It may shock people to realise that we are in the tenth of year of new Doctor Who, marked by the tenth Christmas special the series has seen. And, of course, Peter Capaldi's first. Moffat's Christmas specials tend to be a bit divisive, veering away from Davies' big action adventures, tending to wind the focus down to a far more Christmassy affair. Sometimes these hit home - "A Christmas Carol", "The Snowmen" - but sometimes you can't help feeling that there's something missing - "The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe", "The Time Of The Doctor". This year's "Last Christmas" happily seems very much the former.
Moffat has decided to be just a little bit cheeky this year, presenting us a story that ultimately is nothing more than a dream, and yet that Miracle On 34th St feeling seems to be just right. Moffat is clearly throwing a fair few homages into the mix, with Miracle and Alien being the two obvious ones, and rather than shy away from this, Moffat embraces it in his story, even going so far as to have someone mention the similarity. But it's almost because the whole set up is dreams within dreams, you feel you can get away with it.
Paul Wilmshurst - a terrible audio commentator it has to be said - brings his A-game to the special, providing some brilliant direction, matched by Neville Kidd's amazing photography. There's some brilliant framing, and amazing lighting, all of which sees the special start very Christmassy before going very Alien-y. There's a confidence to this production that seems to say "we can get away with anything".
It's helped no end by Peter Capaldi. Now a series away from the hype of the fiftieth anniversary, it feels like we can enjoy Capaldi as the proper incumbent Doctor, and he seems more relaxed in the role for this special. There's a subtle toning down of the acerbic twelfth Doctor, so that he's still prickly and not very huggable, but there's more humour and fun in him this time round. Clara benefits from this as well, as Jenna Coleman gets to enjoy the obvious chemistry the two now share. Moffat ensures that the events of the previous series are not swept under the carpet, and the Doctor and Clara deal with Danny in a surprisingly effective manner, which allows you to believe that the ending makes a lot of sense for both characters. Hopefully Clara is a full time companion now, rather than an "adventure on Wednesday" one.
The cast is filled out by some nice performances, notably Michael Troughton turning up as a professor, but more important is Faye Marsay who is fantastic as Shona. You can't help but think it would be nice to see the Doctor and Clara catch up with her at a later point. But it's Nick Frost that everyone is talking about, because he gets his name in the credits, and he's playing Santa Claus.
And he's absolutely brilliant. For an idea that has every opportunity of going wrong, Frost brings a touch of magic to the Santa, that makes the character very believable, and it completely works in the story. Even the comedy elves - Dan Starkey and Nathan McMullen - add rather than detract to the episode.
Put simply, "Last Christmas" is Moffat's best Christmas special ever. It moves the story of Clara and the Doctor along, while at the same time delivering a fantastic adventure, and still poking fun at the fans who whinge about Moffat every chance they get.
Bring on series nine!