Time of the Doctor- Review


I’m Phil, and I hope I can add something to this magazine. This thread is a re-working/expansion of a post on my facebook page, which caught the eye of the boss. (Thanks Boss).

I hope you all had a good Christmas and hope you all have a great New Year. On Christmas day I had family around me, so I taped #dayofthedoctor, as many whovian’s I had looked forward to this Christmas special, it was billed as Matt Smith’s farewell, and from the teasers looked like it had a mix of fun and of course the serious business of saying good-bye. I saw post’s from fan’s that enjoyed the story, but a good number of people unhappy, I got a bit nervous. So late Christmas night I struck the play button, I got to the end…and thought well that wasn’t so bad. I had time to think about it all, still with words such as rubbish still making me worry. Should I have joined in?

I sat down and typed and thought. At just an hour runtime seemed too short, we had been spoiled as had the whole show with 80 minutes on 23rd November, maybe a two part episode might have worked better? With a little pomp and ceremony the BBC announced this episode as ‘a gift we couldn’t wait to share’. Big thing’s expected, in the first 2 minutes we got a bit of slapstick, clever back and forth between The Doctor and Handles. So far so good, the Doctor has been given energy by Smith. I have warmed to Clara, It has taken a bit of time, The Ponds went on a little long, and never enough of River Song, still Clara is ok, like I say she has grown on me, I think it was her being in the Doctors time stream that made it for me. Smith is still his ‘drunken giraffe’ youthful Doctor with boundless energy, this was later referenced on Trenzalore by the children and Smith himself, I like this nod to his own self or at least Moffat.

A leap and a bound later, we have the set up for the episode, The Church of the Papal Mainframe, or later referenced as The Church of the Silence. Favourite line at this point is “boss of the psycho space nun’s so you.” Armed with a little humour we get to the crack in Amelia Pond’s wall, now here in the town of Christmas. Add in some mild terror in the form of the silence and the weeping angels, I liked the weeping angels’ part of this episode. For some time we knew that Matt had other projects and we all knew that he had shaved his head, the old key in the quiff routine was nicely done. A truth field which gives us some more funny moments and we learn the name of the place, Christmas. Observant folks will have picked up that Tasha (playing narrator) told us that the Doctor stayed for Christmas, some would have missed it, thinking the line meant the season. (You’re too clever for that)

