SciFi Friday: Voyage of the Damned a Success; Torchwood, Tribbles and Letterman; Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Voyage of the Damned, the third annual Doctor Who Christmas special, was a tremendous success. It was the most viewed episode of the revived series with 13.8 million viewers (and an unknown number of us in the US downloading copies with bit torrent). It is estimated that 55% of British televisions sets were tuned to the special–which must correlate with all those tales of empty cathedrals in Europe. (Warning, spoilers below).

The show took place on a space ship orbiting the Earth which was a replica of The Titanic. It shouldn’t be hard to guess its fate, but there was some mystery as to the motivations of the person responsible. The Doctor anticipated the danger as soon as he got on board:

The Doctor: Titanic. Who thought of the name?
Host: Information: it was chosen as the most famous vessel of the planet Earth.
The Doctor: Did they tell you why it was famous?

As with the previous Christmas specials, this one included the Doctor facing robotic symbols of Christmas, with angles replacing the robotic Santas in the first two specials. Unfortunately there was no good explanation for why they bothered to program all those robots to kill the surviving passengers when, if the Doctor hadn’t intervened, the Titanic would have crashed into the Earth killing everyone on both the Titanic and the Earth. Santa was not ignored in this year’s special as we learned about an alien view of earth’s Christmas customs. Mr. Cooper, the ship’s historian, explained:

I am Mr. Copper, the ship’s historian, and I shall be taking you to Old London Town in the country of UK, ruled over by Good King Wenceslas. Now, human beings worshiped the great god Santa, a creature with fearsome claws, and his wife Mary and every Christmas Eve, the people of UK go to war with the country of Turkey. They then eat the turkey people for Christmas dinner, like savages.

I’m not sure if there have been any other episodes in which so many characters are killed, including several sacrificing themselves to save others. Kylie Minogue made a fine companion but did not survive to return like Catherine Tate, who will be returning next season. David Tennant gave his usual fine performance. I’ve read speculation that his reaction to the death of Astrid, Kylie’s character, was enhanced by his personal experiences from the death of his mother in the past year. He also had a good scene when a passenger asked who he was:

Rickston: Hang on a minute! Who put you in charge? And who the hell are you, anyway?
The Doctor: I’m the Doctor. I’m a Time Lord. I’m from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I’m 903 years old and I’m the man who’s going to save your lives and all six billion people on the planet below. You got a problem with that?
Rickston: No.
The Doctor: In that case, allons-y!

The Doctor saves the Earth, and as in previous Christmas specials London is subjected to fake snow:

Mr. Copper: You know, between you and me, I don’t think this snow is real. I think it’s the ballast from the Titanic salvage entering the atmosphere.
The Doctor: Yeah, one of these days, it might snow for real.

Mr. Cooper wound up remaining on Earth. It seems that his degree as a historian wasn’t very legitimate, and if discovered during the investigation of the destruction of the Titanic he faced ten years in prison. Fortunately the credit card he had for “petty cash” had one million pounds on it, allowing him to lead a good life on Earth, with the possibility of running into The Doctor again.

We have to wait until spring to see more of Doctor Who, but its spin off, Torchwood, returns in January on both the BBC and BBC America. Freema has two videos of trailers for the second season here and here.

The Trek Movie Report has learned that there will be tribbles appearing in Star Trek 11. They better make sure that all the quadrotriticale is secure. Incidentally, tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of the first showing of The Trouble with Tribbles.

David Letterman’s company has made a deal with the Writer’s Guild. Both his show and Craig Ferguson’s show will be returning with writers in January. The other returning talk shows will be at a disadvantage because of both not having their writers and as many potential guests might be unwilling to cross the picket lines.


Kristen Bell has been busy since Veronica Mars was canceled. The trailer for Forgetting Sarah Marshall is above.The movie, scheduled for release on May 30, 2008, stars Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars, Heroes) and Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother, Knocked Up). As a public service to save time for those who are only interested in the scene with Kristen Bell in a bikini, here’s a screen grab. (Those interested in Jason Segel’s nude scene will have to watch the clip.)


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