JReviews- Doctor Who: Last Christmas (2014 Xmas Special)

Merry Christmas y'all, hope everyone has had a Merry Christmas. So, with the pleasantries out of the way, let's get down to business.

So, last years Christmas Special was, lets be honest, the worst we've had since the series was revived. A damp squib to end the days of one of the finest incarnations of the Time Lord, full of plot holes and inconsistencies and frankly both too short (to fit all of its story in) and too long (to really keep what story it didn't time skip going) of an episode, which is no mean feat. So how does this one fare?

Well, if I had to sum it up in one word, that word would be weird. The whole episode revolves around waking up from a dream but not in fact waking up from the dream, something that happens at least 5 times in this episode. You add that together with a blatant alien rip off for a bad guy (they even say so "in episode") and then sprinkle some Santa Claus (with Reindeer, elves and an army of toys to boot) into the mix and you have an episode that is decidedly weird, there is no other word for it.

So how does it all stack up. Well, the plot premise, the whole how can you tell what's a dream and what's real when you could be dreaming, is a subject they have covered before (Amy's Choice, one of Matt Smiths finest episodes). That episode was brilliant, thanks to the menace of the Dream Lord, combined with the dual threats of freezing to death from a cold star or being vaporised by aliens living in the mouths of old people. This episode, whilst it didn't have as interesting threats (due to there only being one threat), did manage to be very effective in its psychological horror set up. The location being dark, decrepit and set its self in a dangerous place (the north pole) made the whole set-up feel claustrophobic. The way the aliens killed their victims (draining their brains whilst inducing an anaesthetic like dream state to keep its victims from struggling) was suitably gross and horrific as an image inside the viewers head, without having to appear on the screen. And then you had the main play of the repeat "wake ups". Yes, it did get predictable after the third time, but as with Amy's Choice, it's still a great ploy to keep the story going and interesting. So set up is good for me. Plus the ending leaves us wondering if they did in fact escape the dream world after all. Oh, and the creepy chalkboard writing during Clara's first dream sequence was a brilliant piece of representation of psychological suggestion. Clara can hear the Doctor's voice, but as she can't place the voice, her brain substitutes an object she associates with the Doctor, in this case the chalkboard he used throughout the last series (most notably in Listen)

Next up we have the main stumbling point for me before this episode was even aired. Santa. yes, Santa appears in an episode of Doctor Who. This should have been cringe-worthy, but it wasn't, thankfully. Due mostly to excellent writing and a suitably subdued yet captivating performance by Nick Frost, Santa managed to be a good fit into this episode, with its dark feel and surreal overtones. His true intentions are masked until his big reveal around two thirds of the way into the episode, is he actually trying to help them, if so how, or is he actually responsible or in league with/ working for the Dream Crabs. And even when he is actually revealed to be a) a good guy and b) a dream, he doesn't immediately become the jolly old fellow we all loved as children, he stays subdued and kind of dark, which I liked. More bonus points come from his frankly spectacular entrance into the polar base, complete with slinky and toy robot army. Though the less said about the elves the better.

Finally our two main characters. The Doctor was good in this episode, not one of his best, but his bickering with Santa did elevate his performance above average. As for Clara. Still. Don't. Care. 'Nuff said.

Oh, and as a foot note, Danny Pink still manages to retain his title as best character, even despite the small set back of being dead.

JR19759

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5 Responses to JReviews- Doctor Who: Last Christmas (2014 Xmas Special)

  1. Oh hey, Jreviews are back with the show! Then it’s my time to add my comment.
    First of all, of course I totally disagree about the previous Christmas special being the worst, but it’s only my opinion, so Who cares (get it?).

    For me, this Christmas special is great for many points. First, it actually has a lot of Christmas spirit which some other specials lack. That special with Trenzalore, and the one with space version of Titanic, at least. But in my country the Christmas isn’t actually a big deal, so whatever. Still, this episode was full of this mythical substance known as Christmas Spirit. Santa and elves being a mind trick, the snowy waste of North Pole and the wonderful sleigh flight.

    Second, it’s very…dreamy. The authors really grasped all the details that can be found in actual dreams. Especially the nightmarish parts. I have nightmares sometimes, this episode depicts them quite well.

    Nick Frost plays his role of Santa very well. It’s not the Santa that we are all used to, not an obsolete old guy from Coca Cola commercials. That is one believable Saint Nick-The-Mind-Trick. But although the actor totally succeeded at his role somehow I think that he was chosen only because of his name. Because hell, he’s Nick Frost. Nicholaus-Claus, and Frost. During the opening sequence I even thought that his name was a joke, like when Jenna Coleman’s name was placed first and her eyebrows were in the opening of some previous episode. I had to google it to make sure Nick Frost is an actual name.

    All in all, the episode was good. Although I was quite confused when the Doctor woke up. He woke up at some fiery rocky planet of sorts. It looked very much like the moment when Clara threatened to throw away all the Tardis keys (although I know that there were no volcano, just the illusion induced in Clara’s head). Very confusing.

    As for the “weird” part…that’s actually the main plot of this show. The weird. A weird guy, often looking like a clown or an imbecile, who happens to be an ancient and wise alien. A weird thing looking like a police box that is actually a complicated time-traveling vehicle the size of a planet. The weird angel statues that are actually aliens. And all other weird, weird things. I will be worried when Doctor Who stops being weird.

  2. Don't have on, I'm a guest Don't have on, I'm a guest

    I like the part where the Doctor (whose name isARRRRRRRRRRGH! (Gets attacked by Dream Crabs)) says that Alien is a racist film title is LOL!

  3. Don't have on, I'm a guest Don't have on, I'm a guest

    P.S. The TARDIS is infinite, Malfar

  4. @Malfar- When I say this episode is weird, I mean it’s weird for Doctor Who, therefore more weird than usual. The Titanic episode, I would agree to being a lesser episode, due entirely to the fact it was made almost exclusively of cheese (cheddar, camembert, gorgonzola you name it), but it did have some good moments. Tennant was on fine form (as he always was), his scene bouncing jokes off of Max Capricorn was fantastic (until it got interrupted by a fork-lift truck carrying cheese and an over long slow-mo sequence) and his “My name is the Doctor” speech was one of his finest moments in his 3 series as the Doctor.
    Now, Nick Frost. Nick Frost is brilliant. I can see why you might raise an eyebrow at his name in connection with Christmas, but he is a very good comedy actor in his own right. I would recommend watching his films with Simon Pegg (Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz, Paul and World’s End), they are brilliant. They pack them with so many references and geeky in-jokes, because the two of them are geeks. They became friends because they shared a love of obscure Star Wars stuff. So him being in Doctor Who was hugely welcome for me and I can categorically say that he was not chosen because of his name, but because he is marvellous.

  5. @JR19759 Still, his name suits his role. I don’t deny his brilliance and I don’t say that he was chosen only because of the name. But the name still matters.

    Just imagine a guy with the name, say, Bruce Green. Imagine that Bruce Green is an incredibly good actor. And suddenly he is offered a role of the Hulk (or maybe his puny human part). Totally not because of the name.