Dec 28, 2013

DOCTOR WHO: The Time of the Doctor

The other week, I was given an opportunity to write a guest article about the Eleventh Doctor. I wrote for my friend George's blog "Behold the Geek" and you can read my article here. I might write a new article for NO REAL PLOT! but for now, I'm writing about "The Time of the Doctor," Doctor Who's 2013 Christmas special and Eleventh Doctor's final episode.

The video starts off with a narrated back story about a planet and a town called Christmas where a strange signal rang out and attracted creatures and beings from all over the galaxy. Soon, the Doctor receives a phone call that reunites him with Clara and they learn from a cyberman's detached head that the strange signal is coming from Gallifrey. The Doctor goes to investigate and encounters almost all his old enemies as well as familiar dangers that prophesied his end on Trenzalore.

While most fans probably knew the episode would be staged in Trenzalore, I don't think many foresaw the involvement of the return of the Time Lords. Most expected it to be something dealt with in the new Doctor's time. The episode was entertaining, I did enjoy better it after a second watch. Although the knot tying up all the loose ends in the Eleventh Doctor's run wasn't as spectacular as I expected, it did wrap things up nicely for Eleven's last bow. I will miss him so much.. No more cool bowties or fezzes and stetsons. No more geronimos or fish fingers and custard.

DOCTOR: I'm naked!
CLARA: ...

The downside to watching The Time of the Doctor was the dragging scenes between the aging Doctor and Clara, since they spent the second half of episode moping about Eleven's imminent doom. I know we all feel sad about Eleven leaving but there had to be a better way to project that scene. It felt like I was just waiting for The Doctor to die--or regenerate, since there's officially a new Doctor with Peter Capaldi. Needless to say, it was fun to know the TARDIS can cook turkey in its engine and it was interesting to see Eleven grow in grampa wrinkly old. The last time we've seen a ancient Doctor was with Ten in Series 3 and we never even speak of that. I wasn't sure if it was a tribute to the First Doctor or classic Christmas nostalgia.

Well, thanks to Steven Moffat, Eleven received a gift to bypass his 12-regeneration limit so he can turn into Capaldi. Unfortunately, his regeneration scene wasn't as dramatic as I expected. The slow pacing of the story and Clara's wibbly-wobbly back and forth to her own timeline slowly broke the momentum of the episode. Then inside the TARDIS, as we finally settled down and hoped to start crying with Clara, the Doctor's visions of Amy Pond awkwardly diverted from the sad moment. By the time Eleven recoiled from a burst of energy and Peter Capaldi's face appears, we're left with an anti-climatic goodbye from the Eleventh Doctor.

I tried to be sad now that Eleven was gone but I couldn't and that frustrated me. Instead of a satisfactory goodbye, I was mixed up. I didn't know if I should cry for Eleven, empathize for Clara or smile with Amy. And dear Amy, I liked her then but she felt out of place in this episode, even if she was the first face Eleven saw. This is Clara's time now. So there was too much going on and not enough time to sort through it all. Maybe it was Moffat's ploy to prevent viewers from clinging on to Eleven. Maybe Moffat was abusing his artistic license. Maybe. I don't know.

Raggedy Man...goodnight.

Criticism aside, Matt Smith did exceptionally well for his last hurrah...and I'm thankful Eleven doesn't regenerate alone. Additionally, CG-wise, Doctor Who is really stepping up. If you would look at the caps below, you'll see how the spaceship scene in space looks good enough for a movie theater. The New Who series has really gone a long way since the relaunch in 2005.

In the end, The Time of the Doctor connects Series 5, 6 and 7 together, although some don't make as much sense as they turned out to be. Like how The Silence are actually good guys, working for the Papal Mainframe space church and act as special priests genetically-engineered to make people forget what they confessed. The mercenary Silents who tried to kill the Doctor in Season 6 were taken from the church by Madame Kovarian and used for her purposes. How Kovarian brainwashed the Silents and why the Silent priests even look that scary remain unanswered.

Of course, while I wasn't expecting it to actually be answered, I felt slightly disappointed that "the oldest question in the universe, hidden in plain sight..." wasn't answered. While I would love to know the Doctor's true name, I think that's something that would herald the true end of the series. But for now, Doctor Who has a new beginning and I'm excited to watch Capaldi's run when Series 8 premieres in August 2014.

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