Chapter 6: Ranking the Christmas Specials

From Episode 12: The Doctor Who Gives A F*ck Xmas Special

JB: So it’s the holidays, and I thought it would be interesting … or you may think it’s boring as fuck. You may be scrolling through commercials while listening to this.

CHRIS: Or watching shitty YouTube Dalek videos.

JB: Yeah, but I thought we would spend a few minutes each on all of the past Doctor Who Christmas specials.

SEAN: I can’t believe there’s 13 Christmas specials! Fuck!

CHRIS: I was surprised, too. I never actually sat down and counted them.

JB: So we’re going to go through these in order, say what we think, and we will each rank them on a scale of one to thirteen - one being the best and thirteen the worst.

The Christmas Invasion

JB: I ranked this one at number eight.

SEAN: Seven.

CHRIS: Here’s me coming in hot. This is my number one.

JB: Oh, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me!

CHRIS: Nope.

SEAN: Oh my god!

JB: Okay, Chris, explain yourself.

CHRIS: This was my first Christmas special. It was David Tennant’s introductory episode.

JB: Yeah, and he was in, like, ten minutes of it?

CHRIS: Yes, but those ten minutes were fucking brilliant! They had the nod to Queen with the four Sycorax heads in a diamond formation like “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

SEAN: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

JB: It’s like one of their album covers, and they posed like that on the video to “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

CHRIS: Yeah, the part where they’re singing, “Galileo! Figaro!” And that was intentional.

JB: Yeah, on an outtake they actually sang that.

CHRIS: And then we had the nod to Arthur Dent with Tennant in his pajamas. He even mentions Arthur Dent at one point. The whole “big red button” bit? I’m sorry, I love that episode. And - icing on the cake - he takes out the Prime Minister as he’s walking into the sunset.

JB: Which leaves us with Harold Saxon as Prime Minister. Way to go.

CHRIS: I mean, if you’re going to get into the fucking weeds about shit…I mean, come on, we’re just talking about this episode, not what happens later.

JB: This, to me, was in the middle of all the Christmas episodes. It is Christmasy, probably more so than some of the others. But I just didn’t like that the Doctor was laid out for most of the story.

SEAN: My favorite thing in the episode is probably the thing that both of you hate, and that is the killer Christmas tree. I love the idea of a Christmas tree whirling round and round and crashing through every thing. It’ll cut you up.

CHRIS: I like that scene, too. And I think I know why you like it. It sounds like something straight out of a Virgin New Adventure.

SEAN: I like it in horror movies when they take a popular tune such as Tiny Tim singing “Tiptoe Thru the Tulips” and they make it creepy. And they do that here with “Jingle Bells”. I like the juxtaposition of the old-time song with a creepy situation. That scene is directed and edited so well.

CHRIS: I never really thought of it that way, but yeah, that whole scene is shot very well.

JB: I dunno. It just reminded me of a Tasmanian Devil cartoon.

SEAN: Fair enough. I do think the aliens are complete shit. I did not like the Sycorax at all. It’s ironic, because I have an Eagle Moss figure of a Sycorax that I’m looking at right now, and it’s one of my favorites because he’s so detailed. But they’re so boring as a villain.

CHRIS: They’re meant to be. It’s the Tenth Doctor’s grand entrance. They’re meant to be punching bags. They’re not supposed to be a dire threat to the universe. They’re supposed to be something for him to kick over.

JB: This was the start of, “Oh, this is the Christmas episode. We don’t have to try.”

SEAN: As a premiere episode for a new Doctor, it’s no “Spearhead In Space” or “The Eleventh Hour”

JB: Yeah, “The Eleventh Hour” is one of the best debut Doctor stories.

The Runaway Bride

JB: I ranked that one a six.

SEAN: I ranked it an eight.

CHRIS: Isn’t that the reverse of what you guys ranked “The Christmas Invasion”?

SEAN: Yeah, I think so.

JB: Yes.

CHRIS: I gave it a four. Obviously I have…

JB: I think you got two good reasons why you ranked it higher than us.

CHRIS: Well, one is that I love Donna, and it’s her debut. And the other is the two things you thought of.

JB: Yes, of course. This one is enjoyable, but it’s not very Christmasy. You can tell they shot this in the middle of summer. It’s funny because I remember Donna being so fucking annoying. Everyone was so pissed off because we just had this emotional farewell to Rose Tyler. Everyone was fucking gutted. And then they brought in Catherine Tate as a stunt. And I didn’t know who the fuck she was, but she was the most annoying person that you would ever have the misfortune to meet or work with or socialize with. And when they announced that she was going to be a full-time companion a year later, I thought, “Why the fuck are they doing that?!” And she turned out to be the best modern companion we’ve ever had.

SEAN: It’s so funny you said that, because the person you just described is pretty much the person she played in “The Office”. Like “The Christmas Invasion”, the villain was just boring as fuck. And we see “the evil side” of the Doctor, and Donna’s like, “Oh, Doctor, it’s in you! You need to be stopped sometimes!”

JB: I wouldn’t say that’s evil. He just went nuts. And he got really emotional. I don’t necessarily think he’s evil.

CHRIS: That was JDT setting up Time Lord Victorious.

SEAN: You mean RTD.

CHRIS: What the hell did I say?

JB: You said JDT. That’s not even a thing!

SEAN: That’s like a cocktail.

CHRIS: I’m glad you guys are paying attention. I threw that out there for you. And now I forgot what the fuck I was saying.

JB: It was a set up for Time Lord Victorious.

CHRIS: It was a set up for Time Lord Victorious!

JB: And then they completely missed the kick with that one. It was Charlie Brown trying to kick the fucking football. They completely fucked that up, and it wasn’t until this year when Big Finish said, “Well, since no one really liked Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor Who, we’re going to take this idea that the BBC did nothing with, and we’re actually going to do something with it, and we’re going to make you fucking pay for it!”

