Category Archives: michael gambon

Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol

As it has since the beginning of the post-millenium series, “Doctor Who” returns for Christmas with a new special, a teaser of the season to come. This time, it’s a Dickensian Christmas-themed trip on a honeymoon spaceliner with returning cast Matt Smith and Karen Gillan as The Doctor and Amy Pond. Arthur Darvill also returns as Amy’s newlywed husband, Rory. At least that’s what might be expected from the previews, and the episode’s title, “A Christmas Carol.”

We begin on board a plummeting spaceliner, this being “Doctor Who” all spaceliners are doomed, but we find Amy and Rory arriving from the bridge of the ship, from the honeymoon suite, in meter maid and Roman soldier outfits (!), telling the crew everything is all right because they’ve called for help. Yeah, you guessed it, The Doctor, cue opening credits.

The spaceliner is careening into a planet whose atmosphere is controlled by an evil old man who refuses to grant entry, dooming the passengers of the ship, unless The Doctor can change his mind. Between the Dickens references, the Victorian steampunk culture of the planet, and the more obvious “A Christmas Carol” parallels, this is not what you think it is, and goes in a completely different direction. And I would expect nothing less from writer/producer Steven Moffet.

Yes, this is Dickens’ classic tale of redemption, but not in the way you think. While Amy and Rory are here, they are barely here. The story revolves around Michael Gambon as the Scrooge template, Kazran, whose past is altered helter skelter. Gambon is terrific here, as are his younger self Laurence Belcher and the love of his life Katherine Jenkins.

Steven Moffet spins a wonderful but bittersweet time travel tale that also mirrors last year’s season finale. It’s almost as if Moffet decided that if “Doctor Who” is a show about time travel, let’s make it a show a time travel gosh darn it – and he pulls out all the tricks. The result is delightful, and the Christmas tradition continues. I can’t wait for the new season to start.

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Harry Potter 90210

The sixth film in the Harry Potter series, unlike the previous ones, is only loosely based on the book “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” by J.K. Rowling. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, just a departure from previous entries. I think perhaps it is a wise choice seeing how the last two films have noticeably suffered by leaving elements from the books out. Half-Blood Prince services its source material well, telling the integral story and also keeping the crucial character elements. Anything that was jettisoned is forgivable here.

Daniel Radcliffe shows off his acting chops well, except for being a bit goofy (although it works) while under the influence of liquid luck, and is amazing to watch. All of the teen leads, especially Rupert Gint and Emma Watson (the latter sadly having little to really do this time out), also show their improvement over the years. I’ve never been a fan of Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore, and Jim Broadbent also disappoints but the rest of the regular cast turns in great performances no matter how small or large their parts are in this one. I like Tom Felton a lot but his Draco Malfoy feels flat to me except for when he actually physically confronts Harry. Their chemistry is hot, when they’re apart – not so much.

Speaking of hot, most of the film is thriving and thrumming with sexual energy and tension along with a good portion of teen angst. The character interplay in Half-Blood Prince is a fun game of who likes who and who should be with who. Throw in a charm potion or two and hilarity ensues. There were lots of little winks at the audience who have already read the books and knows who ends up with whom. It makes the film fun, especially good when the world it happens in is so dark and on the brink.

The fun doesn’t last forever as the final two acts take a turn into sudden horror and then melodrama. The same voices in that packed midnight theatre audience that were giggling over the young romance games are also the ones sobbing toward the end. It’s a powerful emotional rollercoaster. I enjoyed the film a lot, and didn’t mind one bit the deviation from the print version. And I’m looking forward to the final two installments, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which will be split into two segments, to be released some time in the next two years.