I love Doctor Who (if you haven’t already guessed by now) and I also love Christmas. So seeing these two elements brought together is always a treat every year. So you can imagine that I’m getting rather excited at the moment as both special occasions are quickly closing in and what better way to get myself excited is to talk about the Christmas Specials.
But to clarify the title of this particular listicle, I won’t be doing a usual countdown article and will instead be going through each of the Christmas Specials in order and picking my favourite moment from that episode. Make sense? Good, let us begin the countdown.
11. “Dressing Up for Christmas” – The Christmas Invasion
I will admit that “The Christmas Invasion” is one of my least favourite introduction stories for a new incarnation, particularly because we don’t get to see a whole lot of The Tenth Doctor. It was hard for me considering I really loved The Ninth Doctor and his sudden departure left me rather upset. I needed a lot of convincing from this Christmas tale to help me through the transition, and thus because of its structure it took me a lot longer to adjust to this new interpretation of my favourite character.
But once he does get up on his feet things do steadily fall into place, what with him talking none stop for about 5 minutes, having a sword fight, and even bringing down the government in the spaces of about 10 minutes. However, the scene that seals it for me is when he’s finding his new clothes. It’s such a simple scene that basically exceeds in displaying he is now The Doctor.
His regeneration period is over. He’s adjusted to his new body. And is now ready for some brand-new adventures. Accompanied by the song “Song for Ten”, composed by Murray Gold and sung by Tim Philips, this scene becomes a personal favourite of mine and I always look forward to watching it every time I watch the episode.
10. “Doctor, You Can Stop Now!” – The Runaway Bride
To be honest I should’ve either picked the motorway chase scene, or any of Donna Noble’s hilarious scenes arguing with The Tenth Doctor, but I decided to go with this one instead. It makes more sense when you consider its importance later on in “Turn Left”, to which without this particular moment The Tenth Doctor would’ve in fact drowned.
It’s a great moment in showing how tired The Tenth Doctor is, fuelled by his inner rage and depression, and is quick to use genocide to smite his enemy in order to protect the world. Despite The Tenth Doctor usually being against violence due to it reminding him of his mistakes as The War Doctor, and him personally wanting to become a better person than him, this moment showed him being totally ruthless and needed Donna to tell him to stop. It’s a scene that reminds us that he needs someone to keep him in check, and Donna certainly did that over and over.
9. “I’m The Doctor…” – Voyage of the Damned
Come on, what other scene would I pick? The Tenth Doctor certainly had some great speeches (with the one from “The Doctor’s Daughter” being one of my favourites) and this is certainly a keeper. The frightened survivors, and the prat that is Rickston Slade (why did he have to live?), needed words of encouragement as to why they should trust The Tenth Doctor and in spectacular fashion he gave them those words.
In a moment of total amazement The Tenth Doctor establishes himself as this incredible ancient being of wonder and you believe he will get everyone out safe. For me it’s simply a great line from a great Christmas Special.
8. “Jackson Lake” – The Next Doctor
“The Next Doctor” is something of a sore point for me as it doesn’t really do anything fantastic. On top of that the Cybermen are truly underused (something of a reoccurring problem within the Nee Who). But I have to give credit to the Jackson Lake story-arc throughout as it is a great character piece.
The part I love the most is the pay-off. Those final scenes where Jackson Lake has the crowd congratulate The Tenth Doctor on his heroics, and then gets a tour around the TARDIS are fantastic moments, made all the more poetic by The Tenth Doctor acknowledging the fact that he loved the idea of Jackson being The Doctor.
Jackson was certainly a companion that truly understood The Doctor, because he literally became him, and I felt they walked away as equals. I also liked the fact that he managed to persuade The Tenth Doctor, in his time of depression, to join him for Christmas dinner in order to end the narrative on a happy note.
7. “The Master Race” – The End of Time, Part 1
Technically this episode shouldn’t count because it’s the first of a multi-part narrative, and I can’t actually include the second part within this listicle as it’s classified as a New Year Special. But none the less “The End of Time, Part 1” is still a Christmas Special and the last to be written by Russell T Davies.
This tale has many great moments, most of them emotional pieces as The Tenth Doctor faces the impending doom of his death as prophesised to him. Many of these scenes include The Tenth Doctor’s summoning by the Ood. His conversation with Wilfred Mott in the café. And his confrontation with The Master in the wasteland.
But my pick has to go to the explosive cliff-hanger which includes The Master turning the entire human race into him, whilst The Tenth Doctor was helpless to stop him. As well as this we have the triumphant return of the Time Lords. I remember this cliff-hanger well from when I first watched it and was gobsmacked more times than I can count.
The stakes were so high within this ending and for that reason it stands as one of the best cliff-hangers in the history of the show because it makes you want to return and see what happens next.
6. “Facing the Future” – A Christmas Carol
Considering I was very apprehensive about “A Christmas Carol” during its build-up it’s rather funny how it turned into possibly my favourite Christmas Special. I really loved how Steven Moffat adapted Charles Dickens‘ iconic tale, enthusing it with the complex nature of time travel.
In this version Scrooge is portrayed by Kazran Sardick who selfishly controls the planet he lives on through a weather machine that keeps the Fish at bay. Of course after Amy and Rory get caught in the cloud-belt The Eleventh Doctor goes on a mission to change Kazran through manipulating his past, adding in a unique twist on the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.
