Ranking The Doctor Who Christmas Specials!

Well, after a few weeks of playing “catch up”, it’s finally time to rank all the Doctor Who Christmas specials that have appeared on TV and audio (I’d love to include some of the comics, but they don’t appear in collected Graphic Novels, seemingly…) To make one thing clear, this list takes into account how good of a Christmas story it is as much as how good of a story it is in general. Basically, “which Christmas story do I think is the best to stick on Christmas Day?” Let’s find out!

Well, if you’ve been following the Catch Up, this won’t be a surprise. It’s Christmassy, that’s for sure, but the plot is just… nothing, and the acting is … bad. I don’t care if it’s more festive than some of these later stories, I don’t want to watch it again. Lazy as all hell… It’s funny given Steven Moffatt scores so highly on this list later! (My review of this story can be found HERE)

The first ever Christmas special has a lot of historical value, but sadly it’s entirely missing from the archives and a often low quality screen shot slide show of a 60s comedy runaround doesn’t do much for me. Significant? Yes. Fun to “watch” now? Not so much. (My review of this story can be found HERE)

“Death in Blackpool” is a downbeat, “soap at Christmas” story that frankly is the opposite of what I like at Christmas. It’s a shame because parts of the story are perfectly fine, but I just … don’t want hospital drama during the festive period, so it scores low here… (My review of this story can be found HERE)

An unexpected addition to this list, “The Grey Man of the Mountain” only came out this month, and I had no idea it was set at Christmas. To be fair though, it’s barely a Christmas story beyond a brief bit of singing towards the end, so that’s why it scores low. It’s not a bad story, mind… (My review of this story can be found HERE)

“Voyage of the Damned” is a perfectly fine parody of the disaster movie genre, it’s just I’m not a fan of that genre, and given it’s feature length it tends to drag a bit… plus Kylie, as much as she was a big “get” for the show, isn’t the most charismatic here either… (My review of this story can be found HERE)

“The Return of Doctor Mysterio” is much like “Voyage of the Damned”, it’s a parody of another genre, in this case Superheroes. It places above it in my eyes because I actually like the genre in question, but it’s still not the most Christmassy story you can put on, even if it is a bit of a laugh. (My review of this story can be found HERE)

“The Unquiet Dead” is another one of those stories where the fact it’s happening at Christmas is secondary to the story. That being said, the appearance of Charles Dickens amongst the snow and Victoriana does give it a stronger festive vibe than most! (My review of this story can be found HERE)

Originally advertised as a set of four separate stories, “Blood on Santa’s Claw” is actually one story focusing on Peri falling for a man named Joe, and without spoiling it, it all goes a bit weird, and a bit wrong. There are some tragic parts, but there is also plenty of humour and a good bit of sci-fi too. (My review of this story can be found HERE)

There are some nice moments in “The Time of the Doctor”, including some relatable scenes at Clara’s house during Christmas, but there is also some rather embarrassing attempts to plug plotholes and a regeneration that’s far too drawn out. (My review of this story can be found HERE)

“Flip-Flop” is the last story on this list that just happens to take place during Christmas, with only a few mentions of it here and there, but out of all of them I enjoy the story the most, so it tops that spin-off category. An insanely clever plot where the story is split in two halves that can be listened to in any order, it’s worth going out of your way to experience, even if some of the subtext is a bit dodgy… (My review of this story can be found HERE)

“Twice Upon a Time” does a lot of things right, and has some great scenes between the First and Twelfth Doctors, but it also gets Hartnell’s original completely wrong and turns him into a way to take a shot at the 1960s. Still, enough good humour, fun plot and a touching scene or two to make it score higher than some of my gripes might make you think it deserves. (My review of this story can be found HERE)

“Relative Dimensions” takes place entirely within the TARDIS as The Doctor and Lucie Miller undo the poor and downbeat “Death in Blackpool” by having a fun, light-hearted story based around Christmas dinner and involving The Doctor’s granddaughter Susan and great grandson Alex. Some poor acting from the latter knocks it down a bit, but it’s still a fun listen! (My review of this story can be found HERE)

