NEW DR WHO REVIEW : “The Time Of The Doctor” – S7 – E16/16 – 2013 Xmas Special – (Spoilers!)

After watching this Xmas Who, I had to goto bed and have a lie down- my head hurt, so much. There was so much going on it needed a nights consolidation to try and reassemble it.

I suppose the main place to start is, this marked the transistion from Matt Smith’s outgoing Doctor to the new incoming Peter Capaldi – Doctor. Everything else was a huge bombastic breakneck speed slideshow of Christmas excess.

So to sum up, the theme here is all about endings, the clock striking 12, the sun going down, the Doctor’s final act, etc.

The Doctor goes to a mysterious planet which has a town on the surface called “Christmas”; which is broadcasting a question across the cosmos. Many races have honed in on this question and have travelled to discover its origin. Theres more strange goings on here, than why Matt Smith is wearing a toupee!!?!

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He finds out the question is “Doctor -Who?” and has come from the Timelords themselves. They seem to want to know his name and they are trying to come back through a crack in reality (remember the crack in the wall?).

Anyway, its not that simple as all of the other races present want to blow them a nice new asshole if they do, or at the very least destroy the planet; which turns out to be Trenzalore – his graveyard from;The Name Of The Doctor.

Standing in their way and keeping the peace, is the clerical order of Soldier Monks and their head priestess; Tasha Lem – an old friend of the Doctor’s.

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So the Doctor – realising he can’t bring the Timelord’s back, for fear of a continuation of the Time War – or save Xmas town either from all of the monsters massing against it – decides to do his herioc last stand, as we find out that he is the final regeneration and is going to die – anyway.

And Smith grew really old in this, and I wondered if this was a Moffat middle finger up at the critisicm levelled for going with a younger, (probably too young) Doctor – when they cast Smith in 2009. As he aged, he ended up with a very William Hartnell-esque look about him – which couldn’t of been a coincidence, either.

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Apparently, the inclusion of John Hurt as a Doctor and David Tennant’s partial regeneration after being shot by the Dalek (I am assuming!), made Matt Smith the 13th Doctor and last Doctor – after 12 regenerations.

On his last wobbly legs and with the Dalek fleet bearing down on him. The old Doc presents himself to them, no more fancy speeches, plans or tricks up his sleeve. This was the character about as weak and laid bare as we had ever seen it, after all of the years of turnarounds and last minute escape plans.

It wasn’t the end though – entirely, the Timelords came to his rescue and sent a whole new regeneration cycle through the crack in the wall to him, allowing the Doctor to wrap up proceedings on Trenzalore, defeat the Daleks and turn into Capaldi.

The question of the Doctor’s name, the theme of this season of Who, has been firmly unsurped – by the real question of what the Beeb would do when the Doctor got to the end of his lifecycle.

They would never let their jewel in the crown, prize export end, would they? Whilst observing the limitations of the Doctor’s regenerations, it seemed obvious he would get a whole new life cycle to carry on. It has happened before – to the Master, following the events in the Time War; the Timelord’s gave him a new life cycle too.

Talking of the Master, they dropped in a classic series touch there with the Doctor producing the ‘Seal Of Rassilon’, given to the Master by the Timelords in The Five Doctor’s -1983. He gave the seal to his new toy – a decapitated Cyberman head, to better hone in on where the Timelord signal was broadcasting from.

Anyway, he changed into Capaldi but there were so many false starts, it was like Moffat was playing with the viewers expectation of a Doctor Regeneration. First of all, after gaining his new cycle – he blasted a whole Dalek fleet and Xmas town off of the map with his yellow regeneration energy – but that wasn’t it.

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Secondly Clara went looking for him in his Tardis, found his discarded clothes and expected to find a new Doctor – but that wasn’t it either – Smith was still there. When he did change into Capaldi though, it was quick – sans the long drawn out regeneration process, another Moffat rugpuller – no doubt.

So, in steps Capaldi, whose wild eyed starey-ness and magnificent eyebrows accumulated in the gem (to Clara) – “Do you know how to fly the Tardis?”.

Calpadi’s appointment could either be the masterstroke which re-energises the show, or a slow death knell for it, unless there isn’t a dramatic tone change – following Smith’s departure.

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Moffat has turned Doctor Who and Smith into some kind of inconsequential, throw everything but the sonic screwdriver at the viewer – panto. Ladling on the high concepts and melodrama in equal measure. Breakneck action scenes interspersed with maudling dialogue scenes, the pacing is all over the place here.

I don’t think Smith ever really found his feet in the role or his thing..
Think about it. Someone asks you, what was the 13th Doctor’s “thing” :

Example :

Peter Davison (5th) – Human.
Colin Baker (6th) – Angry.
Paul McGann (8th) – Thoughtful.
John Hurt (9th) – War
Christopher Eccleston (10th)- Introspective.
David Tennant (11th & 12th) – Busy.
Matt Smith (13th) – ???????

His Doctor spent much of the last 3 years, unable to decide whether he liked fez hats, dickie bow ties or what his ‘thing’ actually was.

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In the end, he was just too similar to his predecessor; Tennant – and the 50th special showed it, especially in their shared interactions.

Shame, because every now and again he did show some deeper introspective qualities of his Doctor character, when he wasn’t leaping about shouting and postulating widely.

Anyway, in the end though, this is the typenof Who you are going to get from Moffat and I give up trying to psycho-analyze Moffat’s writing – anymore. I can only hope, Who now takes a much slower, more measured thoughtful path – in future, with this new older lead.

Time Of The Doctor was the Who equiviliant of Transformers – Dark Of The Moon, which left my eyes weary for a break after all of the (mashed on steriods) – high octane action scenes, unpaced bitty slow rambling dialogue scenes, unexplored high concepts and loose ends.

Somewhere in Time Of The Doctor – (just like ‘Day Of The Doctor‘) was a potentially good episode, struggling under its own weight of self importance.

Check out my Classic Doctor Who site for the Doctor’s background and 50th Anniversary history.

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