So, in keeping with change to my blog, I’ve decided to start posting reviews of certain things I come across. For television, expect a lot of Doctor Who, Flash, Arrow, Gotham and Game of Thrones. Music…just…just don’t expect a lot of that. Movies and books- anything Science Fiction or Fantasy. As usual, my own unique, neutortic writing will be featured and hopefully be the source of a few chuckles. Anyways, hope you enjoy!
Doctor Who and Christmastime have always had a special relationship, starting all the way back in 2005 with “The Christmas Invasion”, Mr. David Tennant’s first full episode as the eponymous Doctor. Unlike other shows that air Christmas specials though, the people over at Doctor Who always try to use the mythos and sensations of Christmas to further their story lines. “The Voyage of the Damned” saw the introduction of Wilfred Mott, a character who would play a pivotal role in the 10th Doctor’s regeneration 2 seasons later! While Steven Moffat’s 12th Doctor Christmas Specials had a more whimsical feel to them, they were still none-the-less pivotal to the cannon of the show. It was during “The Christmas Carol” after all that one of the most infamous Doctor Who characters was conceived (off screen of course)- River Song. “The Snowmen” saw developments of character in Clara and The Paternoster Gang, while reintroducing us to an old nemesis who would be of great importance in “The Name of the The Doctor”- The Great Intelligence.
“The Last Christmas”- Or Inception meets The Doctor- finds Mr. Moffat returning to form in fine fashion. It is a darker Christmas tale, true, but it still retains his characteristic whimsical folly. At the conclusion of the Season 8 finale, we saw the Doctor and Clara exchange a tearful, albeit unsatisfying goodbye. Clara had lied to The Doctor about her boyfriend, Danny Pink, returning from the dead, while The Doctor lied to Clara about finding Gallifrey. These two characters have had a tremulous relationship during the season, with the lovely Jenna Coleman really digging her acting chops as far as she can into a character that was, lets face it, a little shallow.
Watching “The Last Christmas”, you get the sense that Mr. Moffat is a little fed up with a lot of the (in my opinion) undue criticisms of his time as show runner. The entirety of the last season seems to be a giant middle finger to all the fair weather fanboys and fangirls who were infatuated with Matt Smiths attractive, fun, light hearted Doctor. A good majority of us fans don’t exactly have the best things to say about Ms. Clara Oswald’s character and we’re looking forward to this being her last major episode as a resident of the good ship TARDIS. And just when you think that’s where the episode is headed, Mr. Moffat bites his thumb at you and keeps her around.
The only problem with that is Clara’s character in this particular story really feels ancillary. The whole episode she feels sort of like an anchor dragging the entire thing down, especially in light of such interesting characters elsewhere in the story. In general, I still find Clara to be the insufferable only child who blames everyone but herself for the mistakes that she makes.
The first scene on the rooftop between her, Nick Frost’s Santa Claus and the elves feels a bit forced, but is still able to evoke a few laughs. It’s obvious from the onset that Mr. Frost has complete control of his character, and he really shines in the criminally few scenes he does have. But both of them are upstaged by the two elves Ian and Wolf (played hilariously by Doctor Who veteran Dan Starkey and Nathan McMullen). The two function as a sort of Greek Chorus/Comic relief that work well to diffuse some of the well wrought tension.
When we finally get into the meat and bones of the story, we encounter a character that I particularly loved, as Shona (played by Faye Marsay) dances around what seem to be corpses in order to avoid having to think about them. The scene had the potential to be a train wreck, but Ms. Marsay absolutely commits to it and sells it 100%, resulting in a scene that is chilling and funny all at the same time (not to mention- that girl has some moves!) The monsters of the week this time are a scary yet polite species colloquially known as “Sleepers” and they are a brilliantly conceived threat. Essentially what they are are monsters who wrap themselves around your face- similar to Aliens Facehuggers (of which there is a very well done reference) and eat your brains, all while inducing a dreamlike state for you to die in. It’s the sort of unseen dangers type of monsters, like the Weeping Angels or the Silence, that really send chills down your spine. And like the Weeping Angels, the Sleepers can only move when you think about them.
