I don’t mean to drag out the Christmas stuff since we’re already several days past it, but I finally got around to watching this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, and I thought, “Why not write a little something about the Twelfth Doctor’s first full yuletide adventure?” Because it was actually pretty good! Let’s discuss.
Synopsis: “The Doctor and Clara face their Last Christmas. Trapped on an Arctic base, under attack from terrifying creatures, who are you going to call? Santa Claus!” –www.imdb.com
What I liked:
- The plot. It’s this weird, fun mix of Christmas stuff and references to Alien and even a little bit of Inception, believe it or not. Honestly, it might be the most unique and interesting story so far.
- The closure. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the end of season eight leaves us wanting in regards to a) Clara’s (Jenna Coleman) status as a companion and her relationship with The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), and b) pretty much all things Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson). This special addresses those issues and ties up some loose ends.
- Nick Frost’s Santa Claus. It was fun to see Frost in this role, but I also really liked the way the character is treated. He walks a line between reality and fiction, and he’s funny in a way that is appealing to both kids and adults, which is particularly nice since Doctor Who fans span such a wide range of ages.
- The Doctor loosens up a little! Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor has been a bit of a Grinch so far (albeit generally in a funny way), but there’s a glorious sleigh ride scene where he’s grinning like a fool and even accepting a hug, and it’s nice to see.
- The humor. After the heavy end to season eight, I think it’s great that Moffat and co. went with such a lighthearted, funny Christmas special. Of course, I guess it’s kind of a given that the Christmas special should be lighthearted…but given that the Eleventh Doctor met his end last Christmas, I find it best not to hold my breath when it comes to these things.
- Some of the fun info I just learned about the cast! This doesn’t really have any bearing on the quality of the episode, but I just learned one of the actors in the episode, Michael Troughton, is actually the son of Second Doctor Patrick Troughton! AND one of Santa’s sassy elves is Dan Starkey, the same actor who plays recurring character Strax! I just thought that was kinda cool. 🙂
What I didn’t like:
- For a family-friendly show, some of this is actually pretty creepy. I mean, I compared it to Alien so…yeah. I didn’t have a problem with that, but if you’re watching with little kids, it’s something to keep in mind.
- This episode does the ol’ jump-right-in-and-go-go-go that so many Doctor Who episodes do. I’ve pretty much gotten used to it, and I think most DW fans have, too, but if you’re not used to it, I imagine the show can come off as very, very manic.
- There’s a discussion at one point that drags on a tiny bit too long. I love Steven Moffat, but sometimes I think he gets a little carried away with his dialogue.
- In true Doctor Who fashion, some of this episode gets cheesy—not overly so, I don’t think, though there is one particularly forced Christmas line (because hearing anyone but Tiny Tim say, “God bless us, every one!” is a little painful).
To Sum It Up: I thought this episode was great! Definitely a big improvement over last year’s—and not just because we didn’t have to say goodbye to a much-loved Doctor this time. The story is fun and unique, the humor is amped up, and it provides a nice cap to the eighth season. Whovians, I’d recommend giving this one a watch!
My Grade: A-