I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and whole holiday season, with family, friends, and lots of love and cheer! I’m having a perfectly fine day: we don’t live anywhere near our respective families, so Christmas is just a day of staying at home and enjoying each other’s company. In a few, I’m going to go cook up some steaks for a nice dinner.
We just finished watching the Doctor Who Christmas special, “Last Christmas”, and, well, opinion is divided in our house.
Spoilers, by the way.
My husband was really hoping for Clara to depart at the end of the episode, and since that didn’t happen, he’s running around the house in a really bad mood. I was hoping the same, but I’m not as disappointed as he is. To me, the episode could have been really good, but it fell flat in so many places.
The general concept, of dreams within dreams within dreams, was fun and deftly handled, and made me forget that each new reality could be a dream as people woke up. It was very nice to be surprised over and over again as new dreams were discovered. Having Santa and his elves as real characters very much challenged my suspension of disbelief, but as they also turned out to be dreams (maybe), it all worked out fine. Those characters were terrific, though – very fun to watch, with some of the best lines in the entire show.
However, I felt that they were trying too hard again to have sweeping emotional scenes, especially centered around Clara. Clara’s initial dream, of a happy life with Danny, was beautifully done, making me feel very sad for her that she’s trapped in this dream that she really wants, and the blackboards appearing and trapping her were terrifying, one of the few successful terrifying moments this series has had all year. Then the Doctor appears to tell her that it’s all a dream, and Danny transforms from a dream construct that’s meant to keep her happy in her dream to a real Danny, telling her to get out of the dream and go have a happy life. He can’t be both, and the tender moment is ruined by this. And then the ending. The Doctor comes to Clara to remove the facehugger and finds he’s come 60 years in her future and she’s had a good life without him, though she has missed him. It was an absolutely beautiful bittersweet story, showing that Clara does have the emotional fortitude to move on and live her own life… and they threw it down the drain, revealing it’s another dream, and instead, the Doctor saves Clara and they reunite happily and run off into the sunset. Another “everyone lives, everyone’s happy” Moffat ending. I always knew the Christmas special was going to end all happy-happy – Moffat can’t allow his characters to not be happy, ever – but I don’t have to like it. I am actually surprised he didn’t resurrect Danny. He must have been sick when he wrote this episode.
Beyond that, though, the show was decent enough, so much so that I could rate it at least average in Series 8. There were pacing problems that broke me out of story. (How many times do the humans, after being convinced their in a dream, need to keep asking how this or that happened? Maybe it’s time to start trying to break out before you’re dead?) And there are continuity errors that probably can be attributed to how hard it is to keep an Inception-like story consistent. (For example, if the facehuggers were supposed to be injecting dreams to keep their prey happy and dormant, why were the three women all dreaming they were trapped in an arctic base cowering from facehuggers? Not exactly the happiest of dreams.) I would definitely have liked the other human characters to have had some actual personality.
So, another Doctor Who year has come and gone, for good or bad, depending on your tastes. Hope your year has been wonderful, and looking forward to brilliant new year!