There was no traditional Doctor Who Christmas special in the classic years, beyond a moment in 1965 where the First Doctor suddenly turned into the camera and wished viewers a merry Christmas at the end of “The Daleks’ Master Plan.” But with the relaunch of Doctor Who in 2006, and the regeneration of the Ninth Doctor at the end of Season One, the Christmas Special very quickly became an integral part of the Whovian calendar.
Over the past eight years, we’ve seen three regenerations and four Doctors, we’ve met new companions (Donna Noble) and lost some along the way too (Astrid Peth). We’ve seen deadly Christmas trees (real and plastic), deadly snowmen, a grumpy Scrooge-alike and a turkey cooked in the time vortex.
Here, in no particular order, are some of the best bits of the last eight years, while we look forward to finding out what happens when the Doctor meets Santa in “Last Christmas,” this Christmas.
“Am I Ginger?”
Having spent a good portion of “The Christmas Invasion” suffering from a post-regeneration lurgy and needing rest and recuperation (and tea), this is the moment at which the Tenth Doctor fully arrives. A fact he acknowledges with this long introspective speech in which he begins by checking his hair color, takes a detour into turning off the machine that threatens half of humanity (or, in fact, doesn’t), and ends with a regrown hand and a beautifully bowled satsuma.
It’s just like fish fingers and custard, only fightier. And this time it’s the Doctor in pajamas.
“Christmas Eve on a rooftop, saw a chimney…”
The first clue that the Doctor and Father Christmas have not just met, but gone partying with Sinatra, which may explain some of the frostiness (pun intended) between them now. But besides this, the Doctor’s arrival in “A Christmas Carol” is a wondrous thing, taking in his inability to stop talking, his constant need to revise what he is saying as he is saying it, and his knack for getting to the nub of things with some force. Plus the line “D’you know, in 900 years of traveling in time and space I’ve never met anyone that wasn’t important before” is a gloriously layered statement that takes in the situation in hand, the Doctor’s personality and a brief appraisal of the millions of people whose lives he has touched all in one go.
“The night I regenerated…”
Oh this HURTS. There are two key parts to this moment of awful revelation from “The Next Doctor;” the moment that the man who is running around Victorian London calling himself the Doctor remembers an encounter with the Cybermen, and how he saved himself using an infostamp…
…and the moment the Tenth Doctor works out why this man believes he is the Doctor—and what trauma lead directly to him taking that mantle on.
“Now you can travel forever…”
There’s something about a Christmas tragedy that seems to bring families together to count their blessings, so while “Voyage of the Damned” is notable for some amazing moments—including a lesson in human history from a Professor that knows very little, “Allons-y Alonzo,” and that speech the Doctor does that begins “I’m the Doctor, I’m a Time Lord…”—the key moment is this bit at the end, where the ghost of Astrid Peth is freed to wander the universe forever. It certainly puts any fuss over the wrong-sized Christmas sweater into perspective, at any rate.
“Your mother is flying a forest through the time vortex…”
Shut up, YOU’VE got something in your eye. The sight of Madge Arwell saving her children by being forced to relive the greatest moments of her courtship, then suddenly being shown her husband Reg’s final moments would be emotional enough. But, as they say in clickbait headlines, what happened next will restore your faith in happy endings. And may require a handkerchief. You’ll have to watch “The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe” to find out what it is, of course.
“This whole process is beautiful, but only if it’s being observed…”
If there’s one thing guaranteed to perk up a jilted bride whose groom has just admitted he never loved her, it’s to be taken by a charismatic stranger—in a time machine that looks like a phone box—to see the creation of her home planet, millions of years before anyone thought to invent confetti. Shame it’s not available to everyone in this situation, really.
“Go on, say it. Most people do…”
We could fill a blog post with people’s first reactions upon entering the TARDIS (and let’s face it, we probably will), and this one—from “The Snowmen”—is a doozy. Clara the barmaid, only the second iteration of the Impossible Girl to meet the Doctor (as far as he is concerned) and the first to be welcomed aboard. And isn’t she a cocky one? Mocking the Doctor’s sky-bound sulk palace and then wandering inside his blue box and getting the one line everyone has to say once they get through the doors entirely back-to-front. We’d be tempted to conclude that the Doctor has a lively one on his hands, were it not for her unexpected death plunge only minutes later.
“Have that on me…”
The Doctor very rarely gets to go back and make sure that his old friends are all right. And having been exposed to a fatal dose of radiation in order to save Wilfred, the Tenth Doctor could be forgiven for just parking the TARDIS on some remote moon and commencing the dance of the fiery hands. But his defining characteristic was loneliness, and his friends were his only support, so it’s entirely right that he would make sure Martha and Mickey were safe from Sontaran attack, pop over to Donna’s wedding and give her the only reward the universe could deliver without cooking her brain, and then bid Rose a fond farewell, before he had even met her. Next stop: “I don’t wanna go…”
“I will not forget one line of this…”
Regeneration scenes are special, and every one is different. The Eleventh Doctor arrived like a big kid, finding solace and fishy custard with a fellow child, then aged until he was very, very old, and then was given a fresh set of regenerations by the Time Lords. Consequently his pre-regeneration thoughts were less about making sure his friends were OK and more about life being an endless cycle of change. Although the appearance of Amy Pond suggests that the important things stay constant, even when you do get new kidneys.
WATCH: ‘Doctor Who’s 2014 Christmas Special Has a New Trailer
WATCH: The Doctor and Clara Cook Christmas Dinner
WATCH: The 2012 ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas Prequel And A New Trailer
*DRUMROLL* It’s the 2011 ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas Special! *TISH*