DWO’s spoiler-free of the Doctor Who Christmas Special, Last Christmas:
Make your list and check it twice, it’s that time of year again where Doctor Who goes a bit festive.
It feels both very strange and incredibly brilliant to be diving into a Doctor Who Christmas special so soon after the end of a full season, but it also helps to tie the story closer to the events of Peter Capaldi’s first set of adventures in the TARDIS, dealing in particular with the fallout from the explosive finale last month. While fans waiting to see how the Doctor and Clara will resolve their sad breakup won’t be disappointed with the truth finally coming out - in scenes where Capaldi and Jenna Coleman show just how perfectly they play opposite each other - there’s plenty else to keep you entertained here.
Last Christmas is perhaps the scariest Christmas special that the programme has ever given us. It’s certainly in keeping with the tone of Series Eight on the whole, and there’s one or two moments in here which will make you jump - even if you know they’re coming. It’s not just about the scares, though: there’s a great mystery to solve at the heart of the episode, and while there’s plenty of Doctor Who stories that serve to make children too scared to go to bed, Last Christmas is the one that’ll make them scared to wake up again.
People have speculated that a special starring Santa and his elves, with reindeer and the North Pole - the actual North Pole, it’s stripy - is a sign of the programme becoming more child-friendly than some episodes of the latest run have been, but that’s not necessarily the case. There’s still plenty of humour and fun to be found in the sometimes dark situations that play out in this North Pole base, but the arrival of Father Christmas doesn’t exactly herald songs and lightness. Last Christmas feels more like a great Doctor Who idea that just happens to have some Christmas trappings attached (the use of Santa, especially, is very well woven into the narrative) than a story that’s been specifically designed to go out at Christmas. That said, it’s perfect viewing for after dark on a lazy Christmas Day.
We’ve already mentioned Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, but it’s worth repeating just how wonderful they are here. They’re certainly up there with the very best Doctor/Companion pairings that the show has ever seen, and you can’t help but realise how lucky we are to have two of the best performers in Britain devoting their talent to our little show. But then there’s the rest of the guest cast, too! Michael Troughton - son of Second Doctor Patrick - finally chalks up a Doctor Who appearance, alongside Faye Marsay, Natalie Gumede, and Maureen Beattie, as the main players for our adventure. They’re each given their chance to shine, and as the realities of their situation become clearer you can’t help but feel your heart break for each of them in turn.
Then there’s Nathan McMullen and Dan Starkey in the roles of Santa’s elves, providing some much needed comic interjections. Can we have them back next Christmas, too? Of course at the top of the tree we’ve got Nick Frost as Santa. We get the opportunity to see him being the traditional Jolly Saint Nick, all ‘ho-ho-ho’ and greetings-card ready, but for much of the special, Frost delves deeper than that, to find the real (or otherwise) person hidden beneath the traditional hat.
And as for those of you wondering wether we’ll be seeing more of Clara, or if this really is her last Christmas… it’s a long story.
Five things to look out for:
1) “It’s all a bit dreamy-weamy”
2) “I’ve got three little words. Don’t make me use them…”
3) Happy Easter!
4) The Doctor has never seen the movie Alien.
5) “That noise! I never realised how much I loved it…”
[Sources: DWO; Will Brooks]