Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

This was a special 15-minute episode that was transmitted to BBC Digital viewers back on Christmas Day 2005, which invited the viewer to become the companion and make decisions via their TV remote control.

...somewhere in the swirling maze of past and future ages..
“The power of the sonic (screwdriver) is yours now, so don’t let the cat sit on it.”

Plot: Having dropped Rose off at an Abba concert in 1979 (they really should have ignored her absence and just set it after her inevitable departure from the show, or at least in the big gap between The Christmas Invasion and New Earth when this was transmitted), the Doctor discovers that the alien Graske are ripping off the Chameleons by kidnapping people and replacing them with duplicates.

As spin-offs of dubious canonicity go, this one was pretty good. Doctor Who’s long history of comics, CDs, Jim’ll Fix It sketches and other apocrypha have endowed it with an unashamed confidence in relaunching such gimmicks now that kids are (finally) allowed to enjoy the show again.

And the production team, operating under tight budgetary and time restrictions, have clearly gone to some trouble to make the whole thing worth watching in its own right. With David Tennant only appearing as the Doctor fleetingly, they’ve wisely made sure that his visual presence is felt throughout via several carefully-scripted short scenes, that drive the entire story.

Unfortunately, the story is still, as always in modern Who, about, yes, yet more zombies invading present-day Earth and no-one remembering afterwards.

Aired IMMEDIATELY AFTER another episode about zombies invading modern-day Britain

Curiously, keeping the new series’ recurring plot-flaws in mind, if the viewer makes the wrong choice in the penultimate scene, the alternate ending scorns them for losing the game, purely because they haven’t tied-up a different loose end instead.

I can’t see the difference meself. It proves it’s definitely the same show though.

Still, David Tennant is perfect as the Doctor as usual, as he gets to deliver a cracking non-stop barrage of one-liners throughout.

“It looks like any old Christmas – and it is. No! Joking! It isn’t.”

“I could shout, but that’d give you away, and I don’t want to get you eaten.”

(confidentially)“There is a risk that if you switch to ITV tonight the galaxy might implode, so…?”

The best line though has to go to the woman in 1883 who, upon encountering an alien Graske, sums up her shock like she’s in another era entirely…

This bird saved my life, see.
“Oooh - love a duck!”

Such joyous dialogue is surely right up there with “Strike me pink.”

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