Ranking The DOCTOR WHO CHRISTMAS SPECIALS - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

Home Top Ad

Post Top Ad


Wil updates his Christmas list.

"I carry a M&S Cyberman Head novelty clutch bag now. Clutch bags are cool!"

There was a time, not so long ago, when the Doctor Who festive episode was the backbone of the BBC's Christmas output and a tradition in households up and down the country. It was the time to gather round with the family, tummies full of turkey and relax with the Doctor. I got to a point where I was so used to it that last year, leading up to December 25th, it was hard to imagine how Christmas would be without Doctor Who on the screen in the evening. Of course, Mr Chibnall, in his wisdom, decided New Year's Day was more for him and so 2018, and this upcoming Christmas Day, is a <sad-face>Who free zone</sad-face>.

So, what's a Wil to do? Well, I shall tell you - get the DVD's out, open the iPlayer, sign into Netflix, or whatever your streaming poison is, and relive the adventures of Christmas past. We have thirteen (largely) glorious Christmas episodes to enjoy time and time again. Why not start at, say, 9am. Take a break mid-point for turkey at 3pm, and then finish sometime around 11pm. Now, that's a Christmas day! But how to watch then I hear you cry! Well, I shall tell you - how about in order from not-best (there's no worst here) to very-best...

13. The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe
Such a shame. I think this is one of the weakest Doctor Who stories since its return in 2005. Set at Christmas time 1941, the Doctor helps two children try to have a merry Christmas despite the presumed death of their father. The episode feels pitched to a much younger audience than most of the Matt Smith era and the lack of a decent foe hurts the story. Trees! OMG the trees!! Many of the guest stars weren't well utilised, and it's also one of the few Who episodes that would've benefited from being a little (lot) shorter!

10. The Husbands of River Song
Perhaps Sir Steven of Moffat had forgotten that a Christmas special would be needed from his own pen and quill that year? Perhaps he had no new ideas so milked the last drop out of one that had already been wrung out dry. Multiple times! Perhaps one of his children had Big Hero 6 on in the background as he started to write? Perhaps, with David Walliams so busy being everywhere always, no-one else was looking to employ Matt Lucas for a seasonal job? Perhaps this could've been better?

It wasn't.

To clarify though, both Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston are first rate throughout, it's just a poor story and some dubious supporting characters that bring The Husbands Of River Song down. Thankfully, from here on out it's all pretty good, so if you're following this viewing order, and it's about 11am now and you're wide awake, then you've got a splendid day of festive adventures ahead of you...

11. The Runaway Bride
I guess you'd be quite annoyed and shouty if someone, or something, had transported you away from your wedding, but Catherine Tate's introduction as Donna Noble was a bit of an annoying one. If Russell 'Tussell' Davies was trying to make us miss Rose more and sympathise with poor old David Tennant then he certainly succeeded. Tennant was his usual brilliant self and Tate mellowed in just enough time to make you think "she'd make a good companion". The Racnoss Empress looked amazing but had a bit of an annoying voice, which for me, although probably quite unjustified, brought back memories of Sil!

10. The Next Doctor
I'd not really enjoyed the Cybermen in new-Who until 2014's Dark Water/Death In Heaven series 8 finale, for me that was the only essential Cyber-episode until World Enough & Time/The Doctor Falls. But Cybermen aside this one turned out to be an enjoyable 60 minutes. The Doctor returns to London on Christmas Eve 1851 where he meets another man claiming to be The Doctor, played wonderfully by David Morrisey. The reveal of his TARDIS, or Tethered Aerial Release Developed In Style, was a definite highlight of the show. Also guest starring is Dervla Kirwan who makes an excellent vileness, I think one of the best the show has seen.

9. Last Christmas
This was a difficult one for me to position as when I watched Last Christmas live on Christmas Day 2015 I loved it. Totally loved it. I got caught up in it and was transfixed for the whole hour. Plus I was so happy that Clara stayed (yeah, I love her - whacha gonna do? You can't imagine how pleased I am that she's out there somewhere in a rickety old TARDIS Diner.), it was very nearly a punch-the-air-in-delight moment when Santa turned up in old Clara's house. Then not last Christmas but the Christmas before last Christmas (good title for an episode, oh wait... hang on...) I watched all the festive specials again and this one just wasn't quite as enjoyable as I remembered it to be. It's still a good episode, but not top 5 material. Or even top 8.

8. Twice Upon A Time 
I don't think, as a whole, Peter Capaldi was well served when it came to Christmas episodes. There's a lot about Twice Upon A Time that I really like, but some minor niggly things that bug me and stop this being higher up the list. David Bradley plays William Hartnell incredibly well, just maybe not so well as the First Doctor. The sexism, although clearly only injected in the script as a foreshadowing for the Twelfth Doctor's regeneration, just wasn't there on-screen in 1960s Who. Hartnell may well have been this way and, yes, I know there were moments in the show, but it feels OTT here. Story wise, though, it's a lovely bit of timey-wimey twistyness from the Moff and Capaldi's exit speech is a lovely sign-off from, I think, my favourite of all the new-Who Doctors to date.

It's the perfect point now to take a break for turkey. You've earned it. Join us back at 4pm for the second half of the Christmas Day Who marathon. Everyone's a corker, and we're starting BIG...

