Doctor Who "Last Christmas" Review: Believing in the Unbelievable

Doctor Who 2014 Christmas Special: "Last Christmas"


Is seeing believing? Or is believing seeing? Is it neither? Or is it both? This year's annual Doctor Who Christmas special tackled faith and the very essence of the Christmas celebration in typical Whovian fashion while also attempting to mend the fractured relationship between the Doctor and Clara in the wake of the events of "Death in Heaven." And because it's Christmas, they had a little help from Nick Frost's delightful Santa Claus and his two equally delightful and witty elves (I smell a new spin-off!). The decision to employ Santa gave the episode—which was actually pretty creepy and uncomfortable—a jolt of cheer and whimsy, which made for a purposefully unsettling adventure as the two opposing themes came into conflict. Plus it allowed the series to include the mythical figure it needed to accomplish its unbelievable tasks while steering clear of any religious territory (which is probably a good idea for a series so heavily steeped in science, even if it's often more magic than science).

The episode's focus on Clara and the Doctor made "Last Christmas" feel like an extension of Season 8 rather than just a one-off themed special, and therefore it was the most enjoyable special after the great "A Christmas Carol." It capped off the characters' season-long journeys while setting us up for next season, and it did so in a way that felt like a warm and shiny present on a cold winter night—if your presents include villains who are only scary when you think about them. The confusing and creepy nature of the episode continued where "Listen" left off, playing with all the unsettling concepts that Steven Moffat has come to love—our perception of time and space and what's real and what's not and whether that even matters—and he did so with an ambiguous villain slightly resembling the terrifying Silence. The episode was fairly predictable to anyone who bothered to see Inception (or who's spent enough time watching Doctor Who, I suppose), and the dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream trick wasn't the most novel of ideas, but the episode meshed well with the Christmas theme, so well done, show! 

That being said, at times the episode felt like it was dressed up in expensive wrapping paper that didn't necessarily represent the quality of the gift inside. You could argue that the series didn't really deserve the happy ending it got, and you wouldn't be wrong. The Doctor and Clara didn't work through any of their lingering issues. Instead, the dream crabs tricked them one last time into thinking Clara didn't see the Doctor again until she was in her 80s, and when it was revealed that was really just the Darkest Timeline, both the Doctor and Clara decided life was too short (for Clara, anyway) and took off for more adventures in the TARDIS. 

On the one hand, I can't really blame a grieving Clara for wanting to run off to explore all of time and space again. Clara forgiving the Doctor and choosing to live every day like it's her last by choosing to let bygones be bygones makes sense, especially when you consider it creates a clean slate for Doctor Who when Season 9 begins (it's confirmed Jenna Coleman will return full-time). I won't be surprised if Clara's anger and distrust are never spoken of again, but I also won't be surprised if they return. Even though I enjoyed the sentiment at the heart of "Last Christmas," the episode really just put a band-aid on what was essentially a stab wound to the heart, and when problems go unresolved, they tend to explode in unbelievably messy fashion. Still, the rushed story and glossed-over problems also feel acceptable at this time of year. To be honest, I prefer this sort of schmaltz to specials like "The Time of the Doctor," which lacked any real emotion until Amy Pond's return in the last five minutes. But the good aspects of "Last Christmas" definitely outweigh the bad, so I too am willing to let bygones be bygones.

The meat of the episode featuring four scientists at the North Pole and the dream crabs who attacked them was a mash-up of several genres and its focus on dreams and reality often made "Last Christmas" feel like Moffat took all of his favorite shows and films and put them into a blender and the result was what appeared on screen. In addition to Inception and Alien ("That's really offensive. No wonder everyone keeps invading you!"), the episode's questions regarding belief and specifically believing in Santa reminded me of the 1994 Christmas classic The Santa Clause. The dream crabs and their method of inducing dream-like states while they slowly killed their victims reminded me of the djinn from Supernatural. Clara's Christmas day spent with Danny resembled Dean's hallucinations of a life in which his mother had lived. Both characters had to decide if living in a world they knew wasn't real and would eventually kill them (the chalkboards from "Listen" were a nice touch as a representation of the Doctor as Clara's subconscious, by the way) was worth it for the happiness it briefly provided. 

Some fans were probably unhappy that Danny returned, but his appearance here was necessary to provide closure to his storyline. Clara loved Danny, he died to save her (the rest of the world just got lucky, basically), and Clara lied about Danny's death to the Doctor the way he lied to her about finding Gallifrey. Both lied so the other could be happy, and yet neither was happy at all. Clara is still mourning and missing Danny, and if he hadn't appeared in Clara's dreams, I'd have been forced to call major shenanigans. I'm thankful that didn't happen and the show didn't sweep something so monumental to Clara's personal story under the rug the way it did with everything else. But now Clara can move on, and much like Clara and the Doctor's animosity, I suspect this might be the last time we see or hear about Clara and Danny's relationship. And while I don't for a second believe she's just suddenly over Danny after the events of her dream, I'd be OK if this was the last time the show mentioned their relationship. Danny's story is over, and now Clara can move on to the next adventure.

