This article originally appeared on Den of Geek UK. Timeslot information reflects UK airings.
After a series run of Doctor Who that’s seen every episode start around the 8 pm mark, it’s something of a surprise to see it in a 5.15pm slot again on Christmas Day. But then The Husbands Of River Song is a much lighter story than we’ve had these past couple of months. It doesn’t quite offer an entirely clean break with the preceding 12 episodes, but the darkness has gone, the comedy quotient is up, and as you can tell by the title, Alex Kingston’s River Song is back.
The title of the episode is as spoiler-y as I’m going to get here, although there’s less in the way of plot turns to protect than we were getting back in November. That’s because this is for the most part a two-hander between two very skilled performers.
That said, how much you get out of The Husbands Of River Song does to a large degree hinge on your feelings on the character of River herself. Kingston is on excellent form again, and her interplay with Peter Capaldi is terrific. Capaldi, too, gets to go lighter and more comedic, albeit with a line in putting off carol singers.
He also gets a wonderful stand-out nerdy moment, that’s something of a first in Doctor Who. It’s as funny and fan-saluting as anything we saw in series 9. I can’t wait to see that bit again.
The episode as a whole can’t help but feel like a sudden shift in tone for those who have been following the current run of Doctor Who, but that’s not a bad thing. I like that Doctor Who is willing to take a few hard lefts and rights. In this instance, it’s the show deliberately back to being fast, festive and fun.
Greg Davies is the standout of the guest stars, in a role that I don’t really want to spoil. Steven Moffat’s script, meanwhile, works as both standalone and as something woven into the tapestry of River’s story to date.
It’s hard to call this a vintage Doctor Who Christmas special, but The Husbands Of River Song certainly offers up a good number of moments worth chomping on afterwards. And it is good fun. Pretty much spot-on fodder for teatime on Christmas Day, in fact…