Doctor Who Review: Every Christmas is Last Christmas- By James Wylder
Every Christmas, shows all over TV try to tackle their Christmas episodes. Some go the shlock route, and make their episodes as gross or irreverent as possible, and some go sentimental and go so over the top in telling the audience the meaning of Christmas that there is a danger of injury from eye-rolling. Its much harder to create an honest Christmas special, one that fits the tone of the rest of the television show, while still being something you could watch on Christmas with your family. Most of the time the balance is off, but this year Doctor Who nailed it. For once we could all sit around the TV as a family, and enjoy the program, which was special enough… But it also tought me something important about the holiday, and made me treasure Christmas time more than I already had.
You see, as they say in the episode, every Christmas is Last Christmas.
It wasn’t that long ago that I was over at a friend’s house for a different holiday, spending it with them and watching their father deteriorate from cancer. It was going to be his last Thanksgiving, and everyone knew it. So many families know this feeling, to be there with a family member, and know “this is the last time this holiday will happen with them, the last time we’ll spend it together.” or worse, to look back and think, “I wish I’d knew that was the last time we’d have that time together.” Any Christmas could be last Christmas, so its important to treasure it when you have it.
Clara gets the chance in this episode to spend one last perfect Christmas, even if only for a little, with her deceased boyfriend Danny Pink, a chance so many of us have wished for in reality. Of course, its not real, but both she and the Doctor learn that the way they’ve been trying to protect each others emotions by avoiding each other isn’t healthy, and they’d both regret missing those times together. Even though things aren’t perfect, its no reason to avoid taking the chance to be with the people you care about most. I thought about my own family, separated around the country. About my closest friends, how they were doing, and about those who had lost family going through the holiday this year, and I appreciated this chance to be together in warmth with chocolate, gathered around the glowing screen and watching the Doctor together.
I intended to write up a review all about the ideas behind this episode, and there are many interesting ones: the way ideas are reused, and acknowledged to be, the bravery of the story to do Santa meets the Doctor and runs into the plots of Alien and Inception and not be embarrassed at all by it. There were fantastic moments of humor, and terror, and plenty of little winks and nods to the show’s history.
But for once, I think the message was the most important part. So often Christmas specials are all about subverting the holiday, pointing out the consumerist part of it, or going so smarmy about how special it is its boring. When you have lost someone close to you though, the reminder of the good times is so much more important, and that even when you’ve lost that person you need to go on and spend another Last Christmas with others you care about is something I needed to be told.
Maybe that is smarmy, but Who cares? Not when an hour of TV made me remember who was important in my life. That’s more than I could ask of any Christmas special.
About James Wylder
James is the author of the play “Cryptos” and the poetry book “Cascade” as well as Doctor Who poetry book”An Eloquence of Time and Space”. He enjoyed all things sci-fi, fantasy, and silent film. You can find out more about him at jameswylder.com.