The events that lead to the special hinted this might be Clara's swan song, but it was fairly obvious from the moment Clara stepped into the Doctor's TARDIS in the opening scene that this wouldn't be Coleman's last appearance on the show. There's far too much story left in Clara and the Doctor's journey for this to have been their final adventure together—especially when you take into consideration that 99 percent of what transpired in the episode wasn't even real. Plus, it would have been very shitty of the show if this was Coleman's final episode and there was no build up to it, but just a "Welp, see ya later! There are T-shirts and souvenirs in the gift shop!" Clara is a vital part of the show's mythology at this point, and when her time in the TARDIS comes to an end, I don't suspect it'll go uncelebrated as if she was a day player.

When the Doctor saved Clara as an elderly woman, it was a mirror of Matt Smith's final episode, which theoretically could have worked as an ending for her story—if you have no heart or concept of storytelling. Writing Clara out in a manner devoid of any pathos would have pleased the fans who've never warmed to Clara, but would have been a huge misstep for the show and its story. It would have felt like Moffat cheated his way to an ending with time travel, which would probably not have surprised anyone, but would have likely resulted in me throwing my TV in a dumpster. Besides, even if that moment had been real and not a dream, the Doctor would have just gone back to present day to find Clara and jumpstart their adventures all over again, so either way, the Doctor and Clara were going to reunite. 

Looking back to this time a year ago, I was very unhappy with the show's treatment of Clara—the writing was a disservice to Coleman's talents—but over the course of Season 8, Clara grew as a character and although she's not perfect, she's also no longer just a plot device. If nothing else significant had happened this season, Clara's slow journey would have been enough for me. She fell in love and had a relationship (I'm still confused about the timeline there, but I've come to accept she really loved Danny), she had a life as a teacher outside of the TARDIS, and she was no longer content to exist solely to save the Doctor. Clara and Twelve finally have a relationship I'm invested in, and at times it reminds me a bit of Donna's relationship with Ten, because like Donna, Clara doesn't back down easily from a fight and is willing to tell the Doctor when he's an idiot. The Doctor—especially this incarnation of the character—needs someone to keep him in check, and I'm glad Clara will continue in that role for at least another season. If Danny had lived, I suspect this would have been Clara's last journey in the TARDIS, but as it stands, there's once again only one man in her life. And as long as the stories of Season 9 deliver, I'm happy.

All in all, "Last Christmas" was a good place for Season 8 to end. The episode was funny and heartfelt, it tied up loose ends from the season finale, offered up some fun supporting characters (Shona for new companion when the time is right?), and provided a blank canvas for the show's return. The use of Santa as a metaphor for the Doctor himself wasn't too heavy handed (except for that line about how Clara had always believed in Santa, he just looked a little different to her), and I enjoyed his "It's bigger on the inside" comment regarding how he fits all the presents in the sleigh. There's still the gaping plot hole of where those dream crabs came from and why they attacked the six people that they did, but it's Christmas and I'd rather not pull that thread. This is a time for celebration and belief in the unbelievable, not pointing out the flaws in Doctor Who. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some more eggnog to attend to.



NOTES

– Nick Frost's Santa was the best, right? Yo, Moffat, if you need some ideas for future Doctors and their companions, might I suggest Simon Pegg and Nick Frost? It's never going to happen, but I would watch the F out of that season.

– When Santa started delivering the scientific explanation for what was happening, I was annoyed until the Doctor old him he didn't get to do that. I wish Santa could become a recurring character like Madame Vastra. 

– Rudolph's nose goes out when you lock the sleigh. The humor of this episode was spot-on.

– My one wish for Season 9: The Doctor and Clara hunt down Gallifrey and the Time Lords. What's yours?

thekaitling:list:doctor-who-what-did-you-think-of-last-christmas/


Comments (143)
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May 27, 2015
That was a sweet episode. Always cheers me up, despite the darker nature. The ending was sad at first, and then it was touching. Nice. My second favourite in S8.
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Jan 04, 2015
I didn't understand why Clara had to be pulled out of the dream by the Doctor when everyone else woke themselves up. Seemed a disservice to her character, even if it was a good excuse for the Doctor to be there to invite her for a new adventure. I would have been happier if the elder Clara sequence worked the way it was written, but then when he really woke up, he ran to her side to discover that she'd already woken up. Then he could invite her on an adventure and back to the script as written.
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Jan 01, 2015
I really liked it and i'm happy to know there is more Clara to come.

Shona's a great character too! So many female characters in this new era, including a Time Lady and all!

The doctor being older now fits well with a return to Gallifrey and his roots or even his lost family, so yeah, let's go for it! With Clara!
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Dec 30, 2014
I liked most of the episode, mainly the parts without Danny and the same old acrimony between Clara and the Doctor. I loved the dream within a dream within a dream, but wondered how the dream crabs got on Earth in the first place, and the coincidence of both Clara and the Doctor being victimized from different planets.

