Hello readers. Welcome back. Following a peaceful break, I’m back. How was everyone’s Christmas and New Years? Mine was quiet and uneventful, just the way that I like it. Really, with all the television and films that I watch, more drama is the last thing that I need. Hopefully all of your holidays were as relaxing and refreshing as mine and that you spent a lot of happy times with family and friends. And for all of you who didn’t, well, at least preposterprose is back to brighten up your weeks.
As usual, there’s a lot of catching up to do. Just because I take a break doesn’t mean that the world stops turning. First on the list is the Doctor Who Christmas Special. I can’t really say I was looking forward to it. The half-assed attempt at making Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor seem morally ambiguous paired with the forgetful character writing of Clara and a rather underwhelming finale left me just a tad apathetic towards the Christmas Special. I didn’t watch it on Christmas. Mostly due to the presence of family but I wasn’t bothered by putting it off for once. I didn’t watch it on Boxing Day either. In fact it was a full four days before I sat myself down to view the Christmas Special.
Last Christmas is a fun and interesting episode even if it does tick off the checklist of Moffat’s literary trademarks like a grocery list and most of the end game is predictable as soon as the word ‘dream’ is uttered. It is perhaps one of the most festive Christmas Specials in recent years. Most of the specials have the exchanging of presents, Christmas dinner or utilise Christmas imagery in an unsettling fashion. Last Christmas is no different, this time employing old Saint Nick to rescue the characters from extraterrestrial dream insects.
The side characters really make the episode enjoyable. The small snippets of their lives after the dangers has been averted made me want to know more about them. They’ll never show up in the series again I’d bet, but the story was effective in getting me invested in the characters and their lives. Especially how their lives affected the dream. So I was a little disappointed when the Doctor wrote them off as ‘collateral’ to him and Clara. I get that the Doctor doesn’t care about people anyone. That’s fine, sort of. He’s like Gregory House now, chasing the mystery rather than the human connection. But in this case it felt like a cold shoulder towards the characters we’d spent the entire episode with.
Not to mention, it doesn’t make much sense. Following the Doctor’s logic, the dream bug latched on to him, found Clara through his memories, and then just picked up four other random people just to round out the picture. Why did it need Clara at all? Danny Pink pops up in Clara’s dream for no other reason than to pacify her. Couldn’t the dream bugs have conjured up Clara to fly around with the Doctor forever while they ate his brain? Oops, I think I just spoiled the next season.
Of course, Moffat is terrible at explaining anything that happens in Doctor Who. He has an easier time than usual in this episode by using the dream fills in the blanks excuse and then ties it into the plot. Phrases such as “It’s complex” and “it’s a long story” indicate that they’re dreaming but at times it feels like Moffat is taunting the viewer by saying choosing not to viable answers and then working it into the plot. It seems like Moffat is one of those people who believe that not knowing is better than knowing. Which is fine, but it can be frustrating when you’re watching a science fiction show about a time travelling alien and dream bugs from space and you want to know the space bug’s motivations. It can’t just be eat all the brains because they target a very small sample. Maybe they’re just picky eaters. We’ll never know because Moffat won’t tell us.
Another quirk you might notice is the “don’t [insert action here]” obstacle that Moffat has been employing ever since the first appearance of the Weeping Angels. Blink is a very good episode, and the Angels moving when Carey Mulligan was genuinely suspenseful. But Moffat has used a variation of that trick a couple of times now, including this festive special, and it’s becoming a bit tired. Significantly so here because it lacks any real depth and doesn’t really help to save them. Maybe it’s Moffat fatigue. He has been writing episodes for Doctor Who since 2005 and running the show since 2010. That’s almost a decade of Moffat.
A final little thing that bothered me was that no one was supposed to remember the dreams. Maybe the Doctor could remember because he’s a Time Lord, but Clara remembers even when everyone else forgets. This wouldn’t be such a big deal except that The Doctor and Clara reveal their lies about Gallifrey and Danny in the dreams. Shouldn’t that all be forgotten by the time they wake up?
As I said, those are all little things and even with those in mind, this is a strong Christmas episode. Not quite as engaging as The Snowmen perhaps but it is more exciting than The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe and isn’t depressing, like The Time of The Doctor. And, as it turns out, rumours of Jenna Coleman’s departure weren’t true, likely a ploy by Moffat to get viewers invested in Last Christmas. I don’t know how well that worked since I wasn’t in any rush to watch. However, this is a good episode. I did laugh at The Doctor balking at a film called Alien. Though, if Inception gave you a headache you might want to give it a miss.