There are 7 full months until we get some new Doctor Who and I just can’t wait that long.
So since I’ve watched them 3 times each and before I’ve seen them 50 times a piece, I’m going to post my thoughts on the last three Doctor Who specials. Which I call The Trilogy “of the Doctor“.
There will be spoilers. Oh yes there will be spoilers.
(((SPOILERS — SPOILERS — SPOILERS)))!!!!
Honestly if you haven’t seen them or if you’re not up to date with the series stop reading. I give away the store. Here they are in reverse order… because that’s how I roll.
The Christmas Special
Okay, my only real problem with this hour of television; The Time of the Doctor, is that they try to stuff too much into it. If they could only take out the Christmas parts, then it would be less cluttered. I believe the farewell to Matt Smith‘s 11th Doctor deserved its own special episode. Cramming it into Christmas took away from the emotion. It did not add to it. HOWEVER Matt Smith was the first Doctor of the modern era to truly rock the Christmas Special. So, it has become a large part of his legacy. Two of my top ten favorite Matt Smith episodes are Christmas specials. So I understand.
I liked the way they tied up all three series threads in The Time of the Doctor: The crack in the wall from the fifth season, The Silence from the sixth, and the Daleks from the seventh. I liked that the 11th Doctor dies of old age much like the first Doctor and also the War Doctor. I loved the fact that once a timelord starts to regenerate they have all this power to spare. Don’t mess with them while they are dying or right after they’ve died. They become more powerful when they die.
His new companion for the episode (It wasn’t Clara) was another of my favorite things about it. He called him Handles because Cybermen have handles on their heads. I suppose so they can pick their heads up and put them back on when they fall off… efficient. My boy Handles was like a cross between K-9 and the computer on Star Trek. When the Doctor tells him to remind him to reconnect the phone to the console (Matt’s Doctor was such a child. I’m going to miss him) it creates one of the most touching companion death scenes of all-time.
In my opinion 11 never truly accepted Clara as his companion. He never really trusted her. After the way they started with her dying all the time, he sends her away at the drop of a hat. Which creates this insanely cool dynamic for the 12th Doctor who, regenerates w/o his memory (I hope it’s temporary) and now has to rely on Clara for… everything.
I also noticed that they never involve his friends in this episode. Commander Strax, Madame Vastra & Jenny were not in this one. They took pains to close all the storylines from the 11th Doctor but did not say goodbye to them (Please please please bring them back for the 12th Doctor. Strax and Peter Capaldi‘s Doctor going back and forth would be infinitely entertaining).
It was a sweet goodbye. I cried when Amy came down the stairs. That was so cool. I appreciate that the Time Lords granted him another regeneration. It makes total sense. He’s the only one who can save them. I liked that we finally get to see the vaunted Papal Mainframe and the Mother Superior who acts a lot like River (Flying the Tardis, having a psycho in her head, their sexual history…). She’s not River though. No. That would be nuts.
But it seems like they had to force Christmas and Matt’s farewell into one episode because of logistics or politics or the BBC and I did not like that. Christmas has become the time of the Doctor Who special and also, for that matter, the Downton Abbey special. But I would point out that this years Downton Abbey Christmas special (amazing by the way) never mentions Christmas once and still manages to be festive.
The Time of the Doctor is my least favorite of the past three Doctor Who “of the Doctor” special episodes but it’s still pretty good. It’s still pretty good. A nice farewell.
The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special
The Day of the Doctor, on the other hand, is my favorite of the three special episodes. It combines the over-the-top spectacular style of Russell T. Davies and the break-all-the-rules super cool style of Stephen Moffat. To tell you the truth, The Day of the Doctor was one of the best movies of the year. From the opening shot recreated from the first frame of the first episode to the last epic scene.
John Hurt is excellent as the War Doctor; A no-nonsense warrior who has had enough of killing and centuries of a Time War against the Daleks and decides to end the war in the most brutal way possible; Destroying both sides. Billie Piper is a welcome sight (I miss her since Secret Diary of a Call Girl went off the air) as the weapon of mass destruction with a conscience. And of course David Tennant almost looked like he’d never left.
My favorite scenes were with all three Doctors. The dynamic between them was incredibly good writing. The way the oldest was the youngest and the youngest was the wisest. The three working together to figure out a way to disintegrate the old wooden door (yeah yeah I know it was open… but it) was a very cool plan.
