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18 January 2015 @ 05:58 pm
Last Christmas  
I really liked this. I think it is my favourite Christmas special. It is possible this is because a) I was really irritated by The Matrix, b) I've tended to consider Christmas specials rather disappointing and c) I've become somewhat tired of the various iterations of Victorian Christmas planet.

The reason I was irritated with The Matrix was that it seemed to think it was being deep and original when its basic premise was one that has been known to philosophy since at least Descartes, if not before. Also, humans do not make good batteries. I liked the fact that, in being something of a blatant rip-off of Inception with a light sprinkling of Aliens, Last Christmas wasn't actually under any illusions that it was profound, ground-breaking or mind-blowing and basically settled in to have some fun with the premise.

And it was a lot of fun, if a little mawkish in places, but this was Christmas so I was prepared to make some allowances for extended soft focus scenes of people being happy and christmassy with a hint of bittersweet. Obviously it was also doing the legwork to bridge the gap between where the Doctor and Clara's relationship ended last season, and where presumably, the Powers That Be want it to start next season. It was a little heavy-handed at this (both the Danny sequence and the Clara as an old woman sequence) but it did the job and, in many ways, Clara is shaping up to be a very interesting companion - at least insofar as the programme is prepared to be fairly openly critical of her in a way it is normally only critical of the Doctor.

Interestingly, having spent most of last season feeling I didn't really know or warm to the 12th Doctor, I was quite happy to accept him as the Doctor here. I'm not sure if that was simply familiarity doing its work, or whether the story, being less concerned with the question of who the 12th Doctor actually is, presented a much more accessible character.

As for the great Doctor Who tangerine debate. I agree with bunn that it should have been satsumas and that, personally, I rather like satsumas. NLSS Child, on the other hand, will have nothing to do with them and I have regretfully ceased putting them in the stocking when tame layman suggested he thought it was ridiculous to give her fruit she wouldn't eat on Christmas morning in the name of tradition.

There is also, I understand, a great Doctor Who "Santa Claus or Father Christmas" debate which may be a Scottish vs English thing. I intend to keep out of that one.

Once the reveal, that everyone was dreaming, had been made, the progress of the story was fairly obvious as the dreamers popped up through the layers. I did wonder if the layers were going to stop at the one where Clara was an old woman and I had a slight doubt about the fact that the layers for the non-Doctor and Clara characters seemed to stop one before the Doctor and Clara's did. I didn't mind the ambiguous ending, in fact I'm not sure how the story could have ended without some ambiguity. Mostly, I was just happy that it didn't spend too much time pointing at the central conceit and pretending it was profound in some way.

This wasn't a particularly deep story (and thankfully didn't consider itself one), but it was a lot of fun, judged the tone about right for Christmas day and didn't give us yet another Victorian Christmas planet for which I, at least, was very grateful.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/137848.html.
 
 
 
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on January 18th, 2015 09:13 pm (UTC)
The reason I was irritated with The Matrix was that it seemed to think it was being deep and original

I'm glad it's not just me who thought that!

I actually can't remember what I thought of this one, which may be telling after less than a month. I think I thought it was OK, with some reservations, mostly that the dreams-within-dreams was a bit obvious.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on January 20th, 2015 09:51 am (UTC)
I'm amused that both you and ed_rex can't remember much about this, since I suspect you disagree diametrically about most Doctor Who stories.
fredbassettfredbassett on January 18th, 2015 09:50 pm (UTC)
I'm heartily pissed off with faux Victoriana Xmasses. But did enjoy this ep.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on January 19th, 2015 03:10 pm (UTC)
Well this is the first for a while that hasn't been set on Victorian (or at least Victorian/early 20th century) Christmas planet.
Young Geoffreyed_rex on January 19th, 2015 03:29 am (UTC)
"Also, humans do not make good batteries"
So much that (up there. In the subject line). I quite liked The Matrix until that idiot "explanation" for the goings' on. Then my suspension of disbelief evaporated liked an Acme, er, suspension bridge.

Didn't like the episode in question nearly so much as you did, but until and if I find the engergy to review it, I'll say no more. (Especially since I've already forgotten most of the details in the weeks since it aired. Lord, do I have to watch it again? I fear I do.) //digression
louisedennislouisedennis on January 19th, 2015 03:11 pm (UTC)
Re: "Also, humans do not make good batteries"
I think I could have lived with the batteries thing if I hadn't felt The Matrix was rather over-fond of its perceived originality and depth. But I don't think it needed the batteries. In some ways an explanation in which the AIs just thought people were happier this way would have been more interesting.