In a new tradition, Cult Fix’s rabble of esteemed (ahem) writers will be cobbling together some brief thoughts on all the latest episodes of Doctor Who, starting with Christmas Day’s “The Time of the Doctor”. For readers of my blog, here’s what I had to say (you can read the full article here):
“The Time of the Doctor” had a gargantuan checklist of objectives to fulfil, were it ever to be the satisfying conclusion to Moffat and Smith’s era of Doctor Who that fans have yearned for. By and large, it managed to tick the requisite boxes. It’s an episode that was far from perfect overall, pervaded by sporadic doses of brilliance, but was a fitting summation of the themes and overarching plots of the Eleventh Doctor’s reign.
The elements I found particularly irksome were the overlong, arbitrary gag of the church’s imposed nudity (which seemed to be nothing more than unashamed fan service), and the fact that Tasha Lem was essentially just River Song 2.0 (assuming that she wasn’t actually a previously unheard of incarnation of River Song); a highly flirtatious, domineering, female acquaintance whose relationship with the Doctor is of a similarly lascivious nature
Some of the expository dialogue referencing narrative threads of past and present was a bit terse, and a number of the answers to some of the burning questions were dissatisfying, to say the least (the Silence as lowly confession priests hardly befits the ethos of them as occupiers of planet Earth and guiders of humanity since the ‘wheel and the fire’). But the sprawl of plot lines that have lingered largely unanswered over the last four years was at least tied together fairly conclusively.
And Matt’s final bow was arguably his finest. The youthful vigour of his Doctor has come in for criticism in the past for subverting the character’s ancient age, but here he channelled the centuries old Time Lord in tremendous fashion. The nuance of his performance, particularly as the decrepitly aged version that confronts the Daleks atop the bell tower, was simply breathtaking. His every ungainly motion, mannerism and gesture was inflicted with a degree of frailty that perfectly conveyed how old the Doctor had grown during his time on Trenzalore.
Some might see his eventual regeneration as indulgent on Moffat’s part, with a visage of Amelia bidding a final goodnight to her Raggedy Man, but the Doctor has sought comfort in the recollection of his companions during regenerations before, and it was an exquisitely orchestrated sequence that brought to an end this period of the show with the two faces that began it.
The brutal transformation into Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor dispensed with the sadness of Matt’s adieu perhaps a bit too hurriedly, but Capaldi’s fleeting scene of post-regenerative madness was not short on promise. He already is the Doctor.