24 December 2015

List: Top 5 Doctor Who Christmas Specials


Hello all! I hope you're all having a lovely time scrabbling around trying to get everything ready for the big day tomorrow - but shouldn't you go and start the present shopping rather than read this? No? OK, if you're sure...

Christmas is a time of getting the things you want most (in theory, at least) as a reward for your behaviour across the year. In that spirit, we'd like to thank you for your loyalty this year and give you what every fan loves the most - a list! The title is pretty self-explanatory, so without further ado...

5. The End of Time (2009-10)

The End of Time is a strange one. It has its flaws, for sure, but for me there's also a lot to like about it. It's far more David Tennant's swansong than it is a Christmas special but there's still a focus on the festive season underpinning the whole thing. Tennant and Bernard Cribbins are superb, and it's nice to have John Simm and Euros Lyn back one last time as they both do very well. There's padding and melodramatics galore but parts of Russell T Davies' final (at time of writing) scripts for the show are also very touching. Good fun.

4. The Snowmen (2012)

The Snowmen is another unconventional Christmas special. It focuses more on introducing Clara (for the second time) than it does on telling the story of the Doctor foiling the Great Intelligence's plan - which no-one can remember anyway - but it does so very enchantingly. It's worth noting that this is the first appearance of the 'Paternoster Gang' in their permanent setup, and especially how quickly the story - and so the audience - accept this despite it being totally preposterous and one of the trio being killed in his last appearance over eighteen months ago. This has a nice balance of plot and character, it's just a shame that this incarnation of Clara wasn't destined to be the one who travelled with the Doctor as Jenna Coleman seems to have a much clearer idea of who she is here than with her modern-day counterpart, and hence has a much better time playing her.

3. Voyage of the Damned (2007)

Now this is more up my alley. I do like all the brooding, thoughtful stuff but when it comes down to it, I do come to this programme for escapism and so tend to enjoy the lighter-hearted stories more. Voyage of the Damned is as rompy as it gets: within an hour, there's a big old disaster movie, a healthy smattering of comedy and a love interest. It doesn't get more Christmas Day than this. After all the weightiness of the 2007 finale, which saw companion Martha Jones' family and friends imprisoned and tortured for a year, this was exactly the relief that was needed and is still one of my go-to episodes if I want something to perk myself up. Plus it's only got Kylie flipping Minogue! Look out too for the first appearance of Bernard Cribbins.

2. The Next Doctor (2008)

I don't know why The Next Doctor has such a poor reputation amongst fans. It deliberately played on the recent announcement of David Tennant's departure from the series, and had many viewers (including me) wondering if guest star David Morrissey really could be the next Doctor. Unfortunately it turned out that Morrissey was in fact playing a character who had taken on the Doctor's memories after an encounter with the Cybermen, but that's no reason why he couldn't still take on the role. A multi-Doctor story with a future incarnation is a trick I wouldn't put past current showrunner Steven Moffat and hopefully it will be deployed for real one day. As for this story, it's touching, exciting and explosive (even if the CyberKing is a bit naff) and as such makes for great Christmas entertainment.

1. The Christmas Invasion (2005)

"I'm gonna be killed by a Christmas tree!" is still possibly my favourite line in all Doctor Who. This was of course David Tennant's introductory story and the first proper Christmas special since 1966's The Feast of Steven. Over the course of an hour, we're shown exactly how vital the Doctor - specifically Tennant's take on him - is and we get some of the greatest scenes in all of twenty-first century Who. There's so much mileage in the characters of the Doctor, Rose, Mickey and Jackie alone but throw in Penelope Wilton's Harriet Jones and so many other supporting characters you instantly care for and you get a thoroughly engaging episode. I rewatched this the other day and it still holds up brilliantly now. The excellent Sycorax return next year in the Big Finish adventure Harvest of the Sycorax, with Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor.

Thank you very much for reading, and if you've got any thoughts about any of my choices do get in touch. Keep checking the site over the next week or so as we've many more posts to come yet this year! We hope you enjoy The Husbands of River Song tomorrow, and look out for our unique review in the following days...

Merry Christmas!

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