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The Time of the Doctor reaction post

eleven anticipation
I am apparently Grumpy Fan in relation to Doctor Who.  While there were definitely some things I enjoyed, if you are looking for unadulterated squee you might want to scroll past.

[Spoilery reaction to "The Time of the Doctor"]Sadly, "The Time of the Doctor" carries on the tradition from "The End of Time" of sending off a popular Doctor with an overstuffed wreck of a final episode.  I wish Moffat had stripped off some of the confusing excess plot to give the episode a stronger emotional core.

On the one hand, I was glad to see several of the unresolved plot holes from Eleven's era finally given a bit more explanation (the crack in the universe, the exploding TARDIS, "silence will fall when the question is asked," etc.), but I sort of feel like it was too much for one episode to handle.  Certainly there was no reason to have Daleks AND Silence AND Weeping Angels AND Cybermen AND Sontarans there.  This ep fixed some plot holes, but created new ones:  if the Doctor didn't actually die on Trenzalore, where did the giant TARDIS-grave in "The Name of the Doctor" come from?  Also, I am a bit annoyed that Moffat created the War Doctor and decided to count the metacrisis as a regeneration to manufacture the danger of this being the Doctor's last life, but then this episode was the first we heard of it.  In "The Impossible Astronaut" he got shot once and apparently started to regenerate until he was immediately shot again.  Where did that attempted regeneration come from?

The Day of the Doctor:  so Gallifrey isn't destroyed, but it's lost and who knows when/if we'll ever see it again?
The Time of the Doctor: O HAI GUISE GALLIFREY HERE WITH A JOKE FOR YOU. KNOCK KNOCK.  WHO'S THERE?  DOCTOR WHO? HA HA GET IT?  SERIOUSLY GUISE LET US OUT SO WE CAN RESTART THE TIEM WAR AND BURN DOWN THE UNIVERSE.  KTHX.  OH BTW, HERE ARE SOME BONUS REGENERATIONS WE THOUGHT YOU MIGHT LIKE.  MERRY CHRISTMAS.

(I have no idea why the Time Lords speak in capslock LOLspeak.  I also have no idea why appealing to their love of the Doctor worked to get him a new regeneration cycle in the episode, because most of the Time Lords think the Doctor should go fuck himself.)

Eleven lived for like 200 years while trying to run away from his supposed death in series 6 and didn't appear to age a bit.  Here, Eleven spent 300 years on Trenzalore and aged tremendously.  Why so uneven?  Maybe it was not having the TARDIS with him that caused so much aging?  I don't think Nine or Ten would have survived being stuck for three centuries in one small town on one planet with sanity intact. I'm somewhat surprised that Eleven did.  I did like all the children's drawings he kept in his living space in the town.

Good to see Clara having a life beyond the Doctor, even if none of her family members had more than one personality trait apiece.  This didn't need to be a Clara-centric episode, but it would be nice if her family reappeared and got deepened during Clara's tenure as a companion.  I was NOT HAPPY about Clara blurting out that she traveled with the Doctor because she fancied him under the truth field.  That was not at all the vibe I got from modern!Clara in S7.  She didn't fully trust him for quite some time, and even when she trusted him I always got the impression that she thought of him as a weird platonic friend, sort of an odd combination of mentor and someone who needs looking after, not a hot guy she wanted to bang.  Other than that, I thought the truth field was interesting both as a plot device and joke source.  (Unlike the nudity jokes, which I mostly found really unfunny.)

I have seen some people speculating that the priestess lady (Tasha) may actually be a previously unknown regeneration of River Song, which would make the fact that she uses so many of the same character tropes more excusable (yet another woman who has power but is head over heels lustful for the Doctor).

One of my favorite moments of the episode was when the Doctor whipped off his wig to reveal the shaved head underneath.  I knew that Matt Smith was wearing a wig for most of the filming of this after having shaved his head for a different role, but I was never expecting it to be lampshaded like that.  The wig gave Eleven one last piece of ridiculous headgear before the end!

I was unsurprised that Karen Gillian got a cameo, but I thought it was a really sweet touch.  Aww, Amy.  That was pretty obviously a different child standing in for wee!Amelia, but I suppose the original is probably looking too different by now.

The Doctor's regenerations are getting bigger every time in New Who.  Nine glowed, but didn't mess up anything other than his ability to stay conscious when regenerating into Ten.  Ten set fire to the TARDIS control room and made his poor wife crash when he changed to Eleven.  Eleven blasted an entire Dalek fleet out of the sky with his regeneration energy.  I dread to think what will blow up when it's Twelve's turn.

