Getting Spun Around with Time of the Doctor

28 Dec

By Otaku no Culture

Time of the Doctor Poster

* Spoiler Alert *

E: I’m divided over whether I should like the finale of what was a stellar year for Doctor Who. The build up to the Anniversary Special was great. The two different plots that would lead up to reveal what happened in the final moments of the Great Time War between the Daleks and the Time Lords melded together.

The Christmas episode, on the other hand, suggests the Time Lords found a way to come back to this reality, but it all depends on the Doctor (Matt Smith) to utter his name. Should he unlock the cosmic rift that’s formed on a planet that was mistakingly identified as Gallifrey, then another war will break out. But Mother Superious Tasha Lem (Orla Brady) of the Church of the Papal Mainframe can not have that. When the Doctor makes planetfall, he learns the planet is actually Trenzalore and he realizes his fate is sealed.

The confusion as to why a Cyberman (the head of one) believes the planet is one world whereas another person says otherwise only muddles this Christmas Special. Too much material was packed into 60 minutes and that’s not enough time to explain everything. The Twelfth Doctor does not seem to know what he’s doing and all this episode does is to give Matt Smith the opportunity to shine for sake of not having a cohesive story to go along with it.

J: It’s not just the plot holes that are the problem. Key series defining elements to keep the Whovians flying off the edge of their seats can simply be tossed out the window and completely disregarded just because a companion says “change it.”

Geez Doc, you were supposed to die on Trenzalore and yet you couldn’t. Even if Smith’s character could at least have a decent regeneration scene on Trenzalore then I could forgive. But this is timey wimey stuff that only the Grand Moff could understand. I’m sure he’s descending some hill in mother GB (Great Britain) right about now in a toga whilst carrying two stone tablets just in time to set the stage for Capaldi. But has anyone noticed the words on the tablets are not inscribed but written in chalk.

The Doctor on Stage

E: I guess that Moffat and his production team are simply thinking that all the explanations can be provided later. This episode felt too rushed. It was constructed to move like a Shakespearean play but it lacks the passion of one. The staging in the first act is self-evident of this fact and the way The Doctor carries the Cyberman’s head reminds me of Hamlet when he said, “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio.” I am sure Moffat was attempting to provide a meditation on the fragility of life.

While watching The Time of the Doctor, the feeling that Rassilon and his Inner Council are gearing up to return is very evident. I’m hoping that more will come later in the series. When the War Council in Day of the Doctor understood their fate, nothing was said about what the rest of their fellow agents are up to. All that was known was that the Inner Council had their own agenda in how to deal with this Time War. No information was revealed about what Rassilon was doing.

And as fans of this series knows, only certain members of the Time Lords have the ability to grant another Time Lord a whole new set of regenerations, or allow an in-between incarnation (The Valeyard) to take over the remaining reset buttons so he can be his own person. Even the Eleventh Doctor admitted that the War Doctor is technically an incarnation. He even said, “Number Ten once regenerated and kept the same face – I had vanity issues at the time.”

A Crack in Time - Doctor Who

Long time viewers will know what The Master had to go through before he could get a new set of regenerations in The Five Doctors. Here, the cop-out to be granted a new reset switch is too easy. One quick glow in the dark moment and an edit later, the Doctor has a new face.

J: As good a writer as Moff is, I thought that to have a possible return of Gallifrey is too soon. And Ed is right, the regeneration was all too easy. It was like watching the great Gallifreyan council throw out their window a new change of trousers to the Doctor. For goodness sakes Doctor, put your regeneration on, your age is showing.

E: I did not think the makeup put on to show Smith as an old man was all that effective either.

J: I’m still wondering how the Daleks could fear the Doctor when all previous traces of the Doctor in history was wiped. Yet they stayed away even during his weakest moment. Sure he only had to utter his name to bring out the Gallifreyans but as the Daleks have shown, they are more than willing to battle the Time Lords.

E: There were plenty of continuity problems which even made me go huh? on the second and third viewing of this episode. Even then, not everything made sense, including a useless subplot about Clara Oswald’s family trying to have a festive dinner. I know the Christmas Specials are not meant to be important in the broadcast history of Doctor Who, but when it follows after the 50th Anniversary Special, Day of the Doctor, it better be damned good. This episode was a let-down.

The Doctor with the Oswald Family

Fans tracking the Doctors romantic history may get hung up when asking about what kind of relationship he and Mother Superious had. I have to wonder if this happened before or after he and River Song became an item?

J: It is implied that Smith tied the knot with River Song after his previous regeneration (David Tennant) married the Queen of England. And that’s the great thing about being a Time Lord, he could walk into the Tardis, travel 30 – 60 years forward and marry someone else. He could even visit another planet in that same time and it would all be legal. Hooray for the Doctor, a man who has a girl in every port and a female companion in every Tardis. It’s enough to make Her Majesty’s Royal Navy blush.

E: That said, I don’t think Moffat thought this episode all the way through. He did have a few good moments like the little nod to the Doctor revealing that he stole the seal from the Master in the Death Zone (from The Five Doctors), but that is not enough to discard fifty years of continuity or nine years, since the series restarted, and forget at what has been implied, like the Doctor dying on Trenzalore. Instead, what viewers get is a disruption in time, where the river no longer flows in one direction, but is spread out to differing tributaries. Or will it be the Doctor returning to this world in his twentieth incarnation where he meets his final fate?

J: Perhaps the writers of Who should have a holy Who history book to guide them. A point by point of everything that has ever happened in the Doctor’s life. It would be most welcome if things were remembered for future scripts and more nods from the past are given by the writers.

E: When producers are dealing with a long running series, a series bible has to exist for many a production team to work from. The Transformers series is a prime example. Doctor Who has to have some kind of floor plan to outline key aspects of the Doctor’s Life, but I doubt any of that was planned out until the series reboot, when Russell T Davies was in charge. James, not everything is simply made up on the spot.

In this case, I just can’t see the episode where the Doctor and River Song are dating and fall in love ever happening. The chemistry that Alex Kingston shared with Tennant and Smith was unique. I doubt it will be as effective with Capaldi in the role. I can be wrong, but when the series seems to be writing itself into a corner, just how long I will remain a Doctor Who fan will depend. I could lose my head over its overall direction. At least I’ll be in good company with “Handles” the Cyber-head. This series should be treated with care.


One Response to “Getting Spun Around with Time of the Doctor”

  1. Virginia Cerezo 2013-12-28 at 4:04 am #

    I was expecting more. After the majestic farewell to Tennant, I though Smith should deserve as much as him…

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