Ooooooooookaaaaaaaay. Hope everyone survived their Christmas dinner and is ok for my ramblings. And considering the fact that this is both a “special” and Matt Smith’s last Doctor Who episode, you can expect a lot of rambling, plus I’ve got a lot to get off my chest about this one. So please, let us begin. Warning, will contain spoilers. And nuts, a lot of nuts.
Now, I try not to do overly negative reviews, it’s why I never covered Red Dwarf X in “What Were They Thinking”, if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything. But I’m going to be the Grinch here and declare this the worst episode of Matt Smith’s run as the Doctor and that I’m starting to wonder if Moffat may have lost it. THERE, I’VE SAID IT!
I mean, the start was good. The Doctor turning up on Dalek and Cyber ships carrying mutilations of the aforementioned races was classic Smith’s Doctor. The bits with Clara’s family weren’t as cringe-worthy as I thought they’d be, however, continuity point I have to question, Clara’s mother was confirmed as dead in ‘The Rings Of Akhaten’. It’s not inconceivable that her father could have remarried, but it would have been nice to have some clarity on the issue (though I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m the only person who noticed it). The on going turkey gag was good to start with (cooking by time vortex, genius), though it died a death after they just left it then came back half an hour and 300 years later.
But that brings me onto the real problem with the episode. For such a big, important episode with such a huge build up (3 series to be exact); NOTHING HAPPENED. At all. Zip, nada, zilch. I mean COME ON! DAFAQ MOFFAT. You give us 3 great seasons of build up, hang us on tenterhooks as you set everything up in a fine first 15, and then you time skip EVERYTHING as soon as Clara’s out of the picture (loved her cosmic yo-yo act by the way Moffat, really. Sorry, my sarcasm meter just exploded there). This could have been such an action packed episode, with Matt Smith at his best when he’s been put in a corner (see “The Time Of Angels”, “The Pandorica Opens”, “A Good Man Goes To War” etc.), but he was wasted here doing nothing. Both Ecclestone and Tennant went out in literally blazes of glory (we’ll get to that latter), but Smith just seemed to peter out. Hell, even John Hurt’s regeneration episode had more punch than this and he was only “The Doctor” for the last 10 minutes of it. ARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHH.
I will say one thing now. I actually started writing this review straight after I’d watched the episode, but I deleted everything I wrote and left it until this morning (Boxing Day now folks), because I just couldn’t stop raging, so if you think I’m being harsh now, I was ten times worse last night. And this hurts, because Smith is my favourite Doctor and I love how Moffat has done the series. Ok some of the things he’s done have been questionable, but over all I have throughly enjoyed his tenure as lead writer, which is why this episode is such a disappointment. The biggest mystery of the last 3 seasons, who blew up the TARDIS in season 5, was literally dealt with in two throw away lines at the start of the 3rd act. The Silents (the aliens not the religious order) were given an overly bizarre explanation that I didn’t think sat right and let’s not even bother covering Sontaran incompetence here, because they might as well not even have been in it. Neither should the Weeping Angels either really, one scene to set them up as a huge threat, already being on the planet and being, you know, THE WEEPING ANGELS, and they are never heard of again. At least the Daleks and the Cybermen got something.
Speaking of the Cybermen, lets get to the absolute nadir of this episode shall we. That scene atop the bell tower, a lovely tender moment between the Doctor, Clara and a decapitated Cyber-head. Now, I can understand getting emotionally attached to something you’ve had for ages, but really, the Doctor crying over a dead Cyberman. I actually found myself shouting at the screen “How many Cybermen have you killed?!” in front of my Grandparents, who don’t watch Doctor Who at all and were completely bewildered as to why I’d been so excited to watch this episode.
Once again, I have too say sorry, I’m really trying not to go off on one here, but it’s so hard. So I’m going to skip ahead a bit and cover the end of the episode, because this will be the last bit of negative and I want to finish on a positive note. The ending was schmaltzy, boring and unnecessary. What was the point of bringing Amy back? Yes Tennant went on a trip down nostalgia lane for his last episode, but it wasn’t just him leaving it was half the production staff who’d brought the show back and turned it into the massive hit it is today, so I think they deserved to go overboard on the pat-on-the-back stakes, plus they had the pay-off at the end, because Tennant’s last scene was just so devastating. Smith’s however. Yes you had that moment of over-done heroic triumph on the bell tower (I mean what was up with that dancing?), but his actual, in the TARDIS regeneration scene was nothing, he didn’t even get to properly regenerate like the others did (although, bell tower scene, funny dancing, yeah).
However, a good bit at last. The Time Lords, once again save the series, by not actually making an appearance? Oh well, that’s fine, at least we know what Capaldi’s going to be doing, and boy does he look fun, all two lines and mad actions he’s done so far. His manner there reminded me a bit of Tom Baker’s Doctor, all wide eyed and with the appearance of not having a clue, but that may just be the regeneration trauma, but if it isn’t I’m going to die of happiness. Plus they didn’t chicken out on the Time Lord lore. It was really the only way they could have given him a new set of regenerations without it seeming cheap and wonky now that they’ve brought the Time Lords back for good (we hope), so really no problem there. Shame about the set up for it though.
So, now I’ll let you guys have your say. Do you think that I’ve gone completely mad and am being way too critical or do you have a similar opinion that this was not a good episode. Lets hear it.