Christmas Day 2014 gave us the latest Doctor Who Christmas special, this one another Steven Moffat piece – Last Christmas. Now the dust has settled and the mince pies have been consumed it’s time to consider this in the round.
If nothing else it was entertainment and answered (if we needed such a thing) the Is Clara Leaving? question.
Despite my expectations (see here) this was nothing to do with Narnia (as far as I could discern) but had plenty in common with Philip K Dick in terms of layers of reality and dream being untangled as the story progressed.
Last Christmas was unashamedly derivative and even gave us a checklist of influences near the end when we saw a film list. We also had specific mention of Alien style face-huggers on the way through.
Most of the time was taken with either Clara / Doctor dynamic, some light horror (this was early evening) and lots of being awoken from dreams in dreams. Moffat also teased us with a long piece of Clara in her 80s, far too old to return to the TARDIS.
The trick with the dreams was done perhaps too many times and had Clara left due to old age it would have been a change of style and worked well. Most minor characters were forgettable and I include the elves in this. Nick Frost was excellent as Santa and the final tangerine tells us Santa is real and wanted the Doctor and Clara to have another set of adventures — is Santa really Moffat, I wonder?
How this quite links back to the end of Death in Heaven isn’t clear to me, unless the Doctor dreamt that bit via an unseen moment of getting taken over by the first dream crab. I actually think the pieces don’t join together. The story isn’t really there: Clara and the Doctor forgive each other with indecent haste, the characters in the base are one-dimensional in most cases. This is the episode that gave us Shona (Faye Marsay – Could Shona join the TARDIS?) if nothing else.
Beyond that I felt it was OK but nothing exceptional. My favourite Christmas Specials include Next Doctor, Christmas Invasion and Snowmen. If you have your own ideas, check out the vote on the Radio Times site: Doctor Who: which is the best Christmas special?
Feel free to disagree — get in touch!