We have set up the story, the Doctor rushing onto the planet with a little help from Tasha Lem (Orla Brady), and a kind of wide eyed curiosity takes over, Handles has already told the Doctor the planet is Gallifrey. Which the Doctor doesn’t like one little bit, after all it is his home planet. Slipping in a piece of whovian folklore (the seal stolen from the Master) we see through Handles that there is a question. It is the oldest question. We have known for some time that the Doctor lies and those references are littered through Matt’s tenure as the Doctor. We have that crack in time blasting out its message, I have a problem with this crack in the skin of time, and in this episode it is projecting its message through time and space, “Doctor who” and so on. Clearly a message from whatever is on the other side, here lies the problem; the crack in Amy’s room has followed The Doctor about Ledworth this told the Doctor, prisoner zero had escaped. Another (seeming like the first) was seen in the episodes of Flesh and stone, cold blood and the big bang. At this point I work out that in cold blood Rory ‘the roman’ disappeared into this crack. OK there were other cracks, but they seemed to all be kind of the same, an explanation was given that this was all the Doctors fault, and again this was upheld, also that the weeping angles wanted whatever was inside, but in that 2 part episode the angels were afraid of it, now they want it? Guard it? Or is it the time lords in there?!? I ask the viewer to make his/her mind up, because it really can’t be all three. I had a poke about on the net and found that the crack had appeared here and there. This is a nice plot device for the story, but no two tare’s are the same (so in my view a little lazy).
We have a slight divergence in the story, the Doctor finds out the name of the planet (for real) and being clever still manages to lie to Clara, sending her away, but with a key in the door we have a Jack Harkness moment. The now faith changed Papal mainframe, does a very good job of peacekeeping. Time for a little humour. Dan Starkey reprising his Sontaran role. Giving us 2 rather cunning soldiers trying to get in to the tower holding the crack. A wooden Cyberman and a lie? Could we call the Cyberman turning its own weapon on its self a lie? Or is it just giving the Cyberman all the facts and telling it, you’re in a truth field just a double-cross. Either way, I liked this. Some touching scene’s of the Doctor in Christmas. I would like to point out that Smith’s make up at this point is rather good, but it kind of gets a bit wibbly wobbly in some scene’s. Clara and the TARDIS return, with a nod to William Hartnell the Doctor approaches his ship, though I suspect he was not expecting to find Clara too. Some tenderness to see the dawn, Clara, The Doctor and Handles on top of the tower. “I have developed a fault “exclaims Handles, and we set up his farewell and an emotional response to the earlier humour between the Doctor and Handles. I point out now that this tower top scene has some flaws, still dark at 34 minutes in, the sun rises on 35 minutes and we get the Doctor hinting at the morality of this piece, Moffat tries his hardest to try to clear up the regeneration conundrum, Clara knows the Doctor much better, stepping into his time stream kind of does that for a girl, but she needs a subtle reminder, as does the viewer about the blanks. War is still very fresh in our minds, big tick to Steven, and a reminder of 10’s keeping the same face, answered with vanity. At this very moment, the writer has two very clear directions to take. Do I kill the Doctor off? Tin hat at the ready, or throw the Doctor a reload. The sun slips away on 37 minutes, I could get geeky and tell you the exact start to finish time of a day on Trenzalore, but let’s say for now about 2 minute 30 seconds. Continuity alert!!! When the Doctor and Clara faced the Great Intelligence on Trenzalore it stayed dark for more than 2 minute 30. Bad Mr Moffat. Again we get a morality battle, the words given to us in the 50th now clawing at this episode, Never cruel or cowardly…. This is all made much easier by the absence of the TARDIS, but Clara asks him to be selfish. The Doctor is resigned to his fate; nothing anyone says will sway his mind. I said that the writer has a clear choice to make, well as we know that Peter Capaldi will take on the role, killing the character is not an option. This brings great importance to the crack in the wall now. But I am still worried by it.
Back off to see the Mother Superious and some Marshmallows, and we get to see more of the architects’ of the piece the Daleks, Tasha has died and the set up for this is very well done (IMHO). Add to this the Doctor asking her to fight the Dalek inside shows strength of character. But oh dear another issue, I’ll come back to that point in a moment. There are some nice little threads that get tied up here, the silence being high on this list, confessional priests, this makes sense, always popping up, River Song never all that far behind.
Now this is the point where I am very worried, 20 minutes to go….. The Doctor is now again known via Tasha, now do try to keep up. A double negative?” fight the Dalek inside.” “I can’t.” this implies that the Dalek unit will switch again, nope, no dice, because Tasha does a great job and the Dalek eye stork is not seen again. I do have another point to get to, so bear with me a moment.

Sending the Doctor back to the TARDIS and finally the turkey is cooked (even my mum knew the Turkey was cooked), just in time for dinner with the family, bye Clara. The Doctor shares a moment with Barnable, and we get some glimpses of action. A mini time war on Trenzalore, hurry now only 14 minutes left to kill off Smith and bring in Capaldi. Goodness me, this should have been a two part episode. Nice special effects, nice scene with 3 silences shooting something out of their hands skyward (no idea, not explained).

A nice shot of Dalek’s rolling forward to fight, with a large gun of some sort seen in the background, looking like a cross between the gun of a Dalek, and the sucker. The silence now aiding the Doctor help him fight the Dalek’s.

