Ranking the Doctor Who Christmas Specials

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The key art for “The Time of the Doctor” (Photo: BBC)

11. The Time of the Doctor

Let’s just put it out there: Matt Smith’s farewell episode is not what we hoped for him. “The Time of the Doctor” doesn’t really work as either a Christmas episode or a goodbye for him, and in trying to be both, it is neither.

The story is a convoluted mess, attempting to fix the plot holes in three seasons of timey wimey twists. Most of these long-awaited answers don’t make a lot of sense. We get a forced holiday bit with Clara’s family – that we don’t know – because it’s Christmas. (And presumably someone, somewhere must enjoy the bits where the Doctor pretends to be her boyfriend.) There are rapid-fire references to almost every one of Eleven’s iconic moments and catchphrases.

And the Doctor spends 400 years getting old while defending a town called Christmas (yes, really) from a stream of famous Doctor Who monster cameos. (The best part is probably when he befriends a decapitated Cyberman head. This episode is so weird.) Everything turns out okay when the hidden Time Lords, thanks to an emotional request from Clara that they somehow both hear and care about, gift the Doctor with an additional set of regenerations. (He was supposed to only get thirteen.) Their deus ex machina gift even takes the form of sparkly magic dusts that drifts down from the sky. A Christmas miracle!

To his credit, Smith tries his hardest to sell this, though. It’s a really emotional final performance from him. And serves as a reminder of many of the things we all loved about his Doctor. His last minute hallucination of Amy Pond is perfect, and an emotional punch to the gut.