Santa being the clue that they were in a dream was too cool, and I thought the elves were just the right amount of mischief and sweetness. Though I wish that Santa was real in that universe. He was a fun counterpoint to the Doctor.

Yes, the Doctor and Clara need to start looking for Gallifrey ASAP!
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Dec 30, 2014
Yes. Really the only parts of this season I didn't like was Danny and the acrimony.
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Dec 30, 2014
The Doctor briefly alluded to how the crabs got both Clara and the Doctor. They got the Doctor first and tracked down Clara from his memories. I don't think they addressed how they found/chose the others.
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Dec 30, 2014
Slowly getting the sense many that don't like this episode and Moffat simply want more doom gloom and Game of Thrones type trash writing.. yes, I said trash. Because as much praise as it seems to get, killing characters left and right doesnt' take actual writing skill. It's a cheap tactic and to hell with that. I'll take Moffat being more open to adventure and fun than death and doom everyday.
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Dec 29, 2014
Utterly terrible. Worst Dr Who Christmas Special so far. Then again, what more were we to expect from the worst cast and the worst writers since Torchwood season 1.
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Dec 30, 2014
Huh.. considering it was one of the best... bad christmas presents on your end I guess?
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Dec 30, 2014
it was actually pretty good. i enjoyed it - sorry you didn't. 8/10.
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Dec 29, 2014
I didn't care much for the episode, but Nick Frost IS Santa Claus!
Seriously, think about his name - It's a dead give away (like calling yourself Santa Snow), and he also physically resembles Saint Nick, and he's jolly...
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Dec 29, 2014
Maybe Shona can be the companion if Thirteen (Fourteen) is Nick Frost?

In any case, it'd be hilarious to see a companion trying to distract herself the way Shona was with her improvised dance number.


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Dec 29, 2014
@Kaitlin, surprised you didn't point out the nod to Oscar Wilde's Gift of the Magi with the Doctor and Clara's mutual admissions of having lied to each other to try to give each other what they thought was the best gift. You usually tag literary allusions pretty well. Must be the eggnog.


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Dec 30, 2014
If there's one classic Christmas story which this episode reminds me of and even runs in the vein of the entire series, it's J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. The Doctor may not be eternally young but he's pretty much eternal by human standards and you can't ask for a better Tinker Bell than the TARDIS. The scene where the Doctor finds an old Clara reminds of when Peter turns up to visit Wendy after some years and is surprise to find that she's older.
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Dec 29, 2014
I enjoyed this episode, thought it was a fitting wrap up to the season. While you're pointing out things films put in a blender, one short story came to mind. When Clara and The Doctor confessed they had lied to spare the other, reminded me of a different spin on "Gift of the Magi". I'm glad Clara is staying and I even appreciate the "gotcha" they pulled with her being old. Looking forward to next season!
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Dec 29, 2014
My thoughts exactly, just a bit slower getting to the keyboard (above). :)

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Dec 28, 2014
I liked the reference to Alien, and The Thing, but that's about all. I think Moffat is diliberately trying to destroy this show.
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Dec 28, 2014
So I thought the episode was okay, not Moffat's worst, not great, either... but it did give me a theory on why I so often dislike his stuff besides the shoddy plots and self-indulgent resolutions.

Moffat thinks the Doctor and Clara are interesting. He thinks, bear with me, that they are characters and what happens to them matters and it what we're all waiting to see.

And he is so very wrong about that. There's a reason why the Doctor can regenerate and everything is a-ok and we all think it's fun to see what another actor's take on the role is. Doctor Who is an antology sci-fi series. It has more to do with Twilight Zone than Star Trek. It's about a setting where you can make anything happen and it's all barely held together by the couple of main characters inside the TARDIS.

The sad irony is that Moffat's strengths are on that area of all places. He's great at dreaming up original, eerie settings and quirky, nuanced side ensembles. Take this episode. Honestly, how many of you want to know who the hell Shona, the store clerk who has to decide whether to forgive Dave and dances into deadly rooms is? She's great, the episode should be about her. Or kill her, that also works. I wanna know how about the wheelchair bound granny and how she deals with having been a leader and a hero for a bit even as she was in mortal danger.
I could have cared about how those people handle being in an arctic base fighting aliens and then adjusting back. I do not have a particular urge to see Clara part with Danny for the third time or the Doctor offer all of time and space to somebody for the umpteenth one.

Oh, well. We've seen worse. Recently. But think about what I just said. Deep inside, I suspect you know I'm right.
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Dec 28, 2014
I do agree about another good bye to Danny. I hope that's the last of it.
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Dec 30, 2014
New spinoff for next year just announced: "Doctor Who starring Danny Pink as The Doctor!" .... scared you didn't I? :P
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Jan 02, 2015
I didn't hate Danny, I just didn't have time to love him. Wasted potential. (and it's too bad, he was easy on the eyes)
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Dec 30, 2014
What would scare me more is if Pink was the new companion!
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Dec 28, 2014
So is constantly saying good bye to Danny going to be a recurring thing? I hope they tell us, because if it is going to be a thing I will wait until the next Doctor or companion comes along.

