Doctor Who – The Time of The Doctor

by Alan Rapp on December 26, 2013

in Television Reviews 

  • Title: Doctor Who – The Time of The Doctor
  • wiki: link

“Raggedy Man, good night.”

Doctor Who - The Time of The Doctor

Matt Smith‘s final adventure in Doctor Who gets The Doctor trapped in Christmas for centuries, sees the return of several old villains (and one former companion), and offers The Eleventh Doctor’s final moments on the plains of Trenzalore. The Christmas episode feels a little too big at times, like an event careening a bit out of control, and relies far too heavily on narration, but Steven Moffat wraps up Smith’s run with a nod to the very first episode of his three-and-a-half year run with the return of the Crack in space and time. And before the end, as prophesized, silence will indeed fall.

An undecipherable message ringing out from an otherwise ordinary planet in the far reaches of space brings The Doctor and Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman), along with numerous old enemies (Sontarans, Daleks, Weeping Angels, and Cybermen) who all feel compelled to answer the call. The only thing stopping the various fleets from invading the planet is the early arrival of the Papal Mainframe whose leader Tasha Lem (Orla Brady) refuses to allow anyone to step foot on the planet and enter the sleepy town known as Christmas.

Arriving on the planet with Lem’s permission The Doctor discovers the secret the space church wants hidden and how one word from The Doctor, if it’s the right word, could reignite the Time War and restore Gallifrey and the Time Lords back into their reality. Unable to abandon the planet to destruction from his enemies, and unwilling to say his name and allow the fighting to begin again, the Time Lord is stuck in a catch-22 as he will live out hundreds of years as Christmas’ protector while tricking Clara into returning home without him (twice).

I have some serious issues with the fact that by the end of the episode Matt Smith’s Doctor will have lived nearly as long as all of the rest of The Doctors combined. This, of course, means skipping quite a bit of The Doctor’s three centuries on Trenzalore as well as relying on some very hit-and-miss old-age make-up. It also means we’re a bit robbed of our final chance to see Clara and The Doctor together as they spend much of the Christmas episode apart. Even with these issues, and Moffat using the episode to wrap-up several lingering issues from Smith’s run, The Time of The Doctor works as a proper farewell to Smith who bows out at the end (as the show directly addresses the end of The Doctor’s regenerations) and Peter Capaldi (and his new kidneys) takes over as the Twelfth Doctor.

In an episode of far-reaching ramifications and big wrap-ups it’s the small moments that stand-out. Although we’re never given the backstory of the severed Cyberman head The Doctor loving refers to as Handles (Kayvan Novak), I enjoyed the goofy relationship between the pair. And, even as someone who has often railed against the sheer number of times Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) was brought back, I did think the uses of cameos for both Amelia (Caitlin Blackwood) and Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) were worthy additions to the episode. With a brand-new set of regenerations it appears I’m further than ever from seeing a Valeyard version of The Doctor, but I am curious to see how the show changes with an older actor in the role and how long Coleman chooses to stay as the new Doctor’s companion.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

CoosCoos December 26, 2013 at 5:01 pm

It was entertaining, but I had some issues with some of the plot holes.

I also didn’t like how fast and loose Moffat has played with the age of this doctor. He aged 300 years in this episode (after aging 200 years in “The Impossible Astronaut”) which not only strains credibility (and his makeup) but in some ways (at least to me) diminishes what other doctors have done. I also think they should have explained the ‘last regeneration’ thing earlier in the episode so there was more at stake for the audience (though most probably already knew about Capaldi).

At any rate, my guess is that Tasha Lem is Melody Pond/River Song. For three reasons: 1) When telling her to push back the Dalek inside her the Doctor says “if you can push back the psychopath you can push back the Daleks” (referring to her countering the mind control the Silence put in her as a child, which she overcame), 2) she can fly the TARDIS (and even finds it “easy” as did River), and 3) Lem spelled backwards is Mel. I’m calling it. Plus, it makes sense that the Papal Mainframe may have a copy of her computer-saved existence from “Silence in the Library”, her first (but really last) episode. Plus, “Silence” in the library? It’s too easy. I’m totally calling it. (The only hole in this theory is that she said something about the Doctor’s “new body” at the beginning of the episode, but one can hope.)

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Alan Rapp December 26, 2013 at 5:48 pm

I completely agree and rebelled against the idea of Moffat making “his” Doctor “THE” Doctor by having him eclipse all the others in lifespan (despite the fact Tom Baker played him the character for twice as long). In Day of The Doctor we know he’s 400 years older than John Hurt (and we know Tennant and Eccleston’s Doctors are responsible for only the tiniest sliver of that). With the 300 years here he’s lived 700+ years of the the 1500-ish years of the character.

I didn’t consider Lem as another character, or see her as River/Mel, but you make some intriguing points.

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Carl December 26, 2013 at 7:05 pm

The friend I watch Doctor Who with conjectured Tasha as being River Song based on the psychopath comment. I carried it to the comment about driving the TARDIS. We didn’t catch the Lem/Mel turn, though. Nice.
And while I’m mostly untroubled by the multiple centuries that Moffat added, I did notice the final equation on his age and did think it a bit high. But it seemed that, though visually youngest, the Eleventh Doctor was consistently drawn as the oldest soul in the maddest body. So perhaps it’s allowable.
Love/Hate the abruptness of the actual body switch, like a rubber band snapping. I’m sure I’ll appreciate it more after I see what happens next…

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CoosCoos December 28, 2013 at 9:28 am

Yes, the abrupt regeneration (along with the brief young “reset”, which was a cop out) took the group I was watching with by surprise. A couple of people actually jumped. One, who didn’t know Capaldi gasped “He’s ugly!”

For some reason I was worried they were going to play Capaldi as serious. With the comment about his kidneys I think that fear has been assuaged.

One line I loved: while he was discussing why he was number 11 but was still out of regenerations, he says “10 regenerated and kept the same face. I was going through some vanity issues back then.” (Referring to the episode with the meta-crisis Doctor/Donna, one of my all-time favorite episodes.)

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Alan Rapp December 28, 2013 at 11:33 am

I wouldn’t mind a serious Doctor (not boring, but less madcap) as a switch. From the cameo of The Day of The Doctor and his intense close-up on his eyes it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what we got. All the post-regeneration sequences are goofy so it would surprise me if the character he becomes far different than the one in that scene.

Eccleston was serious but still had lots of fun with the role. I don’t want Capaldi to try and be too much like either Ten or Eleven, he needs time to create something different for 12. With an older actor I think we are going to get a little less running than the Smith/Tennant years and possibly more of The Doctor talking his way out of situations (like Tom Baker or Sylvester McCoy).

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CoosCoos December 30, 2013 at 9:59 am

I’d be okay with that. Of the ‘modern’ Doctors, Matt Smith was definitely the zany one.

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