Thursday, 26 December 2013

Review: Doctor Who - The Time of the Doctor

It's Boxing Day (at least for us here in the UK) so all of you at home are most probably still full from the previous day's celebrations; full on food, drink - but also writhing emotion as this Christmas Day, the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, took his final bow in a climactic battle that saw all his enemies attack. You know what, I'll let Clara explain...

'Now it's time for one last bow, like all your other selves. Eleven's hour is over now, the clock is striking Twelve's.'

Like a Christmas dinner piled high, there were ingredients aplenty to this very special episode, with a trio of main areas to cover. Firstly, it had to act as frothy, Christmassy entertainment to satisfy the festive folks at home, secondly, it had to tie up all the ongoing plot lines of Matt Smith's tenure - and there were many - while also, and this is the thirdly, delivering enough emotion to serve as a fitting farewell for Doctor Eleven. His final hour was certainly packed, so did it make the most of ‘The Time of the Doctor’?

As for balancing Christmas with continuity, while there is some fun early on with Clara’s timey-wimey turkey and Handles the friendly Cyberhead, festivities largely fall by the wayside when, ironically, the Doctor treks to Trenzalore, taking up residence in a town called Christmas to stop the amassed evil of the universe from restarting the Time War. There’s cracks in time, every alien from Silents to Weeping Angels, the first question and so much more that would leave a casual viewer scratching their heads so much they resemble a shaved Matt Smith.

In actual fact, it’s a little too crammed with ideas to make for a perfect Doctor Who episode. Some of the time it sagged under the weight of all the plot threads, certain ideas such as Matt Smith's Doctor being the last and the inclusion of the Time Lords were not given enough room to make suitable impact. Likewise, the ageing of the Doctor sadly meant less of Matt Smith's physicality which has been such a large reason his incarnation is so beloved. However, most of the episode’s faults could easily have been fixed with a tad more running time – although maybe that’s just me being indulgent after the movie-length ‘The Day of the Doctor’? 

The high point of this episode truly is the final scene, Matt Smith's last as the Doctor. If the rest of the episode has a problem with heart then the reason could be that it's all been squeezed into the last ten minutes. The Doctor approaches his change with optimism to counter the heartbreak and there’s some touching talk of the necessity of change. Staying on the right side of sentimental, the Eleventh Doctor’s regeneration joins the long list of sad farewell scenes in modern Doctor Who, lifted beyond the norm by Matt Smith’s effortlessly endearing, emotive performance that he has delivered every episode for the past four years as the Doctor. Yes, Matt Smith, we will always remember when the Doctor was you.

Despite its problems (and who can blame a bit of overfeeding on Christmas Day), ‘The Time of the Doctor’ was a truly eventful episode that gave us answers to long-asked questions and, most importantly, a tearful goodbye to the latest, greatest Time Lord. The ground is now clear for Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor to start a brand new golden age of Doctor Who. The eleventh hour has ended and it has now turned Twelve. A new day has begun. But what a day yesterday was? With a terrific lead actor and an abundance of intelligence and imagination (ably summarised in this episode), it really was Christmas. 

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