CHRIS: (laughs) Well, it’s what they do.

JB: Yes, they do. “We love stories.” You know what they love more? They love money.

SEAN: So there’s something in “The Runaway Bride” that strikes me that if I read it in the script I’d be like, “Fuck this! I’m not going to watch this shit!” And that would be the scene on the highway and the TARDIS, which is so fucking bonkers. But it works for me somehow. It does have only five seconds of Christmas shit in it, and it’s when they go to the reception. By the way, if you get married on Christmas, you’re an asshole.

CHRIS: For real!

SEAN: Everyone has to cancel their holiday plans with all of their families and come to your fucking wedding on Christmas. Fuck you! Get married in June or July like everybody else on the fucking planet! God, I’m glad I’m gay sometimes!

CHRIS: I think I may have ranked this a little too high. I still like this episode. It’s fun. It’s got Donna. It’s my kind of Doctor Who. It’s more on the funny side. But I probably shouldn’t have gave it a four.

Voyage of the Damned

CHRIS: Well, I didn’t jizz over this one. This one’s only a nine. I dunno. It’s just too phony-baloney. This is the first special where they really embraced the idea of “we’re not going to fucking try.” The last two specials at least fit the narrative of their respective seasons. This one was when they went, “Fuck it, we’re not going to bother. We’ll just make this a fucking shit show and toss Christmas references, fan-wank and fucking shipping bullshit out to ya!” Hey, let’s make a pop singer the fucking companion! Why not? Fuck it, it’s Christmas!

JB: What do you call Billie Piper?

CHRIS: Do you want the short list or the long list?

SEAN: I have a confession. I like this episode. This was the first modern Doctor Who story that I saw. It was viewed accidentally on Sci-Fi or PBS. I watched it, and I enjoyed it. But here’s the thing - I really like disaster movies like “The Towering Inferno” or “The Poseidon Adventure”. This is basically a sci-fi remake of “The Poseidon Adventure”. And I don’t know who the fuck Kylie Minogue is. I didn’t realize until later on that she was somebody. But all of the different characters and the things that we learn about them…I really like what they did with the characters. It was RTD that did this, right?

JB: Yes.

SEAN: Everybody in this story may be a bit two-dimensional, but you get a sense of character from all of them. I love the music. There’s that Christmas song that they sing…I can’t think of the name of it, but it’s a really good song. I like the idea of a bunch of rich people on a ship, and all of the sudden a bunch of them die and the rest of them are fighting for their lives. This has one of David Tennant’s best speeches. “I’m the Doctor, and I’m clever!” I don’t like the villain. I keep talking about the villains, and this one…”My name is Max!”

JB: Ding!

CHRIS: So fucking hammy!

SEAN: It was just too much. Why don’t you just pet a big white cat and be Blofeld from the Bond films? It’s not a really great piece of television, but for personal reasons I rated it number five.

JB: I rated this number one.

SEAN: Wow! Really?

CHRIS: Whoa! I was surprised Sean thought so highly of it!

JB: I fucking enjoy this episode. I didn’t really enjoy it the first time around, but after subsequent watchings, this is one of the episodes we make sure to watch around Christmastime. This is the most Christmasy Christmas special you are ever going to see. Yes, it’s kind of a rip off of “The Robots of Death” with the Heavenly Hosts, but I think they’re fucking funny! “Information. You are all going to die.” We also have Clive Swift making his second appearance in Doctor Who. He was Jobel in “Revelation of the Daleks”, and he famously gave this one-page interview in Doctor Who Magazine where he just slagged the show to bits. And we also have the debut of Wilfred Mott.

CHRIS: Yep, that bears mentioning. If you don’t love Wilf, we can’t be friends.

SEAN: He’s going to come up later one for me in another of these stories.

JB: Kylie does know how to act. I think she did a fantastic job with what she had. And Tennant was all over the place emotionally. It’s really off-the-wall, and it’s not afraid to embrace it’s off-the-wall-ness. And as for Max, I would compare him as more of a villain from Adam West Batman.

SEAN: Absolutely yes!

CHRIS: Some days you don’t know where to put the bomb.

SEAN: This episode angered the Jesus people because there’s a scene when the Heavenly Hosts are bringing the Doctor up, and he looks like Jesus ascending…

JB: Oh, yes! Let’s find the Christ figure!

SEAN: You can’t offend the Jesus people.

JB: Well, wait till we get to the Last of the Fucking Time Lords, for fucks sake!

SEAN: I will say that the first chapter of this story is probably the most Christmasy of all of the Christmas specials, with maybe one exception. This does have a lot of charm to it, and a lot of horror, which I like. I like my charm mixed in with my horror.

JB: Yeah, it’s really fucking depressing at the end! All the good people die, and all the assholes live.

SEAN: Clive Swift lives, and he’s not an asshole.

CHRIS: The one thing I think RTD was under appreciated for was that he was a great character writer. He made you have an opinion about everybody in the story, and it was probably the opinion he wanted you to have. He set shit up perfectly. I don’t think Doctor Who has had a good character writer since him.

JB: I would agree.

SEAN: I remember back when I did The TARDIS Tavern podcast, we would shit on him left and right. And he didn’t deserve it.

JB: Well, there were some things…

SEAN: Yeah, not everything was perfect.

JB: Love and fucking Monsters I’ll never forgive him for.

SEAN: What about the one where they tractor-trailer the Earth just for the emotional effect of all those companions around the TARDIS console?

CHRIS: There were so many Whovians dragging oranges covered in Nutella through bathtubs trying to make the point about that fucking episode. (Sean laughs) That happened! I’m not making that up! It’s probably still floating around on YouTube.