This episode kind of exemplified the problems with this season. The writers and perhaps Moffat needs to move on to other things. To bring back Danny and reignite the total dross that was he and Clara's relationship kind of showed that they didn't really have any ideas for this episode. I have said it since the beginning of all of this. Clara and Danny are the single worst relationship in the history of Doctor Who, perhaps TV. It didn't work from the start and it still doesn't work, their was no build up, there was no history, there damn sure was no chemistry and it was just horrible. And they keep beating it like the dead horse that it is. Stop it. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with these writers, do they live in a bubble, do they not watch the episodes? No one, well, a very small amount of the viewers care about Danny and Clara. They are not Amy and Rory, hell they aren't even Rose and Mickey. Move on for crying out loud, wasn't the last two episodes bad enough?

The rest of the episode was all right. Capaldi was pretty good in it. I think he might realize that the writers are morons and is trying to make the best of the character. Hopefully next season will be good.
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Dec 28, 2014
I think it is because Danny will rise from the dead soon.

We still have what could be a paradox with Orson Pink. If his grandmother was a time traveler, most like that is Clara. But if Danny is dead how can Orson be alive in the future? Unless Danny has a brother or cousin Clara falls for later.

Also to me it seemed more like the Danny in this dream wasnt quite a dream, it seemed to me to be the real Danny, there again to save Clara. So perhaps a ghost within her dream?

Remember that River was downloaded to a mainframe and she appeared in the dream state with Vastra et al; and now Danny was also downloaded to a mainframe as well, could he have done the same?
He was uploaded to back to his cyberman body, but could he have transferred back before he died?

Or could Orson's future be simply explained by Clara already being pregnant and no knowing yet...
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Dec 29, 2014
If any of those scenarios come to pass save for bringing back River, I think I will stop watching until there is a new companion.
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Dec 29, 2014
And what if the theory on River being one of the reincarnations of Clara ends up being true? :P
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Dec 28, 2014
Totally agree Clara and Danny never worked. I never understood it. At all.
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Dec 29, 2014
It's to add a romance element to Dr Who to keep the new fangirls interested in the series.

Just like how the whole first episode of this season was a "he's still the Doctor even though he's old and you dont fancy him" episode.
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Dec 30, 2014
I have no problem with good romance in Doctor Who. But, THIS was not good romance.
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Dec 28, 2014
General question if Clara goes does that mean no more Madam Vastra, Dax & Jenny? When Amy & Rory left there was no more River. I love the aforementioned characters & can't wait to see them back. Over all I did enjoy this ep though. The whole bigger on the inside was perfect & I agree telling santa he doesn't get to do the science stuff was fun
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Dec 28, 2014
I disagree about the "old Clara" scene : I thought it would have been a very emotional exit for her, and was disappointed they didn't use it. After "Death in heaven"'s last scene, they've wasted TWO perfectly sound ways to write her out. Now, to top that, I feel they've got no other choice than kill her the day Coleman wants out.
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Dec 28, 2014
It had some issues, I didn't like that they threw out what would have been a good send off for Clara by having them both confess to their lies, but I guess since she's sticking around that was inevitable, but I'm not a Clara fan so that too bothers me. Next season will have to be her last, right? I've been tired of her for a long time and last season really drove it home for me with the terrible Danny Pink, I had hoped their goodbye had meant the end of it for her and I was also satisfied with her being an old women but they threw that out in short order too. That's two endings for Clara that I would have liked, both bitter sweet and fitting, but no. But it means Rose Leslie might yet get the job (no way in hell but a man can hope) so at least there's that.
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Dec 28, 2014
I miss Donna Noble.
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Dec 30, 2014
Donna was hated by much of fandom at the time but she is easily my favorite companion - followed closely in a tight dress by Amy.
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Dec 28, 2014
I miss Rose and Amy
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Dec 29, 2014
I miss Zoe and Jamie.
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Dec 30, 2014
I miss Leela.
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Dec 27, 2014
Shona made the Last Christmas watchable, overall it was just okay!!!!
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Dec 27, 2014
To begin with I view this episode as a reboot and a little bit of redemption for this season. Pardon the pun but this season seemed to be haunted by the spirt of Christmas past Matt Smith.

You could tell that creators of the show wanted to hand the mantel of Doctor to Peter Capaldi but instead chained him him Smith's past. One of the biggest reasons that Smith's success was the clean break his first episode had with Tennet.

With this episode Peter Capaldi was aloud to make the Doctor his own and reboot his relationship with Clara. You could tell the "Last Christmas was written with a two version ending because Jenna Coleman was planning on leaving the series but persuaded to stay by the producers.

The writing in this episode was at its best. Moffat really pushed the forth wall without breaking it. There were great exchanges between Santa and the Doctor that basically was to fictional characters debating their existence in a dream. Clara got closure over Danny but that does not mean Mr. Pink won't be back. This closure means she can now reboot her relationship with the doctor.

