OK, I got to see last night's Christmas special and I took some time to work out my thoughts on it. But first I did want to say something about the previous Matt Smith specials. I didn't like them. The 2010 one was a cliched take on the overdone A Christmas Carol type of story, and last's year's bore me so much I gave up watching it at the first commercial break. To this day I haven't watched it fully.
Now, what did I think of this year's? I actually liked it. It's one of the few 11th Doctor stories I actually like. (And it is a VERY short list.) Starting off, I liked the set up with the boy and his snowman, really drew me in like when I saw "Fear Her" for the first time. I was thrilled to see the Doctor's past allies of the Silurian Vastra, her human wife Jenny, and the Sontaran Strax return. (I do wonder how Strax came back, given he previously died. It was briefly explained...) I'm glad to see that they weren't just one use characters.
Second, the new interior of the TARDIS. It is a stark improvement over the previous design. When it first debuted, I absolutely hated it. To me it looked like a hipster steampunk studio apartment congested with too many nicknacks. This new one, like the old saying goes, less is more. And it harkens back to the classic design used by the first 7 Doctors.
I also liked the Doctor's attitude at the start, showing him still affected by the circumstances of Amy and Rory's departure.
The villains in this, I won't lie I had my doubts about them. However, seeing them and the various clues of their origin, I wasn't too surprised it was revealed to be the work of the Great Intelligence. For those who don't know, go to the Doctor Who wiki and look it up. That and there were tie-ins with the two infamous stories The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear. (Man I had hoped those two would've gotten "The Invasion" treatment by now...) I shouted in joy when I saw the Doctor speak of the London Underground circa 1967 and the hints that he is responsible for setting up the events of The Web of Fear.
Lastly, the character of Clara. Who is she? First her actress debuted as Oswin in "Asylum of the Daleks" and now here. I am curious what her story is. And I am hoping that it's better than River Song's true identity. Man, that was one of many letdowns courtesy of Moffat's writing. All in all, I give it an 8 out of 10 and do look forward (with caution) at the new episodes coming soon.
Also, I'll have my retrospectives of the re-launched series coming starting in early 2013.