"See, there's the thing. I'm the Doctor, but beyond that, I just don't know. I literally do not know who I am. It's all untested. Am I funny? Am I sarcastic? Sexy? Right old misery? Life and soul? Right-handed? Left-handed? A gambler? A fighter? A coward? A traitor, a liar, a nervous wreck? I mean, judging by the evidence, I've certainly got a gob."It's become traditional for a new Doctor's first serial to deal with regeneration trauma. The Tenth's is fairly mild — compared to, say, the Sixth's brief homicidal mania — and consists of him spending Christmas unconscious in bed. It's rather close to the Fifth Doctor's regeneration process, where the Doctor spent a lot of time sleeping before running around a lot.The story is an interesting foreshadowing of what would become important themes in the next few series of Doctor Who and its spin-offs: what happens when the Doctor isn't there to save the day.
Christmas Eve, and the TARDIS comes screaming down out of the sky into the Powell Estates. The new Doctor stumbles out of it and into the arms of Jackie and Mickey; he wishes them a happy Christmas before passing out in their arms. Understandably confused, they nevertheless help Rose carry him up to chez Jackie and get him settled in bed.Mickey takes Rose out for a bit of last-minute Christmas shopping, where they are attacked by deadly robot Santas. Back at the flat, they are attacked by a deadly robot Christmas tree. The War On Christmas has never been so literal. The Doctor wakes up long enough to explain that the robot Santas aren't the threat — they're just after the residual energy from his regeneration — the real threat is the Sycorax warship that's just coming into view.Meanwhile, about a third of humanity has zoned out and started climbing to the rooftops. This includes the royal family, but Harriet Jones, Prime Minister (Yes, we know who she is) encourages the British people not to panic. This doesn't exactly work, as the Sycorax leader pops up and demands that either the leaders of Humanity sell half of the species into slavery... or that third will leap off the rooftops. Rose and her companions have been paying attention to what's going on, thanks to Mickey's hacking skills, and they all slide into the TARDIS.Unfortunately, without anyone realising it, the TARDIS is quickly stolen up into the Sycorax spaceship. Rose and Mickey exit the TARDIS in shock, finding themselves alongside a delegation from the Earth led by Harriet Jones (Prime Minister) trying to bargain with the Sycorax. Mickey spilled tea all over some of the TARDIS controls as he went out to see what Rose was screaming about, but it seems to be fine aside from some random smoke and sparks. Rose, realizing how utterly screwed over everyone is without the Doctor, tries to bluff her way out of the problem by using random phrases and words she's picked up from the Doctor. It doesn't work.Luckily, however, Rose has bought enough time for the Doctor to finally finish off his regeneration cycle. As it turns out, the tea that Mickey dropped was just enough to jump-start the Doctor back into consciousness. Within a few seconds, the Doctor gleefully bounces around their ship, gives them a speech, realizes it's from The Lion King and improvises a brief investigation instead, and decides that the Sycorax are simply bluffing — that their blood control can't get people to kill themselves. All the while, he's running around and trying to figure out what kind of man this new body will make him. Manic and lucky, apparently. Within seconds, the Doctor challenges the Sycorax to a quick challenge for the fate of the Earth, to be decided in a sword-fight to the death. You know, the usual.Luckily, the Doctor wins the fight in his jammies and dressing gown — "very Arthur Dent" — but not before losing a hand. Which he grows back, thanks to still being early in his regeneration cycle. The Doctor then demands that the Sycorax leave the Earth and tell any aliens who wish to conquer the planet that it is defended. Also, since no one can possibly deny alien life any more, Earth has now officially made first interstellar contact. Finally. And all ends well on Christmas Day......until Harriet Jones has them shot out of the sky by Torchwood London. The Doctor, suddenly quite serious, decides to say a few simple words to begin the end her time as Prime Minister ("Don't you think she looks tired?" to her aide) and then he and Rose go off into the TARDIS and fly off all happily, though a bit troubled by the fact that the government of the UK is now crashing quickly and the "Christmas snow" is really ash from the Sycorax spaceship. Merry Christmas, everyone!
