And there, on a Saturday evening on BBC One in 2013, was William Hartnell as… The Doctor. Excuse my language but fuck me that was enough to make me explode with joy. After fifty years, finally getting a glimpse of the moment The Doctor decides to run off with a type 40 TARDIS and see the universe was something truly special for me.
And it only went and got better. We saw Doctors one through seven, including that strange moment in Dragonfire where for some reason, Seven decides to crawl down a cliff. I think I’d already decided this was a perfect episode from that 50th montage and that was only the bloody pre credits sequence.
Of course, some of the meshing of archive clips worked better than others, but when you’re watching your childhood colliding with the present day of your favorite program, who really cares?
The Name of The Doctor managed to set up everything that needed to be set up for the 50th shenangins all while answering some questions that have been around for years and still managed to be an enjoyable, witty and in places quite chilling episode.
Did the big question, the Doctor’s name get revealed? No. Of course, it was never going to be answered in a straight forward “my name is…” way and frankly anyone with a fundemental understanding of Doctor Who would have known that from the off. Moffat is a fan and as such knows full well that is a question we never need to hear the answer to.
And if you were expecting an asnwer, it’s hard to have felt shortchanged from this gem of an episode. River’s final farewell was truly quite heartbreaking, seeing The Doctor’s assertion that he hates goodbyes is a deeper glimpse into who he is than his name could ever tell us.
Some might gripe at lack of explanation towards why The Doctor could see and touch River, I couldn’t care less when the payoff was such an emotional scene and that line “God knows how that must have looked”. It would be a shame if this was River’s last appearance but she couldn’t have gone out on a better note.
Matt Smith was firing on all clyinders once again, showing anger, heartbreak and at times, genuine fear. The scene where he found out he had to go to Trenzalore was quite unsettling. This is not how The Doctor is supposed to be and Matt Smith played it perfectly, not too much and not too little emotion.
Strax, Vastra and Jenny still need their own spin off series, that much will never change. I admit I was watching this episode in the fear that one of them would bite the dust and that horribly chilling scene where Jenny realised she had been murdered set the stakes very early on. Frankly, I don’t know what I’d do without my favorite Dinosaur/Victorian Maid Lesbian Crimefighting Couple. Although Strax is genuinely brilliant, his comedy did detract from the drama at times, which felt a little frustrating.
I think Jenna Louise Coleman’s character has come under a lot of unfair criticism this series. She’s constantly been brilliant in my eyes and to be honest I never could really stand Amy Pond. Sorry, world, but I just think Clara is miles ahead.
Some reviews have complained that since we haven’t known Clara that long, her sacrifice doesn’t mean as much. I would argue that surely it means that much more? If she hasn’t known The Doctor that long and is willing to tear her very existence apart to save him, I think that’s pretty big.
Incidentally, The Doc and Clara’s chemistry was great here. Maybe it’s because Clara finally saw a deeper side to The Doctor, but they really seem to care about each other much more in this one. Although I am glad River wasn’t sidelined so The Doctor could canoodle with Clara as I initially feared.
There isn’t too much to say about The Whispermen and Richard E Grant. Grant is always brilliant and hopefully we haven’t seen the last of him and while the Whispermen looked creepy as hell, they didn’t really do much besides… whisper. Not that cool.
Oh yeah, introducing John Hurt as The Doctor? Jesus Christ, November 23rd cannot come fast enough.
It seems a bit odd to start reviewing a series towards the end of its run, but I just started this blog. It’s my blog. DEAL WITH IT.
It was my fault, really. I should never have heaped on the ridiculous levels of expectation for this episode but, an entire episode set in the depths of the TARDIS, the most iconic and wonderous ship in all of science fiction? The only episodes I were looking forward to more were the 50th special and the Neil Gaiman Cyberman episode.
Alas, I think this episode was always going to dissapoint me in some way. It doesn’t help that the supporting cast were three planks of extra bland bland wood from bland and son. One dickhead and two likeable guys I can deal with. Three dickheads is just boring. They were my main peeve with the episode and why I had to get that out of the way upfront.
So basically, we’re trapped inside the TARDIS for a good 45 minutes with three annoying tits and The Doctor and Clara who were, as always, nothing short of brilliant so there isn’t much point in going into that. The main character in this episode was really, the TARDIS.
It’s probably just because I’ve been a fan my entire life that I felt a little short changed by the repetive corridors and very brief glimpses at other rooms. That library was pretty cool and it would have been nice to spend a little more time in places like that. On that note, if The Doctor is the only survivor of the Time War, who wrote that book on the Time War Clara found? The only reason I struggle to believe it was The Doctor is because his name was in it. Why would he write his name in a book if he is so scared of anyone finding it out?
Moving on, it would have been nice to maybe see a past console room or two, but this is all just fan greed. The Eye of Harmony looked fantastic, as did the center of the TARDIS and the creepy lava monsters. Even if the latters’ explanation was a little underwhelming.
There were some cool nostalgic touches such as hearing companions and Doctors past talking about the TARDIS, as well as the Doctor’s cot and Amy Ponds little TARDIS model. Bless.
Overall it’s a little infuriating how all the secrets are brought out and let put back neatly away by a plot reset button. I usually don’t mind time rewinds or such things but at the expense of any plot development? Bah. At the end of the day it was a decent enough episode but just failed to deliver on the promise of its concept and failed to deliver any real breakthroughs for the TARDIS crew. A missed oppurtinity in my book.
Then again, even on its worse day, Doctor Who is still the best thing on television so what do I know?