal to their increased audience by drowning out what makes the show unique in the first place. Doctor Who is never bound by what audience’s want. Instead, it gives us what we need.
Airing on Christmas Day 2010, it sought to achieve what Doctor Who does best – reinvention.