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Last Christmas

ShowDoctor Who / Series VIII / Episode 13
First Broadcast2014/12/26 - 19:30 (Link: ABC Details)
Related LinksDoctor Who Wiki Wikipedia
Previous EpisodeDeath In Heaven
Next EpisodeThe Magician's Apprentice

We begin with Clara waking to Santa crashing on her roof. The Doctor arrives and whisks her away to an Arctic research station. Or does he? As is slowly, cleverly and frighteningly revealed, this is all part of a dream. A dream crab attacks its host and puts it into a dream state while slowly devouring its brain. Ugh! The Doctor and Clara eventually figure it out, although they need Santa's help.

The story is immediately reminiscent of Alien and indeed it's so obvious the writer has one of the characters directly acknowledge this. The dream crab is a variation to be sure, but its inspiration is a distraction. Other obvious influences - The Thing and Miracle on 34th Street - were listed on Shona's itinerary. Not directly mentioned, but probably most relevant is Inception and its concept of dreams within dreams. So it's a clever story with an original slant, but it does borrow heavily from elsewhere, for which I mark it down.

The Doctor and Clara reveal they both lied to each other at the end of the previous episode. Danny is dead and the Doctor did not find Gallifrey - a storyline barely explored during this season. The Doctor realises he regrets not contacting Clara sooner and (with a little encouragement from Santa) asks her to rejoin him in the TARDIS and she readily accepts.

The season on the whole was okay - a mix of good and bad. The reveal of the Master was brilliant. Capaldi makes a good Doctor, but it's hard to know if he hasn't been great because of weak scripts or his taciturn character. The 12th Doctor is no longer friendly. He's still slightly mad but the exuberance of Tenant's and Smith's Doctors is gone. I'm prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt and another season before reviewing again. Jenna Coleman is back for another season after seemingly quitting and then reversing herself. Good news in the main, as I like her character (esp. up against Smith), but it's not quite working with Capaldi. Although to be fair, some of this was partly due (at least) to her being on her way out for several episodes. Lots of promise but more to do to reach the heights of Tenant's and Smith's best work.