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The Twelfth Doctor’s First Christmas
“Do you really believe in Santa Claus?”
‘Last Christmas’ is the first ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas Special in the Twelfth Doctor era. I was looking forward to seeing this on Christmas Day in 2014. It stars Peter Capaldi as the Doctor and Jenna Coleman as Clara with special guest star Nick Frost as Santa Claus. How can the Doctor meet Santa?!
I enjoyed watching this 60-minute Christmas episode by Steven Moffat. It’s pretty complicated and quite clever. You have to be very alert to know about what’s going on, since it’s all about dreams within dreams. But the festive spirit of the tale shines through, especially with the Doctor and Clara.
Clara wakes up on Christmas Eve when something crashes on her roof. She goes outside in her dressing gown to find Santa Claus and his elves with their sleigh and reindeer. The Doctor soon turns up and takes Clara away, before they visit a North Pole base to discover whether Santa Claus exists.
It wasn’t that long ago that I saw Series 8 of ‘Doctor Who’ with the Doctor and Clara. It was nice to see the Doctor and Clara again in this Christmas Special for 2014. I wondered what would happen to the Doctor and Clara as they had parted company from the previous season finale ‘Death In Heaven’.
Also in that episode, the Doctor got a visit from Santa Claus in his TARDIS who walked in and asked him “What do you want for Christmas?” I was surprised by that episode teaser ending in ‘Death In Heaven’ and I did wonder what this was all about, as the Doctor meets Santa Claus for the first time.
This story features a fascinating concept about whether or not Santa Claus exists. As a kid, I used to think that Santa Claus was a real person before my parents told me he wasn’t. I’m not saying that I became a quick believer after I watched this episode, but it was enjoyable and fascinating to watch.
The Doctor asks Clara this one big question in the TARDIS – “Do you really believe in Santa Claus?” After seeing Santa, she admits she does. This story is open to interpretation as to whether the existence of Santa Claus is possible. I couldn’t help think of ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ for this episode.
As I said, this episode is all about dreams within dreams. I must admit I did get lost in certain parts of the story when I watched it, as I was relaxed and Steven Moffat likes his puzzle-solving in episodes. I didn’t really understand the logic of some scenes, but then again dreams are not so logical, are they?
Peter Capaldi is superb as the Doctor in this episode. Peter has found his feet as the Doctor by this point. He’s clearly very fond of Clara and I liked his scenes when the two interacted with each other. I liked his scenes when talking to Santa Claus and getting to ride his sleigh at the end of the episode.
Jenna Coleman is lovely as ever as Clara Oswald. Clara is in her nightie and dressing gown all throughout the episode, which I found sweet. I like how Clara’s melancholy is touched upon as she’s still grieving over the loss of Danny Pink from Series 8 and it affects her relationship with the Doctor.
Both the Doctor and Clara confront each other, as it turns out they lied to each other in ‘Death in Heaven’. Clara lied that she and Danny are still together whereas in fact he died. The Doctor lied that he’d found Gallifrey whereas in fact he didn’t. It was interesting how they admit lying to each other.
Nick Frost delivers an amazing performance as Santa Claus in this episode. He doesn’t do a full-on jolly performance as Santa. Nick adds an edge and a bitter element to Santa which was interesting. But you are drawn in to believe it could be the real Santa, since he offers to help the Doctor and friends.
Santa is joined by two elves in this story. There’s Dan Starkey as Ian and Nathan McMullen as Wolf. Dan is well-known for playing the Sontarans both in TV and audio. It was nice to see Dan in the flesh, albeit with pointy ears. These two elves have ‘attitudes’ when they assist Santa with the presents.
Most of the action takes place at a base in the North Pole. Need I say whose home the North Pole belongs to? There are four crewmembers at this North Pole base fighting for survival when dealing with these alien Dream Crabs. The crew includes Shona, Ashley, Fiona and Professor Albert Smithe.
Faye Marsay guest stars as Shona McCullough, a young lady with a cocky attitude. Shona’s a scientist at the North Pole base and tries to avoid thinking about the Dream Crabs when listening, singing and dancing to ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ which I found funny. Shona gets sceptical about Santa being real.
Natalie Gumede guest stars as Ashley Carter, another scientist at the North Pole base. Ashley seems to be a person in control at the base with everyone around here. She gets sceptical about the Doctor’s theories when they’re dreaming. She’s pretty shocked when realising they’re still dreaming.
Maureen Beattie guest stars as Fiona Bellows, another scientist and professor at the North Pole base. Fiona is a Scottish lady and the Doctor refers to her as the ‘sexy one’. Fiona can’t take it in when the Doctor tells them that she and her friends are still dreaming when they’ve just woken up.
Another special guest star is Michael Troughton as Professor Albert Smithe. Michael is one of Patrick Troughton’s sons and has done a number of ‘Doctor Who’ audios for Big Finish. It was nice to see Michael in this episode and it was funny when he was eating a turkey drumstick as he was starving.
Samuel Anderson makes a special guest appearance as Danny Pink, Clara’s boyfriend who ‘died’ in the previous season. Danny appears in Clara’s dream when she’s slowly being killed by a Dream Crab. It was lovely to see those love scenes between Clara and Danny for Christmas and I wish they was real.
The monsters are the vicious Dream Crabs. These are creatures that latch onto your head and prey on your mind. They induce dream-like states that make you happy when they slowly eat your mind before you die. It was pretty terrifying seeing the Doctor and Clara with crabs all over their heads.
At the end of the episode, the Doctor visits Clara in bed at home and frees her of the Dream Crab from her head. But the Doctor’s too late as many years have passed and Clara is an elderly woman. It was quite a shock and sad to see this. Jenna Coleman does looks great in ‘old lady’ make-up as Clara.
But it was all a dream as Santa helps the Doctor to save Clara again. When he frees the Dream Crab off her again, she’s back to her normal young self which I was relieved about. The Doctor invites Clara back into his TARDIS for more adventures to which she happily accepts. I was very pleased that she did.
The DVD special features on this episode are as follows. On the ‘Last Christmas’ DVD and on Disc 1 of ‘The Complete Series 9’ of ‘Doctor Who’, there’s a commentary with director Paul Wilmhurst and producer Paul Frift. There’s also the ‘Last Christmas’ – Doctor Who Extra’ featurette.
On Disc 3 of ‘The 10 Christmas Specials’ Blu-ray, there’s an exclusive feature called ‘Ten Christmases’. This is hosted by Rufus Hound, who voices the Monk in the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’, as he goes on a mission to discover what makes a ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas Special so ‘special’.
‘Last Christmas’ is a gripping Christmas Special with the Twelfth Doctor and Clara. It’s pretty complicated and mind-boggling to get your head around, but it’s very enjoyable. Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman deliver great performances as their characters. I was looking forward to what was coming next in Series 9.
The question now is…’is Santa Claus real or not?’ Do you really believe in him? You decide! The last scene took me completely by surprise when I saw it. I’m not very sure whether to believe it was real.
‘Last Christmas’ rating – 8/10
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