Apologies to those of you who have been waiting patiently for my review of The Husbands of River Song to be posted, but this really is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and watch it again.
Because let’s face it; I wasn’t going to review it on Christmas Day while still suffering from a Food Coma.
Anyway it’s here now, so let’s get to it…
Doctor Who – The Husbands of River Song Review: What’s This One About?
Christmas Day hijinx and what – I assume – will be River Song’s final appearance in the show.
But then I’ve said that before.
Thoughts – Light Entertainment For All The Family
Before I get down to business with the main thrust of my review, I’ll just be brief with this, because I’ve said it a few times over the years and I don’t think it needs to be delved into too deeply again.
Put simply, this is a Christmas Day episode and seeing as it wasn’t one where the Doctor regenerates, it therefore makes sense for it to be quite light. After all, nobody really wants to spend Christmas Day working out overly complex plots or being depressed by the bleakness of our own mortality; the latter point is covered by Eastenders a couple of hours later.
No, this should be fun and maybe a little bit frivolous.
Some might not like that, but I’m happy enough with it.
So on that score, this episode did not disappoint.
This Must Be The End Of River Song Now?
For me, the main point of discussion is the stuff with River Song.
If you’ve read my reviews over the years you’ll know that I felt the River Song story arc just got away from Steven Moffat. What started as a good idea in Silence in the Library spiralled out of control to the point it seemed as though he was making it up as he went along.
Now she’s back again and considering this is meant to be her final meeting with the Doctor before she sees him for the last time in the aforementioned David Tennant story, I imagine that this is the end.
As a viewer, I could take two approaches.
I could just block out everything else and take this final appearance on its own merits. If I go with this option, The Husbands of River Song works. It’s touching, quite sad and well acted.
So it would get thumbs up.
But as a long-term viewer, I should be taking a different approach.
I should be able to watch this and know without having to look stuff up how River and the Doctor got to this point. I should know the background of the diary (and I thought I did, but apparently not), I should know without being told that this restaurant is the last place they meet before the library and I should be swept up in the emotion of a story arc that has lasted for almost 10 years.
I can’t do that though.
The story arc is too complex and out of control. I don’t want to read up on stuff to refresh my memory, even though it seems like my memory is cheating me.
For some reason, I thought it was on record that River only ever met two incarnations of the Doctor, and I also thought that rather than a diary, it was stated that she had in her possession his biography.
I’m probably wrong here and I imagine a certain section of fandom (you know, the ones who call themselves ‘Whovians’, idolise Osgood and have diagrams of the River Song story arc on their bedroom walls) are probably tutting away at me for not knowing this stuff off by heart, but the way I see it, if I’m confused then 99% of the viewers probably feel a bit lost by it as well.
So although it was a good end to the character, I think I’m really just glad that it’s an end of any sort.
- One thing that is disappointing about seeing River go though is that for the first time, Alex Kingston is acting alongside someone she has chemistry with. Had this been the case all the way though, I maybe
wouldn’t be so sick of her.
- I’ve said before that I think Peter Capaldi is a better actor and Doctor than Matt Smith was, but if anything emphasises the point, it’s this episode.
- And isn’t it good that River finally has an age appropriate version of the Doctor to hang around with.
- I couldn’t help but think Peter Capaldi looked like one of the Vultures from Splash Mountain in that last scene.
- Is it not a little strange that of all the days to finally have availability for a booking, they have Christmas Day? Not April 7th? Or October 10th?
- And are they counting a year on that planet in Earth time or by their own planet’s time? If it’s the latter then that’s a very long wait, and the hostess has aged remarkably well.
- I’m not a big fan of Matt Lucas, but he was surprisingly good here.
- I am a fan of Greg Davies though and while he was enjoyable in that he got to play the same character (or mood) that he always does here, there’s an argument to suggest that he’s not actually a very good actor.
- I enjoyed the stuff with River not knowing who the Doctor was, which made sense with the idea I had in my head that she only ever knowingly met Tennant and Smith.
- That alien dude who opened up his head must struggle to play football. Imagine trying to go for a header under those circumstances?
- And why not just keep the item in his pocket?
- Finally, the scene where The Doctor got to ‘do entering the TARDIS for the first time the right way’ was superb.
Doctor Who – The Husbands of River Song Review: Final Thoughts
The Husbands of River Song was a good Christmas Day story. It was light, it was fun and in the end it was quite emotional.
Some people won’t like that, but I did.
And if this is the final appearance of River Song – and I really hope it is – then it was a good way for her to bow out.