This all comes together perfectly during the scene in which the Ghost of Christmas Future becomes Kazran as a boy, who has been pulled out of his timeline to witness what he will become in the future. This makes Kazran realise that he has literally become his father and that moment of clarity makes him change on the spot.
He literally bursts out into tears and apologises to his younger self. I love this moment because it’s emotional, and clever. The Eleventh Doctor succeeded in his mission and we got to see Kazran finally reach a point of redemption.
5. “Intruder Alert!” – The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe
It’s fair to say that “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe” isn’t loved by the fandom. In fact, it’s mostly hated but I do have a soft spot for it despite its obvious flaws and mostly dull narrative. So you might ask where I can possibly pick a best moment from? I look no further than the opening scene.
Sure it gives off a false pretence because nearly everything that follows fails in comparison but never the less it’s a scene that a love tremendously and the music accompanying it only adds to the excitement and thrill of the adventure at hand. I know also that it’s very far fetched, but isn’t a lot of science-fiction? In my eyes this moment is just good old fashioned fun and it’s a shame that the moment doesn’t last long and quickly fades away.
4. “It’s Called the TARDIS… And it’s Mine.” – The Snowmen
I really like this Christmas Special in advancing the narrative of Series 7, in which we see The Eleventh Doctor has given up on his heroism after losing Amy and Rory to the Weeping Angels during “The Angels Take Manhattan”. So it was interesting watching him slowly return to form thanks to the intervention of Clara Oswin Oswald.
My favourite scene has to go to the moment when The Eleventh Doctor fully returns after showing Clara the newly revamped TARDIS. His grand speech about his ship’s capabilities and that it all belongs to him was fantastic to watch. It showed that he was back, and this was thanks to Clara re-showing him the good within the universe that he always enjoyed exploring. The reuse of the track “The Majestic Tale” also added greatly to the scene and its wondrous nature.
Then it ends brilliantly with Clara twisting the iconic line “It’s bigger on the inside” to “It’s smaller on the outside”, a moment that even shocks The Doctor, making it even funnier.
3. “If You Want My Life, Then Come And Get It!” – The Time of the Doctor
The Eleventh Doctor’s swan-song was very tragic, and much like with “The End of Time” it pushed his incarnation to the very limit and stripped him away piece by piece in the cruellest manner. In this case he was forced to remain on Trenzalore and fight a never ending war to protect the only means of bringing back Gallifrey.
This was made more tragic by this battle being foretold throughout his entire life and that we were forced to watch The Eleventh Doctor age himself to death as he questioned whether or not he’d made the right choices. In the end he accepted his decision with grace and went forward to confront the Daleks in his final moments as old age had taken away his youth and left him a frail old man without a means of escape.
Then, after Clara convinced the Time Lords to help, we are surprised to see him given a new regeneration cycle and in this glorious moment we see The Eleventh Doctor’s stride return as he uses his regeneration energy to take out a Dalek ship. This scene is both sad and triumphant and I just love Matt Smith‘s performance as he defiantly faces the Daleks one last time.
2. “Returned Too Late” – Last Christmas
Re-watching “Last Christmas” reminded me how much I love it. It’s a fantastic product and one of Moffat’s best stories. I love how deep it gets, especially considering this is a Christmas tale. The dream within a dream sequences added more and more suspense and danger to the already dark, and sinister narrative. On top of that you have Nick Frost as Santa Claus. What more could you ask for?
My favourite moment was hard to chose for this story because its greatness extends throughout, making it hard to pick one specific moment that stands out. In the end I went with The Twelfth Doctor returning to Clara only to discover that over 60 years had passed since their last encounter in “Death in Heaven”.
What made this scene so poetic was its resemblance to the scene in “The Time of the Doctor” when Clara returned to Trenzalore to find an aged-old Eleventh Doctor. Like that very scene, this warm but saddening moment reflected their complicated relationship and how much they cared for one another. It truly made The Twelfth Doctor sad knowing he had left it too late in returning for Clara.
It’s a massive shame that this didn’t stick as Clara’s departure as I think it was more poetic, beautifully written, and more fulfilling than the ending we ended up with. At least in this ending, despite the tragedy, Clara still got a happy ending. She would’ve got one last encounter with The Twelfth Doctor still as his equal. Either way, it’s still a powerful scene, made more beautiful by the fact that The Twelfth Doctor still sees her as his Clara.
1. “One Last Date” – The Husbands of River Song
And my final pick for this listicle has to go to the final scene. “The Husbands of River Song” was a very different Christmas Special by having River Song aboard. To me it stands out above the rest because of its bizarre and crazy storytelling. But at the heart of the story is the concluding chapter of The Doctor and River’s complicated love story.
It has been both a fun, and beautiful journey since her first appearance in “Silence in the Library” and now we come full circle and end it where it all began. That final scene finally has The Doctor take River to the Singing Towers of Darillium. We finally saw The Doctor’s last encounter with River and this made it both beautiful and tragic. You know River will soon be going to her death and that The Doctor may never see her again.
But the moment, despite being sad, was made happy because The Twelfth Doctor explains that one night on Darillium lasts 24 years. This meant that their last date together could be treasured and The Twelfth Doctor could use this time to properly say goodbye. It was a moment I truly needed to give me happy thoughts after the catastrophe that was “Hell Bent”.
It was a little sad that The Eleventh Doctor wasn’t the one to have this last moment with her, as indicated in the mini-episode “Last Night”. I felt that they shared the most chemistry together and had the greatest bond out of all the incarnations. Either way, it was a beautiful moment that showed that when Moffat writes at his best can produce something special.