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REVIEW: Doctor Who 8×13 “Last Christmas”

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

But Santa Claus crash lands on Clara’s roof, elves insinuate seasonal racism, and Alien/Ghostbusters references dash through the snow in 2014’s rather splendid Doctor Who Christmas special – “Last Christmas”.

The Doctor and Clara find themselves on an operations base situated on the North Pole, but the workers appear reluctant to tell the full story of what they’re doing and how they got there. Facehugger-like Dream Crabs have attacked and are keeping half the crew in a dream-like state, but only until the creatures use their human hosts to attack the Doctor, Clara and the colonists.

There’s only one person who can save them now – Santa Claus!

And in true Doctor Who fashion, nothing is at it seems, and “Last Christmas” has plenty of the usual twisty-turny-timey-wimey-dreamy-weamy-stuff going on but sprinkle it with plenty of festive frosting. Penned by long-term (and long-despise) Who scribbler Steven Moffat, “Last Christmas” somehow manages to balance an intriguing story that’s standalone enough to be part of your Christmas binge-viewing with references to all manners of Christmas books, films and a whole turkey’s worth of pop culture stuffings.

The episode itself has a tone reminiscent of “Kill the Moon” and “Listen”, fusing some taunt, horror-flavoured drama in a lone, isolated setting. But fear not children, Last Christmas has a bubbly, grinning feel to it, mostly provided by Santa Claus himself (who else?) played to perfection by Nick Frost (see what the BBC did there?!)

Giddy, dramatic and above all fun, “Last Christmas” is one of the better Doctor Who Christmas specials. It’s very aware of its own joyful novelty, much like a Christmas cracker, and it stands as yet another solid episode for Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman to tuck inside their stockings for us fans to enjoy.

Overall grade: A

+Wise-cracking elves.

+Dream-within-a-dream set-up. Not original at all, but played to solid effect and given a real Doctor Who feel.

+Santa Claus’ Power Ranger-like entrance on the North Pole colony – complete with explosions.

-None that I can think of! “Last Christmas” is, ultimately, nothing more than a over-stuffed yet yummy slice of Christmas cheer, and one that shouldn’t be given too much over-thinking.

What did you make of Last Christmas? Let us know in the comments section below or let us know your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Fred McNamara

1 Comment

  • I must admit, watching the Doctor Who Christmas Special with my Dad every year has become somewhat of a tradition… Even though, amid my hopes and dreams, I never actually tune in to a single episode throughout the year.

    I did however, find that this episode captured Christmas perfectly… not only because it encapsulated the poor taste in Christmas humour that I’ve inherited from my Dad, but Santa was bloody Nick Frost! Who’d have thought it? Add Simon Pegg into the mix next year as an elf, and BBC are on to a winner!