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Doctor Who: Last Christmas (Review)

There’s a horror movie called Alien? That’s really offensive. No wonder everyone keeps invading you.

Last Christmas is perhaps the most Moffat-esque Christmas Special of the Moffat era.

As such, it is an episode that will inevitably provoke a strong reaction, playing as it does to the writer’s strengths and interests in Doctor Who. As a show, Doctor Who has a long history of crashing genres into one another. One of the most endearing aspects of the show is the way that it can be a completely different show from week to week. One week, it is a western; the next, it is a horror film. One episode is a period adventure; another is a science-fiction comedy. Doctor Who is a show about a mad man in a box who crashes into random stories.

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Last Christmas is quite overt about this. When Shona wakes up towards the end of the episode, we are treated to a glimpse of her “to do” list for Christmas Day, which happens to feature a variety of clear influences on the episode. Strangely, she plans to open her Christmas Day binge with a double-bill of Alien and The Thing From Another World, before taking a breather and returning for Miracle on 34th Street – you really do need a bit of space before properly digesting the truly heavy stuff. (She’s also marathoning the Hugo-winning Game of Thrones.)

Last Christmas is a story that is incredibly (and almost cheekily) aware of its own fictionality. As with so much of Moffat’s Doctor Who, it is a story about stories. And dreams, which are really the same thing. “Time travel is always possible in dreams,” the Doctor observes, to borrow a quote from The Name of the Doctor. Dreams and stories.

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