Friday, May 29, 2009

V7 - The Feast of Steven

It's interesting to see how TV viewing habits in the UK have changed over the course of 40 years. The Christmas specials of the new series of Doctor Who get gangbuster ratings, as have the holiday specials of other famous shows such as Only Fools and Horses. In 1965, though, people tended to turn the TV off (or, rather, never have it on in the first place) after eating their Christmas dinner. Such was the environment that Episode 7 of The Daleks' Master Plan entered the Doctor Who pathos.

The Feast of Steven is, of course, the oddest Doctor Who episode ever. It bears no real relation to what went on before it or what was to happen afterwards, contains a truly cacophonous scene set in a a 1920's Hollywood film studio, and it famously ended with William Hartnell turning to the camera and saying those immortal words, "A happy Christmas to all of you at home!".

It's that last line that I love so much about this episode, though, as it has stymied the pedants of the Doctor Who world in trying to work it into the official canon. If Hartnell had just said, "A happy Christmas to you all!", he could have merely been talking to himself, or, at he very least, the multiple personalities in his head that really wouldn't manifest themselves until the later Tom Baker era. The fact that he directed the comment to those of us "at home" leads me to think that there are bigger things afoot.

Quite clearly, The Doctor has been aware of the fact that the CIA (Celestial Intervention Agency) on Gallifrey has been following him for some time, monitoring his actions and discreetly sending him on special missions to suit their own nefarious schemes, all under the guise of a "faulty" directional control. The CIA were smug enough to think that The Doctor hadn't noticed, but the fact that he wished a happy Christmas to everyone at home (i.e. Gallifrey) made them alter their plans and go for more aggressive tactics. To that end, shortly after this, they pull the First Doctor out of time for a mission (The Three Doctors), and, pleased with how it worked out on that occasion, continue to do the same with other incarnations, particularly the Second Doctor.

Yup - the Season 6B theory didn't start with The Second Doctor's trial at the end of The War Games. It started with that seemingly harmless Christmas greeting years before. Stunning. And it's all canon.

Get Paul Cornell on the line. He's got another book to write.


Anonymous said...


It also ties in with Tom Baker breaking the 4th wall when he says, "Even the sonic screwdriver won't get me out of this one."

Plus, your favorite story has all sorts of weird 4th wall breaking stuff.

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