Old favourite: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.Television is, as you would expect from a medium that forms the cornerstone of so much family life, a sentimental beast around the holiday season.
The Christmas to New Year period might be frustrating for viewers, with first-run and big-name productions taking a break in the non-ratings period, but it’s also when old favourite shows turn up like clockwork.
There will be the Christmas episodes of series long since axed, movies we’ve seen a dozen times but will happily sit through again, and of course that new tradition, the Doctor Who special. This year that’s being used as a chance for The Doctor (and his writers) to tie up loose ends left from the final episode of this season.
The last time we saw him, The Doctor (in his Peter Capaldi incarnation) had bravely said goodbye to his latest companion, Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman), after watching her lose the love of her life in a battle against the Cybermen. As happens in his universe.
All was maudlin but well, as the credits rolled … until Santa (played by Nick Frost) showed up.
“You know it can’t end like that!” he shouted. “She’s not all right and neither are you. Now tell me, what do you want for Christmas?” And for fans left disappointed by Clara’s exit, the answer was: “Exactly this.” It’s an example of at least one network realising Christmas can be a time for the sentimental repeats but doesn’t need to be a TV wasteland.
There’s no doubt this episode would rate well any time of year but the ABC is following the BBC’s lead and getting it to air as soon as possible for the fans (fans likely to go to the internet were the episode delayed). Hopefully that spirit will catch on and the other free-to-air networks will realise that offering up the occasional Christmas gift could help keep their audience happy. And if not, there’s always that screening of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to look forward to.
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