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12 Thoughts on Doctor Who: The Church On Ruby Road

Doctor Who The Church On Ruby Road
As is traditional, there’s a Christmas Day Doctor Who special, The Church on Ruby Road. Do I have thoughts on it? Of course I do!

However, as is also traditional, I really hate spoilers. Dislike them intensely, they’re like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

I do not want to be that guy who blurts out that REDACTED CHARACTER is actually SECRETLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT THING… see, I can’t even bring myself to spoil something here.

So just in case you’ve landed here without having watched The Church On Ruby Road, go watch it, and then return. It’ll still be here. But as is traditional, I’m going to throw a simple YouTube clip in here as spoiler space/content warning, so if you scroll beneath it, there be the spoilers. All clear? Good.


I mean… what other song could I use?

As always, these are random thoughts in no particular order at all. Feel free to comment below if you have opinions one way or the other. Odds are that you’re a Doctor Who fan, and I’ve never known Doctor Who fans to NOT have strong opinions.

  1. Ncuti Gatwa is a damned engaging presence across the entire episode, effortlessly flinging himself from one aspect of the Doctor’s personality to another with amazing ease. Definitely a different Doctor (and that’s great, change is the show’s constant) but one that’s absolutely the centre of attention.
  2. That being said, I kind of feel like there’s a missed opportunity here having a “fully formed” Doctor from (effectively) day one here. Yes, I know, The Giggle (wrote that up here), Bigeneration and all that, but there’s some genuine joy in letting an actor rip through different aspects of Doctors past when a regeneration settles in their first episode that we just don’t get here, that also serves as a nice link to the show’s extensive past. I 100% accept that this might be a “just me” problem.
  3. I happened to be watching the show in the UK on transmission (first time for that in a long while) and with a five year old in the room. Doctor Who can still scare kids (in the right way), and this is how it should be.
  4. Seriously, somebody should get Cherry some tea. She’s clearly parched.
  5. What exactly is the Goblin’s food cycle? I get the comedy/terror bit of having babies eaten by the Goblin King, that’s all fine, but what do the other hundreds of Goblins actually eat?
  6. The Christmas Specials (and if one wants to get pedantic, and I usually do, this could be stretched all the way back to Hartnell wishing viewers a happy Christmas back in the 60s) are usually lighter, less serious fare. This definitely was, while still setting in place just a few constants.
  7. Not sure I like the new Sonic Screwdriver. I did appreciate the gag about it not being able to do much with rope, though.
  8. Anita Dobson’s line to camera about the TARDIS was, naturally, pure speculation bait. Rani/Master/Missy are your obvious lines, so I’m going to suggest that she’s instead a recast Liz Shaw.
  9. Observation stolen outright from one off my offspring: These goblins are quite bad at adequately seasoning children. Which then spun my own head off into the concept of Goblin Celebrity Chef shows. “Today on the Naked Goblin, I’m going to prepare some pukka Baby with a side of veggies..”
  10. How did the Doctor get from the dance floor up to Ruby so fast? Are we getting another Impossible Astronaut/multiple Doctors/timelines deal here?
  11. I get that the goblins are eating babies (BAD!), but Ncuti’s Doctor offers them no chance to stop, in line with The Doctor’s usual pacifist nature. It’s just skewer-the-goblin-king, no discussion, no chance to leave the planet peacefully (which he even tried with Toymaker!). That’s quite a change!
  12. One other more subtle change here: The Doctor has full TARDIS control, it seems, if he can precisely go back to save baby Ruby from being munched upon. Maybe I missed a line somewhere, but I’m not sure I like the determined nature of that; part of the fun of Who is that they often don’t land where they’re meant to. I’m still waiting for that return journey to the Eye of Harmony…

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That was fun, though, and that’s what Doctor Who Christmas episodes should be. Agree? Disagree? Let me know below!

4 thoughts on “12 Thoughts on Doctor Who: The Church On Ruby Road

  1. Always enjoy new Doctors and companions. Although getting a bit tired of young female Earthlings.
    Also Russell made an assumption that everyone knows who Davina McCall is and her TV show. Therefore her involvement was a bit flat for me.

    1. Fair — though with the UK focus of the show, I’d say she’s a fairly well known commodity, and the whole scope of her doing a show around family history was laid out pretty obviously too, so it’s perhaps just not as rich a cameo as it might otherwise be for some. Didn’t feel overbearing to me.

  2. Wow. This was the worst episode of Dr Who that I have ever endured.
    The song was horrendous. So badly written and directed.
    Positives: Ncuti and Millie were fine. Had an awful script to work with.
    Sonic Screwdriver just looks like Disney wanted an easier toy to make. Awful.
    I don’t care for every season having a mystery with hints each episode. Just write longer, better stories that give the viewer time to care about what’s happening.
    As for Mrs Flood, she was weaker than water (pun intended). Her piece to camera was also poorly executed.

    After enduring those three god-awful ‘specials’ (when will the fans stop pining for Tennant?), sadly, this looks like the last time I will watch Dr Who.

  3. Having watched it back a few times, I’m no longer cringing over the musical number and it actually fits. Really looking forward to the full series and seeing this doctor develop properly. Certainly one episode is not enough to judge., but it looks positive to me.

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