Doctor Who: Last Christmas by John Rivers (TV review).

January 6, 2015 | By | Reply More

You’ll find the spoiler-filled review of ‘Last Christmas’ below, so if you haven’t seen the 2014 ‘Doctor Who Christmas Special’, I suggest you take a read of Geoff’s excellent review here: http://sfcrowsnest.org.uk/doctor-who-last-christmas-by-steven-moffat-doctor-who-review/. Otherwise check under your bed before proceeding…

DOCTOR WHO (S8) CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

‘Last Christmas’ or to call it by its proper title: ‘Doctor Who’s Big Movie And Self-Referencing Adventure’ provided some moments of terror, some Santa-fuelled whimsy and a big dollop of sentiment, especially for those of us who love the partnership that Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman have created as the Twelfth Doctor and Clara. The references came thick and fast, so much so that even Michael Troughton (son of Second Doctor Patrick) was forced to admit that the Dream Crabs were a bit like facehuggers from ‘Alien’. The Doctor’s reaction to there being a horror movie called ‘Alien’ was pure gold. They didn’t just stop there. Also reference were ‘The Thing’ (both versions), ‘Inception’, ‘Videodrome’ and from ‘Doctor Who’s own past try everything from ‘The Tenth Planet’ via ‘The Seeds Of Doom’ and even ‘The Waters Of Mars’. Plus, of course, the Dream Crabs were a typical Moffat ‘Don’t Monster’ in this case – ‘don’t think’, rather than ‘don’t blink’. This was an Arctic base under siege and as the slightly at-odds ‘Ghostbusters’ line asked, ‘Who ya gonna call?’

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As it turned out the person answering the call was Nick Frost’s Santa Claus. Frost played the character well when he was happy gently cajoling the Doctor or pointing out his own absurdities, the moments where Santa was meant to be serious didn’t ring as true. He didn’t quite fit. Frost, like his name, uncomfortably shoehorned into the opening credits, was amiable enough, but his Santa didn’t quite sparkle enough for me anyway.

Much better in the supporting cast was Faye Marsay as Shona, one of the base’s team who turned out to be a shop assistant, caught up in the Dream Crabs’ psychic attacks. She trod the line between comedy and horror excellently. Also reappearing and getting the send-off that he deserved was Samuel Anderson. Thankfully, free of his cyber-helmet, Anderson displayed the vulnerable charm that made Clara fall in love with him in the first place. The scenes in which she lived out a ‘last Christmas’ with Danny had echoes of Moffat’s first Christmas special ‘A Christmas Carol’ but was played in an emotional and captivating manner by both Anderson and Coleman.

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Like Karen Gillan, Jenna Coleman got to be ‘aged-up’ to show the eighty-something Clara meeting the Doctor and recounting her life. Playing on themes about ageing companions that the new series has flirted with since ‘School Reunion’, the Doctor dreams his way around to realising that losing his relationship with Clara is far too awful to contemplate. To his delight, Clara realises she can’t live in the past, accepting Danny is gone and agrees to rejoin the Doctor on his adventures. Just imagine something like this had happened after ‘The Deadly Assassin’ with Sarah-Jane Smith. You’d be punching the air. The relationship between Clara and the Twelfth Doctor has been a turbulent one, but to me feels more real than her relationship with the Eleventh ever did. The relationship with Amy started akin to this but quickly moved away from that approach. It is something to be cherished.

We move on into 2015. I suspect that Capaldi may not play the Doctor as antagonistically, but let’s hope he doesn’t lose his edge. As for Clara, let’s hope she doesn’t get saddled with another boyfriend. Episodes that kept Danny’s input lite – like ‘Flatline’ or ‘Mummy On The Orient Express’ worked very well. The show currently has two leads and both are crucial to the continued success of the programme.

 

Doctor Who – Last Christmas – http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p02ct985/doctor-who-last-christmas

 

© John Rivers 2015

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