Thursday, 6 December 2012
Christmas Countdown 4 - Bad Santas
When Doctor Who returned in 2005, Russell T Davies demonstrated an occasional habit for taking familiar, friendly, safe things - and subverting them into something dangerous and threatening. This was nothing new - as Robert Holmes had done the same thing with his Auton stories. Thousands of children refused to take their Teddies to bed in case they grew fangs and attacked them - according to press reports at the time.
When the first Christmas Special - The Christmas Invasion - came along, it was only natural that iconic festive elements would be subverted. We would get nasty versions of things like Santa Claus.
There are multiple Santas in this story - so people dressed up at a shopping arcade, in order to play Christmas Carols, rather than St Nicholas himself. They somehow know about Rose and attack her - their brass instruments being disguised weapons. We don't see their faces - as they have metallic masks.
They later turn up outside the Tyler flat and use a remote control to activate a killer Christmas Tree. The Doctor refers to them as "Pilot Fish" - scavengers who travel alongside a more significant force to pick up whatever they can use - in this case Artron energy from the Doctor's regeneration for use as a power source.
They were back the following year, in The Runaway Bride. In this we found out that they are actually robotic, and can be directly employed like mercenaries by other races - such as the Racnoss. Their masks are different - plasticky rather than metal. We later see their "natural" form - with blank gold faces. A sonic boosted sound system shakes a few to pieces, and the Doctor deactivates others with their own remote control device.
They do make one more appearance in the programme - but not disguised as Santas. They are part of the Pandorica Alliance. The Sycorax are also present, so perhaps they are still tied to them in some way. The official (i.e. BBC) designation for these creatures is Roboforms.
For any children reading, don't worry. There are no known cases of the real Santa Claus ever using a flame throwing trombone. You should worry more about how he is going to get down your chimney if you only have central heating...