It was a Doctor Who Christmas at my house this year. Santa left not one but two sonic screwdrivers for my son (the 10th doctor’s and the 11th doctor’s) and my son gave me The Doctor Who Visual Dictionary. Nailed it!
This was all in anticipation of the traditional Doctor Who Christmas special which aired on Christmas day.
The Christmas specials are always a treat, but this year’s was extra special because it was Matt Smith’s last episode. We knew we were in for a regeneration and we knew who the new doctor would be. The million-dollar question was: How?
Since Steven Moffat revealed a previously unknown regeneration of the doctor in the 50th anniversary episode, “The Day of the Doctor,” and clarified that David Tennant’s doctor used an extra regeneration on his hand, Matt Smith, the 11th doctor, is actually the 13th regeneration. And that’s all the regenerations a time lord gets. In other words, Matt Smith’s doctor is set to really die, not just regenerate. But we knew somehow he’d get a reset so Doctor Who could go on for another 50 years.
He does get that reset. But — I hate to say — it wasn’t the most mind-blowing episode. (And I say that as a rabid and passionate Whovian.)
Coming off the hype and magic of “The Name of the Doctor” introducing — gaaaaaaaaaaaasp — JOHN HURT as the Doctor, the delightful docu-drama An Adventure in Space and Time depicting the origin story of the series, and the fantastic romp with David Tennant side by side by side with John Hurt and Matt Smith, viewers’ expectations could not have been higher. “The Night of the Doctor” was a teensy weensy bit of a let down.
Matt Smith is adorable and great, but he spends half the episode in old man makeup. I actually love that they’ve shifted his wardrobe to resemble William Hartnell’s 1st doctor. And now after 300 years serving as a protector of Trenzalore, the Doctor’s hair has receded to look like Hartnell’s and he’s even got the cane. I appreciated the visual symmetry of the youngest actor to ever play the Doctor ending his stint as the oldest we’ve ever seen of the Doctor.
But, oh honey, no one wants to see Matt Smith in old man makeup. It just never looks quite right. And it’s like they knew this because they reset Matt to young and fresh-faced for his final scene.
Commit or don’t!
Clara is a spunky and pleasant companion. But the gravitas of #11 was born out through his relationship with River Song and his part in Amy and Rory’s love story. The final episode brings in Amy Pond (just a vision?) to say goodbye, which was sweet. But it wasn’t real and it didn’t make sense. Frankly, it paled in comparison to Tennant’s heart-breaking visits to all of his former companions, including Wilfred Mott.
After the somewhat earth-shattering news that ye olde Doctor had zero regenerations left all that happened was a blast of regenerative energy from Gallifrey through the crack in space and time that has been haunting the Doctor through several seasons and — poof — he’s got more. I guess the simplicity of it is nice, but we’ve been so spoiled by Steven Moffat’s genius that anything less than cool, smart, and clever feels like a let down.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of sweet moments in the episode and I enjoyed seeing the Doctor, stranded without his Tardis, actually staying around and being a consistent protector for the people of Trenzalore. And after all these years, we even learned something new about the Tardis: It can cook a turkey.
Good — not great — but definitely good.
The stage is set for our next Doctor, Peter Capaldi, and who knows how many more!
Photo Source: BBC One