There were many homages to movies like "Miracle on 34th Street", Alien, "It’s a Wonderful Life" and "The Thing". This was like a Christmas Stocking stuffed with a good mix of scary stuff and humor.
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Dec 28, 2014
Yes, that's how I saw it. It was a reboot pivot episode -- or can be is they choose to do so. And, I hope they do. This ep had enough in it to make drastic changes in both Clara and the Doctor believable.

Here's hoping!
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Dec 28, 2014
Don't forget Alien!
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Dec 27, 2014
I thought season 8 was going to be about Gallifrey. I was pretty disappointed it wasn't... I still have hope for season 9.
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Dec 27, 2014
Well, they did visit Gallifrey once in season 8, though Clara wouldn't let the Doctor see that they had.
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Dec 27, 2014
This comment has been removed.
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Dec 27, 2014
Loved the "Dressed as a Magician" comment too.

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Dec 27, 2014
Back when there was speculation of WHO would be 12, I hoped beyond hope it would b Simon Pegg. Yeah, Frost is awesome too.
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Dec 27, 2014
Oh, Pegg and Frost together on Doctor Who would be a dream come true!!

And you are right about Gallifrey, season 9 should cover that story. I have been waiting for the Doctor to start looking for his planet since the 50th special!!!

http://corleonesandlannisters.com/2014/12/26/doctor-who-last-christmas-review-dreamy-weamy/
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Dec 27, 2014
And the text recap is up, as soon as it clears the cache.
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Dec 27, 2014
"The episode's focus on Clara and the Doctor made "Last Christmas" feel like an extension of Season 8 rather than just a one-off themed special

Technically speaking, it is an extension of Season 8.. That's why there were only 12 previous episodes, and this is the 13th episode. Even tv.com numbers it that way instead of considering it a special.

In the past, Christmas Specials have been... specials. An extra episode, added on to the season order of 13.
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Dec 28, 2014
But we did get 13 hours of the main season. Everyone seems to forget that Deep Breath was actually the length of two episodes (or close to it). They just didn't cut it in half to make a two-parter like the finale.
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Dec 28, 2014
"Deep Breath" ran 80 minutes in the UK, w/o commercials. An "average" episode runs 44 minutes or so. it depends on how close you consider 80 to 88, I suppose. :)

it also depends on what you consider an "average" episode. "Robin of Sherwood" and "Time Heist" ran 50 minutes. "Death in Heaven" ran 60 minutes.

*shrug* The BBC considers "Last Christmas" the 13th episode. All I referenced was episode #s, not hours of air-time.
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Dec 28, 2014
Hmmm... You are correct. Deep Breath (ep#1) was +31 minutes, and Death in Heaven (ep#12) was +12 minutes, which does add up to a full episode (43-47 minutes). Good point. ("Last Christmas" was 60 minutes, about normal length for the specials, fwiw.)

Even though longer complete-story episodes are probably cheaper to produce than more stories with shorter episodes, as an "old timer" I would generally prefer longer ones if they include more depth of story. And especially with recent seasons, getting one fewer episode more likely than not means one fewer "poorly received" one.

FWIW: "nuWho" seasons are about the same length in minutes as "Who Classic", though the latter were around 6 stories each divided into from 4 to 6 25-minute episodes.
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Dec 28, 2014
I agree that getting longer episodes could help with the depth of some of the stories. There were several episodes in Season 7 that I thought could have been better if they had been a two-parter. My biggest critique with many of those episodes is that they felt rushed, or that it felt like they had just slapped on an ending that didn't really make sense, since they ran out of time.
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Dec 27, 2014
I had been giving this episode lots of slack because "Christmas", but I really can't ignore that they cut short the season or moved its last episode to Christmas day. I feel even more cheated than I had by the poor quality of the main run of episodes.

Even still avoiding going full "critical" over the nonsense in this episode, the symbolic message with the "dream crabs", that if you don't think about things they won't be a problem... is offensive, frankly, especially in the context of such a bad season of episodes this year.
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Dec 27, 2014
"Expensive" wrapping paper? Nearly all of this episode was either the same cardboard sets over and over, or dodgy CGI. This was used, wrinkled, faded wrapping paper that was tearing at all the edges.

Clara is such a Mary Sue that even the ending gives her no task whatsoever, she becomes yet another puppet of the writers to throw a curve at the Doctor - oh noes, she's old n junk! How exactly did that make Clara happy or want to stay in the dream state again? Oh right, because shut up kid, hey look over there. I could let a lot of this stuff go, but that one was just too much because of how much story the moment carried.

Honestly, I would have been happier had this not all be the Doctor shooting JR Ewing or whatever the fjord just happened. "It was all just a dream" is jerking the audience around while jacking off to do anything the writers want, it's not fun in the end, it's not rewarding because ultimately the most interesting character is once again the Doctor manifesting his smartipantsness as Santa.

