Television: Doctor Who, "Last Christmas"

In a nutshell, it was Inception meets Alien meets Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. And it was one of those obnoxious stories where nothing that happens actually matters because it's all a dream anyway.

Also, it doesn't look like we're rid of Clara after all.

I would try to recap it for you, but there's really no point. I will admit a brilliant bit of stunt casting in Nick Frost as Santa—he was a fantastically jolly counterpoint to the dour Doctor.

The upshot: the episode was designed to have the Doctor and Clara reaffirm their relationship and spark a new sense of adventure that will ostensibly boost whatever comes next. Sort of a new blasting off point. But the fact it took them 85 minutes to do it . . . Made the whole thing a bit underwhelming. I mean, by the time we get to the third or fourth, "This is still a dream!" one starts to lose the sense that anything is actually at stake. If they don't wake up they'll die, okay, but in the meantime I'm yawning and nodding off.

And why didn't they have wounds at their temples where the dream crabs (seriously? not "hypnocancer" or something, you know, better than "dream crab"?) inserted their "straws" or whatever? That would have been the fastest and easiest way to determine whether one was actually in a dream or not, I think. "I kind of have a headache" versus "holy shit, there's a hole in my head!" seems like a giveaway. But then there didn't seem to be any holes when they woke up, so . . . That's some bad writing right there.

I get most irritated when things that are meant to be subtle are not. Four sleepers and four people in the lab seemed like an obvious correlation. Everyone saying "long story" was obvious, too, well before it was called out.

Then there are general flaws like, if all it took to wake up was to begin remembering who you really are, Clara and the Doctor should have been well awake since they never forgot who they were. And if the polar station where the dream crabs were found wasn't real, where did they actually come from? The UK, apparently, since all the victims were British. Or do British brains just taste better? (That's quite possible, actually.) But seriously, is this an ongoing infestation? Didn't anyone come check on Grandma while she was napping and see she had a giant whatever on her face? Or did these crabs purposefully select victims that were (in the crabs' extremely well-developed understanding of human social dynamics) likely to remain alone for long enough?

Whatever. I'm trying to apply logic where there is none, and that probably takes all the fun out of the show, but while I can suspend disbelief to a point, sometimes I simply cannot overlook the big potholes in the plot. I might make an exception if the story felt fresh and new, but it mostly felt like a hash of all the aforementioned movies, plus Moffat has a terrible habit of repeating himself; he thinks he's being cute and clever when calling out "mind palace" (a term used on Sherlock), but it really comes off as stale and unoriginal.

So why am I still watching Doctor Who? I don't even know any more except that maybe, deep down, I'm hoping it will get good again. Though the longer it goes on being mediocre at best and awful at worst, it seems less and less likely to ever get back to good. Then again, by lowering the bar so far, it means there's less distance to jump in order to clear it. At this point I'd settle for well constructed and plain over anything ornate and lovely. Moffat gilds a few pieces of particle board and tries to sell them as works of art, but they crumble before you get them home.


Christine Rains said...

Nick Frost was the highpoint of the show for me. Brilliant! But I was so disappointed that Clara is staying. I'm wondering if I want to watch any more too. I really hope it gets good again, but Clara overshadows the Doctor, and this is Doctor Who not the Clara Show. She needs to go.

M said...

I agree. There has been way too much focus on Clara. It's been that way since she first showed up. Time to get back to the Doctor.