Although it was a very engaging episode overall, I have to go back and harp on Clara’s character. In the scenes that primarily featured her, I couldn’t help but fancy a cigarette break. I mean they just seemed to drag, even with help from Samuel Anderson as Danny Pink in dream form. But in spite of that, the scene was an appropriate (hopefully) farewell to such an amazing character. And the entire thing had a dream like feel to it, reminding me of the Nexus scenes from Star Trek Generations. Also, is it weird that I find Clara’s theme music to be extremely annoying? Anyways, the scene wraps up beautifully with Danny’s perfect boyfriend reassuring Clara’s horrible girlfriend.
After the next commercial break we return to a staple of Doctor Who- the pseudo ending. Just when you think they have everything all wrapped up and figured out, we realize that they are still in a dream. We lose a character (interestingly enough played by Michael Troughton, son of 2nd Doctor actor Patrick and younger brother to Doctor Who alum David Troughton) and we get Sanat Clause coming in to save the day. A truly terrifying set of scenes, though I was off put by the use of “God bless us, one and all”. I really felt that was a place where Peter Capaldi’s Doctor should have said something like “No, don’t say that-it’s too cliché!” But Alas, Nick Frost comes in as his holly jolly slightly self-inflated Santa Clause and takes them on a magical sleigh ride that, to be honest, slams the breaks a little too hard on the story. The whole thing feels a bit out of place. But we do get to see a wonderful revelation in that these “scientists” we had come to know were actually just average Joes.
But the pseudo ending that pissed me off the most was Old Clara. The Doctor saves Clara’s real body just in tie but finds out that he’s a couple of decades too late. Here we see a mature Clara, the old woman who misses her friend. We get a wonderful bookending scene where The Doctor helps the aged Clara pop one of those jokes thingy’s- the same way she did in “The Time of the Doctor”. In all, that scene feels satisying and graceful, a purposeful end to Clara’s character in a way that hurts nobody. She doesn’t get trapped in an alternate Universe, or forget everything she did with the Doctor, or get send back in time by Weeping Angels. Instead she aged and matured gracefully, lef a full and compelling life and gets the greatest Christmas present in the end- her old friend back.
But then Moffat says “Oh, that’s nice huh. Lemme go ahead and screw that up for you!” We learn the Doctor is still in his dream, he rushes in to save the real, actual, non-Inception Clara (who’s still young and annoying) and the rush off together for another adventure in the TARDIS, with Moffat twisting the nife in our guts by saying “The Doctor and Clara will return next season in ‘The Magicians Apprentice’”. DAMN YOU STEVEN MOFFAT!!!!
Peter Capaldi soars once again as the Doctor
Nick Frost,Dan Starkey and Nathan McMullen make the characters of Santa and his elves fun and relevant.
Generally well written
Great New Monsters
Clara’s character is as shallow and portentious as ever
A few poorly placed scenes
Unerutilization of Nick Frost as Santa (also Doctor Who royal family member Michael Troughton)
Extremely aggrivating and unfulfilling ending.
Am I the only one who feels guilty for actually wanting to see “The Kingsmen”?
“Blackhat” looks terrible!!! I mean what kind of hacker nerd uses a gun like an expert, is literally built like Thor and has features so set in stone!
What are those little joke cannister thingy’s called? I can’t remember for the life of me!
Can we please get Shona as a future companion?
The one bad thing about the Holidays is playing tech support for my family. My dad called me over to make sure that all he needed to do to put up a Facebook post was type it in and hit enter. And for the love of god, it’s called an input button!
Dear Mister Steven Moffat, please don’t ever tease us with the possibility of Santa Clause being a Time Lord again. I mean, I got it- he was being fecisious. But all the little fanboys and girls will be squeeling about this for weeks!
How has no one ever thought of Santa delegating gift giving to a team of drivers on a sleigh? Really humanity? We’re dropping the ball here.