2013 Doctor Who Christmas Special: The Time of the Doctor

dr who peter capaldi regenration

Its Gina here to discuss thoughts on the 2013 Doctor Who Christmas Special: The Time of the Doctor. This was a special episode because it was 11th Doctor, Matt Smith’s last turn in the role as the Doctor. When watching Regenerations episodes, a viewer experiences many emotions. Including sadness about losing the current doctor and excitement and anticipation about the new one.

After being tricked into going to Trenzalore by the Church of the Papal Mainframe, the Doctor finds  the crack in the town of Christmas, the same crack he faced in his first episode “The Eleventh Hour”, only this time it’s a question being asked by the forgotten and long lost Gallifrey.  The Time Lords need to know the Doctor is who he says he is, and so ask the oldest question to which the Doctor cannot  speak falsely, and in turn bring them back. But bringing back the Time Lords would restart the Time War, with the Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, Weeping Angels. The Doctor knows he can’t abandon these people, and the Papal Mainframe instigate silence to make sure he doesn’t speak the name. He sends Clara back to her home in the TARDIS and spends the next 300 years stopping attack the citizens of Christmas.

My initial thoughts were mixed about this episode, which continued to change after a second and third viewing. In conversing with a few fellow contributors from the WhoBackWhen podcast, I asked two of them with opposing opinions to express their feelings and thoughts on the episode.

Kyle Rath (@sinistersprspy)

The Doctor has had a busy year. He lost companions, lost his wife, faced off against an enemy intent on destroying every moment of his life, only to be saved a girl he’d hardly met.  He saw his grave, and with the help of his earlier selves, he saved his own race from annihilation. TTOTD was supposed to tie up the loose ends still hanging about, and hand the torch from Matt Smith to Peter Capaldi. I don’t feel like it quite lived up to expectations.

Why did we have to wait til now to find out more about the Silence? I was ok with the way they were dealt with in Series 6. It was clever. It was genius. Humankind – Manchurian Candidates at war with The Silence for the rest of eternity. Awesome!

Crack – O – Phone: Big Bang 2 reset the universe, and Amy Pond remembered, saving the Doctor.

So where did this crack on Trenzalore come from? Leftovers? What’s behind door #11? The crack. Why? It would have been meaningless to him without the events of the 50th. I always felt that behind that door it should have been Hartnell, the one who ran away first. My opinion. The Papal Mainframe, whoever they are, under the leadership of Tasha Lem, whoever she is, govern the safety of Trenzalore to prevent all out war, which results in all out war. Also, she is old friends with The Doctor. Because there are no other characters in Doctor Who that could have been reintroduced to fulfill this role. Also she recovers from being a Dalek puppet. Apparently. And can fly the TARDIS.

This episode has been described as being all over the place.  And it was. A messy regeneration, a town we are supposed to care about. All the bad guys. But it was evident that Moffat wanted to address the regeneration issue. In fact – i think that was the entire motivation behind this last year. All the big events. All the movie posters. This was supposed to be the year of Doctor Who. And so Moffat found a very confusing and disjointed path to answer that question. And all he did was make it someone else’s problem.

We started this journey with the idea that The Doctor would have to face the oldest question. The First Question. The one he has been running from his whole life. Doctor Who? Instead, that very tantalizing and provocative plot was treated as a cop out. The way in which the timelords can verify it is safe for them to return. It makes me think that maybe, instead of all the drama, all the hype, going forward into Series 8 and a new Doctor in Capaldi, Mr. Moffat might want to focus on one question at a time.  One story arc. One plan. We don’t need big sweeping epics in one episode. Take to the year to tell one story.

The story of how The Twelfth Doctor fell down, but got back up again.

Davis Williams (@ShrubThe)

It seems that I may be in the minority here, but I thought Time of the Doctor was splendid. In fact, this is my favorite episode and was a very fitting send off for my favorite Doctor, number 11. It also really stands out against the other regenerations I’ve seen (which aren’t many), as it takes place over a very long period of time. I thought the aging of the Doctor was a very unique twist to the story, and really made the story more emotional for me.

The first twenty minutes were a great idea, because they set up a contrast with the rest of the episode. You get to see the fun times the Doctor has with Clara, and you see them laughing and joking around. I also liked the in-universe explanation for the wig, very hilarious. Anyways, after the lighthearted jokiness of the first bit, the rest of the episode was even more powerful, because Clara is suddenly ripped away from the Doctor, who is the stuck fighting everything ever in Christmas for hundreds of years.

Regeneration is always a sad time for us fans of Doctor Who. We get so attached to a specific incarnation, then he is ripped away from us, pretty much until the end of time (Here’s to hoping for a multi-doctor special in ten years for the 60th). Matt’s regeneration sequence essentially started when Clara came to see him near the very end and he was incredibly old, and accepting of his death. Then he goes up to the bell tower, gets new regenerations, gives us an amazing speech about Daleks never telling him the rules, and begins to excitedly regenerate, destroying every Dalek in town with a fiery explosion. Then, he is restored to his younger self, who goes back to the TARDIS for some fish fingers and custard, and meets Clara. This is when the heart strings start being jerked with every word. First, little Amelia is imagined by the doctor and she is running around the TARDi s laughing. The Doctor gives us and Clara one last speech about change and how everyone will and has got to change. But he also tells us we need to remember, and he will “always remember when the Doctor was me”. Finally, Amy Pond pops up with her “Raggedy man, goodnight”, causing a flood through many peoples tear ducts around the world. The bow tie is taken off, then the Doctor suddenly has new kidneys.

Finally, while I loved this episode, there was one flaw. It overwrote what happened in the Name of the Doctor. This means that Clara could not have gone through his time scar tissue, because it doesn’t exist on Trenzalore anymore. This means she never met him in “The Snowmen”, which then means she never got him to help defeat the GI, which in turn means that he is still a hermit in the sky. Maybe, I’m missing something. And this is Doctor Who, a fictional show about time travel, so I will let it slide. Anyways, this special was breathtaking, I rate it a 9.8 out of 10. Thanks Matt Smith!

I had many expectations about my first live Regeneration Story. Expected to the feel sadness and a sense of loss saying goodbye to the 11th Doctor. In the end, I was disappointed with the confusing plot and lack of overall emotional weight. To use the 10th Doctor regeneration story, “End of Time” as an example, it was also had a confusing plot with too many characters. However, I feel it elicited emotions that I felt the episode lacked. I wanted to be sad that the 11th Doctor was regenerating. Instead, I was distracted by the plot, the tying of loose ends and the random narration. This was not a good send off for the 11th Doctor or Matt Smith, except for the last 10 minutes. His final speech was beautiful, but it still didn’t evoke the sadness that I felt with End of Time. Overall it was a mediocre but fun story.  Now, we have more than half a year to anticipate what Season 8 will bring for the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi.  As the old adage says “Bad Doctor Who is better than no Doctor Who”.

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