Doctor Who - Time of The Doctor

Of course, there are spoilers below

So, you'll remember that we saved Gallifrey and ended the time war early from Day of The Doctor. Next, well it's Christmas and look what we've done - Clara is boyfriend-less for her family's Christmas lunch with a well under-cooked turkey, and The Doctor agrees to masquerade as her beloved as respite from the strange goings on on an unknown planet that is attracting Daleks, Cybermen and all manner of evil aliens.imageCue slapstick pat on the rump, miserable mother in law and likeable granny and quick escape back to the action. Once returned, they bump into old chums, the "papal mainframe" led by intergalactic hottie Tasha Lem. Tasha has been keeping the planet frozen and free from Dalek mayhem and allows the Doctor to briefly investigate what has drawn everyone to this part of space. Of course, Elevensie decodes the signal that has attracted everyone - it's a message from the Time-Lords awaiting his word to re-enter the universe.

You see the Gallifreyans are waiting on the other side of those cracks in time. Only problem is, that they have inadvertently alerted all their enemies as well as The Doctor, and should he bring them through the Time War will begin again. This unknown planet is clearly Trenzalore and it is soon clear that he must hold both sides apart for his remaining days, and, with no regenerations remaining, he will fulfil the prophecy of his own death.imageClara is tricked back to her home twice as The Doctor tries to save her as he ages three hundred years keeping old foes apart. When the Tardis reappears for Clara a last time, Tasha Lem is piloting it and is bringing her to be with The Doctor as he dies. Meeting him in the last throes of his life before one of those cracks in time, Clara prays that the future can be changed and that the Time-Lords won't let him die here as foretold.

For a poor reviewer Steven Moffat's time as Who head-writer has been a challenge and, this, the final Matt Smith episode continues his delight in complication and dramatic subterfuge. I can summarise a 3 hour movie in a paragraph normally, but Moffat era Doctor Who takes four paragraphs at least. Even after that literary investment, I've not mentioned wooden Cybermen, The Doctor in a wig and Karen Gillan in an unexpected cameo.imageAnd well I'm not convinced I've really given you a holistic sense of the story either, yet maybe that is because this was a manic episode that had so many places to go and so many things to do that it wasn't a holistic story. Instead it was an insistent rampage through the whole Moffat/Smith era tidying up every plot point that was lying around from these rather intricate years. As much as it was a chance for Matt to say goodbye and do the whole old and young thing, it was evidence that Moffat can often be too clever and lessen the emotional impact of his own stories with unnecessary artifice.

I think the probable truth is that an hour just wasn't long enough for everything to have its time and for air to breathe proper life into the story. The result was that the sentimental moments did not get the prominence they deserved and ended up rather crowding out each other in the finale. Still...heck I was in tears anyway, big Jessie that I am, but rushing Karen Gillan through along with the truncated regeneration meant that the strongest element of the episode was weakened - Clara's goodbye to the man that she had lived to save.imageThis is also a shame because Jenna Coleman has become just as invaluable to the show as Matt Smith in a very short time and she was sublime in an episode that often shuffled her away in order to get on with all the feverish plotting only to shuffle her back on when it suited. How she will adjust to Capaldi's Doctor will remain to be seen but my tears were as much to do with Coleman's craft as the place Matt Smith found in my heart as my favourite of the new Doctors. Despite the rush and the artifice, Smith still bowed out gracefully with a message about moving on and I am not sure what I'll do without him now that he's gone from our screens. One Oscar winning Scotsman has big shoes to fill.

This special is currently up on BBC's iPlayer and available on iTunes for you people in America

Overall

6

out of 10

Doctor Who

The long-running BBC TV science fiction series that started in 1963 and recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary. 2017 saw Peter Capaldi regenerate into the show's first female Doctor played by Jodie Whittaker. The Thirteenth Doctor's first season debuts in 2018, with Chris Chibnall replacing Steven Moffat as the current showrunner.

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