Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor
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In this hugely anticipated follow-up to the record breaking Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special, we bid adieu to Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith and welcome Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It, The Hour) in his first televised appearance as the new Doctor. Orbiting a quiet backwater planet, the massed forces of the universe's deadliest species gather, drawn to a mysterious message that echoes out to the stars. And amongst them - the Doctor. Rescuing Clara from a family Christmas dinner, the Time Lord and his best friend must learn what this enigmatic signal means for his own fate and that of the universe. This landmark episode is bound to be a thrilling adventure for the ages.
• A Tribute to Matt Smith
• Tales from the TARDIS
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This Christmas Special, The Time Of The Doctor, managed to wrap up everything in an hour. It didn't feel rushed. It didn't feel cheap. It didn't feel like the Eleventh Doctor was being cheated. In fact, it was a beautiful and wonderful exit for him. Without spoiling, he was able to do something he never really has in the past: stop running. He stayed for Christmas - and you'll understand that when you watch the special.
New questions emerge as the old ones are answered - and I shall not ask them here. Make sure you have tissues as the show closes out because this is a tough goodbye that we all knew was coming. Yet it was wonderful and the Doctor was honored as one who had accomplished much. Just as we opened Christmas gifts, so the Doctor received his big Christmas gift at the end. It is also a gift for all of us as we continue to enjoy the adventures of the Doctor.
I'm sure some will nitpick because that's how they are. Some will complain that all of the Doctor Who universe has just collapsed. Some will complain of time being rewritten (silly, since the Doctor makes a habit of that). Yet nothing really changes. After The Day Of The Doctor, the earlier incarnations of him had no idea that Gallifrey was saved - they forgot what had happened when the time streams merged. So things do change as they always have. For the Doctor and his companions, time is not a linear progression. As we learned in the Waters of Mars, even "fixed points" can be changed in some ways.
For those who are interested in the Doctor, this isn't a good place to start. It took several series to build up to this point, but all of the rebooted series is highly recommended. For Whovians, open your mind and enjoy. Throw out your preconceived notions and what you THINK should happen. Steven Moffat is a capable showrunner and one of the best TV screenwriters out there (look at his Doctor Who catalog and what he's done on Sherlock). This special is a cathartic farewell to Matt Smith's Doctor and a vindication of him. I wish we could have more of him because he has been magnificent, but he has been given a grand sendoff with so many answers for us and him. I look forward to the next Doctor and many more adventures.
For this special, very well paced. Well acted. Funny. Plenty of action and adventure. Plenty of tears too - but not bad ones. It was better than I could have hoped. With The Name Of The Doctor, The Day Of The Doctor, and The Time Of The Doctor, we have a great trilogy that tells us so much about him and sends off Matt Smith in a fitting and big way. Five stars for all three.
This episode put a fork in the drop in quality that has come with Moffatt's time as a show-runner. First, this was nothing like every other Christmas special of Doctor Who. What, did they finally run out of things to make scary? Snowmen, Christmas trees, presents - it's all been done. Here, we got nothing. The only thing that even remotely made this a Christmas special was that the town the Doctor vows to protect on the planet of Trenzalore just happens to be named "Christmas." Oh, also, it snows.
Any reference to the holiday season ends there, aside from some silly sub-plot in which Clara is trying desperately to cook Christmas dinner for her family, so the Doctor offers to cook it for her using energy from the TARDIS (yes, really). Would anyone be comfortable actually eating that thing? We saw what that energy did to Rose back in season one. But no matter, because this sub-plot disappears in a sea of other sub-plots in an episode that struggles to figure out what its main plot actually is, aside from it being the end of Matt Smith's reign as the Doctor.
As for Trenzalore, this is supposed to be the planet on which the Doctor ultimately dies for good, which he didn't. It's also supposed to be where the TARDIS dies for good, which she didn't. Moffatt's getting a little carried away with his "changing history" and "time can be rewritten" bravado. When the Doctor essentially yells "screw the rules!" to the Daleks, you can imagine Moffatt standing in his place, yelling that to former show-runner Russell T. Davies.
Matt's regeneration was a mess. First, Matt explains that he is the final regeneration and, therefore, the 13th Doctor. Then, the Gallifreyans, who are apparently only a crack in the sky away (and therefore should be less difficult to locate) pass on what appears to be one additional regeneration so that the Doctor can use that energy to destroy the monsters that are increasingly bearing down on the planet. No explanation is given as to why this happened or what's to come after Capaldi's Doctor's time is over. Was the Doctor bestowed with a whole new set of regenerations, like the Master was back in the day? It's not entirely clear. We'd be satisfied in knowing that this will be answered next season, but there's no indication as of yet that it will be.
Then, instead of regenerating immediately into Peter Capaldi as he should have because that's the way it always works, they toyed with us and dragged it out. First, the Doctor's clothes are strewn all over the floor, indicating that he may be in his new body. Then we get a close-up of his feet, which we are supposed to wonder to whom they belong, but oh, look, it's just Matt in his normal clothes. Matt reveals that the regeneration is taking a longer "re-set" this time, which was basically an excuse to grant Matt his final monologue, a melodramatic dropping of his bow-tie onto the floor (which he seemingly put on just to drop, that drama queen), and a (what, memory? mirage?) of Amy Pond, who we see both in her young form from when he first met her, as well as in her older form.
Did the TARDIS grant the Doctor another of her famous holograms of former companions so he wouldn't have to die alone? Well, no, because he had Clara by his side (even if she is Navi from the Legend of Zelda series), so we're left to assume that this was Moffatt's way of both trying to dredge up symbolism and to get you to cry more, even though Clara's (stepmother?) already chided us earlier when she broke the fourth wall about crying on Christmas.
By the time the credits rolled, we couldn't remember what Matt's last line was, thanks to all of the distractions and the ship-shod way he regenerated. That was a travesty; he deserved better for all he has put up with.
Following this was Capaldi's first scene as the Doctor (not counting his blink-and-you-missed-it cameo in the 50th anniversary special), and Moffatt would have you believe that the first thing he would notice is an internal organ. How the hell would he know what color his kidneys are? Eccleston noticing his ears? Yes. Tennant being stopped by his own teeth? Yes. Matt taking stock of his hair and legs? Yes. But kidneys? Now you're trying too hard. Add to that the swelling of the music drowning out the audio, and we could barely make out what Capaldi's first lines were as the Doctor. He too deserved better.
This haphazard and sudden jump-cut of a regeneration scene won't be one we'll be interested in re-watching, much like most of Matt Smith's run as the Doctor. When it comes to Moffatt and Smith's time together coming to a close, it ended with the wrong man stepping down.
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