Doctor Who Recap: Out With the Young, In With the New -- Grade Matt Smith's Swan Song

Doctor Who Matt Smith Final EpisodeThe following contains minor spoilers from Doctor Who‘s Christmas special, The Time of the Doctor.

Given the great hullabaloo that surrounded the casting of Matt Smith, then just 26, as Doctor Who almost exactly five years ago, it’s funny that for much of his final turn he appeared in old age make-up.

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In the series’ latest Christmas special, The Time of the Doctor, the 11th-ish Time Lord found himself tasked with protecting a sleepy town called Christmas from no less than “all Hell” — in the form of a new Time War, were he to speak his name and thus open the door for the Time Lords to return, through a crack in the universe.

So diligent is the Doctor in assuming this role as “protector” that he’s still at it, and looking markedly older, when Clara — whom he tricked/left behind (and not for the last time!) before committing to his peacekeeper fate — returns some 300 (!) years later. He can’t run from his responsibility, lest he leave Christmas (aka Trenzalore) vulnerable. And he cannot regenerate any further, he explains, given 10′s second regeneration and counting the War Doctor. He is, technically, 13. No tricks left.

But just as this Doctor, looking very much an old man, prepares to face his last battlefield, with Daleks dead-set on delivering destruction, Clara makes an appeal to those listening from the other side of the crack in the universe. “His name is the Doctor,” she asserts. “If you love him — and you should — help him.”

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Moments later, as the Doctor wages his seemingly last war of words with the grouchy, terse Daleks from atop a bell tower, a crack forms in the night sky, and through it pours the sparkles of regeneration — which a rapturous “13″ promptly uses to fend off his frequent foes.

Once the dust settles, Clara goes searching for her Doctor in the TARDIS, and for a moment it appears that the regeneration has already taken place. But it hasn’t, not just yet. Not before Matt Smith/this Time Lord can say a proper farewell to his role and Clara/Jenna Louise Coleman — “I will not forget one line of this, not one day, I swear. Doctor Who Peter CapaldiI will always remember when the Doctor was me” — and then share a lovely final scene with the spirit of Karen Gillan’s Amy Pond, so happy to see her “Raggedy Man.”

But then, a few instants later, the regeneration takes hold, and suddenly, we have a new Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi — one who is alternately thrilled to have new kidneys (though not fond of the color) and desperate to know how to “fly this thing.”

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What did you think of Matt Smith’s swan song as Doctor Who? Did the clunky-ish storyline surrounding the town of Christmas bog things down some? Or, all things considered, did the tale dot enough I’s and cross enough T’s in dangling mythology to satisfy?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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233 Comments
  1. Lastaugust says:

    I like the ponds because of all the story around them. I like Clara because with her lack of character she is our eyes into the doctor.

  2. LadyTevish says:

    I simply loved it! Not as strong as Day of the Doctor, but that’s not a fair comparison as Day was amazing lol. It tied up Matt’s trailing plot lines (mostly) and introduced some potential new interesting characters. I think it was a wonderful sendoff for him. The regeneration was long but remember Tennant’s went on for a long time too. Matt’s was kind of a reverse of him, instead of sad farewells then burst of energy, the burst pf energy came first then Matt got to say his farewells to Amy. I was satisfied with his last scene with River in Name, so i didn’t expect her to be there. I’m personally excited to see what Capaldi has to offer. I know he’s older than the prev 3, but he was much older than his companions in many of the original series’. I feel it’s almost like a tribute. And as for chemistry, i think Clara had great chemistry with Matt, and will with Capaldi. However chemistry doesn’t have to be romantic. Personally i think with Rose, Martha, Amy, and Clara (to an extentn Amy and Clara it was mostly playful flirting) that there have been enough romantic overtones. Donna was a nice change and I think Clara and Capaldi will be too. In short i have loved 9,10, and 11 equally, and am sure i will love 12 too! :)

  3. Tina says:

    Amy Pond was a tacky tart whose cocky attitude was overbearing and annoying. Clara is so much better, but I do agree with those of you that think there was no chemistry between her and Smith. Most of the time, there was not. I’m glad Rory was around, because I found myself accepting of the tacky tart as long as he was there. Dont judge a book by it’s cover. Lets see how the new Doctor fairs. They’ve all been fabulous so far. I would love if they brought back River Song though! That would be fabulous! What a woman!!!!

  4. Rob O'Hannon says:

    Doctor Who will go on as long as there fans whose minds are open enough to the transitions that are the heart of Doctor Who. Everytime the Doctor has regenerated, there have been fans that hate it because they can’t let go of the past. They also react that way to new companions. My old Doctor was Tom Baker, My new Doctor was David Tennant. I was sad to see both of them go, and doubted my ability to embrace the new Doctors. But I did, because that’s the strenght of the series – the ability to change and adapt. Matt Smith got the best farewell of any Doctor so far, and deserved it. I will give Peter Capaldi a chance in the role (although it will hard to overcome my image of him from my favorite movie “Local Hero.”