Overall, while I think Matt Smith is immensely talented and has brought a lot to the role, I'm not really sad to see him go.  Even as I appreciate Matt Smith as an actor and a person, Eleven's just never been my Doctor.  (Most of that is the writing, and sadly the showrunner isn't changing, but perhaps the new Doctor will be written differently enough to hook me a bit more.)  Eleven's had a big three seasons, with a lot of crap episodes but also some true gold, and now it's time for a change.

Hooray for eyebrows!

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
wendymr
Dec. 26th, 2013 04:04 pm (UTC)
I agree with most of this - "incoherent mess" is the phrase I used to my husband after we'd finished watching. And I also noticed the contrast with Eleven's non-ageing elsewhere.

The aborted regeneration refers to Ten - unless you were wondering why the other aborted regeneration didn't count also? Yes, it did feel as if Moffat's been doing a "I won't be showrunner for ever, so I'm going to grab and then pack in every single important plot point set up for the Doctor that could conceivably happen naturally over the next 5-10 years and have them all to myself. Nyah nyah."

And I completely agree on the nudity 'joke' - so unfunny. I'm equally not a fan of Smith's Doctor and am happy to see him go, but he deserved better as his exit. And, yes, much as I'm looking forward to Capaldi, my reservations are the same as yours.
tardis_stowaway
Dec. 29th, 2013 06:23 am (UTC)
"Incoherent mess" is a very good description for this episode.

The aborted regeneration refers to Ten - unless you were wondering why the other aborted regeneration didn't count also?

I know Ten's aborted regeneration at the end of S4 is counted here, which would mean Eleven should have known from the start that he was actually the last. My confusion is that when Eleven was shot on the lakeshore in "The Impossible Astronaut," he appeared to start to regenerate before being shot again. How could he do that if he was already out of regenerations? Would River know that he shouldn't be able to even start regenerating? I don't remember enough of the "robot duplicate full of tiny people" explanation for his survival to know whether that was actual regeneration energy (even though he wasn't really dying) or some special effect to fool those who needed to think him dead.

I don't really get why Moffat felt the need to try to pack so many plot points into this to make it more confusing and less emotionally centered. Twelve will still be the Doctor and Moffat will still (and least initially) be showrunner, so even the unanswered questions created during Eleven's run could have been left alone for now. It's as baffling as it is frustrating.
ladymercury_10
Dec. 27th, 2013 04:43 am (UTC)
and decided to count the metacrisis as a regeneration to manufacture the danger of this being the Doctor's last life
OH, is that what that line meant? I thought he meant Ten had regenerated at some point we hadn't seen, and then I got all confused because Ten had been so anxious about regenerating I couldn't understand how he could have done it once for vanity and then gone on like nothing had happened.

I also continue to be confused as to how Gallifrey being "in another universe" is fundamentally different from being a drumming noise in the Master's head, beyond the fact that apparently one of these makes it salvageable and the other does not.

I was really happy to see Amy again. I got spoiled for it by Tumblr, but it was still a really emotional moment.
tardis_stowaway
Dec. 29th, 2013 06:32 am (UTC)
Yeah, they counted the time that Ten got shot by a Dalek but stuck the energy in the severed hand while keeping his own face.

The new canon regarding Gallifrey just doesn't seem to make any sense with "The End of Time." It's not like TEoT makes a whole lot of sense either, but it would be nice if there had been SOME attempt to reconcile and connect the two explanations for the end of the Time War rather than increasing the confusion.

Tumblr is the worst for spoilers. I'm glad you enjoyed seeing Amy anyway!
iwouldbegood
Dec. 27th, 2013 04:29 pm (UTC)
I definitely agree with your reaction. I was left feeling quite underwhelmed. The episode reminded me of so much I hate about Moffat's writing and his overly complicated plots and story arcs. And it just did not have the emotional effect I was hoping for. I wasn't very happy with The End Of Time either, but I connected with it and felt so much when it was Ten's time to go. With Eleven's regeneration, it was more my sadness for wonderful Matt than anything else. For me, nothing can compare with the wonderful Parting Of The Ways.

And, needless to say, I am so very bitter Moffat couldn't be gone together with Eleven...
tardis_stowaway
Dec. 29th, 2013 06:56 am (UTC)
Yep, I agree with what you say!

Moffat has been such a disappointment as a showrunner on Doctor Who. He's a much better storyteller when working at a smaller scale and not as the sole person in charge. When doing just one or two episodes a year under RTD or when co-running Sherlock's brief seasons with Mark Gatiss, he seems to be able to do plots that hold together and have an appropriate number of twists. But his timey-wimey puzzlebox stories don't necessarily scale up to work as arcs over multiple seasons of Doctor Who. I don't know how the dynamics are in the DW offices, but it just seems like there is nobody who tells him when something isn't working.

