I will preface this review by saying that I've been constantly underwhelmed by the Christmas episodes since they started back in 2005 with The Christmas Invasion. Oh, they have their moments but overall there's lots of sound and thunder signifying nothing. I even skipped the one with David Morrissey as "The Next Doctor" completely.
So, can Stephen Moffet succeed where Russel T Davis failed, i.e. make me happy on Christmas Day?
Yes he can.
The first bit of the episode, say the first 20 minutes, was just bizarre and weird and... bizarrely weird. Now I like weird, but this took the cake. There were flying fish and sharks on some alien planet. I still don't know what was up with that.
But the flying shark was just a "MacGuffin" to get Katherine Jenkins thawed out to sing.
You see there's this planet that Michael Gambon seems to control and if you owe him money then he has a family member frozen as collateral. He's a bit mean and Scrooge-like. Along comes the doctor to ask him to turn off his cloud machine so the space liner that Amy and Rory are on can land without crashing. Gambon refuses.
But the doctor knows he's not all bad so he recovers a video recording that Gambon made as a child. Gambon is unimpressed so the Doctor decides to change his mind. Literally.
With the black and white recording projected on the wall of the room the doctor exits through the door and moments later appears in the kid's room in the recording.
Cue adventures with flying sharks, one of which needs Katherine Jenkins to sing to it so they thaw her out. The Doctor and the young Gambon continue to thaw her out every Christmas Eve and have more adventures, meanwhile the audience notices that each time she goes back in the box a counter keeps subtracting 1. Eventually she tells young Gambon not to thaw her out anymore because she will only have one day left to live.
I don't want to regurgitate the whole plot but eventually the Doctor convinces older Gambon to help the space liner people and he is forced to thaw Katherine Jenkins out one last time, knowing it will be the last day they can spend together.
The only minus point is the paucity of Amy Pond content. She and Rory are hardly in the episode, although it does make sense to concentrate on the "Christmas Carol" story.
Then at the end of the episode we get a peek at the new series with lots of Arizona looking deserty stuff.