Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor and Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday sitting side by side

‘Doctor Who’ 2023 Christmas Special Review: Christmas Is Filled With a Perfect New Doctor

Doctor Who is back in a big way! Russell T. Davies returned as showrunner with a series of specials for the 60th anniversary, starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate, and he’s continuing his run with Ncuti Gatwa as the 15th Doctor.

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Every single Christmas episode of Doctor Who really works by delivering its very own winter wonderland. Seeing the TARDIS covered in snow is something that brings me such joy each holiday season. This year’s episode pairs so incredibly well with a new Doctor’s energy and doesn’t try to force Gatwa’s Doctor into someone else’s box. Instead, we get to see how Davies adapts his Christmas special style to a new Doctor.

In his very first Christmas special “The Church on Ruby Road,” we get to see Gatwa’s Doctor in the midst of meeting his first companion: Ruby Sunday, played by Millie Gibson. The episode is a beautiful nod to the companion introductions of episodes past, and Davies has such a beautiful way of bringing Doctors into their own in the show.

Gatwa really shines in his first standalone episode. Within moments of his debut as the Doctor, it was clear he was going to be a perfect choice.

Ncuti Gatwa is perfection

Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor looking off in the distance

From the first moment that we saw him opposite David Tennant’s “14th” Doctor, it was clear that Gatwa had figured out exactly who his Doctor was going to be, and it was someone we were going to love. What “The Church on Ruby Road” gives us is more time with that Doctor and an exploration of what Gatwa has in store for us.

He brings to us an energy that is just confidently the Doctor. At every turn, he knows what he’s doing, and even when he’s trying to figure out what exactly is going on in his new companion’s life, he still has an air about him that he knows exactly what he’s doing. It makes his Doctor so wonderful and authoritative in just the right way so we know that we can trust everything he’s saying. Mixed with Gatwa’s youthful energy, there is just such a fun vibe to everything he does.

Ruby Sunday will be your new favorite companion

Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday leaning on a crib

To not spoil anything about the brilliant episode, Ruby Sunday is the sweetest companion, which is hard to label because the defining characteristics of many of the Doctor’s companions are their compassion and kindness. Gibson’s performance as Ruby pairs incredibly well with Gatwa, and throughout the episode, we get to meet Ruby’s adoptive family, her mother Carla (Michelle Greenidge), and her grandmother Cherry Sunday (Angela Wynter).

Getting to spend time with Ruby and her family—knowing who she is right off the bat and getting to see the beauty that she brings to not only the family around her but to the life of the Doctor almost instantly—shows just how wonderful Ruby is.

“The Church on Ruby Road” left me beyond excited for what Gatwa has in store for his turn as the Doctor on Doctor Who. We have to wait until the spring for more Doctor Who now, but at least we can just rewatch this episode until then, right?

(featured image: Disney+)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her current obsession is Glen Powell's dog, Brisket. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.