Ranking the Doctor Who Christmas Specials

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David Tennant, David Morrissey, Dervla Kirwan and Velile Tshabalala in “The Next Doctor”. (Photo: BBC)

8. The Next Doctor

Like many Doctor Who Christmas specials, “The Next Doctor” is a mixed bag. We’ve got incredibly cheesy special effects. We’ve got a campy, over the top villain. A classic Doctor Who monster shows up. And though the main storyline doesn’t really make sense, there are some solid emotional moments throughout. Basically, it’s a Who Christmas episode, though its story might have been better served if it wasn’t.

When Ten lands in London on Christmas Eve in 1851, he meets a man who’s also calling himself the Doctor. He’s battling alien monsters. He’s running around with an awesome female companion named Rosita. He even has a gas balloon that he calls his TARDIS. It’s all pretty weird. The main plot ostensibly revolves around the evil machinations of Mercy Hartigan, a sinister woman who’s trying to help the Cybermen conquer the world. After her evil plans go awry, she ends up part of a giant Cyberman stomping through London and it’s all as awfully ridiculous as you could ever imagine.

David Morrissey is incredibly charming as Jackson Lake and does a lot with the material. He has wonderful chemistry with Tennant. Even though we all knew there was no way he was actually the Next Doctor, it was kind of nice to imagine he could be. He’s good at it. Instead, he’s just a man with an implanted memory and an incredibly tragic past. That said, there are plenty of great character moments here, from the fun of the two Doctors sparring to the poignant moment when we learn Jackson’s real identity and why he believes he’s a Time Lord.  Ten’s acceptance of Jackson’s invitation to Christmas dinner should be beyond saccharine, but it isn’t, and that’s nothing short of the magic of the holidays at work.