Friday, December 27, 2013

Time of the Doctor: Goodbye Matt Smith

The Clock has struck Twelve. Matt Smith has handed in his bowtie and sonic screwdriver. Peter Capaldi is now in the driving seat of the TARDIS. Unfortunately, the handover episode, Time of the Doctor was not all that great. After the epic that was Day of the Doctor, this was a bit of a let down.

After the extremely successful, and awesome to watch, 50th Anniversary, this always had a lot to live up to, made even harder for being at Christmas, where it's not just new fans that are watching but all their sozzled and stuffed relatives. But I thinking Time may have been a bit too dense and over reaching for its own good.

The first fifteen minutes were cool, the last fifteen were pretty epic, but that middle half an hour was meh and confusing. To give Moffat his due, he included aspects of all of Matt Smith's run, and it did have a proper ending feel to it, but it just didn't work. One man standing and fighting a war for three hundred years is one of those ideas that sounds great on paper. Especially when you bring in the idea that this is a man who always ran. But it's not easy to pull off in a TV show.

The passage of time needed more scenes or maybe even a montage. We're told that the Doctor fights major battles but we're shown minor skirmishes, and one unusual tactic of a wooden Cyberman. The love the town gave him worked well, but the Barnable bit didn't, or rather the kid coming in that wasn't Barnable didn't work. Maybe a line about him being his Grandfather? Something that showed time was moving more than just Smith's make up. I think the episode could have used another ten to fifteen minutes runtime to give it air to breathe. Instead it was a bit of a confusing mess.

The Papal Mainframe definitely needed more background, maybe an episode in the series before hand, it would also have the benefit that the switch to the Church of the Silence would have a bit more impact, though that was still a cool moment.

We all knew that the idea of the regenerations running out was a hell of a hook, and I loved that Moffat addressed it properly, referencing not only that the War Doctor was a regeneration, but the Meta-Doctor was as well. But the pay-off was a little cheap. It was always going to be the Time Lords granted him a new round of regenerations, but to have Clara just whisper it through a crack in the universe didn't feel enough. I guess I expected it to be a really big deal for Capaldi to address, knowing he was running out, instead we have to reflect on Smith's tenure with the knowledge that he thought he would be the last Regeneration. It certainly puts a new spin on things, and now that I think about it, accepting that fact is much more The Doctor than trying to find a fix for the problem.

What of the crack as well? We were given the impression that this was the last place the Time Lords could go to be brought back, yet the crack seemed to disappear. I guess that's a question for Capaldi's Doctor, but it was left a little too vague. The 50th seemed to lay things out more clearly than this, The Time of the Doctor seemed to muddy it up.

All said and done though, Capaldi's reveal was great. He apparently might not have any idea how to fly the TARDIS either, which could prove interesting for the next episode. It's probably just regeneration amnesia though.
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