Ok. Let’s be honest. It had to happen sometime. Steven Moffatt had to write an episode that wasn’t quite the epic adventure we had been promised. After all the teases of Trensalor, Silence will Fall and Questions being Asked, it was highly unlikely the resolution would be wholly satisfying. And it wasn’t. Plot wise, the Doctor Who Christmas special was bilge water.
Coming so soon after the astonishing 50th anniversary, which somehow managed not only to live up to the hype but eclipse it, ‘The Time of the Doctor’ was the ‘difficult second album’ times 100. Inevitably the cracks showed (quite literally, in the case of the ominous crack in the wall). Which brings me to my first issue with the episode: scary things not being scary.
A genuine chill went down my spine when I saw the crack was back. But it turned out to just be a nice way for the Timelords trapped on Gallifrey to communicate with the Doctor. Then there was the Cyberman head turned version of the iPhone’s Siri, which was ridiculous. Cybermen under Moffatt have slowly been getting more sentient, there is no way the Doctor would have risked having one that close.
And then there were the Silence. You might not remember them (ha ha) but they used to be utterly terrifying. Until some woman in a cheap ballgown nicked from Strictly Come Dancing has them under her command and suddenly they are just minions. Silence Will Fall wasn’t about destroying the three fingered eggheads at all, it literally referred to everyone shutting up. Yawn.
At least the Weeping Angels came back to remind us all what terror really is. Never thought the return of the angels would please me! But by this point I was grasping at anything to make me happy with this episode. Let’s nitpick some more:
Clara is a rather attractive and flirtatious young woman. I distinctly remember her giving a guy the glad eye in the 50th anniversary, and she doesn’t spend all her time with the Doctor. So how come she doesn’t have a boyfriend? It was nice to see her family though, and I hope we see a lot more of the sherry-soaked Gran.
Why did the Doctor have to be naked? Normally a nude Matt Smith would be a great Christmas present, but it served absolutely no purpose in this episode. Unless it was to show Tasha Lem as a sex-starved maniac. You may have noticed that I didn’t take to Tasha. No offence Orla Brady, but you are not Alex Kingston. We want a crazy, sexy, genius to seduce and delight the Doctor, we get River Song. No one else is necessary. As the Doctor himself said ‘Totally married that’. Oh Doctor, in our heads, we all married River Song.
There was also a nice nod to the Master and I’m even in the mood to forgive the shocking product placement for iPlayer. I’m less able to forgive the criminal underuse of Tessa Peake-Jones. Please bring her back to the Whoniverse soon.
As with the anniversary, there were some very knowing lines. I particularly liked ‘Maybe it is just nice here. I almost hate to find out what’s wrong’, when the Doctor first arrived on the Christmas planet. Which of course turned out to be Trensalor, cue another time war and trapped Gallifreyans and the Doctor slowly dying of old age. All of which was pretty rubbish, except for a knockout performance by Matt Smith. Also excellent, and I admit it’s taken me a while to fully warm to her, was Jenna Louise Coleman. As the bridge between the eras of Eleven and Twelve, Coleman has a serious task on her hands, but I reckon she’ll cope.
Skip passed all the Trensalor nonsense and we got a simple explanation of the Doctor having used up all his regenerations. And then Clara asked the Timelords for help and they sent him a new cycle. Not sure if this means 1 more regeneration or, as I assume is the case, a whole new set of 13 lives. Beginning, of course, with Peter Capaldi. Who I found pleasantly amusing but I hope he gets a better outfit than that boring suit. I thought the new Doctor regenerated into the old one’s clothes? Curious…
And so to the best bit, just before the regeneration. A hand on a banister. A glittering engagement ring and a wedding band. A flash of red hair and ‘Goodbye Raggedy Man’. Millions of fans rejoicing and crying at the return of Amy Pond. Brief and beautiful.
The bow tie dropped, and Eleven’s time had come. The clock struck twelve (actually it had already done that) and we prepared for a new Doctor. I hope Peter Capaldi knows what he has taken on.
Contributed by Victoria Prior