- Adult Fear: On what should be a normal Christmas day, a mother finds her husband and kids just suddenly walking out of the house, going completely unresponsive and walking to the tallest building they can find.
- Arc Words: Harriet Jones, Prime Minister (yes we know who she is) calls Torchwood to take out the Sycorax warship.
- Astronomic Zoom: The beginning there is this with the probe going to Mars.
- Backstab Backfire: After the Doctor wins their duel, the Sycorax leader gets up and charges him from behind. The Doctor (without looking or breaking his stride) throws the satsuma he's just found in his jim-jams at the hull switch, opening it under the Sycorax.
- Badass Boast: When someone wonders why Harriet Jones is speaking so casually about aliens as a matter of fact, she merely quips, "There's an act of Parliament banning my autobiography."
- Bad Santa: A whole brass band of them, complete with weaponized instruments.
- Big Red Threatening Button: That should never, ever, ever be touched. "I really don't know who I am. I don't know when to stop. So if I see a great big threatening button which should never, ever, ever be pressed, then I just want to do this.(He hits the button.)"
- Big "SHUT UP!":Doctor I need...
Jackie: Is it food? Something simple? Bowl of soup? Nice bowl of soup? Soup and a sandwich? Bowl of soup and a nice ham sandwich?
Doctor: I need you to shut up!
- Bond One-Liner: "No second chances. I'm that sort of a man."
- Borrowed Catchphrase: The Tenth Doctor borrows Nine's "fantastic" to reassure Rose about the adventures they could go on.
- Call Back: Harriet Jones makes a point of knowing the names of everyone she meets. The explanation isn't given, but since the last time she appeared she never learnt the name of the man Blon Slitheen murdered, it's likely to make sure she knows this time.
- The camera focusing on the newly regenerated Tenth Doctor's face, as he's unconscious on the ground. This is more or less the exact same pose many of the classic Doctor's were in before and after their regenerations.
- Celebrity Paradox: The Doctor makes reference to Arthur Dent. But Douglas Adams, who wrote the Hitchhiker's Guide books, also did writing work on Doctor Who in the 1970s.
- Catch Phrase: Harriet Jones's has been accordingly upgraded to reflect her new status, which is met with some exasperation from everyone else — since when did the Prime Minister need to introduce herself?
- Chekhov's Gag: The Doctor finds fruit in the dressing gown Jackie had, since the man who she's currently seeing tends to get snacky during the night. He later uses a Satsuma he finds there to defeat the Sycorax leader.
- Chekhov's Gun: The Doctor's severed hand. It wasn't intended as such at the time, but it would go on to be a very important item throughout the remainder of Russell T. Davies' tenure in charge of the franchise.
- Christmas Episode: It's Christmas in London and therefore supposed to be a 'day of peace'. Because the Sycorax don't respect this, The Doctor has to kick their ass. Then Harriet Jones, Prime Minister, blows their ship out of the sky.
- Clarke's Third Law: The Sycorax's blood control technology is described by one character as "like casting a spell".
- Continuity Nod:
- Rose's address to the Sycorax is basically her rattling off whatever useless bits of knowledge she's gained about aliens over the course of the last series.
- Big Ben is still covered in scaffolding from not being completely rebuilt.
- This isn't the first time the Doctor's regeneration almost failed... or, for that matter, he spent a portion of the adventure sleeping.
- The Doctor's hand regrowth is also seen by some fans as an explanation of how Romana managed to do "trial" regenerations at the beginning of "Destiny of the Daleks".
- On seeing the Sycorax, Mr. Llewellyn wonders if they're actually Martians. The UNIT Major dryly informs him that Martians look completely different.
- Converging-Stream Weapon: Used by Torchwood London against the fleeing Sycorax.
- Corpsing: It's not obvious due to camera angles, but Noel Clarke struggles to keep a straight face in the cold open.
