TV Review: DOCTOR WHO – The Time of the Doctor (BBC AMERICA)

On Dec. 25, 2013, The DOCTOR WHO CHRISTMAS SPECIAL aired entitled “The Time of the Doctor” and it featured the Eleventh Doctor (played by Matt Smith) regenerating into the Twelfth […]

The Time of the Doctor from BBC.

On Dec. 25, 2013, The DOCTOR WHO CHRISTMAS SPECIAL aired entitled “The Time of the Doctor” and it featured the Eleventh Doctor (played by Matt Smith) regenerating into the Twelfth Doctor (played by Peter Capaldi).

To me, DOCTOR WHO is a lot like regularly going to a diner or a bar and sitting at the same table because you’ve made friends with the waiter or waitress. Then one day, you come in and find to your horror, your favorite waiter or waitress is gone and now you have to get used to a brand new one.

Before I begin, just a word of warning – SPOILERS.

Here on out, read at your own risk.

BACKGROUND:

Just a quick sum up, the Doctor is asked to play “boyfriend” to Clara’s family (who was not mentioned before this episode) during Christmas dinner. He shows up and whisks Clara away to the Papal Mainframe (the religious order associated with the Silence). The Doctor finds a message has been beaming from one location and it has drawn the attention of the Sontarans, the Daleks, Cybermen, the Weeping Angels as well as the Papal Mainframe (imaginee with Catholic Church becomes the U.S. Army with the Internet as its holy writ).

Tasha Lam, who heads up the Papal Mainframe, explains the message is coming from a small village called Christmas on a planet called Trenzalore. (Trenzalore, which has been mentioned in the past, is associated with a prophecy that said, “On the Fields of Trenzalore, during the Fall of the Elventh, Silence will fall when the Ultimate Question is asked, A Question which is hidden in plain sight”…or something like that. the Ultimate Question was “Doctor Who?” ie. “What is the Doctor’s Real Name?” Supposedly, when this is mentioned then the universe will end, ie. The Silence will Fall.)

While conversing with Tasha Lam, she explains that the eye-patch lady, Madam Kovarian, broke away from the Papal Mainframe and tried to prevent this prophecy from happening by first destroying the TARDIS (at the end of Season Five), which created these inner-dimensional cracks, then creating River Song (as was explained in Season Six), but alas, it all backfired and planted the Doctor firmly on Trenzalore.

Okay, let me speed this up, the crack that was seen in Season Five pops up again, it is the source of the message. And the message is “Doctor Who?” and it is traced back to Gallifrey (which was lost in a pocket universe when all 13 incarnations of the Doctor saved it during “The Day of the Doctor”).

The Time Lords are asking, “Are you the Time Lord who goes by the name of the Doctor? If so, what is your real name?” And should the Doctor say, “Why yes, I am the Doctor. Here is the proof of my name, it is (INSERT THE DOCTOR’S REAL NAME HERE),” the Time Lords would come back to their universe and the wars with the Daleks, Cybermen and Sontarans would start all over again.

Now the Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans and the Weeping Angels want to prevent this from happening, so they declare an all out war on the village of Christmas with the Doctor standing in the way. Before this war can happen, the Doctor sends Clara back to her time in the TARDIS. (He does this once or twice, I forget, but the point is Clara is not there).

At some point, she comes back and finds that 300 years have elapsed and the Eleventh Doctor is showing his age. I believe she goes back to her time again, but this time NAME brings Clara back because the Doctor is dying of old age. When Clara returns, he is an old man, I mean Harold Camping old, but he is still defending the village from the invaders.

During this visit, the Doctor admits, he is the last incarnation and he is dying. He explains that while he is the Eleventh Doctor, he is the Twelfth Regeneration. He counts John Hurt’s War Doctor, David Tennant’s Meta Crisis Regeneration energy in on this.

A Time Lord has 12 Regenerations (13 lives). Quick count – Doctor One/William Hartnell – 1, Doctor Two-Patrick Troughton – 2, Doctor Three-Jon Pertwee – 3, Doctor Four-Tom Baker – 4, Doctor Five-Peter Davison – 5, Doctor Six – Colin Baker – 6, Doctor Seven – Sylvester McCoy – 7, Doctor Eight – Paul McGann – 8, War Doctor – John Hurt – 9, Doctor Nine – Christopher Eccleston – 10, Doctor Ten-David Tennant – 11, Doctor Human Living with Rose – David Tennant – 12, and Doctor Eleven – Matt Smith – 13.

With me so far?

Okay, so with that said, the Daleks lead one final assault on Trenzalore and the Doctor makes his last stand. Clara goes to the crack and says to the Timelords (basically), “It’s the Doctor all right! Now help him!” Then out of nowhere, another crack opens in the sky, and Regeneration energy spills out of it and on to the Doctor.

Going all Rodimus Prime from the 1986 TRANSFORMERS:THE MOVIE, the Doctor basically shouts, “Now light our darkest hour!” and just unleashes the Autobot Matrix of Leadership Energy (ie. the Regeneration power) all over the place and destroying the Daleks and everything else that tried to kill the people of Christmas.

Let’s jump to the end, the Doctor is back in the TARDIS, and Clara watches him as he hallucinates Amelia Pond and then Amy Pond (quick point – both of them were wearing wigs during that moment. Both Matt Smith and Karen Gillian shaved their heads for other roles). He then gives an actually really nice speech about not forgetting his time as the Eleventh Doctor. And then in one quick moment, he’s Peter Capaldi. Capaldi’s first line is about his kidneys (most guys in their 50s worry about that) and then asks Clara, “Do you know how to fly this?” and it ends.

REMARKS:

This was supposed to close off a trilogy featuring “The Name of the Doctor,” “The Day of the Doctor” and “The Time of the Doctor” and this final chapter was, well…

…okay.

And that’s just a little bit sad.

I think the biggest issue about this episode was how anti-climactic it was. The idea of the crack from Season Five, Madam Kevorian from Season Six and a new cycle of Regenerations were just quickly mentioned and that was the end of it.

The Regeneration one bugs me just a little. I figured it would be a big deal for the Doctor to earn more Regenerations. I thought Season Eight would feature the Twelfth Doctor on the hunt for Gallifrey and when he found it, the Time Lords said, “Here you go – a new cycle of Regenerations!”

Instead, it was just Clara asking, “Help the Doctor.” and the crack opens and SHAZAM! more regenerations.

Regenerations are now the equivalent of going out for groceries, “Okay, I need to stop by the store and get bread, milk and a new life cycle of alternate lives that should help me live another millennium. Oh and Ovaltine!”

Sure, I am being snarky, but when you add this to how quickly Matt Smith turned into Peter Capaldi, I have to ask, “Does the regeneration cycle mean anything anymore?” When Christopher Eccleston turned into David Tennant there was at least three seconds Eccleston then three seconds Tennant. And it was the same thing with Tennant to Matt Smith. However going from Matt Smith to Peter Capaldi:

MATT SMITH: Aaaaa –

REGENERATE!

PETER CAPALDI: – choo!

When you compare Russell T. Davies’s run to Stephen Moffat’s, Davies knew how to plan long storylines and he knew how to remind the viewers about what was happening. He knew how to do call backs without it bogging down an episode. Sadly, Moffat did not that with his run.

Just a quick bone of contention, did anyone know what the Trenzalore Prophecy was before Season Six? I had no idea what it was until Dorium’s head (played by the amazing Simon Fisher-Becker) explained it in the last episode of Season Six. By then we had a whole season of the Silence trying to kill the Doctor without a decent explanation.

I guess Moffat’s big problem was dealing with the uber-success of Sherlock, the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, finding Matt Smith’s replacement and him having to deal with this all in a manner months. I have to admit, I would not have wished that problem on anyone. It’s too great and science fiction fans, being known for their pickiness, would never be pleased.

SUM UP :

Should fans watch “The Time of the Doctor?”

Without a doubt!

Matt Smith was funny, Jenna Louise Coleman was sweet and bright-eyed and it was nice seeing Karen Gillan again (even though her run as a companion was longer than I liked). Peter Capaldi, I believe, has the potential of being a force to be reckoned with and could bring the more acerbic bits of William Hartnell’s run and Colin Baker’s run to the forefront. And he would make it fun.

But, at the end, the Doctor is our friend, and we sort of owe it to him to say good bye, so go ahead and watch it.

Even a clumsy heartfelt good-bye is better than nothing.

 

About Don Smith

Before self publishing 'Ghost Investigator' under the Spirited Comics Publication banner, Smith has written comic books for Heske Horror and Bluewater Comics. His bio comics, 'Political Power: Ronald Reagan' and 'Political Power: Rush Limbaugh' garnered national attention on 'The Rush Limbaugh Show' and 'The New York Times.' His upcoming comic 'American Defenders: The Army' gives a history of the United States Army. Smith also garnered acclaim with his latest history book, THE GOFFLE ROAD MURDERS OF PASSAIC COUNTY, that detailed the first murders in Passaic County, New Jersey and their unusual connection the administration of President William McKinely and Vice President Garret Hobart. Visit his site at http://donsmithwrites.wordpress.com.