The Next Doctor

JB: I ranked it at number seven. Right down the middle.

CHRIS: Man, all of them up to this one…you guys have teamed up against me, and I feel like it’s going to be another one. I put this one at twelve.

SEAN: Ohhhhh! God Damn!

CHRIS: This was the second-worst Christmas episode for me. I fucking hated what’s-his-nuts? The Colonel, or whatever the fuck his name is? The General or…

SEAN: The Governor!

CHRIS: I fucking hate the Governor as the Doctor. I just do not like that actor. I don’t like the way he fucking delivers shit. He’s grating. He’s nails on a chalkboard to me, and thought of him even mistakenly being portrayed as the Doctor is just fucking loathsome to me, and it ruined the whole episode. And there there is the sin so great that Moffat felt he had to atone for it - the CyberKing stomping through London and the Doctor defeating it with a balloon. Moffat had to write his fix for that into “The Time of Angels”.

JB: It’s middle of the road for me. David Hennessy? I don’t know him from anything else. I don’t know of “The Governor” to which you two are referring?

SEAN: It’s Morrissey. You’re just thinking about Hennessy, JB.

JB: He just reminded me of Greg Lake from Emerson Lake & Palmer playing the Doctor, and you guys aren’t going to get that reference. The emotional stuff was fine, but the Cyber-wraiths…the Cybermen in the monkey suits…what was up with that? And the thing that ruins this episode is that just before this episode aired, it was announced that Tennant was leaving the show. They announced Matt Smith at New Years, but we knew Tennant was leaving. So for a time we thought, “Okay, so is this guy actually the next Doctor?” But five minutes into the episode you know this guy wasn’t going to be it.

CHRIS: They teased the fuck out of it.

SEAN: This is number three for me. I really love this. I love David Morrissey. I think he was in this before he was The Governor in “The Walking Dead”. I’ve only seen him in those two shows, but they’re polar opposites of each other. I thought it was clever AF. That’s what the kids say now instead of “as fuck”. Or it could also mean “alcohol free” depending on what Facebook pages you follow.

CHRIS: Or asphyxiation.

JB: Or “ass fucking”.

CHRIS: We can do this for a while.

SEAN: I thought the episode was adorable. And the monkey-cybermen things, I don’t remember what they’re called. I think they may be called Cyber-Shades.

JB: Oh, yeah. I think you’re right.

SEAN: Those were terrifying. I loved how he called his balloon the TARDIS, but the acronym meant something else. I can’t remember the explanation why he was the way he was.

CHRIS: It was like “Tethered Ariel Ridiculous Device…” I don’t know. Something like that.

SEAN: I thought that was so cool. I thought it was clever as fuck. I forgot about the giant Cyberman rampaging through London. In fact, I have an Eagle Moss figure of that Cyberman, and it looks fantastic. I think it’s just a lot of fun. It’s not very Christmasy, though. I mean we see people with sprigs of holly on their lapels.

JB: We get a “Christmas Carol” reference at the very beginning where the Doctor asks, “Oy! What day is this?” “Why, it’s Christmas Day, Sir!”

SEAN: If memory serves, it’s the last episode of Doctor Who to air that wasn’t in high definition. Because we get the one with the fly-people next. “Planet of the Dead”. Is that what it’s called?

CHRIS: I always called it “The Shit Eaters.”

JB: Yeah, let’s have high definition shit. Literally. Oh, actually that was later on in “Diarrhea of the Daleks” or whatever the fuck I called that episode.

SEAN: I do know that not a lot of people like “The Next Doctor”, but it’s kinda like JB with “Voyage of the Damned”. I just find it absolutely charming.

JB: Fair enough. Next we have a contentious one…

The End of Time, Part 1

SEAN: Okay, if you’re into Wilf, this is number one on your list. Because this has the best Wilf story ever in Doctor Who. This is also the episode that could’ve nominated David Tennant for an Emmy because he’s absolutely wonderful in this. Like some of the other episodes we’ve spoken about it’s not that Christmasy. They just mention Christmas in the beginning, and then it goes to shit. It really does go to shit, but we’re not talking about Part Two. This is the worst John Simms Master episode. He shows up out of nowhere. As some fans said at the time, they “Harry Potter” him into the world. I know we’re not supposed to talk about “Harry Potter” because it’s been cancelled. Anyway, he’s eating a bunch of food, which I feel like doing a lot. I did that today. “Oh, grease and bacon and grease and turkey!”

CHRIS: That was me on Thursday, absolutely.

SEAN: it’s just stupid. Everything in this is stupid except for the scene between the Tenth Doctor and Wilf in the diner. And also a scene at Donna’s house. Last time I saw this was years ago. Steve and I were going to do a commentary on it for The TARDIS Tavern. We ended up talking about Tommy Jones and how he died on stage because Wilf makes a reference to that. But this is number twelve for me. I almost hate this.

CHRIS: Whoa!

JB: Wow, you kinda talked it up, there!

CHRIS: I was waiting for you to say this was your number one!

SEAN: I know I said positive things about it, but this is something I wish had never happened. “They called her ’The Virgin Queen’, but she’s not anymore!” Really? Really, RTD?

(Chris begins to cackle)

JB: I gave this one a five. Yeah, the thing that really creeped me out was John Jonzz, the Martian Manhunter, and his creepy, incestuous relationship with his daughter. What the fuck was that all about?

SEAN: What?

JB: The black guy. He’s the one who captures the Master and makes him work on that thing because he wants to give his daughter immortality.

SEAN: And at one point he says, “Christmas is cancelled!” And I’m sure all the people working for him were like “Oh, fuck!” Nowadays, people would say, “Ah, yeah. Christmas is cancelled, anyways.”

