Mini Review: “Doctor Who – Last Christmas” (TV Show Episode)

2015 Artwork doctor who last christmas review sketch

Since I’ve just finished watching the Christmas special episode “Doctor Who”, I thought that I’d write a review of it. Since I’m in kind of a hurry at the moment, this will only be a short review (compared to the ones I wrote for the last series of “Doctor Who”) and it probably won’t contain too much of a plot summary.

Before I go any further, I should also point out that this review will contain SPOILERS. You have been warned.

Like many Christmas specials, “Last Christmas” initially starts out as a story where the Doctor and Clara have to team up with Santa Claus (played by Nick Frost) in order to save Christmas.

The Doctor, of course, isn’t a huge fan of Santa Claus – but, even so, it seems like it’s going to be like any one of a thousand other Christmas specials for a thousand other programs.

However, when the TARDIS touches down near a research facility at the North Pole where half of the scientists there have fallen victim to facehugger-like creatures called “dream crabs” (who kill their victims by slowly dissolving their brains whilst distracting them by inducing a dream-like state), it soon turns out that things aren’t quite what they seem…..

Normally, I’m extremely sceptical about Christmas episodes of “Doctor Who”, since some of them have been mediocre at best. So, when I saw that this was an episode involving Santa Claus, I didn’t exactly have very high hopes for it. However, I quickly realised that I had seriously underestimated this episode. This is probably one of my favourite episodes of “Doctor Who”. Ever.

As well as the similarities to “Alien” ( and, yes, one of the characters actually mentions this during the episode), this is an episode about the whole concept of unreliable realities.

Unreliable realities are one of my favourite things in both the sci-fi and horror genres and the entire episode is filled with lots of wonderfully surreal moments and lots of confusion about whether the characters are dreaming or awake. In other words, it’s a horror episode. And it’s a really cool one.

Not only are the “Alien”-like scenes in the North Pole base really cool and suspenseful, but the special effects in these scenes are remarkably good too. The creatures actually look like something from a Hollywood horror movie and they are some of the best “Doctor Who” creatures that I’ve ever seen – even if they are pretty much just a rip-off of the facehuggers from “Alien”.

However, there is at least one major plot hole. Near the beginning of the episode, the Doctor at least implies that if someone is attacked by a dream crab, then forcibly removing the crab will probably kill them. Yet, by the end of the episode, he is somehow easily able to remove dream crabs from people’s faces just by stunning them with his sonic scredriver.

But, for all of the wonderfully-directed horror scenes and chillingly dark plot twists in this episode, there’s a surprising amount of humour too. Seriously, the scenes with Santa Claus and his elves are absolutely hilarious and casting Nick Frost as Santa Claus was an absolute stroke of genius.

Plus, the episode handles the subject of whether Santa is real or not in a far more mature and intelligent way than I had expected from the brief preview of the episode that was shown during “Comic Relief” a few weeks ago.

All of the supporting characters in this episode are surprisingly good too and my favourite character is probably one of the scientists at the base called Shona, who is wonderfully sarcastic, eccentric and cynical.

However, one of the other scientists (I can’t remember his name) was so obviously unlikeable – albeit in a subtle way – that it wasn’t really a huge surprise when it turned out that he doesn’t survive the episode. Seriously, as soon as you first see him, you just know that he’s not going to survive to the end of the episode.

But, apart from this one predictable thing, the rest of the episode goes in all sorts of gloriously unpredictable and dramatic directions.

Not only that, Danny Pink also makes a wonderfully poignant cameo appearance in this episode too.

All in all “Last Christmas” is an absolutely brilliant episode. It’s intelligent, it’s creepy and it’s hilarious. Let’s hope that future Christmas specials of “Doctor Who” are up to the same standard as this episode.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get a five.