Christmas episodes of Doctor Who are normally irrelevant stories that don’t connect to the main series, and manage to be a little more light-hearted. This is why what we get with The Husbands of River Song is total fan service and the perfect coming together of Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston.
When The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) answers a distress signal from a strange alien ship he finds himself face to face with River Song (Alex Kingston). Given the task of saving her latest husband, Song doesn’t appear to recognise The Doctor, but will this change?
When this episode was hyped, the fact that Matt Lucas and Greg Davies were to be a part was a big deal, but for Doctor Who fans it was all about the return of River Song. For some, the over used character was not welcome, where others looked forward to her return. The fact that this was the first time Capaldi and Kingston would meet in Doctor Who though was always going to be a big deal.
What happens with The Husbands of River Song is that the story tends to play second fiddle to the relationship between The Doctor and River. Kingston and Capaldi have a good chemistry that makes this episode feel like a total fanservice for the people who love The Doctor. Sure, the episode is totally irrelevant when it comes to Doctor Who, but it is something special in its own right.
The Husbands of River Song is, at its core, a love story that only Doctor Who fans will understand. To fully comprehend what we are seeing, we need to know their history and we need to know the rather complicated relationship between the two. With this, the comedy then works and the sparks between the two really ignite the episode into something that makes it one of the better Christmas episodes.
While Greg Davies and Matt Lucas are good in their roles, everything is overshadowed by Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston in this episode. If you’ve found the character of Song annoying in the past, gladly it is not the case here. What this episode manages to do is to pull itself away from the normal Doctor Who structure and be something a little different. It has humour, it has action and most importantly it has a romance that truly fits, and makes the character of River Song finally feel a little more special than it has in the past.
The success of this episode is very much down to the connection between Capaldi and Kingston, and will no doubt make fans of the show wish that River Song could be the next companion for The Doctor. We know that this won’t happen, but if it could? I’m sure people wouldn’t argue against it.
Thankfully what we get with this Christmas episode is a fun episode that manages to remove most of the complicated nature of the show, and be a totally separate story. The Husbands of River Song is the episode that the Doctor and River Song deserve, and shows just why bringing together Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston needed to happen. It may be surprising, but this is actually Doctor Who doing what it does best. A Christmas gift to fans, this is exactly what the show needed to produce for a Christmas special.