We skew away from the Doctor, and find ourselves in Clara’s little flat, Gran, Dad and Linda all seated finishing dinner. Linda is unexplained, is she Dad’s new girlfriend? She is not Clara’s Mum, I looked back over to the rings of Akhaten and spotted that Clara’s mum is Ellie. The ladies of the Oswald clan dislike this woman, this much is clear. A reminder of old age, broken by the re-materialization of the TARDIS. Clara rushes off to greet the Doctor, only to find Tasha. I return to the point about Tasha, so much for her being able to stave off the Dalek inside, because to me she is doing one hell of a good job. She has evidently stolen the TARDIS (with the key she swiped) but you know that sneaky old box, she does what she wants sometimes. My question is why would the TARDIS let Tasha inside? She is a clear and present danger to the TARDIS. The rupture point where the eye stalk looks a little wider as if she has fought the Dalek. This is not important, but a notice as I watch bits, I wonder if this may have been good. There is a scene with this fight or something close, either way it’s taking up valuable runtime…so onto the floor you go.
Another few hundred years have passed all in the space of 2 minutes. Armed with only a Christmas cracker Clara strides through a wrecked Christmas, Tasha tells us the Doctor is dying and that Clara should comfort him. A touching few seconds with said cracker, and the Daleks are coming. About time to. Time to get ready to say good-bye to Smith. Just a bit rushed now, the Doctor has a plan. Only a few minutes to play it out, cutting this a bit close, the Doctor starts his climb up the stairs to face his oldest foe, the Doctor tells a lie, no plan, this is how it ends, if the BBC had been clever and I don’t think they were as clever as all of that, they could have had us all on the edge of our seats. This would have really had the fans in a dribbling heap on the floor.

Wait, what?

Oh well point made, chance lost. The Doctor talked to the young man who gave him the news about the Daleks is not Barnable; does this mean that the boy who guarded the TARDIS lied? Or was it simply the boy did not want to correct the Doctor? Let’s just say that Barnable is long dead. Does it matter how or when? Perhaps a deleted scene may throw some light on this matter?!?

Clara is asked to stay put, and allow the Doctor one final victory. I laughed at the Doctor enjoying one moment of humour about the Daleks. A correction added here, why are we obsessed with knowing the Doctor’s name? Well you could point the finger at Moffat, he gave us a few teasers, he tried so hard to tell us his name, and even harder to keep it a secret. River knows, he knows – or has he forgotten – more lies. Help him, and the crack disappears. The Doctor now plays his best card, toy with the Daleks, they think it’s all over, but they still can’t get rid of him. He said he would say something clever, and he did. Loved the closing scene, the clock striking 12 and the look on Smiths face as the regeneration energy was consumed. We are into some serious new ground now. Take all that energy and praise the lord(s) take down the Daleks with all that wonderful almost gloopy energy. The crack is gone…but I doubt not for too long.

Clara thinks it truly is all over, finding the TARDIS we come to the climax of the piece. Clothes strewn about and a final bowl of fish fingers and custard. A farewell to Clara. A remembrance of Amelia, poignant as Amy never had a proper good-bye to 11. Both versions of Amelia making an appearance, sad but joyful. We will always remember 11 as the raggedy man. Amelia is the beginning and the end. Clara played a large part in his life and he said he would never forget one line. A lie? Well who knows for now. Smith has added something to relate to the younger fans of the show, I think the show may start to decline under Capaldi, I’ll be waiting for some profanity to come out of Capaldi, when he is getting angry, or making some point.

I think really the BBC totally made the brown smelly stuff hit the big whirly thing. They showed us months before the 50th that Matt had stepped down; this has gone down with mixed thoughts. I see the meme’s popping up photoshopping items around or giving funny eyes to. I think that Steven is taking the show in the deepest darkest faze of the show, we have moved into this edgy drama, mixed with good kids show elements. The fan base is getting older; I think he is trying to sort out the wants of the viewer spread. But do not quote me on that, it’s my thought. Also perhaps he wants to break away from the US format of the show, August before we see the Doctor on the screen, and there is a reason for the August schedule, but as yet I can’t see it.

All the good-byes take up yet more minutes, and finally we get to the moment we have waited for the whole 58 minutes in we get the change between Smith and Capaldi, and the change takes the Blink of an eye. Did they perhaps blow the budget? A lot of green/blue screen time and CGI? Perhaps all of this was intentional.
But now we get the ultimate villain of this whole piece. SHERLOCK!

I am sorry to say that this is the reason why the episode shone in places, but lacked in others. Visually it is what we have come to expect from Doctor Who. There are some strong stories out there, and there are some stinkers too. This can’t rate as a stinker; it was stolen from us with a big dramatic fancy episode, too showy Strangled into submission by the crack in the wall. It over committed but was finished off by Sherlock. I think that about wraps up this instalment.
Phil