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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.
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- The Doctor: "I don't know. Talk very fast, hope something good happens, take the credit."
Peace out, the fez and bow tie, the fish fingers and custard, the lanky herky jerky. As someone with ADHD once said, "All good things must yadda yadda yadda." I think we perhaps set the bar too high not only for the 50th Anniversary special but also for this, Matt Smith's final bow. The Time of the Doctor delivers enough fanboy joy that some time went by after the watching of it before I began fixating on the troublesome bits.
***Just maybe a few SPOILERS now***
I didn't mind that it was a scattershot episode; it seems apropos of the manic way the Eleventh Doctor conducted his business. I don't know that it's apropos that these first impressions of mine - as I'd finished watching the Christmas special only moments ago - come off just as scattershot. Excuse the whiplash. The Time of the Doctor has got this epic flavor, never mind that it only has a running time of around 70 minutes. Some things are beautifully in the pocket, some things made my brain hurt. Matt Smith is brilliant and emotive. I appreciated the bigness of the story, the space opera elements of it. Moffat once again tweaks the narrative to fit the gothic fairy tale. The story spans the breadth of centuries while at the same time, if I figured it right, spanning the breadth of one Christmas (in objective time). There's a 300-year-old Christmas turkey. The basic bones of the plot has to do with a remote town called Christmas what's been laid under siege by the entirety of the Doctor's rogues' gallery. My deja-vu was getting deja-vu as this episode regurgitates scenes of the Doctor's most relentless enemies converging in space ("The Pandorica Opens").
But I also loved the smaller moments, the Doctor's exchanges with Clara and with "Handles" the startlingly evocative Cyberman head. The regeneration sequence develops with strong, emotional flourish. As the Doctor carries on in that town called Christmas and as we mark the long passages of time elapsed, Matt Smith tones it down and tones it down and tones it down, and it's highly effective and so melancholy. I am trying so hard not to spoiler things. I suspect I'd already given some things away.
Some more parting ramblings (and, seriously, SPOILER alert!):
- Matt Smith in 63% convincing old man make-up
- For the ladies, nekkid Matt Smith with the salacious bits strategically covered up
- Dang, gonna have to reorganize my Doctor Who shelf exhibit
- Is it me or does Moffat nowadays portray every Sontaran as stupid?
- Handles > Wilson
- I was annoying everyone in the room by asking why the Doctor is now suddenly aging? But then it struck me that, as the Doctor explained, since he'd already used up his final regeneration, his body was finally breaking down (but then how to explain the War Doctor's aging?)
- I still love Clara to bits - and Jenna-Louise Coleman keeps on being spectacular - but it may be that she's lost a bit of shine now that she's no longer the Impossible Girl
- What's really up with the crack? It's Time Lords behind it now, eh? What about the Prisoner Zero arc or being erased from existence?
- The prophecy about how the Silence will fall delivers a weak pay-off
- There was so much insane stuff going on I wish they'd stretched this out to several episodes
- My lukewarm reaction to the Papal Mainframe: I perked up when the Doctor informed Clara of the expected dress code when in the presence of the Mother Superious Tash Lem. But it's all a tease, even if Mother Superious Tasha Lem is most fine
- In the Matt Smith era there had been better Doctor Who Christmas Specials (A Christmas Carol, The Snowmen)
- Peter Capaldi: very, very promising
Top international reviews
With respect to the special itself, LOVED it! What a beautiful send-off for Matt Smith. His final monologue always tears me up.
short Special Features as well..