The Doctor: Do you know what the big problem is in telling fantasy and reality apart?
The Doctor: They’re both ridiculous.
Doctor Who Season: Between S34 and S35 (Christmas Special).
Story Number: 253.
A Christmas tale…
The title. Last Christmas. Same as the Wham! song but as usual there is no romance (but a lot of love) between this Doctor and his companion.
The title is a tease for this maybe being Clara’s last episode (and indeed Moffat wrote 2 alternative scripts for either eventuality but Jenna Coleman made the right choice – to stay for another season – I would say as Eleventh & Clara make a great team). The last few scenes raise this possibility before the twist of yet another dream-within-a-dream, while continuing one of the themes of the Moffat era: the mortality of the Doctor’s companions.
This story is emblematic of the Moffat era with another aspect – that of it being a Christmas story that is about Christmas stories. RTD’s first two Christmas Specials were simply Earth adventures set on Christmas Day, the next had some Christmassy elements, whether Christmastime Movie or snowy Victoriana.
Moffat though has used pastiches of existing stories associated with Christmas: A Christmas Carol, Narnia, C4’s The Snowman, then with the Doctor becoming the story of Christmas-town.
It is a natural progression for this tale to then be the story of Father Christmas.
The two stand-out guest stars are Nick Frost as the big man himself, and Faye Marsay as Shona. Her boogieing across the base-under-siege is a delight, and it a “huh?” moment in an episode full of them.
Shona’s handwritten list at the end is an elegant way to acknowledge the movie-roots of this story – Miracle on 34th Street (real Santa Claus?), the facehuggers of Alien, the frozen base of The Thing From Another World.
It’s a happier ending for 2014 than that of the previous episode, which didn’t include much cheer, Christmas or otherwise.