Dara and I just finished watching “The Time of the Doctor”, a bit behind the rest of the world, but not so late that I can’t get a reaction post up tonight!
Non-spoilery picoreview: I liked this pretty well, but mostly for the sake of getting a lot of pending questions answered. For sheer emotional impact, I think I actually liked the 50th Anniversary special “The Day of the Doctor” QUITE a bit better.
Spoilers behind the crack in the universe!
I could have done without the “pretend to be my boyfriend at Christmas dinner won’t you plz?” schtick that served to be Clara’s initial reason to ping the Doctor at the beginning of this story. We’ve had that joke before, a few too many times, and it didn’t really need to be here. It strikes a jarring note against the behavior Clara and the Doctor have towards one another through the rest of the episode.
It would have been nice as well if we’d seen something of Clara’s family before now–little bits like how her mother is clearly fairly snotty while her grandmother is fairly awesome would have helped go a long way to making this girl seem more like an actual character to me, as opposed to an Enigma To Be Solved.
That said, once the main story got underway, things got more interesting.
We all knew this mystery planet we’re introduced to at the beginning was Trenzalore, though it was a nice fakeout to have the Cyberman head identify it as Gallifrey! NICE “grr no” reaction out of the Doctor–and also, LOL CYBERMAN HEAD. Who he named “Handles”. How adorable was that? Also grinned at Handles having sent the Doctor over to the Dalek ship holding a piece of a Dalek, only to have that immediately followed up by sending him to the Cyberman ship with, well, the head.
I liked the whole “naked because we’re going to church” bit, and holographic clothes.
And I liked the Church of the Papal Mainframe and its Mother Superior. Nice to see them as the long-overdue explanation for what the hell the Silents were.
I didn’t particularly buy the whole “town called Christmas” thing, since it seemed a bit too coincidental and twee to have that be on an alien planet, but hey, it’s a Christmas special. Willing to handwave that a bit.
I did like the truth field, though. And the reaction that both the Doctor and Clara had to it. “I’m wearing a wig!” Hee. Nice way to tie in how Matt Smith had to shave his head.
Interesting to see the Daleks pulling their stunt with making humanoid life forms Dalek agents again, particularly how they eventually took over the Church of the Papal Mainframe. Nicely creepy, that.
And OH HEY FINALLY explanations! For the cracks in the universe! For the origins of the Silents! For how the hell the whole setup with River Song got started from the Church’s perspective! What the deal was with Madame Kovarian! And for the exploding TARDIS!
And wow, apparently if a Time Lord stays in a regeneration long enough, he can in fact physically age. Dara and I were discussing how long Eleven was in this body, and now I really want to see a short timeline laying this out. I’m sure somebody out there on the Internet has written this up already; I’m going to have to go hunting.
Out of all the moments in the episode I think the one I found most emotional was the Doctor’s final attempt to send Clara away–and her breaking down at the table as she tries to resume dinner with her family. And Tasha Lem bringing back the TARDIS to fetch her–had to grin a bit about her remark about flying the TARDIS being easy.
Oh, that last scene with dying old!Doctor. I’m never much of a fan of old age makeup, since it always looks a bit fakey to me. But one of the very first things that was said about Smith as the Doctor was his skill at playing an old man in a young man’s body, and I do have to say, he was definitely convincing in his mannerisms. Those I bought completely. And I liked his weary disgust with the Daleks finally throwing down their ultimatum.
And Clara calling for help to the Time Lords on the other side of the crack–NICE. Their sending a new round of regeneration energy through was an elegant way to solve the “out of regenerations” problem. Though one does wonder now how long it’ll be before they finally get out of that pocket universe.
Then of course we get the actual regeneration. Some of the intended emotional impact was lost on me, partly because I never entirely warmed to Amy as a companion, so the Doctor flashing back to seeing her didn’t hit me particularly hard. But I did like that this regeneration was surprisingly understated and quick compared to Tennant’s–and I say that as a Tennant fangirl.
It may be rather telling too that Capaldi’s first line to Clara is “Do you know how to fly this thing?”
Heh. Now we have to figure out what the hell to call Capaldi. Is he Twelve? Or is he Fourteen? Either way, bring him on. Ready to see where he’s taking the TARDIS next.