Doctor Who Christmas specials are, respectively: fantastic, good, So Bad It's Good, unnecessary, overblown So Bad It's Amazing, okay-if-you-don't-think-too-hard, boring, and "Oh my god, this is the worst thing I've ever seen." Last Christmas doesn't attempt to make up for last year's travesty, and nor should it - the show's moved on from that era of terrible writing and slapdash plots. We have to focus on the era of mediocre writing now! Deciding that NuWho wasn't quite derivative enough, this week's episode is what happens when you combine Alien, Inception and, presumably, a late night of last-minute script-writing while flicking through the movie channels.
|Father Christmas, while not true to the archetype, is|
surprisingly entertaining. From the BBC
The two main influences on this script are Inception and Alien - not really hard to see what that means, either. The Alien thing is fairly blatant, with the film itself being discussed within the episode, and the episode blended that film's claustrophobic setting with the show's usual "Base-Under-Siege" plot. The Inception thing I'm less sure of - it's about four years late to be riding that film's coattails, and the dream-within-a-dream thing is part of the consciousness now. What's more important is how the setup is used. While the interal logic of the dreamscape was interestingly realised and intriguingly thought out, there were a few too many layers for me. By the third wake-up I was beginning to wonder if it would ever stop with the revelation. It also tied into a problem with Clara's departure, but I'll go into a bit more detail on that further down.
The episode's weirdest concession to the Christmas spirit was the appearance of Nick Frost as Father Christmas, at first pushing the "the fiction is real" argument like back in Robots of Sherwood and then thankfully transforming him into a shared avatar of hope and goodwill within the dreamers' minds. I wasn't that confident of Frost's performance initially, but once it transformed into something more outwardly comical, his cheeky and off-kilter delivery of the cliched Santa lines actually gave me a few chuckles. At the same time, he was able to deliver a few warm moments too. The same can't be said for his two sidekicks, Ian and Wolf, who were both unnecessary - even if it was nice to see Nathan McMullen in something now that Misfits has finished.
|Capaldi was on fine form and provided the best performance|
of the episode. From the BBC
I'm still not fully on board with Moffat, but this episode marks the close of a season much improved on the last. It feels like Moffat and his writers have been working on their criticisms - sometimes to good effect, sometimes not. Last Christmas was that same mix of surprising quality in some places and uneasy decisions in others, but Im I'm so much more invested in these characters that I'll actually be looking forward to next season instead of just watching it out of tradition.