“The Runaway Bride” is a fun story, full of good banter between The Doctor and his eventual companion Donna. Much like the story above, some poor acting knocks it down a tad, but it’s still good fun to pop on at Christmas. (My review of this story can be found HERE)

“The Husbands of River Song” is a genuinely funny adventure throughout, with a touching ending to boot. Sort of like the story below it, but without a poor actor bringing it down. It’s a bit more interested in continuity than Christmas though, so it’s only made #10 on this list, but it’s definitely worth checking out! (My review of this story can be found HERE)

“The End of Time” repeats some mistakes that have knocked a few stories to lower on this list (especially the overdone regeneration scene quibble I had with Time of the Doctor…) but I can’t praise both David Tennant and especially John Simm as The Master enough. Throw in a shouty Timothy Dalton as Rassilon and you get a really fun two-parter than has some Christmas heart in it for good measure. (My review of this story can be found HERE)

The first Christmas special of the modern age certain goes all-in with the Christmas stuff, complete with killer Santa robots and lethal spinning Christmas Trees. That being said, The Doctor is sidelined for a lot of the story and I don’t think his supporting cast can carry it for too long, but he soon manages to make a triumphant return at the end for a great series of scenes with the enemy of the week, the Sycorax. It has a lot of Christmas stuff, but also has a good debut story at the same time! (My review of this story can be found HERE)

Technically not even set at Christmas, “The One Doctor” was very intentionally a light-hearted Pantomime Christmas special, even if it doesn’t mention the holiday during its two hours. Full of genuinely funny scenes as The Doctor has to deal with an impostor coasting off of his reputation while trying to collect some weird artefacts to save the lives of many innocents. It’s a great laugh and features Matt Lucas as a singing blob of alien jelly, so what’s not to love? (My review of this story can be found HERE)

“The Next Doctor” similarly deals with a fake Doctor, though in this case an amnesiac with parts of The Doctor’s memories. The interplay between David Tennant and David Morrissey as the two “Doctors” is frankly brilliant, and the story is quite fun too, with plenty of Christmassy scenery. Worth it for Morrissey alone though. (My review of this story can be found HERE)

“The Snowmen” is, much like half of the stories on this list it feels, set during Victorian Christmas time, but has a strong story involving killer snowmen that manages to also include a returning vintage villain. It has a sad but also somewhat uplifting twist towards the end, even if the actual ending is bit pants. Plenty of fun to be had though! (My review of this story can be found HERE)

Last Christmas features references or flat out rips off both Inception and Alien, but also has a sarcastic Santa Claus who has explosive tangerines, so it can’t be all bad! Seriously though, this manages to be extremely festive but also tell a really fun Sci-Fi story at the same time. The ending still kind of ticks me off, but I can’t deny this is a fun story to stick on when in the festive mood! (My review of this story can be found HERE)

The third of four Eighth Doctor audio Christmas stories on this list, “Better Watch Out / Fairytale of Salzburg” tells a magical and at times horrific tale based around the old mainland Europe idea of “Krampus”, with some good twists, great dialogue and a really old timey Christmassy vibe. It’s a shame it’s in the middle of a four story boxset, but it’s worth the price of admission by itself! (My review of this story can be found HERE)

It was a close-run thing, but in the end “The Chimes of Midnight” just hits #2. If it were just about story quality it would’ve won hands-down because it’s still an amazing mix of dark humour, tense scene-setting and great dialogue and twists. Definitely highly recommended, and a must for a dark room at Christmas… (My review of this story can be found HERE)

Here we go then! “A Christmas Carol” is my favourite slice of Christmassy Who, as it tells a very festive tale, but one that is both clever and heart-warming, with a very lovely final scene. Perfect thing to stick on the TV at Christmas, which is funny when you think that the story at the bottom of this list is the one that followed it! (My review of this story can be found HERE)

There we have it! Have a great Christmas everybody!

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