Conventional thinking has it that of the four Matt Smith Christmas specials, two were good or even great, whilst the other two were at best a something of a shrug. Much as the Tour Supremos would like to buck that group mindset in the end we are reluctant to disagree.
4. The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe. It should be stated clearly here that there is nothing inherently bad about The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe. Performance by one and all was uniformly fine. Matt Smith was at his fizzy best but the sense of scale was missing this time around and continuity namedrops like ‘Androzani’ could not save it. Besides the overall premise is more one of winter than Christmas.
3. The Time of the Doctor. The Tour feels a little badly about knocking Matt Smith’s final story in this context, but the reason is very clear. After the absolute triumph of The Day of the Doctor only a month earlier comes the whiplash of his (literal) final bow, and it all just seemed to be too soon, or too much. Tears were still shed, but everything still seemed just a little off.
2. The Snowmen. On the scale of Christmassy-ness it ranges from The Time of the Doctor (low) to A Christmas Carol . The Snowmen attempts to split the difference between the two. On the one hand it’s very much a bridge episode between Series 7a and 7b and it brings back the Great Intelligence to set up Series 7b. At the same time there are definite dream-like qualities as Clara ascends the staircase to the stars and such. Those parts were lovely. And since The Snowmen is Jenna Coleman’s first proper story, it’s certainly an inflection point for the Matt Smith era.
1. A Christmas Carol Not just Matt Smith’s first and his #1 Christmas Special, we rate it as the best overall Special. A deft combination of Moffat-style timey-wimey as well as a neat turn of the Dickens classic. For this reason alone it stands atop of the Christmassy-ness of all the Christmas Specials to date. The fairy tale qualities of flying fish and masterpiece casting of Michael Gambon provided an amazing first Smithmas for us all. Any story which gets Tour Honchos a little misty at the end of the story is almost by definition a great story, and having watched it again quite recently only reaffirmed it’s ascension to #1.
Only the Capaldi outings remain. We’ll fold in Twice Upon a Time with his other three stories … next time.