- Deadpan Snarker: Mickey's moved on from being hostile, and now just taunts Rose about how she never stops talking about the Doctor, and the TARDIS.Mickey: Oh, yeah. Tell me more about the Doctor, because I just love hearing about him. "This one time, the TARDIS landed in a big yellow garden, full of balloons!"
- Eagleland: The United States immediately demands to take over the situation... not that Harriet cares.
- Disney Villain Death: The Sycorax Leader has a particularly nasty one here. Like in most Disney movies, you never see the body, but boy, that was a very LOOOOOOOOOONG fall there.
- Epic Fail: Rose's attempt to talk to the Sycorax using random words she picked up from the Doctor. The vast majority are just the names of previous aliens of the week, and the Sycorax just wind up laughing at her.
- Establishing Character Moment: The entire episode is basically one for Ten, as he tries to find out "what sort of man he is."
- He answers the question when the Sycorax leader tries to kill Ten after the Doctor commanded his race never to invade Earth again. He then promptly throws the satsuma in his pocket at a switch, which makes him fall to his death. "No second chances. I'm that sort of man."
- Evil Plan: The Sycorax come to earth looking for slaves and minerals. They demand surrender so they can make another conquest.
- He's Back: "Did you miss me?"
- Impact Silhouette: The animated killer Christmas tree leaves a Christmas-treetop-shaped gap in the top of the doorframe at Jackie's place.
- Instrument of Murder: The robot Father Christmases wield brass instruments which double as weapons, including a trombone flamethrower and a tuba which, by dint of launching rockets, manages to make itself just barely more dangerous than the usual sort.
- Limb-Sensation Fascination: When the Doctor's hand gets chopped off, shortly after his regeneration, there's a short focus on it as he grows a new one. "I've got just enough residual cellular energy — to do this." (regrows hand) "...Wanna know the best bit? This new hand is a fightin' hand."
- Mass Hypnosis: The Sycorax control of a third of the Earth's population.
- Mauve Shirt: Mister Llewellyn and the UNIT Major, who are beamed to the Sycorax ship with Harriet Jones, and killed shortly after.
- Moral Dissonance: The Doctor deposes Harriet Jones, Prime Minister (yes we know who she is), violating his own standards of not altering major historical events... and nobody ever, ever pulls him up on it. Not in this episode or anywhere else in the series.
- Mythology Gag: The Fourth Doctor's outfit can be seen while the Doctor chooses his new clothes.
- The Nth Doctor: David Tennant makes his debut as the Doctor.
- Nations of the World Montage: we see people walking to the edge of buildings in Paris and Rome. With, of course, Eiffel Tower and Coliseum .
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Guinevere-1 probe has a sample of human blood on it, which is what allows the Sycorax to hold all those people hostage with blood control.
- Non Sequitur Thud: The Doctor on stepping out of the TARDIS in the intro. "Merry Christmas!" *thud*
- The Nth Doctor: Regeneration is explored
- Rose has no idea what's going on. All she knows is the man she knew and loved has changed, and there's some skinny guy in his place. She even compares him unfavourably to the Ninth Doctor, saying he'd sort everything out, and later breaks down crying over being "left alone".
- Harriet is also pretty confused, wondering briefly if Ten is Nine's son.
- Ominous Floating Spaceship: The Sycorax ship hovering in their space shp and demanding surrender.
- Pajama-Clad Hero: After spending most of the episode laid up in bed, the Doctor does the climactic confrontation and duel still dressed in jimjams and dressing gown.
- Paranoia Gambit: The Doctor's "six words" that bring down Harriet Jones's government are to tell her aide "Don't you think she looks tired," then refuse to tell Jones herself what he said, leaving her to worry herself into a total mess who really does look agitated and exhausted.
- Patrick Stewart Speech: Attempted, but the Doctor gives up halfway when he realizes he's just quoting "Circle of Life" from The Lion King."But the point still stands; leave them alone!"
- Phrase Catcher/Running Gag:Harriet Jones, Prime Minister: (flashes ID badge) Harriet Jones, Prime Minister.
