After VotD, this was a much better Christmas special. Still slightly gimmicky, but at least it wasn't ripping off a B-Grade disaster film. The plot was understated enough that it would fit in as an episode during the season.
...Ok, let me rephrase that. Ripping off a bad b-grade disaster film, but not in a bad way. The Cyberking stomping through Victorian London did remind me of this video.:
(Not gonna lie, I would have loled endlessly if the Cyberking had started breakdancing.)
In fact, the whole Cyberking sequence was a Godzilla moment. Or any classic episode of Power Rangers for that matter (except with way better CGI). I have heard the word steampunk bandied around in the descriptions of the Cyberking in fandom, and I suppose it was. But I'm usually impressed by steampunk's creativity, and I wasn't like 'OMG!' here. Though it was cool.
Rusty calling the episode 'The Next Doctor' and presenting David Morrissey as a possible 11/12/13 was a pretty obvious red herring, particularly when Rusty and the Moff have both been saying that choosing an actor for Eleven is the Moff's choice and his alone. I am sorry that it won't be Morrissey though, because when I thought he was the could-be-Doctor (and when his character thought he was), he was pretty fantastic. The scene where he runs into the TARDIS and then runs out again in excitement was perfect. And he and David Tennant go pretty well together onscreen too, if Blackpool wasn't enough of an indicator of that. Rosita was cool too, reminded me quite a bit of Donna even if her name was supposed to make her out to be Morrissey!Doctor's Rose.
I was quite happy with the Cybermen as the villains here, though I'd like to see a return and redesign of the Old School Telos/Mondas Cybermen now, the New School ones are getting kind of boring. There was a severe lack of trying as far as the Cybershades went- they looked like black sheepdogs with a bronze face pastede on (yey!). Did they not have enough money to make something scarier than a shaggy costume and a mask that looked like something a kid would wear to a party?
Miss Hartigan was a great character, perhaps lacking in the proper backstory she deserves, but nonetheless with unusual depth for a Who villain. I liked her bronze Cybercrown too, which looked just right and not cheap or stupid or anything. Her demise sucked though, but RTD seems to have a problem with writing strong, empowered women without demeaning them in some way- it's a pattern you see in Rose, Martha and Donna. Rose can't live without Ten, Martha suffers unrequited love for him and Donna ends up back where she started because Ten thinks that all that great (character-building) stuff she experienced isn't worth the risk in the end, even if she does. Bah. Happily, I do believe the Moff will be writing 2009's Christmas special, and I'll be very excited to see what he does with that.
It's rather obvious, but my favourite part of the episode was the infostamp with all the images of the previous Doctors on it. That was made of so much win, and I wish there was more of that Old School stuff in New Who. It goes without saying that any reference to Eight in New Who is fantastic, and further goes to prove those naysayers wrong as far as his canonicity is concerned. :D
I'm seeing out the end of 2008 tomorrow in unhappy circumstances. A long-time parishioner at church passed away on Christmas eve, so I'll be serving at his requiem tomorrow. I knew him well -he and his wife reached out to me soon after I became a parishioner- so it'll be difficult to say goodbye.