JB: It’s another COVID Christmas, kids. Years later that guy plays John Jonzz on “Supergirl”. And I was like “Oh, my god, it’s that creepy guy who had that creepy relationship with his daughter.” And the woman who played the daughter was actually on a few episodes of “Legends of Tomorrow”.

CHRIS: And he also played Rassilon in Big Finish’s “Zagreus”.

JB: No, that wasn’t him. You’re thinking of the guy who played the President of England in “Pete’s World”.

CHRIS: Oh, shit! You’re right!

SEAN: You know what, Chris? That’s racist.

CHRIS: God dammit.

JB: And I only know that because the guy who played the President was in an episode of Red Dwarf in a very memorable role. But I gave this episode a five because of the emotional story between the Doctor and the Master. Murray Gold’s score, when it’s played right, can manipulate you emotionally. With Moffat it was on overload. Very saccharine. But in the scene in the garbage heap, you really got a sense of these two characters having a long history, with references to his father’s mansion on Gallifrey and the snow. Wilf pleading for the Doctor to “just go and talk to her!” I mean…you know…okay, Chris, you go. I’m getting choked up about it.

CHRIS: This was my number two.

SEAN: Oh, golly!

CHRIS: When Sean was saying all the good things, I thought he was going to give it a high rating, and I was just nodding at everything he said. As he said earlier, if you love Wilf, you’ll love this story. The old farts’ club? What did they call it? “The Silver Cloak”? All these old pensioners get together and decide to hunt down the Doctor, and they actually fucking find him! And the annoyance he has that this happened. He’s obviously fucking embarrassed that a bunch of old farts managed to track down the fucking Doctor. That whole scene is beautiful. Yeah, you can take the hungry Master shit out.

JB: And the “shimmer” aliens, too. That was kinda stupid.

CHRIS: But it was kinda funny.


CHRIS: There were crimes committed against the character of the Master. When I was rating this, I was glossing over all that. If you take all that out, that’s my one negative of the story. Everything else I loved.

SEAN: This episode along with Part Two are perfect examples of why the show needed a writer’s bible. When folks were writing the New Adventures and the Past Doctor Adventures, there were rules. You were not supposed to write about the Doctor’s lineage. They did stretch those rules a little bit here and there, but I kinda agree with that rule. Having grown up reading those novels before the new series came on, I respected that rule. I didn’t want to know the Doctor’s past. I didn’t want to know who his mom was. I don’t care. They do a little too much of that in this episode. I don’t want to see the Master as a little boy! I don’t care! The Master is the Master, okay? I’m not his therapist! I don’t care that he looked into the void and it drove him crazy. I may be merging Part Two into this, but it didn’t hook me the way it was intending to hook me. I was as disappointed as most people were, except for you two, apparently. I guess I’m on Team Radio Free Skaro. But I love the scene in the diner. David Tennant’s performance in that scene is Emmy-worthy.

JB: Okay, there are two things I will knock against the story. Everyone shaking their heads in double speed while transforming into the Master was kinda stupid. And Barack Obama was going to solve the recession with a speech? Come on, RTD!

SEAN: And they do love Barack Obama over there in England. I was in Ireland, and they were talking about him on the radio. “I just love Barack Obama!” Imagine that!

CHRIS: There are people out there that do not think him solving the recession with a speech is a stretch. They do exist.

JB: Sad to say.

A Christmas Carol

JB: This was Matt Smith’s first Christmas episode. I ranked this eleven.

SEAN: I ranked this number two!

JB: Oh my god!

SEAN: Yeah.

CHRIS: Sean, for once, me and you are on the team, because I gave it a five. Considering you guys have talked me down on some of my earlier rankings, this one might go up for me. But we’re starting at five.

JB: Yeah, I don’t really like this one. Speaking of the New Adventures, this was actually adapted from a short story written by Moffat. I forgot what it’s called, but it’s a Seventh Doctor and Benny story. The Doctor is trying to get into some office, and the receptionist won’t let him in. So the Doctor keeps going back in time to change little bits of this guy’s past in order to get past him.

SEAN: Oh, that sounds fantastic.

JB: It was in one of the Decalog books. He basically stole from himself, which I guess is fair. You can do that. But I don’t like the fact that this poor woman gets mortgaged off by her family and can only get let out on Christmas. She only has so much time left before she dies. It was really maudlin. And speaking of the Doctor Who writer’s bible, Dumbledore almost beats the shit out of his younger self -he has him by the throat - and that should’ve caused an explosion. It was also a bit too whimsical with Jim the Fish. It was very derivative, and that’s going to be a theme with all of Matt Smith’s Christmas stories.

CHRIS: I think the crimes against females in this episode are unintentional, which doesn’t make them forgivable by any means. But I think it was intended to be more of an anti-capitalist message.

JB: Oh, yeah. I get that.

CHRIS: I’m not a big fan of Christmas, but this is supposed to be a Christmas episode. And if you’re going to go with a Christmas episode, it should probably have more than a passing nod to Christmas. They went whole-hog with this shit without making it too saccharine. They actually had some Lewis Carrol shit going on. To it’s detriment, though, it was to the point where the scenes of Amy and Rory pop up where it felt forced. They detract from the narrative of the rest of the story. “Well, we got to include them, and here they are! Hey, they’re holograms! We’re in the fucking fish show! Hey, look at us!” No, can we just dodge that for a minute? It almost commits whole-hog to being a stupid fucking Christmas episode, which if they’re going to do Christmas episodes, I wish that’s what they’d do. There was literal shark jumping, and that’s almost a cute nod to Moffat’s hack writing. “People are going to say I’m jumping the shark, so I’m going to throw a shark into this!”

