A Sonic Screwdriver Stocking Stuffer: The Doctor Who Christmas Specials

Forget sleigh bells, gift wrap, and tinsel -- Christmas is really about Daleks, Sontarans, and Cybermen. (Who were mostly tinsel themselves back in the old days, but we digress.) That's because since 2005, the BBC has brought us a Doctor Who special each Christmas, and this year, we get the king hell bastard of them all: the story of (spoiler!) the end of David "Number 10" Tennant's tenure as Doctor and the introduction of Matt Smith as the 11th actor to take the role. We've already filled you in on the new episode; now let's look at some highlights from Christmas past (plus a 2009 sneak peek):

And no, we won't be including 1967's Christmas Day episode, in which the Doctor is arrested for loitering and his companions are chased through a film set. If you want to go torture yourself with recreations of the long-lost episode, be our guest.

2005: The Christmas Invasion

In "The Christmas Invasion," the Syccorax’s plan is simple: make Earth surrender by threatening to hypnotize everyone with the A-positive blood-type ... to death. It's the most Christmassy Christmas special of the bunch, with everything from Christmas dinner to a brass band of homicidal robot Santa Clauses. But the highlight has to be the attack of the killer Christmas tree, three years before "Treevenge" made it popular:

The Doctor is recuperating from regeneration so David Tennant spends most of the episode asleep, but he gets to have all the fun when he wakes up:

2006: The Runaway Bride

"The Runaway Bride" introduced the stubborn and belligerent Donna Noble (Catherine Tate), extra-shouty in her debut but still a breath of fresh air after the Doctor’s previous companion, the suffocatingly wonderful Rose Tyler. Donna's wedding goes awry because her fiancee is secretly poisoning her with ancient huon particles so that alien spiders at the center of the Earth can something something something take over the universe! The yuletide robots are back (what do they do the rest of the year?), one of them posing as a man posing as Santa Claus posing as a taxi driver to kidnap Donna. And while the episode includes a giant Christmas star appearing over London and then shooting at everyone in it, for our money, the best Christmas moment is the attack on Donna's wedding reception with exploding flying Christmas ornaments:

Tennant gets some good lines, but it's Tate who really gets to strut her stuff:

2007: The Voyage of the Damned

Chaos ensues after the Doctor has a space-collision with the space-Titatic. Turns out, the captain's been paid off to scuttle the ship, and in the process destroy the planet Earth. On Christmas day, as it happens. We learn a little about Christmas traditions through the eyes of aliens before the story turns into Die Hard on a ship. Our heroes then traverse the collapsing craft pursued by deadly customer service robots done up as Christmas angels, complete with deadly frisbee halos:

But the best scene has to be when villainous Max Capricorn explains his fiendish plot:

2008: The Next Doctor

The Doctor lands on Earth on Christmas Eve, 1851, falling smack in the middle of a Cyberman invasion. Actually, not so much an invasion as an identity crisis, as the weakened nemeses terrorize London with a 500-foot-tall steampunk Cyberman (which is also a Cyberfactory, a Cybership, and a Cyberking). Alas, there is precious little Christmas in this Christmas special outside of the setting and the theme of child labor. Instead we get the clever and heartbreaking story of Jackson Lake, a man who lost everything up to and including his mind, and the rivetingly villainous traitor Mercy Hartigan. And did we mention the giant robot?

2009: The End of Time

The 2009 special is a two-parter, airing at 9pm December 26th and 8pm January 2nd on BBC America. Here’s what we know about David Tennant's grand finale: arch-nemesis The Master is back (and not feeling well from the look of him), the Ood have been having bad dreams, and Christmas … is cancelled! What diabolical villain could do such a thing?

Sneak preview:


So this Christmas, we’re giving thanks to the BBC for stuffing our stockings with Doctor Who, the show that dares to ask: What are you doing here?

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