In “Hell Bent,” Doctor Who returns to the desert, causing a coup in Gallifrey and revisiting America for a last goodbye. It’s taken billions of years, but the Doctor has finally returned to Gallifrey for a less-than-joyful reunion with his fellow Time Lords. In “Hell Bent” it’s revealed that the struggle the Doctor endured in “Heaven Sent” was less about keeping the secret of the hybrid and more about establishing a bargaining chip to save Clara. Peter Capaldi uses his impressive ability to convey intensity and power even while being still, increasing the drama of “Hell Bent.”
“Face the Raven” leaves us mourning the loss of another Doctor Who companion with the death of Clara Oswald. Though it had been announced that Jenna Coleman would be leaving Doctor Who in Season 9, closing out Clara Osgood’s chapter through death makes her departure stand out. “Face the Raven” is a strong episode not only because of the loss of companion Clara, but also because it’s grounded with the return of Rigsy and heightened with the appearance of Ashildr. It’s also fantastic because the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) changes into a maroon velvet jacket after the youth apparel he’s been wearing lately is destroyed during an adventure with Clara.
As the holidays drew near, we began to wonder what this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special would bring. Even the name of this year’s special, “Last Christmas,” helped get us in the holiday spirit. Enjoying an episode of Doctor Who after Christmas dinner has become a regular tradition, with this year being the 10th special. There have been a lot of good Christmas specials, which we recently ranked in “Doctor Who: Christmas Specials from Best to Worst.” After seeing Santa appear in the TARDIS at the end of the last episode of this season, “Death in Heaven” (S08E12), the anticipation for “Last Christmas” was high.
The Doctor Who Christmas special “Last Christmas” will show at 6:15pm on BBC One and 9:00pm ET on BBC America on December 25. It will mark the 10th anniversary of the Doctor Who Christmas special. The convention of having a episode on Christmas Day was started in 2005, with the new series of Doctor Who, and has grown increasingly popular. They are set during the holidays, always involve snow, and, unless the Doctor has just regenerated, they often end with the Doctor standing outside the TARDIS being asked to come to Christmas dinner.
We have enjoyed all of the Doctor Who Christmas episodes so far, but we have certainly enjoyed some more than others. Part of ranking these specials is to understand they are not just regular episodes. They are watched on Christmas Day, with family and friends, to a larger than normal audience. On such a day we expect the Doctor to do more than be heroic, clever, and funny—he should also make us more merry. The storyline, performance, and engagement are important considerations, but holiday spirit is key when ranking the Doctor Who Christmas specials.
The two-part season finale of Doctor Who brings excitement, but also sadness that we won’t be seeing any new episodes until Christmas. The reveal from the first half of the season finale that Missy is the Master was shocking, and we wanted to tell everyone we know, whether they watch Doctor Who or not. As Death in Heaven begins, our excitement is mixed with sadness as we are reminded about Danny’s death. Somehow it feels like we may not get the happy ending that we normally crave. We are focusing our idealistic hope on the Ninth Doctor’s exclamation, “Just this once, everybody lives!” (S01E10).
“Dark Water” is the first part of the Season Eight finale of Doctor Who. The twelfth Doctor has had some great performances this season and has brought interesting complexity to the relationship with companion Clara Oswald. When Peter Capaldi was announced as the new Doctor, we were pretty excited because it seemed like an older actor was about due for the role. He has surpassed our expectations so far, and a big two-part finale, written by Steven Moffat, creates a lot of anticipation.