TV & Movies

Doctor Who Review: “Last Christmas”

I guess we’d better talk about the Doctor Who Christmas special. Major spoilers.

Doctor Who Last Christmas Review

There’s a lot to like here. We’ve had some stinkers of Christmas specials, and frankly I get sick of Christmas if I’m rewatching the new series because it’s Christmas every eight episodes or so. I liked this one, though, because it felt very much like a normal episode with the addition of a Christmas theme or two. It’s not so blatantly, boringly Christmas-themed as the others. It’s a Doctor Who story where there’s Christmas on the brain. I totally dug Nick Frost as Santa. I enjoyed the other supporting characters as well, even the smartass girl I usually wouldn’t appreciate.

The plot started off on the “meh” side. I called “facehuggers the whole time!” from the very beginning, plus it’s an extremely typical Moffat-style villain. They attack you if you think about them! Oh noes! It would be scary, and the weird-looking hand-bugs falling from the ceiling were indeed creepy, but it’s just so similar to all these monsters he’s already done. The weeping angels, the Silents, the listeners, the robots that attack you if you breathe, whatever. Then the plot did get a bit clever there in the middle, right around the line: “No one knows they’re not dreaming. Not ever.” The layers of dreams are a clever take on the Inception conceit, and I felt they actually did a more interesting take on dream logic than Inception. I’ve always been very attached to my own dreams, the magical lives that are possible in dreams and the emotions that don’t have any names. This episode captured the highs and lows a dream can hit in quick succession. However, it’s a problem with a lot of Moffat episodes that he sets up one story, then reveals a twist and goes in a totally different direction, so I feel like I just get two halves of a story. It wasn’t as bad here as it has been in the past, but it was still present.

Doctor Who Last Christmas Clara

Speaking of unfulfilled expectations, Clara still sucks. I’m trying to come up with a more delicate way of putting it, but there it is. I mean, she was condescending to SANTA CLAUS. And remarkably slow on the uptake for most of the episode. I did appreciate her dream sequence with Danny… For once, I actually felt like she loved Danny. It made a difference to know how she saw him in her subconscious, and how similar her dream version was to the real version. And then there was a really sweet end scene where Clara’s actually become elderly and gets a cogent, touching, satisfactory ending… BUT IT’S ALL LIES. It’s YET ANOTHER “ending” for her that’s not an ending. How many times is she going to leave and come back? Seriously??

I literally screamed at the sky when this episode went off, at which point my brother told me I might be taking things too personally. But come on. If she just “didn’t leave,” I’d be annoyed but I’d keep on going. Structuring it this way, it IS personal. It’s a giant “suck on this” for all the fans who can’t stand Clara. I understand that many fans love her, and that’s fine. Maybe this sequence was designed to make them bite their nails and worry she was leaving, then be relieved. But it’s a huge, and personal, middle finger to the rest of us. Perhaps more importantly, it’s infuriating writing to keep on ending her and then bringing her back. As usual, Moffat picks one story he likes and keeps on writing it over and over and over again, even when it makes zero sense and is no fun. I still love Capaldi, and I’ll keep watching, but I can’t convince myself to be excited about another season right now. Aside from Capaldi, a few standout guest stars and a couple episodes with really great scripts, this season was a huge disappointment plotwise and I just don’t want to see Clara anymore.

A few last things. Why did the scientists need to get into the infirmary at the beginning of the episode? What did they even want in there? And what was the deal with Santa walking into the Tardis at the end of “Death in Heaven”? I thought we had a seamless transition from talking to Clara into Santa’s appearance, so the Doctor couldn’t have obtained a facehugger in between. Somebody help me, was there a break in there where it could’ve happened?

Pics from We Geek Girls.

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5 thoughts on “Doctor Who Review: “Last Christmas”

  1. I think the visit with Santa came in the middle of the “Death in Heaven” credits (I haven’t seen it since the night it aired, but that’s my recollection), so there was time in there for the Doctor to have fallen asleep. Echo your thoughts on the Dream Crabs being a very same-y, Moffat-y, monster. Also a tremendous waste of Michael Troughton, what’s the point of bringing in the son of another Doctor if you’re going to relegate him to basically a quaternary role?

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    1. Aha, you’re right! I totally forgot it was mid-credits! I’m glad that’s explained, anyway.

      Agree about Mr. Troughton. I guess it was just one of those “for funsies” easter egg type things, but I wish he’d had a bigger/better role. I mean, when David Troughton was in Curse of Peladon, it was a HUGE and delightful role.

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  2. So Moffat wrote this one… Figures, because I felt meh about it as I have with other Moffat episodes in the past. The inception inspired storyline, fine, but the multiple false endings–seems gimicky to me, like a filler. Guess developing a complex villain and less head scratching events wasn’t an objective for a Christmas episode–I read somewhere that Christmas episodes must be self-contained and can’t add to the canon? But, love Capaldi, and will never not watch the Doctor. Great review, btw 🙂

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    1. Thanks. 🙂

      The villain-development issue was exactly what I was hinting at with the “dropping one plot for another” thing. I mean, what happened to “they attack if we think about them”? That whole concept was just totally dropped in favor of “we’re in a dream!”

      That’s weird about Christmas episodes being self-contained. “Self-contained” is one thing, but if that’s the point, why make it so confusing?

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