The sad part is that the Doctor was pretty fun throughout, he was alien and interesting when he was interacting with folks that were either challenging him or making him challenge them. But ultimately for 100% of the meat of this story to be in the dreamscape made it feel weightless, and the happy ending made it feel like a hollow endeavor.

I liked Danny before and I liked him here, it bummed me out that he was purely a construct of Clara's mind - she obviously understood what drove him, but if he's even this selfless and perfect in her mind, he's pretty boring... oh wait, CLARA is boring, right! Damn, I didn't see that coming, Clara's writing of Danny makes him less interesting.

Clara doesn't have anything to do, so there's no weight to her going OR staying at this point, she is merely there to grate against the Doctor and then make up.

So here we are once again at the end of a Doctor Who review focusing more on Clara than the Doctor despite her relatively minor push in the storytelling of the episode. She is still the damsel to be saved, the sounding board for all the brilliant and stupid things the Doctor said, and the emotional pincushion for the audience to suffer. Not thinking about the Doctor in this makes me sad, Kaitlin, because this had a lot for him to play with.

Nick Frost's Santa wasn't quite as bad as I expected, but ultimately was a little too much Nick Frost for my taste.

Locking the sleigh and Rudolph's nose was a cheap, silly, mindless joke and I'm shocked you are giving it a pass.

I wish for season 9 to not have Clara and/or Moffat, I'll take either result at this point as a win.
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Dec 30, 2014
looks like you lose as both are back - and neither are as bad as you're making them out to be...
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Dec 30, 2014
Then we all lose. But at least I get a troll of my own.
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Dec 27, 2014
Worth noting: One of the elves was the same person who played Strax.
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Dec 28, 2014
And the other one played Finn (otherwise known as Finley) in the BBC show Misfits.
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Dec 28, 2014
Misfits was a Channel 4 show.
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Dec 27, 2014
I'd like the time it took to watch that special back, please! I especially hated the way the Doctor was behaving when he was flying the sleigh...Ugh!
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Dec 27, 2014
Must not be a very fun person to be around if that scene bothered you...
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Dec 27, 2014
It's not that! Just seemed out of character for Capaldi's Doctor.
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Dec 30, 2014
oh relax - it will be ok - i promise
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Dec 28, 2014
Which was the whole point, the doctor refuses to make friends and have fun because he believes that these two things make him weak and what cost him Gallifrey. You cannot go through life without having some fun and some friends.
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Dec 27, 2014
There was a glimmer of hope when Jenna Coleman said she wouldn't be returning after the Christmas special because I still waned to give Peter Capaldi the chance to become a good Doctor with a new companion, but next season is just going to tread water and rehash the same relationship we already dealt with? The reason the Doctor and companions switch out and change is because the story would become stale otherwise, and I don't like Jenna Coleman's "coming to terms with the new face of The Doctor" as much as Billie Piper's. I think the show needs to figure out how to be clever again because it hasn't been since season 7. And is anyone else sick of adventures on Earth, past, present and future?
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Dec 27, 2014
Now when did she ever say that? ;) Already dealt with isn't the phrase I'd use. This was an introductory season to their new relationship and it has plenty of miles left to burn. If you want a new companion so bad it's still not impossible for a 3rd member to join the crew next year.
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Dec 27, 2014
The relationship needs a shakeup, so a third member might be a fix. And I guess rumors were bound to be started...

http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/doctor-whos-jenna-louise-coleman-quits-4061757
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Dec 28, 2014
All of that article was from an anonymous source gossiping about behind the scenes discussions about Coleman eventual exit from the series. Not a single quote directly from her.
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Dec 29, 2014
I know. That's what I meant by "rumors were bound to be started".
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Dec 27, 2014
As Christmas specials go, this one was actually pretty good. Not as good as Christmas Carol but still pretty high up there. This one certain had a more Christmas vibe than I felt with Time of the Doctor or Snowmen . Of course, having Santa probably went a long way for that.

Nick Frost was great as Santa, a good mix of classic Santa and a guy you would meet at a bar. I liked that, because it was a dream, they found a way of including Santa in the special without having him actually exist in the canon of the series. I also thought it was pretty funny when Santa revealed that it was a dream and then referred to the Doctor as if he must be a dream also.

The community is divided on the topic of Clara and her remaining as the Doctor's companion. I feel that Clara has grown over the season in both positive and negative ways. An argument could have been made for this to have been her swan song and for her tenure to end with her having grown old and having a life of regrets.

The thing is that this would have been an extremely negative ending and I think we have had so many of those it woukld not have been that shocking or have had that much of an impact.

