In this special Christmas Edition of WBW Tops, we take a look at every single Doctor Who Christmas Special and rank them.
Welcome to this special (late) Christmas/Holiday edition of WBW Tops. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the Doctor Who Christmas Specials, which have been a tradition since 2005. As of writing this, the 2018 New Year’s Day Special has yet to be aired, so I won’t be including it in the list. With that being said, let’s begin!
I think I have talked about this story enough, so I won’t waste anyone’s time with it here. I’ve said it’s fanwank, it’s unfunny, Tennant is a drama queen, the Master was done dirty, the Time Lords’ return was pointless, and it isn’t even a good Christmas themed story! Fail! Fail, fail, fail! NEXT!
[Check out the Who Back When review of The End of Time!]
On to one of the more hated Christmas specials. The tonal shifts can be felt and are pretty obvious, certain characters can get annoying, and some great comedic talent has be absolutely wasted. Those wooden creatures were just kinda boring, too. Other than the opening and closing moments of the story, this Christmas Special is a definite skip.
You had Nick Frost as Santa Claus. And you wasted it. Also, considering the fact this episode openly admits to stealing ideas from other movies, you just have a lazy plot. Even though the romance between Clara and Danny Pink felt rushed in Series 8, I liked the conclusion to it all. And what a perfect ending to Clara’s story. Until it wasn’t. Good job, Moffat. You botched a companion exit. The monsters were interesting, though. Actually proper scary monsters.
[Check out the Who Back When review of Last Christmas!]
Okay, by December, 2008, David Tennant had already announced his departure from the show. By Christmas, we still had no clue who the Eleventh Doctor was going to be. So, here’s the best way to troll the fandom by giving us the biggest copout I have ever seen. While I like the episode, it doesn’t stop it from being a copout. Also, bring back the Cybershades. Those things are awesome!
[Check out the Who Back When review of The Next Doctor!]
Talk about Christmas overload. Again, I’ve talked about this story before, so I won’t dwell on it too long. Robot Santas and killer Christmas trees. I mean, how much more on the nose can you get? Add that this story really doesn’t work as an intro to your new lead and it just kinda comes off as a Christmas-themed piece of sci-fi, and not much else. In summary, It’s okay, but not great.
[Check out the Who Back When review of The Christmas Invasion!]
The Titanic in space. Not an original idea in the slightest. Futurama did this in 1999, for Pete’s sake! I will say that Kylie Minogue was great in the role as Astrid and I wish she could have gone with the Doctor on his adventures. The other characters were not as memorable (many of them were basically cannon fodder and were dead before the end of the episode). Not even the villain was super memorable. But, Tennant and his temporary companion were good, so this episode gets a pass from me.
[Check out the Who Back When review of Voyage of the Damned!]
As much as I liked this episode, I believe it was severely botched. The characterization of the First Doctor was wrong, it ruined Bill’s ending, it brought Clara back for no good reason, and all the sexist jokes from the First Doctor were not funny. At all. I can forgive this story just a little because Moffat wasn’t planning on doing this episode at all, so he rushed it. Capaldi gave it his all in the end. I admit his performances in Doctor Who will be tough to follow. Good luck, Jodie!
[Check out the Who Back When review of Twice Upon A Time!]
The only Doctor Who episode we got in 2016 was a Christmas Special. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what to think of Steven Moffat doing a superhero plot. I think they should’ve brought on a proper comics writer for this. Nardole’s return definitely made fans nervous. I mean, I was pretty nervous about it, too. But, Matt Lucas exceeded all expectations and was great. I really liked the concept of The Ghost. But, I will admit, this is a bit ridiculous, even for Doctor Who. Oh, and the less said about the romance the better. Leave the superheroes to Marvel.
[Check out the Who Back When review of The Return of Doctor Mysterio!]
Even though this episode suffers badly from “not enough time syndrome”, I will give it to this episode. The last third of the episode with Old Eleven and the regeneration were perfect. However, there are still many problems and plots that Steven Moffat had to wrap up in a hurry. This is about a season’s worth of story that had to be wrapped up in about 60 minutes. Add that to all the previous issues from throughout the Matt Smith era and you have a story that makes it into the top 5 by the last third alone.
I enjoyed this episode. River Song’s interactions with the Twelfth Doctor are just gold. This episode is just pure gold and unbelievably good. Nardole in this episode was just comic relief and wasn’t this refined, badass type character he would later become. But I think that doesn’t make this story any less good. Harmony Shoal was an interesting villain, and the effect for them is really done well both here and in Return of Doctor Mysterio. Hopefully they return in future.
The official start of Series 7B in my opinion, this story picks up after the Doctor lost Amy and Rory at the hands of the Weeping Angels. It also starts the build to the show’s 50th Anniversary by giving us a villain that hasn’t been seen since 1967. Richard E. Grant plays Dr. Simion perfectly (and I enjoy his later appearances in Series 7B as well). I believe the Clara Oswald featured in this story is the Clara that should’ve traveled with the Doctor. Just putting that out there.
Okay, who doesn’t love Donna Noble? Donna is so wonderful and so sassy. She just meshed with the Tenth Doctor very well. Even after the heartbreaking ending to Doomsday, one can find such joy in this Christmas Special. All the crazy Christmas stuff is toned down a little, especially the robot Santas. The villain was also very good (a giant spider. How evil!) Overall, good episode and perfect emotional palate cleanser after the emotional roller coaster that was Doomsday.
[Check out the Who Back When review of The Runaway Bride!]
Adapt the Charles Dickens novel but with Doctor Who characters. Seems like a recipe for disaster, right? WRONG! This episode has the right balance of serious and fun. It also works as an adaptation of the Dickens novel. This story had heart, consistency, and effective use of time travel (which Doctor Who doesn’t play with all that often). The Scrooge character was played to perfection and it’s just really a fun story that gets you into the Christmas spirit.
[Check out the Who Back When review of A Christmas Carol!]
Before we finish this list, I want to briefly mention Episode 7 of the Daleks’ Master Plan, “The Feast of Steven”. It aired on Christmas Day, 1965 and can be considered the first ever Doctor Who Christmas Special. Unfortunately, I decided not to include it on the main list simply because it really doesn’t fit on here, but I thought it deserves an honorable mention anyways. I only wish it existed in some fashion.
[Check out the Who Back When review of The Daleks’ Master Plan!]
Thanks for reading! I hope your holiday season is merry and bright! Next time on WBW Tops, we’ll return to our regularly scheduled lists. Until then, see you in 2019!
Do you wield a Sonic Quill? We're calling all Whovian Scribes who have a voice and are keen to get their ideas out there. Perhaps you write Doctor Who Fan Fiction, essays on the most obscure facets of the Whoniverse, or maybe you want to review the local stage adaptation of 'Blink'. Either way, if you'd like to join the ranks of our WBW Correspondents, get in touch and we'll chat.