However, the first scene with all three doctors just made me fucking giddy it was so enjoyable. So many cool lines. So many insults going back and forth. When the War Doctor thinks they’re the Doctor’s companions (“They’re getting younger and younger…”) that was simply amazing because it’s not the companions getting younger (little Amy notwithstanding) It’s the doctors that are getting younger as he tries to hide from what he’s done in blissful innocence. GENIUS. Genius writing, sir. Genius.
I loved all the references to the past Doctors. From the scarf on Osgood to Lethbridge-Stewart’s grand-daughter (I hated that guy by the way. [She wasn’t that much of a peach either]) to reversing the polarity, to the machine that goes ding, to the items in the Black Archive. I’ve watched the movie three times so far and I still haven’t spotted them all.
Yet by far, the story is the best thing about The Day of the Doctor. A story about the decisions we make when we are younger. And the fantasy of being able to ask our older selves for advice before we make them, being able to see what the decision does to us. The story is awesome.
Sadly, and this is my only problem with it, Billie and David never get to interact. I would have loved it had David just seen her as the user interface, maybe right at the end. Though it probably would have broken my heart… and both of his.
The Day of the Doctor was fantastic.
The Series Seven Finale
The Name of the Doctor which begins the “of the Doctor” trilogy is a good piece of Who. The gang gets together to battle the Great Intelligence. An evil, hell bent on destroying the Doctor.. completely. Richard E. Grant is back after playing the part in last years Christmas Special (One of my two favorite Christmas specials) And after centuries thinking about it and increasing its mental capacity, it finds a way. The G.I. finds the Doctor’s grave. It finds Trenzalore. Madame Vastra and the gang are kidnapped and the Doctor must save them.
The Name of the Doctor starts by showing us the moment our hero steals the Tardis. It has some of the best dialogue of the 7th season. Commander Strax is so funny and Madame Vastra is a badass (Please bring them back) The Doctor has always fluctuated between having no friends and having a lot of friends. After the loss of Amy, this is the Doctor with lots of friends. But the reason he’s shy about having friends is that they are constantly in danger.
We learn why Clara is the Impossible girl and we meet the War Doctor for the first time. I could have done without the “I don’t know where I am.” callback to the Bells of St John. episode, even though Bells is my favorite regular episode of the 7th season (after Asylum of the Daleks). But up until she saves his life (or lives) again and again, he never trusts Clara. He keeps her at arm’s length. I kind of think of her as a transition companion anyway. Not eleven’s companion but twelve’s.
The episode also closes the book on River Song very nicely. Explaining why, when he knows where she is, he hasn’t visited her in the library computer. He doesn’t like goodbyes. The “of the Doctor” trilogy, all three specials, is just one long goodbye.
As for the 7th season, I still don’t like the way they broke it up into two separate parts. The Amy & Rory section and the Clara introduction. I loved Amy. (Rory not so much) and I would have preferred a better ending to their time in the Tardis. The Angels Take Manhattan is the worst Doctor Who episode in a very long time. So sloppy. So campy.
In fact, Dinosaurs, Town Called Mercy & Power of Three are all throw-away episodes in my opinion. Throw-away episodes that tease a kind of departure that never happens. I would have loved it if the Doctor and the Ponds had just grown apart. They didn’t have to pull a Rose Tyler (if you know what I mean). It would have been heartbreaking.
Asylum of the Daleks is so good and starts the 7th season so well. And the 2012 Christmas Special is excellent as well. But the four episodes in between are just out-of-place, Hollywood movie poster inspired, dredge. Amy deserved better, if you ask me. But then Clara comes along and the show gets great again.
With the exception of Nightmare in Silver, I liked every other episode (or 7B as they call it). Nightmare in Silver didn’t work for me. I love Neil Gaiman’s writing. The Doctor’s Wife is my absolute favorite episode of Doctor Who in the entire run of the show. (Douglas Adams’ 4th Doctor episodes included) but Nightmare in Silver is just disappointing.
And have I said yet how much I like Clara. She’s hot. She’s funny. She likes to joke in the face of danger… a lot. She likes to run and she likes to fight. And I love the way she sings her lines. (You didn’t say that. You sang that.) It remains to be seen what the relationship between her and Peter Capaldi’s Doctor will be. I’m sure he won’t be as silly as Matt. He won’t be David’s heroic heart-throb or Eccleston’s cool rebel. It remains to be seen. I don’t know what it will be. But I know it will be fun to watch.
I don’t know if we’ll ever see a Doctor quite like Matt’s again but I don’t think so. I don’t know how many times Peter Capaldi will drop an F-bomb by mistake while filming but it’ll probably be a lot.
What I do know is that 7 months is way too long of a wait for this machine to go ding.
Ding, damn you. Ding.
I’ll just have to be patient… I guess.