‘Doctor Who: The Church on Ruby Road’ marks a new chapter in the iconic series, ushering in Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor and introducing Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday. This Christmas Special, airing on December 25, 2023, is not just a holiday treat but also a significant milestone, concluding the sixtieth anniversary of ‘Doctor Who‘.
The episode centers around Ruby Sunday, a young woman abandoned as a baby on a church’s doorstep on Christmas Eve. Fast forward to the present, Ruby encounters the Doctor and faces off against mischievous goblins, including a Goblin King, who stir trouble in this festive season. Amidst this chaos, the episode weaves a tale of Ruby’s search for her origins, aided by her adoptive family and the enigmatic Doctor.
I’m a big fan of Ncuti Gatwa from his ‘Sex Education’ days, and his portrayal of the Doctor is refreshing and promising. Gatwa brings a unique energy to the role, hinting at great potential for his tenure as the Doctor. Millie Gibson, as Ruby Sunday, is a standout, reminiscent of Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler, my favorite companion from the series. Ruby has that same spark and potential for growth that made Rose so beloved.
However, the episode’s execution doesn’t entirely hit the mark. While it’s great to see ‘Doctor Who’ embracing diversity and inclusivity, which has always been a part of the Doctor’s ethos, some aspects of the show’s direction might not sit well with all fans. The episode leans into a quirky, less serious tone, which is a nice change of pace but lacks the high stakes usually associated with Doctor Who Christmas specials.
The villains, the goblins, unfortunately, fall a bit flat. They lack depth and intrigue, with their most memorable contribution being a catchy musical number that, while fun, doesn’t quite resonate with the Christmas theme. The episode does include a few Christmas songs, but the overall festive spirit is somewhat muted. The setting doesn’t scream Christmas – it’s sunny, and there’s a lack of traditional holiday imagery, though there are exceptions, like the Christmas tree in Ruby’s apartment.
As for Gatwa’s Doctor, I believe he’ll grow into the role beautifully. It always takes me a while to warm up to a new Doctor – I stopped watching for six months when David Tennant took over from Christopher Eccleston, only for Tennant to become my favorite. So, I’m optimistic about Gatwa’s future as the Doctor.
The episode is a decent introduction to the new Doctor and companion, with a couple of enjoyable songs. However, it lacks compelling villains and a strong Christmas vibe, making it a somewhat average entry in the Doctor Who Christmas special lineup.
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