It was good while it lasted, but with the move of the Series 11 Special away from Christmas Day to New Years Day after 13 consecutive years hopefully signals the end of one tradition and the beginning of another. But the Tour has a long-standing tradition of our own mixing, marching, and ranking the specials.
The Tour however counts 16 Doctor Who Christmas Specials in the canon, and we’ll count these down in three parts as part of the Tours annual run-up to Christmas.
#16 – Voyage of the Damned – The Tour has a well worn distaste for this one. Christmassy in some of it’s iconography but certainly not in spirit. A take on the disaster genre that was itself a disaster. Was Voyage really a bad story. Not really. Just misguided and wildly disappointing.
#15 – The Feast of Steven – Surviving only in audio and a spare few telesnaps it marked a departure from the regular story and made a rare indulgence for the series into farce and is notable for Hartnell’s closing speech not only to Steven and Sara but the audience too. As Christmas specials go it was an interesting diversion and is now more remembered for the curiosity value than anything else.
#14 – The End of Time Pt I – In our younger days, The End of Time Pt I was rated more highly, perhaps because it culminated a year of build-up and very occasional stories. However … because it should be considered in full with it’s back half, and upon reflection, The End of Time Pt I has come down considerably in our estimations. Of course, the resurrection of the Master was horribly contrived, but this first-half of a story, as so many RTD two-part stories did, had its share of moments, and at the core of it all was the relationship between the two old souls, the Doctor and Wilf. Their scenes sparkled with the resonance of lives in full.
#13 – The Return of Doctor Mysterio – Sort of the same problem as with Voyage of the Damned. It’s absolutely not a Christmas special but a Doctor Who take on the superhero genre. Coming after a gap year it seemed just too incongruous to work all that well.
#12 – Last Christmas – Something along the lines of ‘Inception’, but with an undertone of the dour that ran through Series 8, Capaldi’s first special was the least ‘special’ of his specials and more like a regular series episode which just happened to include Santa. Perhaps it’s just a little too thoughtful for the Tour’s liking.
#11 – The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe – Coming off an unqualified success in his first Christmas Special, it was only natural for fans to expect that Matt Smith’s second would be equally captivating. But The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe, a variation of the C.S. Lewis classic, was more of a ‘winter’ story than a Christmas story, and lacked the timey-wimey charm of A Christmas Carol. There’s nothing inherently wrong with The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe, but mere mentions of Androzani do not a classic make.
Part 2 of our final Christmas Specials ranking coming quite soon.