Tuesday, December 31, 2013

TV Series Review: The Time of the Doctor (Doctor Who 2013 Christmas Special)

Wow, I thought I would have this up last night guys except 1) I was on a train which did not have wi-fi which caught me off guard 2) I got in amazingly late due to what shall now be referred to as The Great Virginia Manhunt. Sorry about that, my anime review for the week is already up and my end of year wrap up should be up later as well, although I always intended to publish that one on the 31st.

Here we are, it's been an odd ride but it's time once again for the Doctor to regenerate and, oh wait, Moffat is still the series runner too? I'm actually hoping he steps down soon in the next year or two as well not only because it's time for some new blood working on the show but also because this special in some ways summed up all of Matt Smith's tenure on Doctor Who: good parts and bad parts side by side in a single episode.

The Time of the Doctor

Summary: The Doctor has seen his own death and knows it's coming soon, it turns out that this Doctor is not actually 11 but 13 (counting the War Doctor and 10.5) and it seems that he has stopped running from his death. Caught in a stand-off between the crack in the wall and the rest of the universe it seems his fate is set but perhaps he has a bit more wiggle room than he realizes. 

The Good: I was quite surprised to see that all of the season-long threads that have surrounded 11 actually came together and were explained, and quite easily at that, but I'm rather happy that's finally tied together! This doesn't mean that I think the execution of those ideas (the silence, the cracks, etc) over all those series was great or that they should have waited this long to tie them together but I'm glad they finally did, especially since between this and the 50th the new Doctor gets to start with a cleaner slate than any of the other NuWho Doctors. 

The Bad: As I said, I'm constantly amazed that I can like this show and then five minutes later go "oh but why did you have to do that?!" and do it for nearly every episode. Sometimes the Doctor says a great thing and then he says a bad thing, sometimes his ideas are amusing (I suspect I'm the only one laughing about cooking a turkey via time machine) and then other times they just seem, dumb (so he spent 300 years on Trenzalore and couldn't come up with ANY other better plans?). There's also the fact that since he didn't die that Clara's storyline shouldn't have started (and I'll be rather grumpy if part of the next season is erasing her out of that timeline, I would like to go back to the "simpler" companions of RTD's era), honestly I half wonder why she was in this episode and all since it felt like they wrote the entire episode and then went "crap we forgot to include her, write her in somehow!" So, while not as much of a mess it could have been this didn't strike me as one of the show's stronger episodes which is sad since you always want the Doctor to go out on his best.

The Production Values: I don't really have much to say here, these days it does seem like Doctor Who knows how to balance it's budget (ie, short CGI scenes and a reasonably well-stocked costume department for the rest) so nothing looked terrible but I do almost wish this hadn't been a Christmas special since i'm a bit tired of their "faintly Victorian England in the snow" set. Heck, wouldn't just Clara's apartment being decorated for Christmas be enough?

So, not the best episode I had hoped for but in many ways it was a still a good way to tie up the very messy loose ends of the 11th Doctor and clear the way for the 12th, let's just hope that his tenure is a more-straightforward one and that we go back to our "13 episodes a year and NOT in two parts" schedule soon.