WARNING: This post contains spoilers for Last Christmas.
This year’s Christmas Special saw dreams upon dreams, Santa Claus himself, lies revealed and Clara rejoining the TARDIS – but what did our team make of Last Christmas? Read on to find out!
Louis (Assistant Editor)
The credits reveal of Santa in Death in Heaven might have felt jarring, but thankfully the Christmas hero’s full appearance was a great deal more successful. Last Christmas, despite some noticeable flaws, was one of the show’s strongest Christmas episodes yet, blending a clever monster, solid character work and well-developed supporting characters to create a compelling and heartwarming festive special. Nick Frost pulled off Santa with aplomb, cast as a Doctor-esque figure (and provoking some amusing arguments with the Doctor himself) – and while the ‘this is a dream!’ twists are piled up to the point of ridiculousness, Last Christmas was a thoroughly entertaining Christmas outing for the Doctor. Now, we wait… 8.5/10
Owen (Instagram & News)
Last Christmas, the episode was a disappointment, but the very next year, it was the best we’ve ever had. Well written, intense, and unexpected, Last Christmas gave us festive magic with a solid, adventurous plot that held your attention even after the Christmas drinks. Capaldi and Coleman persuaded us why we need them both back for Series 9, but they didn’t have to try very hard – with more exceptional performances from the actors, I’m not sure how they will get better. In some ways, the episode had similarities to The Tenth Doctor’s era, with the music especially thrilling. Last Christmas was definitely the icing on the cake to a spectacular series that I won’t ever give away. 9/10
Ben (Video & Digital Media)
With the promotional images boasting Nick Frost as Santa Claus, Last Christmas looked to be the most Christmassy Christmas special yet. I was unsure about featuring such a big legend in the show, so I was quite relieved at the notion that he was part of their subconscious. It’s much nicer when Doctor Who leaves these things open. Onto the episode, which was perhaps the scariest Christmas episode. Whilst mother’s face was buried in a cushion at the sight of the dream crabs, I was shouting at the TV for Clara not to stick around and get face-hugged. The ‘dream within a dream’ theme kept me guessing, the chalkboard scene had me needing new underwear and the news that Clara is staying on for a while longer simply made my Christmas. Although it was a great special, I feel it should be a bit lighter next year as my grandparents were watching and wouldn’t sleep that night for fear of having their brain eaten. 9ish/10
Get your friend to read this too, just to check it’s the same. Oh good, now that you’re sure you’re awake we can talk about Last Christmas. For the first time ever it feels like the right mix of Christmas and Doctor Who in one episode! On the rumour that Jenna Coleman may be leaving at the end of the episode she and Capaldi pull off some brilliant acting which would have been suiting to her finale. Seeing Danny back as well, after his large presence in Series 8, was wonderful. The supporting cast were perfectly balanced to not take up too much of the episode but not be underdeveloped either. Dream Crabs are excellent monsters and definitely deserve a return, perhaps as minions of the Dream Lord? 9/10
There was some real foreboding approaching this special, I’d given up paying attention to speculation about Clara’s longevity, only to be treated to an hour of nervous uncertainty in Last Christmas. I guess you could call it a psychological thriller (and I admit to still being partly puzzled!) After the magical snowy opening the plot soon grew dark and twisted. The adjoining dream sequences I think worked well, not quite reaching total confusion, and Nick Frost’s endearing and bizarrely believable Santa served as everyone’s reality check to tell us dreaming was still in motion. We could imagine it was all Clara’s nightmare, to us it appears she first visualises Santa, idling on her virtual rooftop. By the end though it seemed so long as the Doctor stayed dreaming no one else was awake in reality. Moffat almost hoodwinked us with an aged Clara, implying that could have been that for Jenna Coleman in the show. The melancholy was about right. However, I’m one of the very happy people that enjoyed the Doctor waking up a final time, without a Santa illusion, but finding a young Clara ready to waltz with him again in Series 9. For me, that gift made it a perfect Christmas Doctor Who. 10/10
Many would be quick to criticise Last Christmas, Peter Capaldi’s debut Christmas special as the 12th Doctor, for an overreliance on external source material. Steven Moffat wore his heart on his sleeve with such clear references to media such as Alien and Inception, however, one should not dismiss this special merely a derivative rip-off. Last Christmas revels in its influences to the point of being a beautiful love letter to the respective media. No special since A Christmas Carol has excelled as an adaptation quite like Last Christmas. However, whilst the Alien-esque Dream Crabs prove to be considerably scarier and better than many of the monsters in the entirety of Series 9, and the Inception dream state plot is consistently solid and well spun throughout the episode, repetition can eventually set in. Last Christmas boasts one of the best dream stories in recent memory, but it clutches too heavily to this central theme to the point of going in circles by its third act. Predictability thus becomes a major issue as each dream layer is unravelled one after the other. Much credit must then go to the performances of Capaldi and Coleman in the closing scenes to offset such predictions with a stunningly acted final plot reveal. The return and cementing of Jenna Coleman in the TARDIS will undoubtedly be the stand out highlight of Peter Capaldi’s first Christmas special, yet how effectively the plot manages and handles its many heavy layers should not go astray, instead being one of Doctor Who’s densest and well handled episodes ton date. And Nick Frost as a real/dream Santa with attitude. Enough said. 9/10
And the average score is 9.08ish/10. That’s our last team review of 2014 – but we’ll be back sharp with more team reviews after Series 9 begins with The Magician’s Apprentice…