Christmas night TV is one of the highlights of my Christmas day, that and the food I eat to go alongside all that viewing. It was Mr. Lacer’s turn to put the kids into bed and I was already in the kitchen whizzing up a batch of Nigella’s Jumbo Chilli sauce, oven on for the hot bread roll, trying not to eat all the parma ham before it hit the plate. Anyway I got my food ready just in time and hit the sofa almost at a skid, as Mr. Lacer finished put the kids’ bedroom light out and it was time to put Doctor Who to play on the DVR.
This particular Christmas episode opened with a space ship hurtling towards a planet looking like it’s going to crash any minute and I have to admit for a moment my heart sank a little, not another ‘space ship hurtling towards planet, can we save everyone in the nick of time?’ episode, much as I loved Russell T Davies’ work, it all seemed a little too Russell T Davies, but of course Stephen Moffat now writes the Christmas episodes and I doubt you could get him to pen anything formulaic in his life. It turns out that Amy and Rory are honeymooning on the doomed ship, so of course the Doctor pops by to help and he soon realises that to allow the ship to land safely he has to convince a Scrooge like character, Kazran to do something with his cloud machine but of course Kazran doesn’t want to do that. So the Doctor tries a unique take on the Christmas Carol, travelling back to Kazran’s past to try and make him a better person. There is singing, some beautiful flying fish, a scary as anything shark and a great script with some very funny one liners. A brilliant refresher into exactly how great Doctor Who is with Stephen Moffat at the helm and Matt Smith’s geeky Doctor and of course the trailer for the next series, more River Song, the Doctor goes to America and I bet I wasn’t the only one trying to work out which clips were from the Neil Gaiman episode, my money is on the scariest looking clips in the dark ruined looking house with the character with writing on their face.
After Doctor Who and a slice of disgustingly disappointing Christmas cake (I really must make my own next year), it was time for Poirot doing Murder on the Orient Express and this really was Poirot in a very bad mood. Travelling back from a disastrous case, a friend does Poirot a ‘favour’ and manages to squeeze him, at the last minute onto the Orient Express travelling back home. It is a dark story from even before Poirot gets on the train, with not only the disastrous end to the previous case but Poirot observing from a distance a stoning in Istanbul and not getting involved. The music to this episode was very well done, adding to the discordant, dissatisfied air of the journey before blood has even been shed. I’m sure everyone knows this story, it was one of my favourite books as a child when I got to the age of being able to start raiding my parents’ bookcases but I’d swear this version, although very faithful to the book, was actually even darker. David Suchet did an absolutely brilliant job, you can feel his dislike of having to share a cabin on the first night, from his body language you can feel his revulsion when he is called to examine the body on the train and from the tone of his voice his displeasure at the murderers who have taken justice into their own hands. Really brilliant.