If you look back the new series had not really had a great track record on positive companion departures. Rose got stuck in another dimension, Martha left after her family was tortured by the Master, Donna had her memory erased and reverted to her previous personality, Amy and Rory got zapped back in time and, while together, never saw the Doctor or their families again. Sure, Rose and Martha eventually got somewhat happy endings but we have never really had a happy companion departure. Maybe it's time. I would like Clara, the Impossible Girl, the girl who knows all the Doctor's faces including the one he hid for so long, to get a happy ending. If nothing else have it for a change of pace so it does not further the idea that the Doctor leaves nothing but bodies in his wake.
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Dec 27, 2014
Coleman worked with eleven, with 12 it's a chore to stay interested, just stick a fork in her already; it feels like there's less palpable chemistry between these 2 than with any of the other doctors and companions all the way back to the ninth doctor (But then again maybe it could be the doctor himself, an old curmudgeon is good for a small while but that too lives up to its namesake and gets old fast.)
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Dec 30, 2014
She works SO much better with 12 for me. I also love Capaldi in the role.
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Dec 27, 2014
I think all the Doctors get old fast. My wife, for instance, liked Matt Smith initially, but soon got tired of the eccentric hand-waviness. I've heard other fans who dislike Matt Smith say the same. And David Tennant.

Which I suspect suggests two things. 1) The least boring Doctors are the ones that vary their act. Troughton's Doctor was almost endlessly unpredictable. Tom Baker, as I noted in another column, went through at least 4 different personas in his seven years. Sylvester McCoy went from a vaudevillian comedian to a scheming manipulator.

2) Whether you like a particular incarnation of the Doctor will determine if they get old fast. It's admittedly hard to tell if it's cause or effect, However, generally speaking, the people who are sick of Capaldi's Doctor, or how he's written, or whatever, are the people who didn't like that version of the Doctor in the first place.

If you don't like any particular version of the Doctor, you will say that portrayal, or schtick, or whatever, gets old fast. If you don't like Colin Baker, then you're going to say "the loud-mouthed braggart with a colorful coat" gets old fast. If you don't like Peter Davison, you're going to say, "The young-old dichotomy and the ineffectual whining" gets old fast. If you don't like Matt Smith, "The young eccentric guy waving his hands" gets old fast. And so on, and so on.

I'm not sure I'd characterize Capaldi as an old curmudgeon anyway. He strikes me as more of a combination of the two Bakers: a true alien who thinks in alien thought patterns, and just doesn't operate on the same level as human beings. I don't mean that he's smarter, just that he thinks and reacts... like an alien. He's tactless, but unlike the 6th Doctor, he doesn't know that he's being tactless. The 6th Doctor seems to revel in being a jerk, while the 4th Doctor doesn't care because he's a big picture kinda guy. (At least in his first three seasons.)

Go with William Hartnell if you want an old curmudgeon. And while the 1st Doctor was old, for the most part he never got *ahem* old characterization-wise. Except maybe near the end when Hartnell's physical and mental health was failing.
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Dec 27, 2014
Don't get me wrong. If you don't like Peter Capaldi's Doctor, you don't like him. If you don't like old curmudgeons, you don't like old curmudgeons.

I've always thought almost all of the Doctors were old curmudgeons, though. They've pretty much all made an effort to play 750+ year old men in younger (relatively speaking) bodies.

Matt Smith was a curmudgeon in "The Snowmen", and occasionally did so in other episodes. Peter Davison set out to play an old man in a young man's body. Tom Baker was pretty curmudgeonly in his first few seasons.

Or is there a difference beyond appearances between an old curmudgeon, and a young curmudgeon? :)
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Dec 28, 2014
well first impressions are most lasting and I got into DW when Ten showed up so the whole old curmudgeon thing seems like a turn off, I love the doctor having the wisdom and the....(I cant find the word for it but the closest thing I could call it would be "the look behind the eyes") of an old man, but with the energy, "jubilance", and obvious looks of a young man.
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Dec 27, 2014
It's possible that the 4 others affected by the Dream Crabs were people that Clara casually bumped into during the day and remembered in her dream. So they jumped from the Doctor to Clara and then to 4 other people. Why only 4? Probably because they only had enough power to cover 6 people at a time but after they had consumed the brains of the 6, they could have jumped to another 6 or even 16.
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Dec 26, 2014
Simon Pegg has been on Doctor Who. he was the villain on Satellite 5 who fed people to the big anus monster in The Long Game.
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Dec 26, 2014
For as cautious, biased and aiming to please with her reviews as Kaitlin is, she did a smash up job on this, if only because she was spot on about Clara and shut down the haters.
It's a Christmas miracle :)
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Dec 26, 2014
I'm sorry but you can't say that you won't be surprised if Clara's anger and distrust is never mentioned again and that you won't be surprised if it is. That's like a bookie letting you bet on the same horse to both win and lose. Pick one.
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Dec 26, 2014
Yes, you can. Are you going to turn left or right at the end of the street? Could be either but neither would be a surprise. It means it wouldn't feel forced if the writers continue that part of the character or ignore it. I like Clara (still not as much as when she was pre-companion in the Soufle Girl ep though) so I'm just glad they're doing better with her character now as they seemed to lose her for a while
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Jan 07, 2015
I never understood why so many people complained about Clara. I didn't think she was ever that bad.
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Dec 26, 2014
Funny. The Doctor said in "A Christmas Carol" that he knew Santa (whom he called "Jeff.") In this episode, he fobs him off as a made-up character.
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Dec 28, 2014
or perhaps he just knew a bloke called jeff who played santa at the local shopping center once a year.
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Dec 27, 2014
Perhaps he said Santa was a fake because he knew Jeff :-)
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Dec 27, 2014
Rule #1: The Doctor lies.
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Dec 26, 2014
Watching Dr Who these days has turned to a chore for me....an unpleasant one too. The episdoes are just ludicrous. This one more so.
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Dec 26, 2014
How can Clara move on from her relationship with Danny when the episode Listen hinted that they had a child together?
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Dec 28, 2014
History changes alot in Doctor Who, I assume that future is destroyed.
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Dec 27, 2014
Pregnancy does last nine months you know
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Dec 26, 2014
Well...that sucked...a storyline clearly ripped off from a movie that came out a few years back...a villain also ripped off from a movie and an ending so unbelievable that it could only happen in the movies...and if that wasn't enough what do we get for an xmas present from Doctor Who? More Clara...she's by far the worst of all the Doctor's companions (since the rebirth of the series) her storyline has been finished for such a long time now that I've taken to smashing my head with a large club every time she appears on screen hoping that I will die and end up elsewhere in my timeline...