JB: We need to point out the fact that all of these Christmas episodes that we’re talking about were written by two writers, RTD and Moffat.

SEAN: I agree with everything Chris said. I like the idea that it’s just Christmas just fucking ejaculated everywhere, more or less. I think that of all of these 13 stories, visually this one is magnificent. It is so rich in visual content. And that’s why it’s up there for me. Because the story is not the best, but artistically this was really well done. Probably the best visual episode of Doctor Who we’ve ever seen in 50 plus years. I usually fucking hate stuff that’s over the top, and for some strange reason when they were riding a shark through the sky, I never got drawn out by it. It was so well done. Some people have said they’ve shed tears over this episode. I have not, personally. I really like Michael Gambon in it.

JB: Yeah, he’s good. Regarding the visual thing, for me it’s very cold. Probably intentionally because she’s frozen in ice for most of the year. When I think of “Voyage of the Damned”, the opening scenes when he’s exploring the Titanic with all the lights? It all seems very warm. And I like feeling warm at Christmastime.

The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe

JB: This is dead last for me. Number thirteen. I fucking hate this … I don’t hate the episode, but I don’t really think about it at all. They just basically ripped off the Chronicles of Narnia, and it wasn’t done well at all. I don’t really remember anything about this episode aside from the talking trees, some silly characters in exo-suits that were supposed to be from Androzani Major, the dead husband coming back at the end, and the Doctor moping about Amy.

CHRIS: All of that is very fair. I gave it an eight. It’s down the middle for me. Again, I want the Christmas episodes to not be as involved in the canon. I want them to just be silly fluff, and this one is a lot of silly fluff. It fixes the errors from the previous Christmas special. This time they dispensed with Amy and Rory, but yet, as you guys noted, the Doctor is still walking around pining about Amy. So, in a way they’re still kinda present, but at least they’re not physically forcing them into the episode.

SEAN: I gave it an eleven. It’s near the bottom for me. I remember the night I watched this, on Christmas Eve. I planned to watch this after all the adults went to bed. I had went to the liquor store earlier. (Sean starts to get the hiccups). Sorry…speaking of liquor. And they didn’t have Johnny Walker. (Hiccup) Excuse me.

CHRIS: Are you alright, man?

SEAN: I’m fine. It’s just hiccups. Just like in a cartoon. And they only had Cutty Sark, so I had to drink Cutty Sark while watching this, and I threw up. (Hiccup) And then I watched it a second time for the TARDIS Tavern, and I didn’t like it any more, which is (HICCUP) which is interesting, because this is one that actually, again, like “A Christmas Carol”, looks visually stunning. (HICCUP) But the plot is shit. It’s com- (HICCUP) It’s complete shit. The only redeeming quality of this episode is the beginning when they’re actually having Christmas. And that’s the only Christmas thing. (HICCUP) Excuse me. I can’t even tell you what the plot is. (HICCUP)

JB: Sean, at this point, you need to get a tall glass of water, and before you take a drink, take a deep breath, hold it, and then down that glass of water. Don’t stop! And when you’ve finished the glass, just take a long exhale through your mouth very slowly. And those hiccups will be gone.

(Chris is rolling on the floor laughing)

JB: I feel like a 911 operator.

SEAN: I’m glad that you all find this humorous!

CHRIS: I feel fucking terrible. I’m sorry, man.

SEAN: It’s okay. I got excited. I probably swallowed some air. Cause I’m a swallower, not a spitter.

JB: I have to say that it’s really a shame that you weren’t watching “Dimensions in Time” while you were drinking the Cutty Sark, because the Cutty Sark was actually on that piece of shit.

SEAN: Really? Was Tom Baker drinking it?! “Good luck, my dears!”

JB: No, it’s a ship. There’s a sailing ship called the Cutty Sark, and Jon Pertwee and Deborah Watling were walking past it. It’s the bit where she asks, “Who was that terrible woman?!”

The Snowmen

JB: I ranked this at number four.

CHRIS: I got a ten on “The Snowmen”

SEAN: I have a six. I don’t know remember anything about it except a horrible joke about Tom-Tom.

JB: That was in “The Crimson Horror”.

CHRIS: I thinking it’s the key fob joke. The key fob joke is in three different episodes.

JB: This is another one that we have on rotation every year. This is the only episode where I like Jenna Coleman as Clara because she’s playing Victorian-era Clara.

CHRIS: And that’s not THE Clara.

JB: Yes, and that’s why I like her. (Laughs) Yes, it’s got Strax with his Jar-Jar Binks levels of annoyance. But this is him at his most tolerable, and he does get in a few good jokes. I love where Madam Vastra and Jenny freak everyone out. “Yes, I am a lizard from the Silurian era, and this is my wife.” And yes, Matt Smith is mopey as shit about Amy, AGAIN! But it’s got Ian McKellen. I’m amazed they actually got him to do this. He probably spent only an hour in a sound booth doing his lines.

CHRIS: It sounds like he was on his iPhone in his car.

SEAN: They went to Patrick Stewart first, and he said, “No, I’m very busy doing Hamlet! But, you know what? I think my friend Ian McKellen would like this.” And Ian McKellen called Patrick and said, “Fuck, Patrick! Why did you mention me?”. And then, as Chris said, he did it on his iPhone in his car.

JB: This was very Victorian. Very Charles Dickens. Very Arthur Conan-Doyle. I like this one.

SEAN: I’m sorry. I don’t remember anything about it. I really don’t. I can’t stand the Paternoster Gang. It’s the dumbest thing ever. One moment she’s got her face veiled, and the next moment she reveals her face. Everyone in London should know who they are.

CHRIS: I totally agree. I cannot stand the Paternoster Gang. It’s the most forced…it makes no sense at all. Every episode with Jenny and the lizard lady…

JB: Vastra.