7. Voyage Of The Damned
Or the one with Kylie in it. Or the one with The Titanic in space in it.

The country tuned in together and it was watched by about 40 billion people, or something like that. Tennant was in his 'Imperial Phase' at this time. He could do no wrong and had the kind of following that hadn't been seen in Doctor Who since Tom Baker's time. Although her acting was criticised by much of the press, Kylie isn't bad at all really (certainly better than her turn in San Andreas - have you seen that? What was she thinking?). Russell Tovey was a welcome guest star as Midshipman Alonso Frame. The Doctor finally found an Alonso! "Allons-y, Alonso!". It promised to be epic and overall the episode delivered.

6. The End Of Time
This two part Christmas special is often criticised as being too sentimental, personally I love that kind of thing but I do understand that argument when it comes to the last 10 minutes of part two. However the episode broadcast on Christmas day was brilliant. I think I'd be quite content if Bernard Cribbins had stayed on and been the Doctor's companion for years and years afterwards.

The return of The Master and The Time Lords gives The Doctor more than enough to cope with, all set against a Christmassy backdrop. The mood was obviously a little sombre but we were leading up to a regeneration of course, so it was quite apt. All in all, I think it was a perfect ending to both the David Tennant and Russell 'Tiberius' Davies era.

So now, top five time, and they are all brilliant...

5. The Return Of Doctor Mysterio 
The 2016 Christmas episode needed to do a LOT! The Doctor had been off our screens for a year (let's not even mention Class) and anticipation for his return was high. And then we found out Matt Lucas was coming back. And then we found out it was a superhero adventure. It wasn't looking good.

Fortunately Steven HassleMoff penned an absolute cracker of an episode. One that stands up again and again on repeat viewing because it's just so much fun. It's so very different but it's still so very Who. Plus I'm so happy that Peter Capaldi finally got a real classic Christmas episode. He really deserved this one after the previous two festive offerings.

4. A Christmas Carol
Steven Grand Moff Tarkin's first attempt at a Christmas Who leant heavily on Dickensian themes, as the Doctor uses time travel to encourage Sardick (Michael Gambon) to change his Scrooge-like ways. The whole episode looked amazing, the planet had an unusual atmosphere that included fish swimming in its fog, and Katherine Jenkins’ made for an inspired choice of guest star with her amazing voice being utilised superbly.

3. The Christmas Invasion
The first Christmas special after Doctor Who returned to our screens in 2005, broadcast prime-time Christmas day for the first time ever, and the debut outing for new Doctor David Tennant. So no pressure then!

Thing is, our new Doctor was asleep through half of it. Billie Piper's Rose carries the show so well, supported perfectly by Camille Coduri and Noel Clarke. But make no mistake, when the Doctor awakens it's clear Who's in charge (see what I did there!). There are killer Christmas trees, psycho Santas and an invasion by the Sycorax. Highlights of the episode include the Doctor quoting the lyrics from The Circle Of Life and his mimicking responding to the Sycorax Leader when asked "I demand to know who you are", "I don't know!".

2. The Snowmen
Steven 'Tin Tin' Moffy clearly learned from his previous years Christmas disaster and turned the 2012 episode into one of the very best yet. The Doctor has retired from all that saving the world malarkey and is now living on a cloud in Victorian London. The episode never lets up and is packed with treats. Vastra, Jenny, and Strax are on hand to bring the Doctor new mysteries. Clara makes another appearance. Richard E Grant is superb as Dr. Walter Simeon and Ian McKellen lends his voice to the Great Intelligence. What more could you want?

Oh hang on, because Moff The Hoople even puts in a nice nod to his other show - that one with Benedict Cumberbatch! Overall it's truly quite magical, perfectly Christmassy, and would be a bugger to top...

1. The Time Of The Doctor
I'm an absolute sucker for this episode. I sat there in awe for the whole 60 minutes Christmas evening 2013, and then went online to discover the world and his wife declaring it the "Worst Episode Ever!" I just can't understand the negativity at all, it prompted me to write this little thing about my love of The Time Of The Doctor.

For me, The Time Of The Doctor was the perfect, perfect ending for the Matt Smith era. Packed full of so many memorable moments from nudity, the wig, wooden cybermen, that amazing regeneration and Peter Capaldi. Moffrey Baratheon (I'm aware that one didn't quite work but let's go with it, we're near the end now) tied up a lot of his loose plot threads and delivered a script which had me blubbing like a baby twice (yeah, I'm man enough to own that); Matt Smith's final monologue as he undoes the bow-tie, and his goodbye to Handles. I freaking love Handles.

Steven Moffat is a damn good writer and on his best days I don't think there's anyone else in the country who can match him. He, along with the Doctor Who Christmas Specials, has been missed. 

Honorary mentions go to The Unquiet Dead - the Christopher Eccleston episode was actually broadcast 9 April 2005 but set on Christmas Eve (why not watch it on Dec 24th?) - and the William Hartnell episode The Feast of Steven, which was broadcast Christmas Day 1965. It would be unfair of me to include this one as I've never seen it. It's missing, presumed wiped. At the end of the Doctor produces some drinks for him and his companions and then famously breaks the fourth wall by saying "Incidentally a happy Christmas to all of you at home."

So which is your favourite Doctor Who Christmas episode? And how would you rank them?
Let us know in the comments below.

And incidentally, a happy Christmas to all of you at home...

Geek. Lover. Fighter. Dwarf. Follow Wil on Twitter.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad