Doctor Who Review: The Time of the Doctor

doctor who the time of the doctor review eleventh doctor matt smith clara oswald jenna coleman steven moffat silence daleks cybermen handles poster

And 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.

This is it now, isn’t it? Matt Smith no more, it’s the time of the Twelfth Doctor. It seems oddly surreal – Matt Smith has been the face of the Doctor for the best part of four years now. He took the show to new heights, new levels, new countries – it was his Doctor, after all, that opened up the show to America.

So, yeah, it’s rather odd to think of him as gone now. To think that, from now on, there won’t be any more Matt Smith stories. No more bow ties. No more fezzes. None of that.

Still, at least The Time of the Doctor was a fitting send off, right?

Right…?

The episode starts out pretty much pitch perfect – the scenes in the Dalek and Cyber spaceships were very fun, very Doctor Who. They also set up the premise for the episode as well, and I think it was a pretty good one too – there’s a message, and everyone is here to look at it. It’s an interesting hook, although maybe too reminiscent of The Pandorica Opens.

Clara’s family were nice, I suppose, but generally relatively superfluous. They didn’t exactly add much, nor develop Clara’s character or personality to huge degrees. In fact, they really seemed to be there just for the nudity jokes – which were, to be honest, puerile at best.

Anyways, after we’ve picked up Clara and got to the planet (which isn’t Gallifrey, it’s not orange!) the plot starts to pick up. It’s nice to see the crack in time back, and the explanation for it was, I think, really very good – Gallifrey is trying to make it’s way back through. That’s a great, non-linear explanation. (I do wonder if that had been the idea from the start, or if it was just added in for this episode. I hope it was the original idea)

It’s around there, though, that the episode sort of starts to falter. The idea of the Doctor giving up his life to guard the people of Trenzalore is a fantastic one – it’s an entirely different sacrifice to the type we’re used to, yet still a very Doctor-y one. Perhaps that’s even a more difficult one for the Doctor – he’s not used to sitting still.

However, the idea wasn’t really explored as best as it could have been I felt. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, obviously; just that it could have been… better. It should have mirrored, say, the Star Trek: Voyager episode Blink of an Eye or the Big Finish story Rise and Fall (I’ve linked to Big Finish’s SoundCloud, you can download the story for free. It’s very good)

If we’d seen the culture develop alongside the Doctor, everything would have hit home a little bit more – maybe all their buildings are blue, maybe the all wear bow ties. If they’d progressed just a little bit past the Victorian style lives they had, maybe it’d have worked a little bit better…

But anyways, the Doctor, protecting the people of Trenzalore. It might have been nice if we’d seen a little bit more of it – show, don’t tell, after all – but it didn’t impact on things too much. What we got was nice, after all.

The only other gripe I had was the Daleks – I think the episode might have worked better without them, and with the Kovarian chapter taking their place. It would have rounded things off a little better, and kept the episode more… I want to say discrete, but that’s not quite the word I mean. Hm.

(Also was Tasha Lem meant to be River Song? A lot of it felt as though she’d been written as River Song, but then had to be changed because… Alex Kingston wasn’t available or something?)

So, yes, that’s all the story and script stuff out of the way. Generally very good, but could have been better. I think that’s probably the best way to sum that up.

The acting, was, of course, exemplary. Especially from Matt Smith. Obviously, it would be. As it should be, in Eleven’s final hour.

I often struggle with what to say about Matt Smith and his acting, because… well, to say Matt Smith gave a great performance is like saying water is wet. Or the sky is blue. Just… so ridiculously completely obviously true it’s not exactly worth mentioning really.

Finally, then, the regeneration. The end, yes, but the moment had been prepared for. We were ready, more or less.

Matt Smith’s final lines were nice, very much so. Poignant really. The hallucination of Amy was a nice touch, and a nice callback to the Fifth Doctor’s regeneration. It was a really good send off for Matt.

We’ll never forget when the Doctor was him.

Related:

Doctor Who Review: The Day of the Doctor

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Doctor Who: The Next Showrunner?

doctor who steven moffat action figures next showrunner leaving replace chris chibnall mark gatiss neil cross toby whithouse neil gaiman russell t davies

It seems that the general consensus of Doctor Who fans is that Steven Moffat has had his day. Obviously, this isn’t the case for everyone – there’s still some who’ll sing his praises. Other’s are vehemently against his staying even a year longer. Some just think it’s time for a breath of fresh air.

(Personally, I’m somewhat ambivalent – whilst some of Moffat’s recent work has faltered, there’s generally a high standard throughout)

Even so, I believe he’s said in interviews that he doesn’t see himself staying any longer than 2016 at the most – which, really, isn’t that far away now. Just 2 more seasons, give or take.

Either way, he’ll be going eventually. The question that’s asked, then, is… Who next?

The likely candidate is Mark Gatiss, not least because of his close partnership with Moffat. He’s got a fair bit of experience in different production roles – producer, director, writer, and actor, meaning he’d certainly be able to understand all the different aspects of the roles. He’s also, obviously, a big fan of Doctor Who, and has a lot of experience as a writer – of all the current team, he’s probably the most experienced as a Who writer.

Other candidates are few and far between really, perhaps because Moffat is using the same writers over and over again – Neil Gaiman and Chris Chibnall would likely be too busy, for example, and Toby Whithouse has perhaps not written enough Doctor Who yet…

Personally, I think Gatiss would be a great choice. In my opinion, An Adventure in Space and Time is the best piece of writing ever to have gone out under the Doctor Who name – if his episodes as showrunner were even half that standard, it’d be a rather impressive run.

His would also be quite a different direction to Moffat’s and RTD’s, which I think would be good – life depends upon change and renewal, after all.

What I think might be interesting would be a sharing of the role, like how Gatiss and Moffat run Sherlock. That is, perhaps, what leads to the overall quality increase there, in comparison to the pair’s Doctor Who work.

I doubt it’d be Neil Cross. Whilst he might have enough traction to return as a writer, I say he’d be far, far too divisive to be a legitimate choice to take over. The choice would, I assume, need to be approved by some BBC bosses somewhere – bosses who would presumably have seen quite how divisive his episodes were, and not want to take such a risk.

Nick Briggs is a name that’s thrown around a fair bit, but I sort of doubt it’d be him. Whilst he’s probably one of the best suited to the job, given his work at Big Finish, he’s perhaps not experienced enough in terms of TV writing?

What’s also interesting to note is that, way back in… 2003 it would have been, when Mark Gatiss had a pitch in the running to bring back Doctor Who, it was a collaborative pitch with Gareth Roberts and Clayton Hickman – perhaps the three of them, or Gatiss and Whithouse working together, would be the right choice?

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