Holiday Special was the story published in the Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor Holiday Special comic series.
It is the first full Christmas-themed story to star both the Thirteenth Doctor and her companions (although she had previously appeared alone in the shorter Christmas story 'Twas the Night Before Christmas). Notably, it established that the events of the Free Comic Book Day 2019 story, Meet the Fam!, were in fact a false memory implanted by the story's main villain, Krampus.
There’s no BBC Christmas Special this year – so we’re bringing it to you in comic form! Can the Doctor save Christmas? Is Santa a myth, a man, or a Time Lord? Are chimneys bigger on the inside?
The Doctor and her companions save Christmas from a contemptible coup by the cantankerous Krampus! But is everyone’s favorite Time Lord listed under ‘Naughty’… or ‘Nice’? The second half of a fun, festive sci-fi story from Jody Houser.
With the holidays around the corner, the Thirteenth Doctor proposes going somewhere special to celebrate. While she is quick to agree to Team TARDIS' idea of an amusement park, the quartet are flummoxed to find that they all have different memories of the last park they visited and are unable to recall the name of the planet it was on. Flustered, the Doctor simply checks the logs only to find that the TARDIS has no recordings from that day. Suspecting that their memories have not been removed outright, rather that they've been altered, the Doctor follows Graham's suggestion to retrace their steps.
The TARDIS materialises on a festive-themed planet populated by knee-high beings. Introducing themselves to one named Friffle, the group learns that they've been here before and that their memories were most likely erased by "Mr. Henderson" before telling them that the first time they came, the populace assumed that Henderson had sent them. Those of Friffle's people who go to Henderson's world never return, prompting another outraged reaction from Team TARDIS. After confirming that this is only the second time she's made the promise, the Doctor swears to get to the bottom of this.
Out of Christmas lights, the Doctor makes some neurological trackers that will detect any memory alterations before the TARDIS lands on a snowy planet decorated with Earth style architecture. Exploring, the group is surrounded by toy guards before what appears to be Santa Claus arrives. Recognising that this alleged Santa is the Henderson that Friffle mentioned, the group is taken to a holding cell. When Ryan taunts the guard by comparing Henderson to Santa, the guard insists that Santa is a monster.
Sniffing the cell, the Doctor confirms that they've been here before a guard greets them.
After the guard confirms that the group is who they seem to be, he steps forward and introduces himself as Baxter, having been sent by "Jeff." Using his candy cane, the elf frees the group and guides them to Friffle's people, now reduced to forced labour making toys. As the group watches, Yaz's lights flash, indicating a memory rewrite but the Doctor doesn't think the glow is bright enough. Realising that the workers' memories are being affected, the group suspects that they tried to free the workers last time and had their own memories rewritten as a result. After the group overhears a mention of "cold fusion", Baxter leads the group to the main control room.
Arriving in a rather Christmas style office, the group finds Santa suits and the Naughty or Nice list but Baxter assures them that this isn't Santa. As someone enters, the group hides in a closet. When Henderson enters, they sheds their disguise to reveal that she's Krampus, an "anti-Santa" that feeds on the primal fears of children.
Following, the Doctor recongises Krampus' "cold fusion" device as a hybrid teleporter and psychic energy collector through which her minions will harvest fear. Unable to approach directly, lest their memories be written, the Doctor dons her fez as a psychic safeguard while having her companions adjust the machine.
Using the sonic screwdriver, the companions free the slaves while the Doctor sabotages the machine, trapping Krampus and her minions in a wormhole. As both species of slaves pick themselves up, the Doctor promises to explain everything over Christmas dinner.
As they dine, Yaz questions, if Krampus exists, then does Santa? Coyly, the Doctor denies to answer but does place an offering in the snow for an old friend.
- Thirteenth Doctor
- Graham O'Brien
- Ryan Sinclair
- Yasmin Khan
- Friffle's people
- Minion of Krampus
- Toy guards
- The Doctor believes in children's dreams, laughter, general jolliness, and bringing joy to others through space and time despite impossible odds.
- The Doctor uses a fez to protect herself from the mind traps.
- Graham says that he and Ryan have a Christmas dinner to get to.
- The Doctor notes the "festive" appearance of her neurological trackers.
- "Mr Henderson" is dressed like Santa Claus.
- Children all over the world believe in Santa, and write him letters and send him their wishes.
- Baxter is an elf, sent by "Jeff".
- The Doctor wonders if the list of children's names is a naughty or nice list.
- The Doctor hangs a wreath on her TARDIS door.
- The Doctor leaves a mince pie and a carrot for her "old friend".
- Ryan suggests the Doctor take them to Disneyland, or "cool, future, other planet Disneyland".
- The Doctor recalls how Graham lost a Bevivian game of chance at the amusement park they'd previously visited.
- Ryan calls the use of the mind trap on the workers "very The Dark Crystal of 'em".
- Ryan calls Krampus a "regular Grinch".
- The Doctor acted as a gladiator at some point, but "decades" before the scenario that Yaz remembered.
- Ryan wonders if Yaz would be okay with wearing the festive-looking neurological tracker because of her Muslim faith.
- Ryan previously had a maths teacher called Ms. Henderson.
- A human's sense of smell is linked to their memory, as are a Time Lord's.
Original print details
- Part 1:
- Whirling through time and space, the Doctor and her friends - Yaz, Ryan and Graham - took some time off from thwarting nefarious alien plots to enjoy some well-earned leisure time. But theme parks on distant planets aren't always what they seem, and the gang were soon saving victims of a crooked carnival con. Everything is right in the universe again - or so they think...
- Next time!
- The Doctor and friends gain an unexpected ally. Together they must stop Mr. Henderson - but who exactly is he? And what is he really up to?
- Part 2:
- Having been plagued by false memories of an alien amusement park, the Doctor and the gang went on the hunt to discover the truth. On a curiously colourful planet, perturbed alien named Friffle reveals his people are being taken by the mysterious the mysterious Mr Henderson - a man who bears a striking resemblance to Santa Claus! Taken as prisoners in his grotto-like lair, the Doctor resolves to find out exactly what he's plotting...
- Next time!
- The threat of two deadly enemies - the Weeping Angels and Autons - forces the Doctor to bend the rules and get help from none other than... the Tenth Doctor!
- The Doctor recalls the events of COMIC: Meet the Fam!, which are revealed to have not actually happened, but were in fact a false memory implanted by Krampus.
- Graham wonders if the culprit may be that "hoarder fellow [they] keep running into". (COMIC: A New Beginning, Old Friends)
- Ryan suggests going to Disneyland. In the Doctor's version of the false memory, he asked her if her psychic paper could get them into the park. (COMIC: Meet the Fam!)
- Yasmin's Muslim faith is brought up. (TV: Rosa, Demons of the Punjab)
- The Doctor wears her rainbow-coloured scarf. (TV: Resolution)
- The Doctor and Baxter refer to Santa as "Jeff". (TV: A Christmas Carol)
- Ryan mentions the Corsair. (COMIC: Old Friends)
- The Doctor uses her fez to protect herself from the mind traps. (TV: Kerblam!)