To sum it up: I was incredibly underwhelmed. Part of the charm of Christmas specials past has been actually relating them in some (often twee, but what can you do) way to Christmas. And in this, it just the town is named Christmas and Clara wants the Doctor to pretend to be her boyfriend for Christmas, and it’s all just sort of window dressing for an incoherent plotline. So it’s always snowing and Christmassy just so we can justify it actually being broadcast on Christmas, I suppose. Though insert argument here about the Doctor being the Jesus figure, etc.
The point of the plotline (such as it is) is basically that there’s this town called Christmas (for no reason) and the tear in time is there, and if the Doctor tells it his real name all the Time Lords will come back into our universe and then everyone who actually remembers what horrific assholes they were (because they actually have watched the series) will be there to start the war all over again. Because reasons. And so Eleven decides to protect the little snowy town of Christmas but not actually bring back the Time Lords but then Clara does it anyway.
And please keep in mind that my above summary of the plot is more linear and, I daresay, more coherent than the experience of actually watching the episode. (Let’s not even touch on how much wine I’ve had at this point.)
Special rage here for the way Clara and Tasha were written in the episode. If they had simply been treated as useless accessories, it would have been less insulting. Somewhere between Pope Tasha joining the long line of women that apparently have or want to bang the Doctor (when did he become Captain Kirk?) and Clara literally clinging to the TARDIS so she could get back to the Doctor, I’d really just had enough. Then came the Doctor “helping” Tasha regain control of herself from the Daleks by proclaiming, “That is a real woman!”–and I really am at a loss for words, frankly. And then Clara delightfully got dumped on Earth by the Doctor twice using the same trick, and was only brought back at the end (by Tasha) so she could hold his hand while he died. This is all very sad because I want to like those characters, and I like the actresses, but goddamnit why couldn’t they have an existence in the story outside of being Doctor limpets?1
Anyway, they kind of threw everything at the wall for this episode, every enemy Eleven has ever faced, adding in flashbacks to remind us why we care. Of course, they’re all utterly crap except the Daleks, so one wonders why we’re even bothering. There were montages and voice overs to explain the Doctor being about to die of old age, though apparently no one else involved who was hanging around over the planet aged a day.
And then using the old tear in time as a way to perhaps get the Time Lords back, because we seem to have retconned the whole thing with Spitty Rassilon and Oh Yes The Time Lords Were Awful Bastards, Weren’t They. Which is just sort of highlighted by Clara whispering the Doctor’s “name” (I mean, we could have a fun chat about name and identity here but god the episode really doesn’t welcome a lot of analyzation, let’s be honest) and saying basically, “If you love him, help him.” Well wasn’t that sort of always the point? The Time Lords in general didn’t love the Doctor.
Really, it was just a hot mess of incoherent plot with some funny jokes to justify the Doctor getting an entire new set of regenerations. If this is how things are going to be for Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, I’m not sure I’ll be able to make myself care enough to watch.
Thoughts I had as I watched the Christmas Special:
- Remember when the weeping angels used to be scary?
- We are bringing back every plotline from 11, it seems, including flashbacks to remind us why we should give even half a shit about this.
- I am going to die of old age before the Doctor does.
- So we get Clara back because she’s been clinging to the TARDIS. I feel like this is a metaphor for how she’s been throughout the series. I wanted to like Clara as a character, I really did. I like the actress. But she always just felt like something clinging to the Doctor, to the story. The whole super cutesy “pretend to be my boyfriend” thing that started the episode just kind of encapsulates it for me.
- He should have named the cyberman Wilson.
- So the accounting is that 11 is actually the final Doctor (extra regenerations: War Doctor and the second regeneration of 10). So we’ll be getting the MacGuffin here to see how they keep the series going. That’s nice.
- “That is a real woman!” So the Pope magically regains control of herself. Just… ugh.
- Clara falls for the TARDIS fakeout the second time because… apparently she isn’t very bright.
- Whee, montages.
- The Doctor and the Silence fighting together? Ugh. What is this even. This entire thing just is nonsensical. Remember when the Silence were creepy? They were for about three seconds in this episode, and I felt a stirring of hope because of the whole silence falls thing, but suddenly they’re… priests? What? ARGH YOU RUIN EVERYTHING.
- He shouldn’t die alone so we had to get Clara? Doesn’t Tasha count?
- Shit is on fire and blowing up and the geriatric Doctor is sitting around and fixing a toy. Merry Christmas! This makes no fucking sense.
- Doctor: “I don’t get it.” Me: “NEITHER DO I.”
- I would like to know when the Time Lords became cute, cuddly people who loved the Doctor.
- AND THERE IS THE REGENERATION MACGUFFIN. (A whole new cycle apparently. Whee.)
- I never realized the Daleks were Stormtroopers.
- I didn’t get the explodey regeneration from 10 to 11. This even more explodey one MAKES NO SENSE.
- But at least Matt Smith gets an excellent ending scene. This is beautiful. “I will always remember when the Doctor was me.”
- Wow, that was… abrupt. And we get about 10 seconds of Peter Capaldi being utterly hectic. Whee.
1 – Reminder: Female characters do not need to punch people in the face to be strong. They just need to have an existence as something other than a prop for the hero.