Matt Smith: My Doctor – Part 5: Specials
Guest contributors K-Ci Williams and Luke Gwalchmai continue their Matt Smith retrospective.
We grow closer and closer to the moment of truth at Trenzalore. In today’s part of this farewell series, we shall look over Matt Smith’s portrayals in the previous Christmas specials; the highlights of his performance in the 50th Anniversary special; and his appearance in The Sarah Jane Adventures which was helmed by the woman contributor David Selby claims as ‘The Woman Who Defined Doctor Who’ (we so unsurprisingly agree). This culminates in a few ideas for what we would love to see in Smith’s final story, The Time of the Doctor.
A Christmas Carol (2010 Christmas Special)
In his first festive special, Matt Smith boasts a full thirteen episode series of climactic stories under his belt and progresses towards a touching story told by the Moff himself. So much happens in this story, but Matt’s performance reaches so many levels: he’s entertaining through comedy, the portrayal of a committed Doctor and he basically brings the Dickensian tale to life. The Doctor gives help to the Ebenezer Scrooge of the piece – Kazran Sardick – and Smith’s acting is superb as the Time Lord who is still very childish inside.
The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe (2011 Christmas Special)
The Doctor has gone back to the shadows, and suddenly reappears again, this time as the Caretaker. As always, Matt plays the figure with such grace, he’s bubbly and agitated all the time. My favourite moment from this whole episode is in fact at the end. The Doctor visits the Ponds: Smith and Gillan are real friends, and this is conveyed in their performance. And the ending… a tear rolls down the Doctor’s cheek, and he closes the TARDIS blue door as he wipes it from his face. It’s the best part of the episode to me, because it’s back to the usual stakes: the Doctor and the Ponds, together, forever (as it turned out, around the broadcast time of this very special it was announced that the Ponds would be leaving). Those stakes were short lived…
The Snowmen (2012 Christmas Special)
Here, Matt Smith plays a Doctor who has retreated, the embodiment of the Scrooge he attempted to help only two Christmases ago. He’s lost Amy and Rory, and empathetically, I don’t blame him at all for how he is feeling, nor do I disagree with his methods of grieving. However, he makes you fall in love with Jenna Coleman all over again; they’re such a dynamic match. The scenarios in which the writers of Who place Matt in are endless and challenging. But each time Matt steps up, here portraying the Scrooge who becomes fascinated with a woman just like he always does. I had high hopes for the second part of Series 7 based on this special, and I wasn’t disappointed, Matt has been on top form his entire tenure.
The Day of the Doctor (50th Anniversary special)
What a way to celebrate 50 years of a wonderful show this was! This special changes everything for the Eleventh Doctor. It turns out he didn’t destroy Gallifrey after all; he saved it with a simply genius plan, but his former three selves forgot that they did it! Well, he’s forgotten until now. The Eleventh Doctor showcases why he is such a great Doctor here; his comedic side is shown throughout, particularly in his first scene with the Tenth and War Doctor. The intellectual side of the Eleventh Doctor is also evident here, as it was his plan to give U.N.I.T the activation code for the Vortex Manipulator that got them out, but not in the way he expected. If he didn’t give them the code, Clara wouldn’t have escaped the Zygons, and she wouldn’t have let them out. Although, the Doctors had just thought of the plan with the Sonic, but his initial plan still worked in a way! It was also the Eleventh Doctor who decides he doesn’t want to destroy Gallifrey and thinks of the plan to freeze Gallifrey. And by doing this, he changes the Doctor’s entire path. He has had a great weight lifted from his shoulders, he no longer has to live the fact that he wiped out his own people.
Matt Smith is outstanding in this special and is now at the height of his powers as the Doctor. It’s hard to pick out a particular moment to prove this but the scenes in the cell, or the scene when the Moment Interface shows the Doctors Gallifrey at that time are two standout moments. The acting from Matt in the latter scene is fantastic he shows how tormented by he has been the Time War for 400 years.
Death of the Doctor (The Sarah Jane Adventures)
In a previous article, David Selby attributed the definition of Doctor Who to the late, great Elisabeth Sladen. Never has the loss of a ‘famous face’ affected me so much. As I’m sure many do, I miss her so much. Of course, it’s better to celebrate her memory than to get worked up over what could’ve been. So, even as the demise of the Eleventh Doctor draws near, I must mention his appearance in Sarah Jane’s world. What a testament to her, that she’s had two Doctors on her own show. You can see that Matt is in awe of her and Katy Manning. In my mind, they’re both brilliant actresses. To be honest, this brings up another idea: I want to see more classic companions in Doctor Who. It’s great to get new characters, but just bringing back old favourites would mean so much to everyone who is invested in this show.
Anyway, Matt, Elisabeth and Katy: one of the greatest TARDIS teams. Matt plays the role in such a way that you are convinced that he is the same man from 1963; that he did work with Jo Grant at U.N.I.T and that he did drop Sarah Jane off in Aberdeen. As for the throwaway line of 507 regenerations, I laugh at that every time. Overall, I’m overjoyed that my Doctor was able to share the screen with two of the most delightful classic companions, one of whom I think has the potential and credibility to return to the show, and the other who we remember with a fond and kind heart. R.I.P Elisabeth Sladen.
The Time of the Doctor (2013 Christmas Special)
Despite the Christmas special being the demise of the Eleventh Doctor, there are things we will be hoping to see…
A cracking story – It’s important to us that Matt Smith and his Doctor go out on a high and who better to do that than the mastermind of them all, Steven Moffat. We don’t want an overcomplicated story, just a great plot which answers some questions and leaves Matt Smith’s Doctor in the archives, waiting for the next Multi-Doctor story.
Cameo appearances – It’s highly unlikely, but we’d love just one final cameo appearance from Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill to say farewell to their Doctor. After all, they were present for most of the Smith era. We also would love Alex Kingston to come back as River Song. We’re very indecisive about a River return: on one hand think of how much more mature she might be with Capaldi (maybe it could help redeem her in some fans’ eyes?), but on the other hand her era could be concluded along with Smith’s, also being archived as a companion in the next Multi-Doctor story?
The ‘Doctor’s past’ character – Well, seeing as he is now apparently 1200 years old, Tasha Lem could be from a past that we haven’t seen. SPOILERY photos from the festive special suggest that she is in fact a Dalek puppet of sorts. For whatever reason the BBC released this image of all the ones they could have. Some believe that there is in fact something more to learn about the mysterious Tasha Lem.
Music – Following Together or Not at All from the Ponds’ demise, we’re expecting a cracking tune to play as the Doctor regenerates. It’s Murray Gold after all, has he ever disappointed?
The Next Doctor – So, who’s the next Doctor? Apparently, it’s that guy from The Thick of It. Theories suggest the first words of his Doctor will be something of a swearing rant. Honestly though, we’re really looking forward to Peter Capaldi. The appearance of his eyebrows in The Day of the Doctor has made a bold but positive impression on most fans.
In conclusion, the prospect of saying goodbye to Matt Smith is daunting. When I began in 2010, everything was new… Matt Smith was a new Doctor; Karen Gillan was the new companion along with Arthur Darvill later on. The Ponds have come to an end, and now the Eleventh Doctor is set to end too. Everything about my first era of the show is ending, and now all that’s left is Moffat as head writer. While I’m entertained by the mere fact of Peter Capaldi as a new Doctor, I know that what awaits us this Christmas is going to be hauntingly depressing for me. I’d like to thank Luke Gwalchmai for his fantastic collaboration in this article series; he’s definitely a contributor to watch.
Next time, the Top 11 Matt Smith Moments.