I think I said this earlier in the thread, but it bares re-stating:
"Special" episodes will never be as good as ones buried mid-season. It is a chance for writers to show off to the widest audience. That means that a larger proportion than normal will be Young, old, or only "mildly interested". As such anything that is too complex, resolves issues that need a lot of back-story and anything too scary or exiting has to be skipped.
The result is an episode that can introduce a new character or utilise a celebrity "guest companion" that will attract some ratings or occasionally be a way to kill of a Doctor.
Don't get em wrong, I'll still be sitting down to watch, but generally I'm more exited for normal episodes than I am for specials.