Everyone (including the Sycorax): Yes, I/we know who you are.
- Pop-Cultured Badass: Ten, starting as he means to go on, quotes the Lion King and references Arthur Dent.
- Rationalizing the Overkill: Harriet Jones,Prime Minister, justifies her blasting of the Sycorax spaceship out of the sky by saying that though the Doctor scared them off, who's to say they wouldn't have turned right around and attacked once The Doctor was gone, just like their leader did after being defeated and giving his solemn word on the blood of his race. Thus, she had to Make an Example of Them to show that Earth could defend itself without him.
- Replacement Scrappy: In-universe, this is how Rose views the Tenth Doctor initially. She warms up to him later.
- Skewed Priorities: Before dealing with the Monster of the Week, the Doctor asks Rose how his latest regeneration looks and then throws a tantrum about how he's not ginger.
- Screw Destiny: Harriet Jones, Prime Minister, becomes the victim of the Doctor's decision to significantly alter her history after her first year as Prime Minister.
- After the defeat of the Sycorax leader, the Doctor mentions that he did "not bad for a man in his jimjams" and that this is "very Arthur Dent. Now that was a nice man."
- He also tries to convince the Sycorax that Humans Are Special by saying "Look at these people. These human beings. Consider their potential... from the day they arrive on the planet and blinking, step into the sun... there's more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than — no, hold on. Sorry, that's The Lion King."
- Does that scene where the Doctor is hanging over the edge of the Sycorax spaceship, having had his hand cut off remind you of anything?
- Evidently he still has The Lion King on his mind when he has the defeated Sycorax champion hanging over the edge at sword-point — "Leave this planet, and never return."
- Sophisticated as Hell: The Sycorax deliver an ultimatum demanding the Earth's every last resource, which is all fine and threatening until they end it with "Sycorax strong, Sycorax mighty, Sycorax rock" (and no, this is not a "Blind Idiot" Translation, as Harriet's assistant clarifies, "...as in the modern sense, they rock.")
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The Christmas tree attack is accompanied by a slightly deranged version of "Jingle Bells".
- Spot of Tea
Mickey: [after Rose's mum insists they bring in a load of food into the TARDIS] We're having a picnic while the world comes to an end. Very British.
- Tea is responsible for reviving the Doctor and ultimately saving the world. Did we mention that this show is British?
- In an earlier scene:
- Squee!: The Tenth Doctor's voice goes all squeaky when he figures out the Sycorax are using blood control.I haven't seen blood control for years''!
- Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: Super-Powered Robot Santas; they have weaponry.
- Sword Fight: Between the Doctor and the Sycorax champion.
- Take That: When the British PM is told that the President of the US has requested control of the First Contact, she responds, and makes sure to inform the UNIT officer who informs her of this to reply exactly, that he is not her boss, and he's not turning the situation into a war.
- Title Drop: Jackie uses the words "Doctor Who?" in the series' Running Gag.
- Wacky Wayside Tribe: The Pilot Fish attack The Doctor, Rose, Jackie and Mickey early in the episode and are never heard from again after The Doctor destroys their Christmas Tree saw.
- Waxing Lyrical: The Doctor starts accidentally quoting the lyrics of "Circle of Life" from The Lion King when addressing the Sycorax leader.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
"THAT WAS MURDER!"
- The Doctor gives a WTH Hero tongue-lashing when Harriet shoots the retreating Sycorax ship. Harriet defends herself saying the decision was "contingent to tactical necessity", especially given that the Sycorax proved untrustworthy, such as when the leader tried to kill the doctor after swearing on his blood that he wouldn't.
- The Doctor is also angry that Rose gave up on him. Then he admits that was rude.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: During the swordfight the Doctor's hand gets cut off. He can regenerate it, because he's still within the first fifteen hours of his regeneration cycle. Except that he arrived in London on Christmas Eve, while it was still light, and his hand gets cut off the next day, also during daylight hours. Christmas is only a few days after the winter solstice, and the night lasts longer than fifteen hours in London at that time.