Tomorrow is Christmas Day and you know what that means? Opening of Christmas gifts? Yes. Getting together with family? Yes, that too. Eating until you are filled with not only food but regret. Yes, yes. But tomorrow is also the premiere of the annual Doctor Who Christmas special!
This year’s episode is “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” where we will see the Twelfth Doctor and the very pale, very bald Nardole meeting a bona fide superhero. I’ll be doing a review of the episode next week but for now I thought it the perfect time to count down all 12 of the previous Christmas specials. I will be ranking them based on how they include the holiday into the episode as well as the overall quality. So with a SPOILER ALERT put on an ugly sweater, grab some eggnog and let’s dive right into it:
#12 The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe (Series 7)
My goodness this was a sappy episode. This reimagining of The Chronicles of Narnia had the Eleventh Doctor play nanny to a couple of kids and a grieving widow. He goes through a portal to a planet with trees that have orbs like Christmas ornaments, meet some people in mech suits and some sentient tree people. There is no real villain and the whole thing is just a bit weird. The husband being saved in the end was touching but that could not save this episode from the bottom of the list.
#11 The Husbands of River Song (Series 9)
I may be in the minority but I was not a fan of this episode. The Christmas aspect is pretty brief and does not impact the story other than at a costume level. The whole plot point of River not recognising the Doctor because of his new face felt contrived and the pay off when she finally does was lacking. The story overall was a bit jumbled and went all over the place. For me the saving grace was finally seeing the Singing Towers and that beautiful moment between the Doctor and River at the end.
#10 The End of Time: Part One (Series 4)
To tell you the truth I forgot that this was a Christmas special. Anywho I loved all the ominous stuff with Ood Sigma and the returned Master was as bonkers as ever. His plan to turn everyone into a clone of him was a bit dumb though.
Wilfred is his usual adorable self and it was great seeing Donna again, though still sad that she could not remember the Doctor. The big reveal at the end that the narrator is none other than Lord President Rassilon was pretty cool and a good lead up to part two and the first ever New Year’s special.
#9 The Feast of Steven (Season 3)
The very first Christmas special was in the Classic era and occurred in the third season. The episode was part of the massive 12 part “The Daleks Master Plan” and features the First Doctor and companions Steven and Sara ending up on Earth and getting into various hijinks. They run afoul of some policemen and run around a Hollywood set with some very lively animatronic monsters. At the end the First Doctor breaks the fourth wall and wishes everyone a Merry Christmas. Now isn’t that sweet?
#8 The Next Doctor (Series 4)
The plot of “The Next Doctor” is not the best, the Cybershade looked ridiculous and the CyberKing looked like something from a Godzilla movie. But David Morrissey’s not-Doctor Jackson Lake is fantastic and he has superb chemistry with David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. The two are able to elevate the episode to a fun, witty and sweet story, all tied together with a 19th-century Christmas bow.
#7 The Time of the Doctor (2013 specials)
Setting the story on a town called Christmas was a bit on the nose but what the hey, this touching farewell to the Eleventh Doctor was a great time. We had sweet old Doctor, Christmas dinners, Dalek controlled people, battles with various enemies, a team-up with the Silents and one of the best one-off companions ever in Handles. The final scene at the end pulls at my heart strings every time. Goodbye Raggedy Man. *starts crying in a corner*
#6 Voyage of the Damned (Series 4)
This is one of my favourite all-time episodes and Kylie Minogue’s Astrid Peth and cyborg Zocci Bannakaffalatta are two of the best one-off companions. We have great characters, a cool plot and some terrifying enemies in the robotic Host. In all the danger and death there is also a healthy dose of humour including the hilarious tour guide guy’s description of Christmas. “They eat the turkey people.” I love it.
#5 The Runaway Bride (Series 3)
Catherine Tate debuted into the Whoniverse with a quite a bang. From right out the gate Tennant’s Eleventh Doctor and the mouthy Donna Noble are a barrel of fun. The robo-Santas are cheesy but still cool and I loved the design of the Empress of the Racnoss. Donna was so great we just had to have her back.
#4 A Christmas Carol (Series 6)
Just missing out on the podium is this retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol; you don’t get much more Christmassy than A Christmas Carol. Michael Gambon gives us his best not-Scrooge impression as Kazran and Katherine Jenkins is magical as Abigail. It is a tale of love over the years and a ticking clock with a flying shark thrown in for good measure. Good times!
#3 The Snowmen (Series 7)
What an awesome episode this was. We have a depressed Eleventh Doctor after losing his companions Amy and Rory, the always entertaining Paternoster Gang and a feisty governess incarnation of Clara. We also had the triumphant return of the Great Intelligence, some fearsome looking snowmen and a crazy screaming ice woman. It was fun, funny and thrilling and definitely deserves the bronze.
#2 The Christmas Invasion (Series 2)
Our very first Christmas special of NuWho takes our number two spot. It was also the first full length episode featuring Tenth Doctor David Tennant, though he spent about half the episode comatose following his regeneration. The Sycorax were visually interesting baddies and the Doctor, when he finally does wake up, just bursts with energy. There is also a killer Christmas tree. Who doesn’t love a killer Christmas tree?
#1 Last Christmas (Series 9)
“Last Christmas” is the perfect Doctor Who Christmas episode and that is why it tops this list. First off Nick Frost nails it as a quirky, bombastic Santa and his interaction with the Twelfth Doctor is the gift that keeps on giving. The Dream Crabs are really creepy and the multi-dream plot keeps viewers on their toes. It is equal parts amusing, intriguing, terrifying, touching and exciting. It makes the best use of its Christmas setting and delivers a fantastic story as well. And that is why it is our number one.
So you have seen my list. Now it is time for you to vote for your favourite:
For more Doctor Who Christmas goodness you can check out my Top 7 Yuletide Guest Stars list here. For more wibbly wobbly timey wimey lists and wild movie videos you can like the MovieVille Facebook page here. And to all redmangoreviews readers a very Merry Christmas and a bright and prosperous New Year.