To say that the Doctor Who Christmas specials have been something of a mixed bag is a massive understatement. They’ve generally been mediocre (“The End of Time”), unwatchable (“Voyage of the Dammed” and “A Christmas Carol”), and only occasionally good (“The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe”). Generally they’ve been fairly consistently “meh”. So I went in to last night’s Christmas episode with more than a little trepidation, especially given the business with Santa Claus.
Happily, the episode was very good, and easily one of the best Christmas specials.
The story itself features the Doctor and Clara arriving at a North Pole science base where there are some weird alien facehuggers that are forcing people into dreams and then slowly digesting their brains. As happens. It’s up to the Doctor and Clara to stop all this, with the aid of, yes, Santa. To say more would be to spoil the story.
Here was an episode with everything that I wanted and little I didn’t. It was nice to see a certain character back again. The aliens, who bore more than a little resemblence to something out of Alien (which the show commented on, thank goodness), were interesting and genuinely scary. The show also seems to have figured out the best way for the Doctor and Clara to work together and how the Doctor himself should be written.
Now I was very uneasy about the idea of Santa Claus being thrown in to the Doctor Who universe. He’s a fairy tale character, after all. I didn’t think that Moffat would try to make him “real” within the setting, but who could say? Without giving anything away, I will say that I was pleased with the eventual outcome.
I’m also a little unpleased about Clara continuing on with the Doctor. I don’t hate her character; for her to do that she’d have to have a character. I just find Clara to be consistently uninteresting and kind of a blank slate. That’s changing slowly, but not fast enough.
Aside from all that, the acting was great and the pacing was good, and really, overall, I was just very pleased. It’s good to see the show hit a nice, solid, home run, and I hope that bodes well for season nine.