TV Review: Doctor Who – The Time of the Doctor

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Directed by – Jamie Payne
Written by – Steven Moffat
Starring – Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman, James Buller, Elizabeth Rider, Sheila Reid, Dan Starkey, Orla Brady & Peter Capaldi

This seems to have gone down like a bowl of sick and I’m really not sure why… has everyone forgotten the Tennant farewell, in which everyone on the planet became The Master, in which a doddery old man (not knocking Wilf, he was a legend, but come on…) and two cactus people fought off a bunch of nuclear missiles and in which the Doctor spent about 17 years visiting all of his old friends before finally regenerating? Has everyone forgotten the immortal line “I don’t wanna go” coming from a man who wasn’t even dying, in a display of emotion so manipulative and putrid that it made the rest of the episode look good? Has everyone forgotten how Doctor Who became, for two whole hours, the emo-Tennant show? I mean seriously, compared to that miserable steaming turd The Time of the Doctor was a masterpiece…

Tennant’s gone though, so let’s get over that… for me, The Time of the Doctor was a decent – though not perfect – farewell for Matt Smith, who for the past three years has headed the show valiantly. In classic Moffat style, it refuses to be slowed down or reined in as practically every unresolved thread from Smith’s tenure is closed, though certain questions do still remain. All of the Doctor’s greatest villains – the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Angels and, my personal favourites, the Silence – make an appearance as he is forced into an all-out war to save the planet Trenzalore from destruction and, rather ironically, prevent the resurrection of his home planet Gallifrey.

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The Time of the Doctor was messy, but gloriously so. It wasn’t remotely confusing for anybody who has actually watched the show (I put most people’s confusion down to being bladdered when it was on…) and I thought there was a lot of great stuff going on amidst the stuff that was, shall we say, less good. Matt Smith gives one of his greatest performances as the Doctor (though I still think he was at his best in The Eleventh Hour, which is sort of sad really) and he’s aided ably by a script that allows him to indulge in both childish comedy and high drama. The visuals were grand, the action set-pieces were entertaining and though the references to Christmas were all hideously contrived, they were sort of lovely too.

There were problems with it, however, and they boil down to the pacing and editing. Too much time was devoted to Clara at home and not enough to the war on Trenzalore, and I thought it might have been nice to see more of the Doctor’s new friends but those are minor details. Similarly, the twist involving the Doctor and his regenerations felt unnecessary. Gallifrey could have still existed without the need for an intervention in the Doctor’s death, not least one that came about because Clara asked nicely… it’s stuff like that which often drags the show down and gives it the type of soap opera esque quality that I find immensely grating. Nevertheless, on the whole, I thought the episode did exactly what it needed to and I thought it did it well.

For me, part four of The Caves of Androzani is still the best regeneration episode, closely followed by The Parting of the Ways (I still love you Eccleston!), but I do think The Time of the Doctor is the most wacky. The quick-fire resolution of about a million plots midway through the episode was a wonderful “fuck you” to all the people who waste their lives on forums, moaning about plot holes and saying “Moffat NEEDS to go!!!111” over and over again, but it was in those tender moments – when The Doctor knew his time was coming to an end – that the episode really excelled. They weren’t trite or overplayed, they were just right. I could have done without the cameo of a certain person (spoilers… no, not like that… oh you know who I mean) but other than that, I thought Moffat got the balance between the importance of the farewell, the general story and the emotion of the whole thing spot on.

And now let’s took to the future… Peter Capaldi is amazing. Ok, so he only had a few seconds of screen time but weren’t they just brilliant!? His eyes, his face, that ACCENT… the line ”just one question… do you happen to know how to fly this thing?” was a great introduction, and I loved that his regeneration was so instant and almost unassuming. We already know Capaldi’s a great actor but now we have proof – however small – that he can also be a great Doctor too. I like Smith a lot and I’m sorry to see him go but I’m sure the show will be more than safe in Peter’s capable hands.

Ahem … apologies for fangirling. Basically, I thought The Time of the Doctor was pretty good. In fact, I thought it was better than The Day of the Doctor though to be honest I wasn’t a massive fan of that to begin with…. I actually find the absurd reaction to this episode quite frustrating; people seem to think that because the Doctor didn’t explode during his regeneration, cry like a baby or save the universe by pushing a big button that it lacked drama. If that’s what people consider dramatic then the human race is probably already fucked.

But anyway… farewell Matt Smith! It’s been great, even when it wasn’t =)

★★★½

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