Friday, December 27, 2013

A Doctor Who Dalekmas Special Review: The Time of the Doctor

            Welcome back!  I hope everyone's Christmas/Sithmas/Dalekmas/Kwanzaa was good!  Mine was meh, but I did get some pretty neat presents, including a Big Bang Theory pen that has a light that projects the word "Bazinga!" onto a wall or other flat surface, a Doctor Who themed cookbook and Doctor Who Post-it Notepads, and even a ThinkGeek gift certificate from my grandparents!  (As in the ones I visited while on holiday over Thanksgiving)  And my half-Vulcan father got a hippopotamus for Christmas!  W00t for Dad!  Anyways, thank you!  I really appreciate it, family!

            But that's not what I'm here for.  If you're a dedicated Whovian like myself, you probably watched the Doctor Who Christmas special that night.  I, too, watched it with my Whovian parents.  And I decided, you know what?  I'm going to review this one, too!


            It wasn't that long ago that the 50th Anniversary Doctor Who special episode titled "The Day of the Doctor" was broadcast all across Earth.  For many, it was epic, surely one of Steven Moffat's better episodes.  We nerds surely expected the Christmas special to be able to at least hold even a birthday candle to it.
            Unfortunately, that was not the case.  Despite being 90 minutes long (including commercial breaks), anyone would've thought that Moffat would be able to whip out another ball-busting episode that would explain so much.  Instead, this one feels half-assed.  Well, perhaps not half-assed; more like 3/5-assed.  It feels like a college essay that I would manage to bullshit together at the very last minute before class.

            First of all, the intro part wasn't really done well.  The narration that explains what is going on makes the scene feel out of place, about as out-of-place as that Cyberman head.  I understand that, in the episode, there is a signal that is being broadcast to everyone in the Whoniverse who has space travel, and they all came to take a look, but it would've been more believable to me to have the Doctor detect it on his instruments and actively track it to Trenzalore on screen, only to discover that many of his enemies have gathered there.  The nudity part was a little humorous (because I'm still a little immature), but the Christmas dinner scenes just make it very confusing, with the turkey and the family and such.  It doesn't really fit in there, despite the hilarious scene of the Doctor and Clara talking about using the sonic screwdriver on the turkey, only to need a time machine on it.

            Not to mention that even though Mother Superius Tasha of the Church of the Papal Mainframe was gorgeous and amazing (even as a transformed humanoid Dalek), many of the different alien races were there for the sole purpose of being fillers; according to Dad, they didn't contribute to the storyline very much, especially the Cybermen, the Weeping Angels and the Sontarans.  It was hilarious to see the Doctor arrive on a saucer of Daleks brandishing the eyestalk only to go, "Oops!  Wrong ship!"  and then do it again with the Cybermen and Handles the Cyberman head, but it served very little purpose other than to make us laugh.  At least, we finally learned about Madame Kovarian's radical members of the Silence movement, who were once members of the Church of the Papal Mainframe, and what the creepy memory-fucking aliens really were.  But even explaining things didn't help this episode.

            There were plotholes that needed filling, like the technology barricade thing that the TARDIS could sneak through, Clara whispering into the crack to the Time Lords on Gallifrey asking to help him, etc.  And on top of that, it seems that Moffat was trying to make this installment BIG, but the episode wound up being too big in the efforts of being epic that the episode's story Moffat was trying to tell wound up being lost and convoluted.  I get that time passed on Trenzalore for the Doctor, and he aged, and that, technically, he used up all his regenerations, but the crack in the skin of reality making a reappearance is just pointless, and it doesn't help at all.  I mean, come on!  Moffat was grabbing bits and pieces from previous episodes and patching it all together into a Christmas episode, stretching it out over 90 minutes (again, including commercial breaks) and, disappointingly, it didn't work; Moffat had excellent episodes in his portfolio (Blink being one of them) but this episode is more along the lines of that WiFi episode with the Great Intelligence, and the episode with the black cubes--disappointingly shitty.  No wonder all the haters and critics chased him off of Twitter.

            However, I will be honest: I'll miss Matt Smith.  This charming Frankenstein-headed actor won me over with Doctor 11's final moments.  I mean, to have his thoughts go back to Amelia Pond, who appears to have been played by another little girl, not Karen Gillan's cousin (Really?!  You couldn't get her so you substituted in some other ginger-haired little girl with her face obscured by a child's drawings?!  Another point taken away there, Moffat!), is very touching.  But the tears finally fell when adult Amy came to him in his imagination, and said to him, "Raggedy Man, good night."  It really got to me at that point, how his mother-in-law companion (a person he really connected with, loved and cared for) said "Good night" to him before his regeneration finally completed itself.  It's like the Ood singing Tennant's Doctor to "sleep."  It just means a lot to have someone do that for you as a sort of farewell, especially if you're the last of the Time Lords in that particular Whoniverse and (almost) all alone.

