Set on an Earth colony three thousand years into the future on which, naturally, it’s Christmas Day, a case of mistaken identity leads The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) to the bed-side of robot King Hydroflax (Greg Davies), who, rather unfortunately for him, has a priceless diamond lodged in his brain. Giving a whole new meaning to the term gold-digger, the King’s wife, half archaeologist half burglar, turns out to be none other than River Song (Alex Kingston). Believing her real husband to be out of regeneration cycles, (reasonably enough given that the last time she saw him, he had indeed run out) she fails to recognise the man behind the new face for the majority of the episode. Cue hilarity and high-jinks.
Definitely a much lighter episode of Who than we’ve seen all series, 'The Husbands of River Song' is never going to be lauded as one of the better episodes of this year, but there’s certainly a case for it being one of the better Christmas specials. It gave Capaldi the chance to flex his comedy muscles once again after the tragic loss of Clara (Jenna Coleman) at the end of Series 9, sharing the screen with The Doctor’s most accomplished verbal sparring partner. Steven Moffat’s dialogue, was positively fizzing, with a particular highlight being the moment The Doctor got to have a turn at the whole ‘it’s bigger on the inside’ gig.
Despite never being the biggest fan of River Song, even I enjoyed seeing her in a welcome return to form as a self-proclaimed ‘archaeologist from the future.’ Whether this really is the last we’ll see of her remains to be seen, although given the obvious on-screen chemistry between her and Capaldi, I’d be very surprised if that really was her final bow.
The two had decent support from Greg Davies and Matt Lucas, although it was a shame the latter wasn’t given more to do, so well did he slot into the Whoniverse. Visually, there was plenty to look at as we went from a festive human colony, to a luxury cruise ship for war criminals, to the famed Singing Towers of Darillium, meeting a host of new and intriguing life forms en route. The whole diamond heist plot wasn’t particularly inspiring, but in the Christmas context that hardly seemed to matter.
The narrative kept things simple yet entertaining, exactly what you need when you’re approximately seven eighths full of turkey and roast potatoes.
On the whole, it doesn’t seem these days that Doctor Who can go far wrong. Bring on Series 10, we say.