CHRIS: In every single appearance, they have to make THE reference. “Oh, I’m a lizard, and she’s a Victorian maiden, and we’re lovers.” Yeah, we got that like two seasons ago! Fucking move on!

JB: They’re like the Weeping Angels. They were a good idea for one story, and one story only. And the reference of them being lesbians in “A Good Man Goes To War” was a fucking sick joke by Steven Moffat. “I don’t know why I put up with you.” And then Vastra kills someone with her long tongue. “Oh, yeah, I remember now.”

SEAN: And how can a Sontaran go walking around in London, and no one says, “Hey, what’s up with that? I think we should burn it because it’s a witch.” It doesn’t make any sense. If they were holed up in 221 Baker Street and were fucking around and smoking pipes and eating good food was smuggled in for them, I would get that. But what they do? No. I do recall that I enjoyed “The Snowmen” a little bit, but I don’t remember it.

CHRIS: It’s a pining for Amy Pond episode.

The Time of the Doctor

JB: I gave that one a nine.

SEAN: This is my number thirteen. This is my worst on the list.

CHRIS: Looks like this is the first one we’re relatively in agreement. I gave this an eleven. This was shit.

SEAN: I watched it the first time when I was drunk. The second watch was when I was sober, but I may as well have been drunk. This is a classic example of how terrible Steven Moffat is. Let’s throw everything into a story. Nothing sticks. We have the excuse for him going beyond 12 or 13 regenerations. I didn’t care. I knew they were going to do it. Everything is just show. We have a wooden Cyberman. Wow, isn’t that cool? It lasts for five seconds. That’s it. Nothing in this story has meaning. It’s like a series of montages. Five seconds of this, plus five seconds of this, plus five seconds of this. And maybe the kids are nice, and he talks to the kids, and isn’t that cool? Fuck that! He does that all the time. It’s shit. I hate it. I will never watch it again. I have it on Blu-Ray. It’s still in it’s plastic wrap, I only have it for the sake of completing the collection.

JB: I had this on DVD, but I sold it. I got rid of it. And that’s saying a lot considering it’s a regeneration story. Moffat was sucking his own dick. That’s how I would describe this episode. They couldn’t get Alex Kingston for some reason so they wrote this Tasha Yar character and had her and the Doctor lustfully pining for each other across a table. We have this fucking thing of Matt Smith appearing to be naked. What the fuck was that all about? And my girlfriend was yelling at the TV when Clara was holding onto the outer shell of the TARDIS in the time vortex. “Wait a minute! Only Captain Jack can do that!” She should be dead!” This is also where we get “Handles”, and we’ve made plenty of blow-job jokes at its expense. They had to shoehorn in the fact that he was out of regenerations because of John Hurt and Tennant’s extra regeneration. You knew the Time Lords were going to come in at the end and grant him a new life cycle. That was established in “The Five Doctors” when they offered the Master a new life cycle. So there was really no surprise there. And they caused the crack to appear on the wall? That’s not why the crack appeared to begin with! Again, this is just Moffat blowing himself and throwing everything he had. He was pissed because Matt Smith decided to leave the show earlier that Moffat wanted him to, so he had to cram all this unresolved shit in. We get a throwaway line about why the TARDIS exploded, “SILENCE WILL FALL” and all that. And instead of continuing that with Peter Capaldi, he decided to throw everything in, and it negates anything good about the Eleventh Doctor’s era.

SEAN: You said it, brother!

CHRIS: Everything both of you said…I don’t have that much to add. I think you guys hit most of it. I also felt this was just Moffat saying, “Yeah, I’m just going to tag down these five to ten loose end that I’ve had dangling for the past two seasons, and I want to get it over with.” So much shit is just tied up in bullshit throwaway lines. Every aspect of this episode is forced. They did not do Amy Pond a favor in bringing her back. That episode was a disservice to the Matt Smith era.

JB: And it brought about the “Claradox”, too. If the Doctor didn’t die on Trenzalore, then there would’ve been no time stream for Clara to jump into and splinter herself, so why is she still with him?

Last Christmas

JB: I put that at number twelve.

SEAN: Ooooh, my god! That was my number four!

CHRIS: Sean and I are on a team, here. I had it for number three.

JB: Okay, I guess I better go first. This episode just pissed me off with the ten fucking endings. Again, it’s Moffat sucking his own dick. He just didn’t know when to fucking end this story. It should’ve been Clara’s last episode. You can tell that he wrote the last bit at the last minute because Jenna Coleman changed her mind about leaving and decided to stay for another season. It’s an obvious homage to “Alien”. The only redeeming factor for me was the blonde girl dancing.

CHRIS: Shona.

JB: Yeah, Shona. Who shona been a companion.

CHRIS: Exactly!

SEAN: Here’s the thing. I don’t love the idea of Nick Frost playing Santa, and it begins with Clara on the rooftop with Santa, and then Capaldi shows up. It’s funny, but we always call him “Capaldi”. We don’t call him the Twelfth Doctor. But he shows up and says, “Don’t believe this!” Blah blah blah. And then it takes this really dark turn. We’re now in a really good sci-fi story. And that story was good. It wasn’t Christmasy, but it was good. And then at the end, it took this really weird Christmas turn where they’re in Santa’s sleigh, and it’s so Christmasy. This is the only episode on this list that is so Christmasy at the end. And everybody’s okay at the end when they wake up and think they’ve had an experience or maybe they didn’t. I may be wrong because it’s been a long time since I’ve seen this episode, but I really liked it.

