TV Review: ‘Doctor Who’ 2014 Christmas Special “Last Christmas”

Has the Doctor been a good boy?

This review contains SPOILERS

Starring:  Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald, Nick Frost as Santa

Written by:  Steven Moffat / Episode directed by:   Paul Wilmshurst / aired in the UK and U.S. :  25/12/2014

What’s this episode about?

It’s Christmas and Clara and the Doctor enlist the help of Santa Claus himself to thwart a deadly alien threat…

Episode review

Ah…Christmas, a time to eat, drink, be Merry and sit down to watch the BBC’s Doctor Who Christmas Special which over the last decade (yes, it really has been that long) has firmly entrenched itself in the festive traditions.

The 2014 special, “Last Christmas” is the tenth Who Christmas episode and although not quite as fun as 2005’s “The Christmas Invasion” (which saw the debut of David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor) or as epic as Matt Smith’s departure in last year’s “The Time of the Doctor” it is non-the-less another entertaining festive treat that contains equal measures of atmospheric shocks and sugar-coated delights.

As we’ve come to expect over the course of Peter Capaldi’s first season as master of the TARDIS, “Last Christmas” has a dark streak with a number of ‘behind the sofa’ scares (all the more daring given the 6:15pm timeslot) presented by the malevolent alien creatures that threaten to destroy Christmas.

Largely taking place at an isolated North Pole research station, the premise of “Last Christmas” harkens back to the iconic ‘base under siege’ template of classic Who adventures and owes much to the likes of Alien and The Thing From Another World, both of which are rightfully acknowledged by writer Steven Moffat.  It infuses the otherwise festive proceedings with a tense and unsettling atmosphere as the Doctor uncovers the truth behind the appearance of Santa and the plight of the crew of that afore-mentioned research station (one of whom is played by Michael Troughton, son of the late Patrick Troughton who portrayed the Doctor’s second incarnation from 1966 to 1969).

It’s not all doom and gloom though, there are plenty of heartfelt moments between the Doctor and Clara and levity facilitated via jovial guest star Nick Frost (complete with Elf sidekicks).  The highlight of the piece however is the Doctor’s piloting of Santa’s sled, a fantastically magical sequence where Christmas truly takes over and sure to kindle the yuletide spirit in even the most cynical of the viewership.

The biggest surprise of course is the fate of Clara, just as we suspect the Doctor’s encounter with an elderly version of his beloved companion is leading toward Jenna Coleman’s rumoured exit, a twist in the mind-bending Inception-esque concept provides us with (at least partially) an answer as Clara decides to accept the Doctor’s invitation to return to the TARDIS.

“Last Christmas” sees Peter Capaldi provide another assured turn as the now not-so-new Doctor and hopefully Coleman will stick around for a while longer, with the highs and lows of their comradery being one of the main draws of this last season.  It will be exciting to see where the TARDIS lands next…

The bottom line:  The Doctor saves Christmas once again as the BBC delivers another quality festive edition of Doctor Who that’s scary, tense and magical in a way that only this iconic series could achieve.

“Last Christmas” is released on Blu-ray and DVD by 2entertain on 26th January.  Doctor Who season 9 will air in 2015.

What did you think of Peter Capaldi’s first Christmas as the Doctor?  Share your thoughts below!

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman) enlist the help of Santa (Nick Frost) in another magical festive edition of the BBC's 'Doctor Who'.

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman) enlist the help of Santa (Nick Frost) in another magical festive edition of the BBC’s ‘Doctor Who’.

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