Friday, 26 December 2014
Doctor Who: Last Christmas
"So that's 22 million children per hour. That's impossible! So, obviously, I've got a second sled?"
Could this be the best Christmas episode ever? It really could be, although I'm glad that an episode questioning the existence of Father Christmas happens before my daughter is born. We combine the real strengths of Moffat's storytelling- an imaginatively conceptual monster that revolves around our perception of it and intricate plotting- with real heart, wit and fun. Naysayers beware: this blog post will consist of 100% gushing.
I love the whole concept of dreams within dreams, and the dream crabs themselves, which look like face huggers from Alien (as we're told, by Michael Troughton's Albert!) and always attack you when you think about them (that is sooo Moffat), anaesthetising you with nice dreams as they melt your face off. Lovely.
Oh, and Santa is in it. With all the best lines. Nick Frost is perfect casting, and all the scenes with Santa and the elves are hilarious, leavening what could otherwise be the grimness of the base under siege format.
The plot is a marvel to behold and, wonderfully, any conceivable plot hole can be justified that the whole thing (including the very end of Death in Heaven) is a dream except the last few minutes. It's not a dream without dramatic consequences, though; the Doctor and Clara finally admit that they lied to each other and parted for absolutely no good reason. Oh, and we seem to get to know Shona suspiciously well for a one off character. Could we be seeing her again?
(Shona, incidentally, gets the best metatextual moment of the episode as she wakes up in her drab flat; her Christmas to-do list includes three DVDs- Alien, The Thing from Another World and Miracle on 34th Street- which are the clear influences for the episode. Nicely done.)
Obviously, Clara dreams about Danny (will he stay dead?) in a lovely character scene in which Danny, wonderfully, insists that he didn't die saving the world; he died saving Clara. The rest of us were just along for the ride. And Moffat cruelly wrong-foots is at the end, showing the Doctor returning to an elderly Clara (nice age make-up for once), having squandered the chance forever to travel with her again. But this is all a dream; the Doctor and Clara get a second chance, and we end with them travelling together again.
A really nice touch here, incidentally, is the fact that the Doctor can't tell the difference between old and new Clara. Another nice touch is the description we get of the Memory Crabs: "We're getting hacked. The visual input from your optic nerve is being streamed to their brains". I have to marvel at how Moffat, as he did in The Bells of St John, describes an alien threat perfectly in terms of very contemporary technology. The only death (Albert) is shown figuratively by having him pulled into a screen, some excellent nightmare logic. And the Doctor has a line in the sand: "Santa Claus does not do the scientific explanation."
Best Christmas episode ever!!!