We still haven’t finished Doctor Who series 9 but already we’ve got information coming out about this year’s Christmas special. (Not surprising, given there’s only 13 days between the finale and Christmas.) Like these new images and details the BBC released from the as-yet-unnamed special, along with some synopses and teases from a Radio Times interview. But perhaps most intriguingly, we finally know where within her personal timeline River Song (Alex Kingston)’s encounter with the Twelfth Doctor fits.
The first bit that has us buzzing is the revelation that River won’t immediately recognize Capaldi’s Doctor, meaning this will be the first time she’s met him. Showrunner Steven Moffat also, rather flippantly, gave us an idea of where this will fit in for her: “It doesn’t really matter, but for those who care, it’s immediately after ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’ . River’s just seen Matt Smith’s Doctor lose Amy and Rory, and obviously before ‘The Name of the Doctor’  because she’s dead in that.”
But more interesting is the reason why the writer—about to enter his sixth calendar year as showrunner for the perennial sci-fi classic—chose to bring River back: because he thought it might be his last episode ever!
“We’ve just lost Clara, so I didn’t want to go straight into a new companion. I’ll be honest, I brought River Song back in because I thought there was a possibility I’d never write it [Doctor Who] again so that’d be my goodbye.”
Obviously, it doesn’t seem like he is stepping down at the moment, but the toll writing such a hectic and crazy show±not to mention overseeing it every step of the way—must be pretty steep. And with his other show (you know, that OTHER incredibly internationally popular and time-consuming series) Sherlock returning in the near future, he might have wanted a break. But, maybe he’ll stick around for another year before letting another creative type have their shot at sculpting Doctor Who.
The official synopsis of the episode is this:
“It’s Christmas Day in the future and the TARDIS is parked on a snowy village street, covered in icicles, awaiting its next adventure. Time traveler River Song meets her husband’s new incarnation, in the form of Peter Capaldi, for the first time this Christmas.”
Evidently, River will spend the whole episode kissing people who aren’t the Doctor, which should bring joy to all the “My Doctor is Asexual” fans out there.
The Doctor Who Christmas special will air, go figure, on Christmas Day on BBC America.
What do you think about all this crazy River stuff? How about Moffat’s statement about possibly retiring? Let us know in the comments below!
Kyle Anderson is the Weekend Editor, a film and TV critic, and the resident Whovian for Nerdist.com. Follow him on Twitter!