It's Christmas, it's BBC1, it's that time between the afternoon snooze and the turkey sandwich. It can only be another Doctor Who special.
Not one of the Christmas specials has been much good by my reckoning, the first one and the one with Gambon in were OK; most have been utterly awful.
I did not really look forward to the Doctor Who Christmas special this year; mainly because I never think they're up to much but partly because I found myself tiring of Who over the year. All of a sudden fatigue set in and I wasn't really bothered any more. But, because it's Doctor Who and I'll never truly dislike it, I tuned it.
So did I find a succulent turkey - or was it overcooked sprouts all the way.
It was nice to see Matt Smith again
The reproducing, sentient trees were a nice idea.
The sets and all the period detail were impeccable.
Like most fans I appreciate the nods to the past – something that seems increasingly nice when faced with the possibility of a reboot film series.
Nice to see Amy and Rory again.
Like the tree monsters.
I know it's Christmas and I know expectations are low and I know these specials are kind of duty bound to be stupidly Christmassy, but for fuck's sake.
I just didn't care and I didn't believe it and I didn't like it. About half an hour before it actually happened I'd guessed, no, feared, that the Power of Motherhood was going to save the day. Just like a kiss saved the day and love saved day and hope saved the day again and again and again over the last couple of years.
RTD shrugged, made Tennant cry and just fell back on some MacGuffin when he'd written himself into a corner; Moffat just relies on schmaltz. It's usually done in a clever way – and in a way that's possible to overlook for a while.
But it happens so frequently that it's impossible to ignore - and deeply tiresome. And predictable. And rather cheap and cynical.
Because at Christmas Moffat gets a bit of a bye. Perhaps he should be allowed his indulgence once a year, like we are when we stuff our face for a day. God knows the man is busy enough, what with his 15 series that he showruns.
But what I'm left with is a story that almost feels like a waste of my time. I'm sure lots of people enjoy it and would shout humbug at me. But judging these Xmas specials on the same basis we judge the usual episodes show them up badly.
Something else that creeps into these recent Xmas episodes is a Moffat-patented wackiness; last year a shark-drawn sleigh, this year a forest-possesed Edwardian mother piloting a golf ball through the time vortex.
What can we expect next year, I wonder? A TARDIS disguised as a polar bear running trough Albert Square? A Timelord that's regenerated into a reindeer with a nose made of strange matter? A flying penguin powered by faith and ridden by John Masefield?
I suppose I should mention Bill Bailey and Claire Skinner and Alexander Armstrong and Arabella Weir. I didn't care. Neither did I care for the emotional manipulation that struck a rather dubious tone, in my opinion. Once again, death has no sting. What does this say to kids about their nature of life and death? Either way it's damn lazy and cynical.
It's incredible how quickly Moffat's take on Doctor Who seems staid, overfamiliar and out of ideas. And I don't take ay pleasure from saying it. Just as I don't take any pleasure from watching it, much as it pains me to admit.