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Press reaction to the Christmas Special, The Husbands of River Song, mostly centers of the relationship between River Song and The Doctor. The Express loved the return of Alex Kingston. "It's easy to forget what a fantastic character she is but tonight River really makes this festive episode, which could be one of the best Doctor Who Christmas specials in years."
It was a theme picked up by The Guardian "It’s a wonderful Christmas gift from Moffat to see the old River return, with a glimpse of her naughty ways when she’s having adventures without the Doctor. Meanwhile, however bleak things might have got towards the end of the recent series, it’s faintly hilarious now to remember how Peter Capaldi was initially touted as a “dark Doctor”. His bravura form here, dancing between comedy and romance, just fizzes opposite Kingston."
The Metro called it a bittersweet rom-com. "The scene in which the Doctor realises that he gets to pretend to be stepping into the TARDIS for the first time and provide his version of ‘it’s bigger on the inside’ is a joy to behold, snapping him out of his Grinch-like mood. One suspects it’s the first time the Doctor has genuinely had fun since his memories of Clara were wiped."
Radio Times, while admitting they don't like the Christmas specials, found the main duo's interaction the most appealing aspect of the story. "The Doctor is the happiest we’ve known him, even at one point flat on his back laughing – something inconceivable in the last few episodes. He’s all loved up to find River and bemused, cheesed off and, ultimately, delighted that she doesn’t recognise him."
Wales Online also love the pairing. "There were good bits, and bad. But overall, it was lovely to see Alex Kingston back in the Tardis, as River Song". The Los Angeles Times agreed "If The Husbands of River Song is less Christmasy than most of the previous specials, it is a splendid gift to fans nonetheless. River has provided one of the longest and most tantalizing threads of the series"
TV.com had mixed feelings over the meeting between River and the Twelfth Doctor. "The emotional swell I was supposed to feel during that speech and at the moment she realized the Doctor was there—that the Doctor would always be there—fell flat for me. Him cheekily stealing her catchphrase—"Hello, sweetie"—helped however, and once the blindfold came off, everything clicked into place."
AV Club felt the structure odd. "The Husbands Of River Song is one of the strangest hours in television history. For the first 40 or so minutes of its run, it’s a deeply goofy bit of slapstick space opera whimsy. And then, in the final 15 minutes, the episode shifts tones completely, going for a poignant, melancholy send-off that directly calls back and completes a narrative circle that the show began tracing way back in 2008.". However Den of Geek thought the episode was right for its intended slot. "I don't really think that The Husbands Of River Song is Doctor Who on top form, nor do I think it amongst the best Christmas specials since the show introduced them in 2005. But fun? Yes. Enjoyable? Yes. A good, solid piece of telly? Absolutely."
411 Mania was pleased the story had moved away from the more overtly Christmassy specials of the past. "I enjoy the Doctor’s forays into the holiday season as much as anyone, but things got as Christmas-y as they could last year and it was probably a wise move to ease up on that for a bit of variety". And finally IGN felt the episode nicely complemented the recently completed season. "Steven Moffat’s The Husbands of River Song is a nice, fun, wacky change of pace that still manages to touch that sweet spot of emotional resonance that the Twelfth Doctor has done so well this year."
You can read the Doctor Who News review in our reviews section.