The Time of the Doctor – Uncollected Thoughts

There are many people ready to criticise Stephen Moffat for diverting new Doctor Who away from the sentimentality of the Russell T. Davies years, which I did not like, but in Matt Smith’s last appearance in the role, we got enough sentiment to satisfy anyone. But then we already knew he could do it from Rory and Amy’s departure.

In a way that hasn’t been so since my youngest years, when I watched Hartnell and Troughton as unfailingly as a kid with no control over his life could do, Matt Smith’s been ‘my’ Doctor. Or, when paired with Karen Gillan and Arthur Darville, he certainly has been. I was very disappointed with the half series with Jenna Coleman, until that extraordinary final episode, and Moffat has been travelling a light speed ever since.

I’ve avoided knowing anything about this Christmas Special (like I’ve avoided anything to do with next Wednesday’s Sherlock) so I came to this with clean hands, ready to be astonished. And again the pieces moved into place: the Crack in the Universe, the Silence, the explosion of the Tardis, River Song even, all part of this final sequence of stories. Either Moffat had known all along what he was doing and where he was going or the man is a fucking genius at fitting half-ideas into a whole, and I’m not so sure I wouldn’t want it to be the latter because if the pattern wasn’t there all along, then this man is awesome and I would like him to take over scripting my life, right now, immediately. Please.

Because what we had from this story was The End. Of that story that began when two teachers grew concerned about an unusual pupil. Because Matt Smith recognised he was the last, despite everything the Curator had implied. The Eleventh Doctor, plus John Hurt and that part regeneration of David Tennant: the show’s only low moment, that ungenerous snipe there, even as Moffat was using it to his advantage to allow him to now, not in some future time when he’s no longer in control, break the bonds of the Twelve Regenerations.

First though, in his resignation to a future that becomes inevitable once he learns he has been drawn to Trenzalore, Smith’s Doctor can grow old, in one place, bent on protecting those who need protection for as long as he shall live. To guard the secret of his name – which is no secret at all, despite the demands of Gallifrey for the answer to ‘Doctor Who’? His name is the Doctor: whatever he may once have been known by, that is his name, and the whole of it.

And thanks once more to Clara, devoted, loving, impossible, he gets to go on. Gallifrey ceases its attempt to get back into the Universe and instead confers life upon its most infuriating child: new Regeneration energy. Another go around. The queston resolved and removed, for another fifty years, no doubt.

And a final, mercifully brief moment of goodbyes, reminiscent of Tennant’s farewell but not so pukingly, dully drawn-out. A glimpse of Amelia, a moment of Amy – and the suddenest of transformations into Peter Capaldi…

What comes next won’t appear until July, if I understand correctly. Matt Smith has been ‘my’ Doctor, but I’m open to negotiations over Peter Capaldi.

10 thoughts on “The Time of the Doctor – Uncollected Thoughts

  1. “The Time of the Doctor” sets out to dig Steven Moffat out of the deep, convoluted hole he dug himself into with the later Smith seasons, and it shows. The answers it provides are clever and make sense, but they’re delivered so quickly that they fail to be satisfying. I’m a staunch Moffat defender, but this script is like that university paper you write 5 hours before it’s due………

    1. Sadly, the unbounded enthusiasm I show here didn’t last, and Jenna Coleman was the main reason for that. Peter Capaldi will always be the Lost Doctor for me, the one who could have been Mega, if not for Moffat blowing up and making The Time of the Doctor and Capaldi’s last appearance the glorious exceptions they were instead of the bog-standard we deserved.

      1. You might like Series 10. Simpler, laid-back, fresh companion, relatively grounded stories. The main story arc is about the redemption of Missy, who happens to be the best incarnation of that character since Roger Delgado’s tragic death. The evil Mary Poppins schtick she does is just…the best.

    1. I’ve just been thinking about what to watch while I’m stuck at home. Doctor Who might make the list. Might watch some more Studio Ghibli movies as well.

    1. I’m finding it hard to focus, just like you. Seems like I’m not really in the mood for anything…..

  2. Ya know…this really was a brilliant ending to the 11th Doctor’s character arc. His original sin was leaving young Amelia Pond behind in “The Eleventh Hour”. He didn’t mean to–but that’s the problem with being a being of such immense power. You tend to break things without malicious intent. Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor was great at saving the universe and cheating his own death, but considerably shakier when it came to interpersonal relationships. His seminal moment comes in “A Good Man Goes to War” (a masterpiece of an episode by the way), when he fails Amy and Rory when they needed him most. His association with them and his own hubris and growing reputation across the cosmos cost them their baby, and even though River grew up okay, they never got it back. Of course, because this is ‘Doctor Who’, a family show, the Ponds ultimately forgave him for that and the trio was as close as ever by the time of their departure. But I doubt he ever forgave himself for it. Or for saying 5 minutes when he was gone for 12 years in “The Eleventh Hour”. So having him sacrifice his life to defend this planet from the monsters, not to save the universe necessarily, but to protect its inhabitants is an elegant and poetic way of absolving him of his personal flaws, as much as he can be. That’s why I approve of Karen Gillan appearing one last time–the Eleventh Hour is finally over. He can rest. Just this once, The 11th Doctor stayed behind.

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