            But the regeneration scenes were stupid in this episode.  I mean, to have the Doctor shoot down Dalek fighters and a saucer with his regeneration starfish of energy is pretty ridiculous, but to have that happen, reboot his youthfulness and then stop just before he changes faces is illogical.  Tennant did it right: he visited all of his companions and friends before retreating to his TARDIS, saying, "I don't want to go," and then assuming the starfish position and regenerating.  But it's stupid to do the major starfish of POWAHHHH then stop it, and then change faces very quickly, so quickly that it was like, you snap your fingers and it's done--it could've been done better; it should've been done differently, to not have the flow of that part of the story be all jerky with going and stopping and going and stopping, but rather be continuous instead of confusing.

            Right now, I don't trust Capaldi as the Doctor just yet.  In a sense, each actor the Doctor regenerates into has to earn that name on screen.  It's like, you see the Doctor you fell in love with regenerate into this weirdass stranger you don't trust or know, but later on in that actor's first full episode, you can see them BE the Doctor, at which point you say, "Yes!  That's definitely him!  That's the Doctor right there!  Welcome to the show!"  He has to go through that, instead of just being some old fogey grandfather you don't really like.  You know, that grandfather you have, who says things like, "My kidneys!  I don't like their color!"  (What color do you want them to be, Capaldi?  GINGER?!  Do you want Ginger kidneys?!)  I understand the plan (according to my half-Vulcan father) is that Capaldi doesn't wind up being the Doctor for too long (perhaps for a single series, like Eccleston).  But I do hope that the series continues as long as it can go on.  I also hope that Neil Gaiman writes more episodes for Doctor Who; he should've written this one because it'd be over 9,000 times better!

            I do believe I know how the series finale's ending will go.  Here, I'll share it with you.  But you might want to take several steps back and hold tight to your socks, lunch and nuts because this is the part that will be better than Twilight
At long last, it's the Doctor's final living moments.  He knows he is about to finally die, having used up all of his regenerations long ago, over thousands of years.  He's seen stars form and die, entire populations be born and wiped out, friends and family take both their first and their last breaths.  He's married, loved and lost people he remembers quite vividly.  Rose Tyler, Donna Noble, Sara Jane Smith, Amy and Rory Pond, Clara Oswald, each one seeming to whisper their gratitude and love into his ear, despite that it's only air occupying the space next to his head.  With each ragged breath, he grows more weary, knowing that he has mere moments to set things right.  He sees a crack in the wall, the same crack he saw on these same fields of Trenzalore he fought on to defend the helpless residents of Christmas, emanating a beautiful golden light, almost seeming to come from some sort of heavenly afterlife, and he remembers his people, his home, Gallifrey, which he saved by stashing it away into a pocket universe.  At that moment, he remembers what he has to do.  The question is asked through the crack--"Doctor WHO?" to which he responds with a very quiet unintelligible whisper.  The question is asked again--"Doctor WHO?"--and he realized that he wasn't loud enough.  He lifts his head, takes a deep breath and finally says his name, his real name, the name he kept guarded all those years, and… it felt good, like the weight of his secret was lifted off his shoulders.  The ages-old question that echoes across the universe is asked one more time--"Doctor WHOOOO?"  Frustrated, the last of the Time Lords of Gallifrey shouts his real name, bellowing it with every last fiber of his being, unlocking the seals he so carefully placed to protect his home world.  The planets tremble, the sky is ripped apart, and an orb emerges.  Gallifrey has returned to the skies, the final act of kindness the Doctor was able to bestow unto reality during his life, using his last breath to save the people who waited for the moment to return, while the ghosts of his past companions look on, smiling tearfully, before turning and disappearing into the ether.  The Doctor is dead, but his memory will live on forever, having touched billions of lives with his kindness, humor, ferocity & love.

            How's THAT for writing, Moffat?!  Of course, nobody is allowed to repost, reprint, etc. etc, without express written permission from me.  (This includes you, Google and journalists!)

            Anyways, that's all I can come up with.  Yes, there are a few moments where The Time of the Doctor was pretty good, but overall, it seems like it was a failing effort to explain where the Silence came from, the whole story and reasoning behind the question that should not be answered for at least another 20 years or so, and it was really one of Moffat's floppier episodes.  He could've been writing for Sherlock at the same time, and was possibly fairly distracted, but I do wish that he does better for any more episodes he writes for any show, including Sherlock.

            Rating: 3/10 stars

            Merry Christmas!  And Dalekmas!  And Sithmas!  And Merry Kwanzaa!  I hope you had as much fun as I did and I hope next year will be better!  Get ready for the new year, because it should be epic!