Twenty-Four Doors in December

Posted in Audio by - December 06, 2023
Twenty-Four Doors in December

Released December 2023


With both Lady Audacity Montague and Charlotte Pollard at the Doctor’s side, the TARDIS lands in 2003 London on the first of December, just in time for the three companions to enjoy the Christmas season in the opener to In the Bleak Midwinter, John Dorney’s ‘Twenty-Four Doors in December.’

When the Doctor brings out the Baker Street advent calendar while Christmas traditions and superstitions are discussed and questioned, a true Christmas ghost story unfolds around the three friends as a store Santa is haunted by strange visions and carols. Uniquely, ‘Twenty-Four Doors in December’ tells its story through twenty-four brief vignettes to mirror the opening of an advent calendar’s doors, the first day beginning with the Doctor’s own calendar and the final day utilizing the TARDIS’s double doors to draw the narrative to a close. This format comes with pros and cons, but while the longer time that the TARDIS spends in this one locale does allow for Al’s supposed hallucinations to weigh on his psyche all the more profoundly, so many brief scenes do all but completely take away from any character development for Charley and Audacity. To be sure, the two companions have formed a fast friendship, and placing Charley who is still so early in her travels with the Doctor here into something of a more experienced mentor role as both companions try to come to terms with 2003 life compared to their own is a brilliant choice that allows India Fisher an opportunity to bring out a slightly different nuance to her beloved character. Though these two ultimately do little beyond assure the Doctor that they have never experienced anything like what Al is seeing while also trying to convince Al that they are real while deflecting his desperate theories to explain away his visions, Fisher and Jaye Griffiths clearly have a tremendous chemistry together, boding well for future stories in which they can hopefully feature more prominently.

Of course, the focus of this story is very much on Al and the increasing toll his visions are taking on him, and Jason Watkins gives a superb performance as this flawed individual continues to try to make sense of and overcome the hauntingly familiar noises and figures around him before tragedy strikes. With even sleep offering little respite, Watkins’s increasingly emotional and tortured performance as the day of the Doctor’s planned Baker Street Christmas party for which Al has been hired nears expertly conveys Al’s continually escalating stress and worry, an internal conflict that drives him to briefly flirt again with alcohol and to wish to withdraw from all social interaction altogether even as the Doctor tries to rationalize with him about a story yet untold that can still be changed. This particular discussion about the malleability of the future expertly intertwines a sense of hope and hopelessness as the Doctor tries his best to inspire, providing a standout scene and moment of characterization for the empathetic and determined Eighth Doctor who will let no mystery go unsolved. Yet while the effects of these purported hallucinations make for a tremendous story with Al as the focus, the new companion pairing and the discussions about Christmas ghost stories make it clear from the start how the climax of the story will ultimately unfold, making the actual fruition as well as the fallout of Al’s emotional journey somewhat flat in comparison despite the happy ending that results. Still, the superb performances aided by David Hall, Natalie Gumede, and Eleanor Bennett in support combined with the strong direction and sound design help to create an immersive and expressive Christmas tale that wonderfully captures the joys and melancholy of the holiday season through a very personal filter in the most extraordinary of circumstances.

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