The Husbands Of River Song finds Peter Capaldi‘s Doctor back in upbeat mode having been inadvertently completely forget all about Clara Oswald following the events of the Series 9 finale.
It’s Christmas Day 5343 and, for once, it’s actually snowing on Christmas Day. According to the Met Office, that is the next time we will see a white Christmas (I lied). It takes place on Mendorax Dellora (Human Colony) and our hero is clearly in the same mindset as myself when it comes to the festive season since the door to the TARDIS states “Carol singers swill be criticised”.
The Doctor was summoned to a medical emergency by Nardole (Matt Lucas), to attend to Professor River Song’s husband, King Hydroflax (Man Down‘s Greg Davies), as there’s the Halassi Androvar, the most valuable diamond in the universe lodged inside his head which needs extracting, but never mind that because… did she say “husband”??? Has she had a bump on the head? Doesn’t she remember that she and The Doctor are married, since the title refers to ‘husbands’? Confused? You won’t be, after this week’s episode of… SOAP!
(Dom, stop remembering long-gone ’70/’80s US sitcoms and concentrate on Doctor Who!)
In the role of science fiction’s answer to Lara Croft, Alex Kingston has played opposite previous Doctors David Tennant and Matt Smith, but this is the first time she has appeared alongside Capaldi in the titular-ish role. Technically, you could say she’s starred alongside another Doctor, if you count Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble who was temporarily DoctorDonna at one point, but River never met her *while* she was DoctorDonna, and that was such a load of bunkum it’s best to forget anyway, so even more technically, you could say she had *not* met this Doctor. Anyhoo…
Almost every one of River’s episodes to date has been written by current showrunner Steven Moffat, from when she was introduced in 2008 with Silence In The Library, except for Series 6’s Closing Time, which was written by Gareth Roberts and was the second episode to star the always unwelcome James Corden who, thankfully, since he was a best friend of Matt Smith, will never return again. He’s also far too busy in the US ruining Craig Ferguson’s old show.
There’s quite a lot of amusing lines in this episode, such as after calling the Professor by her first name:
- River Song: “Don’t use my name, ever! How do you know me?”
The Doctor: “Well, it’s a tiny bit complicated. People usually need a flow chart”
River Song: (referring to him and Nardole) “If either of you use my name again, I’ll remove your organs in alphabetical order. Any questions?”
The Doctor (grinning): “Which alphabet?”
On further confusion, this results in a Jaws reference from him…
- “I think I’m going to need a bigger flow chart(!)”
When they first see King Hydroflax, for some reason, he’s horizontal:
- Doctor: “He’s a lying down person. I don’t like him. I don’t like lying down people. So untidy.”
And On crossing his arms after being told to keep them by his side:
- Nardole: “Why do you keep crossing them??”
The Doctor: “Because I cross. I’ve got cross arms.”
And since Greg Davies always plays shouty characters…
- River Song: “There’s something in his brain.”
The Doctor: “You could’ve fooled me!”
The Husbands Of River Song is another episode that harks back to earlier Doctors, and for some reason, Capaldi’s Doctor is back to the Sonic Sunglasses rather than his new Screwdriver, acquired three weeks ago at the end of Series 9. Has he really lost it in all that time? And if so, why can’t he go back and get it?
Either way, this episode gives us a nice comic turn from Capaldi which, given his memory wipe from Clara, will hopefully make us ALL forget about much of Series 8 and 9!
I also like that the spaceship has multiple TV screens in individual locations, rather like James Caan’s abode in Rollerball. And there’s also a surprisingly gross scene involving a method of payment…
Overall, this isn’t the greatest episode ever made, but then given how bad Christmas episodes usually are, this is actually rather decent by comparison. And a 7/10 for a Christmas episode is more like a 9 for a regular one. Also, given how much effluent has flowed under the bridge throughout 2014 and 2015 – with only Deep Breath and Flatline standing out, the latter also directed by this episode’s Douglas Mackinnon (also responsible for Time Heist and Listen). Let’s hope we can get back to more *fun* episodes of Doctor Who rather than all the morose ones we had in 2015, including spending four-and-a-half billion years punching through a wall of Azbantium (zzzzzz!)
There are certain other things I could say about the episode but… as River often says, “Spoilers!” 🙂
Individual episodes can be bought in HD and SD here.
Director: Douglas Mackinnon
Producer: Nikki Wilson
Writer: Steven Moffat
Music: Murray Gold
The Doctor: Peter Capaldi
River Song: Alex Kingston
King Hydroflax: Greg Davies
Nardole: Matt Lucas
Ramone: Phillip Rhys
Flemming: Rowan Polonski
Scratch: Robert Curtis
Conciege: Anthony Cozens
Alphonse: Chris Lew Kum Hoi
Receptionist: Nicolle Smartt
King Hydroflax’s Body: Liam Cook
King Hydroflax’s Voice: Nonso Anozie
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.