The only reason that my tv remote isn't settled between a billion tiny little pieces of my television right now is that the series gave a shout out to MLP and therefore the Bronies!
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Dec 28, 2014
An that film rip of it storyline from other films and TV shows, Star Trek Voyager waking moments for example. An the film Dreamscapes.
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Dec 27, 2014
Lol you don't know what ripped off means. It's called a homage... they even straight up show you at the end Shona's list with the movies that the dreams are based on! (Alien, The Thing from Another World and Miracle on 34th Street). Not to mention all the other times DW heavily referenced some other work: "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe", "Army of Ghosts / Doomsday" (premise and ending from His Dark Materials books), River Song's relationship with the Doctor (same The Time Traveler's Wife feeling), etc etc.
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Dec 26, 2014
I liked this xmas special better than some before. The humor was spot on and I was relieved when the end credits rolled and I knew Clara was staying. I really like the pairing of them
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Dec 26, 2014
why only three reindeer
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Dec 27, 2014
it was a dream???
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Dec 27, 2014
If I remember correctly Santa said that he has more than one sleigh, since of course he can't deliver all the billions of presents all alone lol
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Dec 26, 2014
Good question. Lack of screen space? A much lighter load (lack of presents) on the sleigh? Rudolph is the only reindeer that could actually cost the show money (copyright and/or trademark of Classic Media).
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Dec 26, 2014
IMO the best Christmas special since season 6's - A Christmas Carol.

Brilliant use of misdirection over the past several months on the part of the shows producers led to intensely emotional final moments as the Doctor faced his regrets over lying to Clara.

Im aware lots of people dont like Clara and/or the current doctor; more's the pity 'cos i adore them.

Merry Christmas Everyone
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Dec 26, 2014
I thought the episode was meh.......
As soon as they mentioned dreamworld, it kinda stopped being interesting.
They did something similar with the dreamlord during 11s run with Amy and Rory, and this wasn't even close to that quality.

And i was so so dissapointed that they are sticking with Clara, who has been one of the worst thing with this season.
With that said, i really did like the Doctor in this episode.
I just wish we could see him with someone else, and not being dragged down by Clara constantly.
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Dec 26, 2014
YES! A good Christmas special! I think that was better than every episode last season. Finally the Doctor and Clara seem to like each other. Hope I didnt speak too soon...
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Dec 26, 2014
Loved the episode but I will always remember this now as the time Stephen Moffat 'trolled' the entire planet. Given the rumors that Clara was going I can't be the only one who lost it at THAT point (you all know what I'm talking about without directly spoiling it ;)
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Dec 27, 2014
I didn't lost it, I was happy.
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Dec 26, 2014
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Dec 26, 2014
I... really liked this episode, and I really wasn't expecting to

This dream within a dream within a dream within a dream thing got a bit grating though
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Dec 26, 2014
So nobody likes tangerines in England... ?!
It was one of the best Christmas episodes, but this is not hard.
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Dec 28, 2014
I like Tangerines, prefer them to oranges.
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Dec 27, 2014
Yes, that surprised me. I love tangerines.
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Dec 26, 2014
Clara not leaving Doctor Who has to be one of the worse Christmas presents I've received.
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Dec 30, 2014
let me tell you about my Doctor Who xmas present from back in 1989.. sniff... (looks it up kids)...
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Dec 26, 2014
Yeah that was so dissapointing.
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Dec 26, 2014
It was pretty obvious she was going to stay...
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Dec 26, 2014
I was expecting cheesy, something Doctor Who can over-indulge in often, but this episode surprised me greatly. Alien and Inception are among my favourite science-fiction films, so the allusions to them were nice too.
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