CHRIS: Going into this episode, I did not want to like it. I remember seeing the trailer. Oh, we got Nick Frost as Santa! I believe that had the fucking key fob joke in the trailer! Well, you just blew your big gag, assholes! This is going to suck ass. And then I turned it on, I watch it, and about the time Shona’s doing her little dance routine across the infirmary with the fucking aliens in it, and it’s just high suspense and she’s owing it? Alright, this is fucking good! And they even worked in the Santa shit. It made sense in the context of the episode. It wasn’t forced. It was over the top and blatantly Christmas, but they fucking worked it into the story. It made perfect sense. The biggest flaw of this story is coming out of it, Shona wasn’t the companion. Or a companion. I was pushing so hard wanting her to be a companion. She was so much more interesting than Clara. She had flaws. She was a human being with issues. She wasn’t this stupid Mary Sue that Clara was. I loved all the face-hugger references. It was a good, solid, real science fiction story. The only disappointing part is that Clara survived it.

SEAN: It actually incorporated Christmas into the actual fiction of the story and into the science fiction. This is the only story on this list that does that. That’s a good thing.

JB: Yeah, we’re never going to see the Doctor showing up at the manger. That’s never going to happen.

CHRIS: I hope.

The Husbands of River Song

SEAN: I’ve seen this once. I must have had a good day. I came home. I had ordered it on Blu-Ray, and it was sitting there for a couple of weeks. It was after Christmas, probably January or February. I watched it, and I fucking love this story. It made me so happy. It was quirky. It’s written by Moffat. He made my number one and my number thirteen. There’s something about this story that I love, and I can’t remember what it is, but it really made me happy. It was my favorite story of that season. So it was my number one. The listener’s are probably saying, “What the hell are you talking about? You can’t talk about the merits of the story?!” But I remember how it made me feel. I’m not a big fan of River Song. I’m just tired of her. And this also has Nardole in it. They’re two things I don’t like, but it worked.

JB; I gave it a three. Nardole is another thing that should’ve been a one-time-only thing and then just gone the fuck away. He was fine in the context of this story, but they should never have brought him back. Alex Kingston and Peter Capaldi had chemistry. It was there. They kept pairing Alex Kingston with Matt Smith, and it was always fucking awkward. You can tell that Peter Capaldi is having the time of his fucking life in this story. You can’t help but get swept along with all the joy. This is the most joyous performance he’s done.

CHRIS: I gave this one a six, but I would move this one up. I don’t know why I put it that low now. Especially after listening to both of you. I am a Nardole fan. I thought he was a nice break from all the Clara shit. But it was an overdue statement: We’re done with River Song. She’s one of my daughter’s namesakes. I love the character of River Song, but I wish they had let her go sooner. Her story was used up at a certain point.

JB: Once we found out who she really was, I think that should have been the end of it for her.

CHRIS: Yeah. Or at a minimum, they should’ve started winding it down after that. To a degree they did, but not as much as they should’ve. But this story definitively said, “Slam! We’re done!” As you said, JB, the chemistry between Capaldi and Alex Kingston … River and Twelve were so much better than River and Eleven. They had legitimate on-screen chemistry. With River and Ten, they had enough chemistry to make “Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead” work. They didn’t need much, to be honest.

JB: I wouldn’t call that chemistry. But there was a lot of tension. The Doctor’s freaking out. “Who the fuck are you? Why do you know so much about me? You even know my name!”

CHRIS: She had all these intimate details about him, and he didn’t even fucking know who she was. And that tension was fucking great! It was a different kind of chemistry, but it was chemistry.

JB: And Matt Smith was just too playful. “Ha ha! I know something you don’t!”

CHRIS: And it was very Mrs. Robinson.

JB: They even made that joke! They actually made that subtext text.

CHRIS: But River and Twelve. Yeah, these guys are an old married couple. That’s the first time…this late into River’s story…that’s the first time you felt like, “Yeah, these guys are married.”

The Return of Doctor Mysterio

JB: I gave this one a ten.

SEAN: A nine.

CHRIS: Seven.

JB: Okay, I think we’re in the same ballpark here.

CHRIS: We all thought it was pretty middling.

JB: Okay, out of the three of us, I’m the superhero geek. I’m the comic book geek. I got all the references. This was Steven Moffat trying to write “Superman: The Movie”. Just basically ripping it off. And we also have the dropped plot line about “Harmony Scholes” which I thought was going to be revealed as something to do with River Song.

CHRIS: I don’t want to give Moffat credit on this, but I think that was an intentional red herring.

JB: This is why I should be the next show runner, because I would’ve connected that shit, and it would’ve been amazing. Or maybe not. At least I would’ve tried! Moffat loses interest in all these little plot points he introduces because he just wants to have the big finish at the end. No pun intended.

SEAN: This was pretty forgettable. All I remember is that it didn’t do anything for me.

CHRIS: I’m not a big superhero fan, but JB and other friends of mine are big comic book fans, so I am a bit familiar with the genre. I didn’t catch all the nods, but I realize they were there. And I like it for that. It’s fun and entertaining. It’s unapologetically “yeah, this is Doctor Who doing superhero shit.”

JB: If I want to watch “Superman 1”, I’ll watch “Superman 1”. I won’t put this on again.

CHRIS: It’s not great, but I don’t have a lot of problems with it. It’s filler, and I think that’s what a Christmas episode should be.

Twice Upon A Time

JB: This one went all the way up to two for me.

CHRIS: Holy shit!

SEAN: Ugh!

CHRIS: This one is eponymous. It’s fucking thirteen for me. I. Fucking. Hate. Hate-hate-hate. This episode.

