The final in my series of Reviews of the Matt Smith Doctor Who years

Summary: The Doctor comes to Trenzalore. Will he be able to save the people even if it takes the rest of his life?

Plot: The Doctor traveling with a pet Cyberman head finds himself pulled both to a Christmas dinner with Clara & to a summons by the Papal Mainframe. After a brief, briefless visit with her family they visit the Papal Mainframe where a woman informs him that everyone from the Cybermen, Weeping Angels, Sontarans, Daleks and more a surrounding a planet waiting to attack but all afraid to go first. The Planet it turns out is Trenzalore, and after slipping down to the planet discovers a Planet where nobody can speak falsely and the Crack in Amy Pond’s wall. On the other side of the crack are the Time Lords and Gallifrey in the Universe where they are trapped waiting to come back with a word from the Doctor. It becomes a standoff, the legions around the planet need to stop the Doctor, but if they make a move they doctor will say the word and bring the time Lords back. Meanwhile the Doctor can’t bring the Time Lords back without restarting the time war with a dozen extra races ready to fight taking the Universe back to war, yet if he leave not only does he abandon his people but the forces surrounding the planet will slaughter the people. Will he spend the rest of his final regeneration defending this world and the people in it?

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Writing: A much better story than I expected. I presume Moffat had this story in mind along with Day of the Doctor. He manages to integrate the large selections of villains in a clever way. In one sense it’s the ultimate paradox connecting this episode with Matt Smith’s very first one. Even more incredible he manages to make this episode very fresh and almost entirely unpredictable. If this episode was judged by script alone, I think it would stand among some of the finest there have been.

Acting: Matt Smith gives a performance that starts slightly above average and continues to improve as the episode goes on until he simply shines both as an aging Doctor & before his death. Oddly Jenna Louise Coleman gives her least memorable performance since she joined the series, and the supporting cast is entirely forgettable. Part of it is the script that overshadows them but none of the actors, other than Smith rise to the level of the story they are in and it takes Matt Time to get there. That’s a real shame

Anniversary Moment: Two key links to the Five Doctors one more obvious than the other.

Memorable Moments: A nude Christmas Dinner, The first encounter, Sending Clara home, the old man,

Really cool moment: The shedding of his costume. The idea that Matt Smith’s doctor removes his costume knowing that he will be replaced really works.

Oddities: The Doctor talks about how is out of regenerations but his 13th self was there saving Gallifrey.

Pet Peeves: While the line is clever the Papel hottie flying the Tardis was a cheap way of getting Clara back to the world.

I really liked…: The respect for the actual rules of regeneration and the consistency with the Time Lords doing for the Doctor what they did for the Master (or offered to do) in the Five Doctors.

Great Quote(s):

 CLARA:I need you for Christmas Dinner.
The Doctor:I’m being shot at by Cybermen!
Clara:Well can’t we do both?

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Clara:No one but me can see your clothes?
The Doctor: And I think it might be causing some tension
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Mother Superior: Speak your name and this planet burns.
The Doctor:This Planet is protected.

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The Doctor:Number 10 regenerated and kept the same face, I had vanity issues then.

Final Verdict: 5 Stars, The writing really raises this episode beyond the supporting performances around it. I reserve the right to change my opinion of what follows only as I’ve only see this episode once thus far but my first impression is if the level of action from the previous special had been in this one it might be not only the best Matt Smith Episode but in the top 10 of all time.

Ranking in specials 3rd of 5

1. The Day of the Doctor
2. A Christmas Carol
3. The Time of the Doctor
4. The Snowmen
5. The Doctor, the Widow & the Wardrobe

Ranking in Matt Smith Era to this point (top 10 shown) Doesn’t place, If the acting reached the left of the writing it would have been top 3 at worst (most likely 2nd)

1. Day of the Doctor
2. The Bells of St. John
3. Let’s Kill Hitler
4. The Girl who waited
5. The Doctor’s Wife
6. The Pandorica Opens
7. A Good Man Goes to War
8. The Eleventh Hour
9. The Big Bang
10. The Crimson Horror

pasteles

Christmas in my native Puerto Rico is an extended party. It starts around Thanksgiving week and ends after the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6th. Of all the countries I’ve visited, only France has more work holidays than Puerto Rico.

In-between there are a lot of parties, and an endless array of delicious foods, most of which would be banned by Mike Bloomberg for their fat, sugar, and salt content.

First, the drink of choice for the entire season is coquito, the “very yummy creamy tropical coconut eggnog made with spices and white rum.” While all the men drink their rum straight, ladies disguise it in coquito. Salud!

Most people celebrate Christmas Eve with a huge dinner: lechón asado (roast pig) or pernil (pork shoulder), which must be marinated at least 24 hours in advance; arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), red beans, tostones (fried plaintains), and pasteles.

Oh, pasteles! Delicious, but such hard work that my mom once commandeered my sister and me for a full day of preparation (which included peeling and grinding yuca, a thankless task if ever there was one), wrapping the pasteles in plantain leaves, cooking, and clean-up (you must wash down the whole kitchen afterwards because of the lingering odor). It was such hard work, mom bought them from an acquaintance for many years after. “Lesson learned!” mom said.

Some may also include bacalao, salted cod fish with tubers.

All these foods are served at the same time, and washed down with rum, beer, wine, or soda.

A couple of hours later, it’s time for dessert: The table is cleared, and out come arroz con dulce (rice pudding – I like mine with raisins), flan, plátanos en almibar (ripe plantains in syrup), tembleque, majarete, and pineapple upside-down cake, which must have a perfect maraschino cherry in the center of each pineapple. Someone always brings cookies and pies, too.

Of course, high-octane fully caffeinated Puerto Rican coffee goes with the dessert, served in expresso cups.

By then it’s midnight Mass (if you go to church), and after that, you open your presents.

Merry Christmas!

It’s Christmas Day I wish all of my readers and their families a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year.

In the spirit of the Season if you didn’t hear this week’s DaTechguy on DaRadio with Daniel Reilly Bishop Emeritus of Worcester you can hear it here.

And of course if you want even more Christmas Religious stuff you can hear DaMagnificent Panel with Rosemary Reynolds, Little Miss Attila, The Anchoress and Dominic Nanni and of course Joe Mangiacotti & Me, here.