Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Last Christmas

It will get more spoilery as we go. But the BBC have already issued one of them via press release…

1. Come Down The TARDIS


He only did the show because Simon Pegg has been in it. But we now have the most perfectly named actor to ever play Father Christmas, as Nick Frost. We already knew that Father Christmas exists in the Doctor Whoniverse, after going on a bender with The Eleventh Doctor – though at one point it appeared that The Ninth Doctor *was* Father Christmas. But for those finding the appearance of the character on-screen in such a stereotypical fashion jarring, it rather makes the point that The Doctor is no less of a fairytale, a cap on Steven Moffat's depiction of the character since he began. The Doctor changes his face, Father Christmas grew a beard, Clark Kent puts on glasses. Eventually people cotton on.

2. Risk Specialist


Previous Doctor Who Christmas Specials have seen the whole world at risk. The whole universe. In this case, it's just the lives of eight people, in an isolated Arctic base facing a similar handful of nasty alien parasites. And even that is far, far fewer than it first appears. It's good to know that the Doctor isn't just there for the genocides at Christmas.

3. So That's What A Sontaran Looks Like Under All The Fat


Yes folks, that's what Strax looks like with a normal sized neck. And, pointy ears. Lots of love for the "racist elf" jokes right out of Yonderland, though they did give greater resonance to the Alien gag…

4. At The North Pole Everyone Can Hear You Scream


But for all that, this is certainly the scariest Doctor Who Christmas Special to date, and in fact it might go all the way back to The Satan Pit for anything quite so visceral. Somewhere between the cleverlry name-checked Alien, saying what everyone was thinking, and the bed ridden folk of Moffat's The Eleventh Hour – and The Empty Child

5. It's Chriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiistmas!


Merry Christmas Everybody by Slade is probably the quintessential British Christmas pop song, yes even more than Fairytale Of New York, and is responsible for Noddy Holder's annual run around the television schedule. Black Mirror may have gone for I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday, but Slade's song is even more of an earworm, and here it is weaponised – and possibly the greatest defence against Pink Elephant Syndrome.

6. Hi Ho Rudolph


Possibly the greatest Father Christmas entrance to date? Puts the whole down-the-chimney move to shame. Oh an the Doctor's fears of being a bad man are met in us tonight – "Go make a naughty list." "I have mate and you're on it."

7. "Am I Dreaming?"


Well they kind of said it. Again and again. We've been here before, most recently with the Dream Lord, a realised aspect of the Doctor imprisoning Amy and Rory in deadly dreams, again with no certainty at which point they may have actually woken. But again and again the show tricked us, even when we knew we were in a dream, it's still a surprise when reality falls apart in new and interesting ways. And not just with Santa. But it embraces the tired "it was all a dream" trope and makes that the point of this episode, basing the entire structure around never being sure when you've stepped out of the rabbit hole (and excellent job with the blackboard), I mean even now, there's still no guarantee, the Doctor could be being served up for Dream Crab Christmas supper right now…

8. Mistletoe And Wine


Sorry I only just got this. Everyone turn to page twelve. They're carol singers. Well done.

8. Walking In The Air


The sleighride across a perfect snow-covered London was a perfect way to show what a dream this was. Straight out of The Snowman cartoons, even the Doctor got to have a go. And a way to say goodbye to the last vestiges of dreams and, despite the threat of imminent death, embracing the liberation that fantasy can grant us, compared to the often depressing realities.

9. Oh What A Tease


And with that everyone watching realised that Clara would no longer be a part of Doctor Who. He took thirty-odd years to return, and one final scene with Danny Pink was a way of putting a cap on it. But then, again, to pull the rug from under our feet one last time… and for the BBC to issue a press release about it as well. Hours before the show runs in the US, spoiling them all…

But yeah, no sign of pregnancy. Yet.

10. The Forbidden Fruit


Oh yeah, and I like tangerines. Prefer a satsuma though. And The Magician's Apprentice does seem to mix up The Sorceror's Apprentice and The Magician's Nephew does it not?

And for anyone complaining that, again, "no one dies", you just have no empathy for the Dream Crabs dissolving away into dust, do you?

Merry Christmas, all! Don't let the spoilers bite! Talking of which, here is what advance reviewers were asked by the BBC, unredacted.

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.