SEAN: It’s number ten for me. I thought this was complete fan service for all eight people who watch the show and know who William Hartnell is. No, I should clarify myself. It was for all the people who found out about Doctor Who around the second or third series that don’t want to watch Classic Who. It was drawn out so badly. The only thing I remember about it is that it focused on the First Doctor’s misogyny. His misogynistic tendencies…

JB: Which really didn’t exist! Moffat confused William Hartnell, the actor, with the character of the First Doctor. Yes, William Hartnell was misogynistic as fuck, and maybe the First Doctor may have ben chauvinistic. But I don’t think he was a misogynist.

CHRIS: But regardless, it was ninety-sixty-fucking-three. It was a different day and age. We’re applying 2020 standards to shit that literally happened almost 60 fucking years ago. If you pull up any episode from 1963, it is not going to meet today’s standards. But most of those shows we’re not watching anymore. But we’re still watching Doctor Who.

SEAN: And it’s in Doctor Who now. I don’t know why we need to bring it up. Aside from David Bradley’s brilliant performance, the story was boring. And it was forgettable. And I know that because I watched it sober and I don’t remember what the story is. I just remember three people in a room, Bill and Twelve and One, talking. There was some drama through the talking, like you would have in a Thanksgiving dinner, except it’s not organic. I didn’t like it at all. It felt so forced. Maybe it was Moffat trying to apologize for all the writers before him? No, you don’t do that! This is not politics. You’re not the President. You’re a show runner, It’s not your responsibility to go back and correct things that were wrong.

JB: I don’t think Moffat was intending to correct things or apologize for anything. I think he was actually setting up the Chibnall/Whittaker era.

CHRIS: I don’t think he was doing it a favor, though.

JB: No, he wasn’t. He ham-fisted bun vendor-ed it. It was totally uncalled for, and it was very racist. “He must have really missed you because the TARDIS has sure been dusty since you been gone”. One says that to Bill. I think you’ve talked me down my rating. I think I’m going to switch this with “The Husbands of River Song” in the ranking. Or actually move it all the way down beneath “The Snowmen”. I don’t know why I picked it as number two. Maybe it was because of Capaldi’s performance. He was just trying to milk as much as he could. I resent that he was upstaged by Matt Smith at the beginning of his tenure, and at the end he was upstaged by another Doctor. Well, actually two, because he regenerates into Jodie.

CHRIS: He got fucked by three Doctors.

JB: Yeah, and it wasn’t very pleasurable. I do love the idea of Rusty the Dalek sitting at the center of the universe being a cranky old man. “GET OFF OF MY LAWN!”

SEAN: I was going to ask about that, because all I remember was people talking in a room. There are people listening to this and thinking, “Well, you shouldn’t comment on it if you can’t remember it very well!”

JB: That doesn’t stop, like, half the Doctor Who podcasts that are out there! I mean, fucking “Verity”? Half of them haven’t even seen, like, half the classic episodes!

SEAN: I just don’t remember what the story was about. I just remember the scenes with Twelve, Bill and One. And you were just talking about Rusty the Dalek…

JB: And it’s telling that you haven’t mentioned the Lethbridge-Stewart character.


SEAN: He was in that?

CHRIS: Yep! Well, his grand-dad was. Spoilers! It’s Matt Gaitiss.

SEAN: Mark Gaitiss. I hate him.

CHRIS: I said Matt Gaitiss, didn’t I.

JB: Yes, you did.

CHRIS: Fuck him, too.

SEAN: I can’t stand Mark Gaitiss. As a person I think he’s great. But as a writer, I think he’s complete shit. He should stick to making documentaries instead of making scripts for “Sherlock” and Doctor Who. He ruined me for “Sherlock”, but he didn’t ruin me for Doctor Who.

CHRIS: I gave “Twice Upon A Time” a thirteen. There are some fucking redeeming qualities to this. The Rusty the Dalek stuff…that was an original piece. I wish the story was built more around that than the shit that it was. They tried to cram too many big ideas into this story. It’s Jodie’s first appearance. It’s Capaldi’s last story. It’s the First Doctor’s first reappearance since “The Five Doctors”. And instead of celebrating the First Doctor or somehow evolving the canon of his story, Moffat decided to focus on all the outdated bullshit! He took the worse aspects of what Doctor Who was like back in the early 60s. The world has moved on since then, and Doctor Who has moved on since then. Why are we highlighting the shitty parts? We know they’re there. We’re fans. We’re aware of it. And I don’t like it. I love Doctor Who, but there are scenes in Classic Who that make me cringe.

JB: And not because of the crappy special effects.

CHRIS: This should be a celebration of one of the greatest fucking actors that’s ever played the Doctor, Peter Capaldi. And instead of celebrating him, Moffat is just going to shit on him AGAIN! And he’s going to shit on his replacement by making this episode a big political goddamn statement that overshadows the fact that we’re about to have our first female Doctor. Moffat had sour fucking intentions when he wrote this shit, and it’s pretty fucking obvious that he embraced them wholeheartedly for a goddamned Christmas episode! This episode is the height of his pettiness. And it’s a extreme disservice to Classic Doctor Who, in particular the First Doctor. And it’s a disservice to the Chibnall/Whittaker era before it got off the ground.

JB: Well, you successfully talked me down. I just re-ranked this under “End of Time”, so this is now number five. “Husbands of River Song” moved up to number two.

CHRIS: That’s a pretty big shift. I’ll take it.

JB: I think the only redeeming factor was the anti-war message. Everyone laid down their arms for 24 hours and celebrated Christmas.

SEAN: See, that’s what pisses me off. You’re supposed to be anti-war. Isn’t everybody anti-war?

CHRIS: I would legitimately hope, but really? Apparently not!

SEAN: Yeah, we’re Americans. We know what we’re talking about. What do you think would’ve happened if they brought in Sean Pertwee, who looks exactly like his father, as the Third Doctor instead of having the First Doctor?

JB: Moffat would’ve had him asking Bill to show him her tits.



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