Christmas is over and done with, but as always, we have a Doctor Who Christmas Special to discuss! There’s also the first episode title of Series 9, so we have that to look forward to. So, let’s take a look. This review will be different from my other reviews. I will focus primarily on the things which I consider to be the main pros and cons of it. Yes, it has flaws, so it can’t be as good as the Christmas Invasion, A Christmas Carol or the Time of the Doctor, but there is still a lot to this episode which is great. As per usual, spoiler alert
- The Doctor’s characterisation
It took me a full series to fully accept Capaldi as THE Doctor, 100%. He had his moments (his conversation with Robin Hood, the ending of Mummy on the Orient Express, his speech in Flatline) but it wasn’t until Death in Heaven where he realised who he truly was and became the character we all know and love. This episode continued the trend of having the Doctor pretty much offend everyone and get offended by everything (“You have a horror movie called Alien? That’s really offensive, no wonder everyone keeps invading you”). He is responsible for all the dream exposition and gets an epic introduction, with him insulting Santa and marching into the Tardis with a great soundtrack supporting him. It’s also the first time this Doctor is truly happy, as he rides the sleigh out of the dream. The emotional core of the story is of the Doctor slowly helping Clara let go of Danny and to make her a better person.
- The concept of the villains
I really like the concept of the Dream Crabs. While the “Don’t do something” thing is getting a bit old as it’s been done with the Weeping Angels, the Silence and the Teller, it is presented in a way which seems fresh. I like the old fashioned feel that they have, as they feel like something which a Classic Series Doctor would fight, and the whole story is reminiscent of an early Tom Baker story (at least the scenes in the Arctic Base are). However, I wished the creatures did more then stand around, and they didn’t really have a plan and in the end weren’t really menacing enough. Which leads me to…
- The plot was confusing
While I understood the whole story (as in it didn’t confuse me in a way the Girl Who Waited or Journey to the Centre of the Tardis did where it was so confusing I was bored), after thinking about it the plot was full of holes. Why did the Dream Crabs make an Arctic Base? Were there four people whose ideal world is in a base? What is the Doctor going to do about the Dream Crab who killed the Professor? Or is there one Dream Crab ready to try again? Why were they putting them through multiple dreams? At least in Inception (yes it’s not a Doctor Who story but it’s the same concept) the dreams within dreams was part of the story of that film. But why did the Dream Crabs decide to do this? Why was the Doctor in an extra layer of dreaming? When thought is applied, the story makes no sense.
- The ending
So, now we know that Clara is staying for Series 9, there is more speculation. I will admit, I’m not the biggest fan of the ending. I would have been if the final dream scene wasn’t so great. The Doctor rescues Clara only to find that she is an old woman. They have a Christmas dinner and then Santa comes and it was all a dream. My problem is this: why have a scene which is so good only to have it be a dream? If they had cut straight to the actual ending then I wouldn’t mind. I also didn’t know what to think of Clara staying, as her character seems two-sided. In Series 7, she was a pretty boring character who was fun and energetic. In Series 8 she was slightly more serious, slightly more realistic and grew as a character.
Now I prefer Series 8 Clara, as she is a better character, but I miss that charm she had with Matt Smith. Capaldi is a very serious Doctor and a light hearted companion is needed in my eyes. So for Series 9, have Clara become that fun, inquisitive person who travelled because it was fun, but still retain that character and don’t make her journey in Series 8 irrelevent. Tardis teams often work because they’re contrasts: Fun Four/Serious Sarah Jane, Serious Nine/Fun Rose and Alien Eleven/Human Amy. For Series 9 it should be Serious Twelve/Fun Clara. But she should still argue and question the Doctor, as that’s what made companions like Donna and Rory work.
So, Series 9. The first episode is called the Magician’s Apprentice. At first it sounded like a new companion debut, but with Clara staying it could be different. But the new companion could still happen. Perhaps the Doctor gets another companion and Clara acts as his/her teacher. If it’s a male though, let’s not have him fall in love. Have someone like Jack or Harry, someone whose just there to be a generally cool guy to be around. But I’ve already discussed that.
Phew, that was long. What do you think of the Christmas Special? What do you make of the title? And, more importantly, do you think a new companion should join?