Parting of the Ways was so much better than either Ten or Eleven's regenerations.
reverendjmg
Dec. 28th, 2013 10:08 pm (UTC)
I was also kind of upset that Eleven aged. The Doctor NEVER ages. One is super old looking because that regeneration is super old, not because he'd been in that regeneration forever. STUPID MOFFAT.

Kind of a sweet moment when he whipped out the seal of the High Council that he stole off the Master--that was in the 25th anniversary episode.

The episode piling on ALL THE MONSTERS--no, Moffat, I am not amused by lots of shiny things. Sometimes I want things with actual depth and purpose.

And I was also very, very disappointed by his hand-wavey solution to the limited regenerations problem. If he's going to take that plot point for himself, he could at least spend the time on it that it deserves. The Master, after all, had a whole episode built around his desire for lives beyond his 13th body, and then there were several episodes after that dealing with the consequences of his selfish actions. Given that the Doctor is a MORE important character than the Master, why the hell didn't he have MORE than the Master's quantity of episodes on this issue?

STUPID STUPID MOFFAT. STOP KILLING MY CHILDHOOD.
tardis_stowaway
Dec. 29th, 2013 07:13 am (UTC)
I don't necessarily have a problem with the concept of the Doctor aging, but it seems like it ought to take a hell of a lot longer than he spent on Trenzalore to see that much of a change. The only thing I can think of is that doing without the TARDIS for so long was messing his body up. Or maybe the various enemies had some sort of weapon that contributed? It's stupid.

Sometimes I feel like Moffat just asks a bunch of eight year old boys what they think will be cool, writes down what they say without paying much attention to it, and puts all of that into the show.

And I was also very, very disappointed by his hand-wavey solution to the limited regenerations problem. If he's going to take that plot point for himself, he could at least spend the time on it that it deserves.

Exactly! It would have been so easy to either not count the metacrisis or not have created the War Doctor. If one of those regenerations didn't count, then the limit could have been a plot arc for Capaldi when Moffat is initially still running the show. I don't know how much notice Smith gave that he was leaving, so maybe they couldn't have dealt with the regeneration limit gradually in S7, but it was just bad storytelling to suddenly make it a thing for just one episode.'

Sometimes I work to remember that nothing Moffat does erases the existence of the better times of the show. Sometimes one just has to rewatch the good parts and ignore later reinterpretations.
reverendjmg
Dec. 29th, 2013 02:49 pm (UTC)
So, I remember a moment after River Song first regenerated into the River Song we know and she said, "Maybe I'll take the age down gradually over the years, just to freak people out." I guess it's possible the apparent age of a Time Lord is an expression of their mental state, something they can control with enough mental discipline, but something that might slip into old-old age if they're feeling really down and depressed. That's kind of stretching for an explanation, though. At the end of the day, the writers just wanted the Doctor to feel old so they made him up to look old. I have to admit they did a good job with it, and Matt Smith did an excellent job of ACTING old and tired. It still bugs me though.
timemachineyeah
Dec. 29th, 2013 02:52 am (UTC)
"Also, I am a bit annoyed that Moffat created the War Doctor and decided to count the metacrisis as a regeneration to manufacture the danger of this being the Doctor's last life, but then this episode was the first we heard of it."

He went to such convoluted extremes (The Day of the Doctor could TOTALLY have just been told with Eight and RTD had said before that he didn't intend for metacrisis!Doctor to count as a regeneration) to make this The! Last! Regeneration! and then did nothing worthwhile with that at all. He barely mentioned it, it didn't even add to the tension as we'd ALREADY SEEN Capaldi in the episode prior, and it was resolved out of nowhere with little effort and no work on the Doctor's part at all.

WHY DO ALL THAT MYTHOLOGY STEALING AND RUINING
IF YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE A GOOD STORY PLANNED FOR IT???

He took a great opportunity for a Doctor Who story away form future writers in a really deliberate way and then didn't even USE it.

What a mess. Moffat makes me so angry.
tardis_stowaway
Dec. 29th, 2013 08:36 pm (UTC)
WHY DO ALL THAT MYTHOLOGY STEALING AND RUINING
IF YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE A GOOD STORY PLANNED FOR IT???

He took a great opportunity for a Doctor Who story away form future writers in a really deliberate way and then didn't even USE it.


Yes! I am honestly as baffled as I am annoyed by this. As far as we know, Moffat is still going to be head writer for the next season, so even if he wanted to tell this story himself, he could have done it with Capaldi. The Doctor fretting about being on his last regeneration could have made a good season-long arc. It's not like it had to be dealt with before Matt Smith regenerated, because I don't think anybody would have had a problem with not counting the metacrisis. Why do this to himself as well as whoever follows?

I wish Moffat could hire Donna Noble as his PA, because sometimes I think he needs someone to stop him.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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