Doctor Who Review – “The Last Christmas”

The annual Christmas special has come again, starring Peter Capaldi for the first time.

Cast and Crew Information

Peter Capaldi as The Doctor
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald
Nick Frost as Santa Claus
Dan Starkey as Head Elf
Jimmy Vee as Scottish Elf
Nathan McMullen as Wolf
Faye Marsay as Shona McClalough
Natalie Gumede as Ashley
Maureen Beattie as Rona Bellows
Michael Troughton as Professor Albert

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Paul Wilmshurst


The Doctor and Clara need to halt an invasion of dream crabs, with the help of St. Nicholas.

High Point

“There’s a horror movie called Alien? That’s really offensive, no wonder everyone keeps invading you.”

Low Point

How many endings does one special need?

The Review

It’s hard to stay original with over 51 years behind you. This has elements we have seen before, as do virtually all episodes, but I don’t remember seeing them in this particular combination before. I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects were mixed. Most were makeup effects, but not quite all. The makeup effects were all great, but the CGI was mixed. The chalkboard was excellent, but putting the characters in CGI environments was never convincing. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story was nicely structured, with all of the necessary hints. What it doesn’t have is a clear difference between the final ending and those before it. I give it 4 out of 6.

The acting was great. The regulars have their roles and their dynamic nicely meshed together, while the guest stars played their parts well enough. I give it 6 out of 6.

The production is consistently great on this series. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response was good, clearing the air following Death in Heaven and so forth. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a decent Christmas episode, and one with a stronger “Christmas” feeling than most. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Doctor Who: Last Christmas receives 34 out of 42.

7 replies on “Doctor Who Review – “The Last Christmas””

  1. I wouldn’t have given it too much for originality, given its acknowledged debt to Alien, “Who Goes There?” and, I suppose, Miracle on 34 Street, and its unacknowledged debt to Inception and similar stories, but this ep was my high point of the season. Even Santa Claus’s presence made perfect sense, and Capaldi was great as the Doctor.

    • You’re not the only one to mention the Miracle on 34th Street connection, but I just don’t see it.
      There have been *hundreds* of shows that play with “There is a Santa Claus” …

      I saw the Inception connection immediately. LOL

      And yeah, I think this was my favorite Christmas episode ever!!

      • I think Miracle stands in for those hundreds (at least!) of shows, and it’s probably the most famous “is he or isn’t he real?” Santa story. It also appears on the list of movies in this special so….

  2. The lack of differentiation between the final ending and the others was intentional I think, given that particular line earlier in the episode about knowing if you’re dreaming or not.

    Also, there was the tangerine sitting there at the end.

    Was I the only one who watched the second to last ending and thought, “so that‘s how they were going to write Clara out”?

    • I did wonder if that would be Clara’s final appearance.

      One of the other interesting things– they point out that Father Christmas isn’t that much more absurd than the Doctor– but our willingness to believe that he might be real in the episode, initially, plays not only on the show’s intrinsic absurdities, but this season’s less-than-stellar and implausible-even-by-series-standard writing.

  3. The CGI was ok when it wasn’t the reindeer. And the reindeer were OK when they weren’t CGI!

    I though the direction of this episode was horribly disjointed… but then they actually called themselves out on it. Nonetheless, I think they could’ve found a better, less jarring way to convey that.

    That said, good episode. There were a lot of funny/entertaining moments. And as usual, best not to think too hard about it.

    I had no idea santa was supposed to leave tangerines…

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