Voyage of the Damned opens with a repeat of the previous season’s cliffhanger, the Doctor (David Tennant) on his space and time vessel, the TARDIS, and it crashing into something and a Titanic life preserver landing on him. Some of it’s reused footage, but I think once we get the third, “What,” exclamation, we’re into the Christmas special proper.
Turns out it’s not the boat Titanic but an intergalactic space liner in town to visit the Earth. The Titanic naming is just a coincidence, it’s not from a planet with much understanding of Earth, just some vague, comically entertaining details. Because even though Damned is about the possible devastation of the entire planet, it’s still the Christmas special. Lots of easy laughs and easier smiles, especially once the special embraces its Poseidon Adventure remake status, which is unexpected. Tennant leads a ragtag bunch of survivors through the bowels of the ship to save the day, with very special guest star Kylie Minogue playing the companion interest.
She and Tennant are really likable together, so it’s kind of a bummer when once the special gets around to clarifying she’s not going to be the new companion but wouldn’t it be swell if she were. Given Tennant seems entirely all right post-companion breakout with Freema Agyeman in the last season.
There’s a lot of action and a lot of effects. The action’s usually better than the effects.
The supporting cast is fun or better—Tennant’s gang of survivors are rich guy Gray O'Brien, tour guide Clive Swift, alien Jimmy Vee, and then working class marrieds Debbie Chazen and Clive Rowe. They’re all at least likable at one point or another, but often usually better. Often because of Minogue acting off them. Even though her character seems a tad shoehorned in, Minogue is a lot of Voyage’s glue, at least as far as the sympathy goes.
Russell Tovey is okay as the one sailor who realizes the captain, a decently stunt cast but thinly written Geoffrey Palmer, is up to some shenanigans.
It’s got its bumps, but Voyage is a perfectly solid outing. Though the show could at least pretend it misses Agyeman.