The Doctor vs Downton: Christmas 2011

Two of the biggest programmes on Christmas Day. Doctor Who, the perennial Christmas staple vs the upstart Downton Abbey. How did they do in the ultimate family Christmas face-off?

Guest Stars:

DW: Claire Skinner (the Mum from Outnumbered), a bit of Bill Bailey and Arabella Weir, and an even smaller helping of Alexander Armstrong. 6/10

DA: Nigel Havers. 6/10

Romance:

DW: Madge Arwell and Reg Arwell. He always follows her home. 7/10

DA: Lady Margaret and Matthew Crawley. He’s feeling guilty about dead Lavinia; she’s feeling guilty about the Turk. 6/10

Christmas-ness:

DW: Kitted out bedrooms; living Christmas Trees; a time portal Christmas Present; a family reunited in time for Christmas Lunch. 10/10

DA: The servants eating Christmas lunch first, but worrying about Bates’ trial. Upstairs, Jorah Mormont complaining about serving his own lunch, and then a posh game of charades. 6/10

Supernatural-ness:

DW: A time portal into a Narnia-type winter woodland where the trees have life forces; living Christmas trees whose baubels turn into living wood statues; the ‘mother ship’ run by a real-life mother through a time vortex back home. 9/10

DA: A ouija board used by Lavinia to dispense her well wishes on to Matthew and Mary. 0/10

Family-time:

DW: The Arwells reunited for Christmas. The Doctor reunited with the Ponds. They always set a plate for him of course. Oh, happy tears. 10/10

DA: Lady Sybil still banished, but now pregnant too. [But why can Lord Grantham forgive Lady Mary (and himself) but not Sybil]. Lady Rosamund at Downton for Christmas but being pursued by the fortune-hunter Nigel Havers. A family in disarray, both upstairs and downstairs. 5/10

Plot-holes:

DW: The boy, Cyril, who doesn’t age in three years. And sleeps with his glasses on. And what happened to Reg’s co-pilot when he landed at that big house? -3

DA: The prosecution seemed to know word-for-word conversations heard and said by Mr Bates. -1

Villains:

DW: Acid Rain. 1/10

DA: Thomas. At least Isis didn’t die in that shed. 1/10

MVP:

DW: The Doctor/The Caretaker/Matt Smith of course. 10/10

DA: Cousin Violet/Lady Dowager Countess/Maggie Smith of course. 10/10

Plots:

DW: Three years ago at Christmas, Madge Arwell helps out The Doctor. In return, three years later, when her husband, Reg, goes missing over the Channel (during the war), The Doctor becomes The Caretaker of a big house where Madge and her two kids come to spend Christmas. He tries to give them the Best Christmas Evah with a robotic Christmas Tree, hammocks, and a mysterious Christmas Present. As ever, The Doctor mucks up and what should be a nice jaunt in another dimension, turns into a bit of a nightmare. Cyril follows a tree creature into a human-trap, The Doctor and Lily follow in pursuit. Madge then follows and meets Bill Bailey and his 2 henchmen, from the year 5000-something who are evacuating the Narnia forest for an acid rain shower that will harvest all the wood for fuel. After deserting Madge, she drives their machine to find the children and The Doctor. But as a mother, she is seen as the perfect vessel for the life forces of all the trees. She then powers their human-trap machine through the time-vortex, using the power of her mind, back home to the big house. Meanwhile, the light of her flying through the time-vortex and her memories of Reg, allow him to follow her light through the time-vortex so he survives as well. Madge urges The Doctor to reunite with his best friends, Amy Pond and Rory Williams, who knew he wasn’t dead and always set a place at the table for him, knowing that one day he will return. And The Doctor learns how to cry happy tears. The End. 7/10

DA: After Christmas and New Year, Bates is on trial for the murder of his former wife by poison. Lord Grantham, Mrs Hughes and Miss O’Brien are all called as witnesses at the trial but all, unintentionally, make Bates seem more guilty. He is found guilty of murder and sentenced to execution, but Lord Grantham (actually Earl) is able to pull some strings with the Home Minister so Bates’ sentence is commuted to life-imprisonment. Lady Rosamund is at Downton for the festive season, with a new maid, Miss Shaw, and being pursued by a bankrupt Nigel Havers. She knows he wants her money, but thinks that he also quite likes her. He doesn’t as he’s having an affair with the shifty maid, Miss Shaw, who he was using to persuade Rosamund to marry him. Daisy is still feeling guilty about marrying William, on his death bed, when she didn’t really love him, but then realises that she did kind of love him, enjoys being a daughter to his dad, and could get a promotion in the kitchen. Thomas wants to be promoted to valet, now that Bates is in prison, but no-one trusts him, so he steals the dog, Isis, in order to then rescue her later. The plan fails as someone else finds the dog but Lord Grantham still now trusts Thomas. Lady Edith is in pursuit of an old man with an injured right hand. Lady Sybil is pregnant. Lady Mary decides to break off her engagement with the Press Baron, because she’d rather live through the scandal of her dalliance with the dead Turk, then marry an oaf.  She even contemplates moving to America. There’s a servants’ ball. And at the end, Matthew proposes and Mary accepts. 7/10

Totals:

Doctor Who: 57

Downton Abbey: 40

The winner: Doctor Who. Less predictable. Not the best Christmas tv this year, but both were perfectly enjoyable to watch with the family.

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2 Responses to The Doctor vs Downton: Christmas 2011

  1. Sam Flowers says:

    Still remaining lukewarm to Downton. We Brits do seem to love Upstairs Downstairs type dramas – the class system and all that!

    • Downton is just a soap opera – it could actually do with addressing the class system better. What’s more surprising is how popular it is in the States – it’s got a bit of a cult following over there despite (or maybe because of) the class issues covered in it.

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