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Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor - TV Review

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by Sam (subscribe)
Freelance writer, author and dreamer.
★★☆ - Raggedy Man, Goodnight
The Time of the Doctor, Matt Smith's final episode as the Doctor, came on the tail of the 50th anniversary episode and is an ode to Smith's time on Doctor Who, as written by Steven Moffat.

The episode features many of the big monsters faced during Smith's tenure as the Doctor, with every craft imaginable following an untranslatable call to an ordinary, unknown planet. The Doctor lands on various enemy ships to determine the source of the call, before meeting Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) outside her home in time for Christmas dinner.

Together, the Doctor and Clara return orbit this unknown planet and discover the source of the call is from Gallifrey, the Doctor's home that was thought to have been lost in war. The Church of the Papal Mainframe calls the Doctor to their ship with the intent of sending the Doctor and Clara down to the unknown planet, outside a town called Christmas.

doctor who
Clara and The Doctor | Image sourced from BBC America

The Doctor and Clara discover the origin of the Gallifreyan call slipping through one of Moffat's cracks in the universe, and that the call translates to 'Doctor Who?', established as the 'oldest question in the universe' in the episode The Wedding of River Song. The Doctor realises if he speaks his name, not only would Gallifrey be able to return through this crack in the universe but also that his enemies that surround the planet would attack immediately. Furthermore, the Doctor is told the planet is called Trenzalore, revealed to be where he dies in The Name of the Doctor and his final resting place.

The Doctor sends Clara away and ages with the intent to never speak his name as he watches and protects Christmas against his enemies. She returns hundreds of years later, to be with the Doctor as he dies, finishing what he believes to be his final regeneration.

Matt Smith's departure is both touching and heart-wrenching as the 'man who forgets' promises to remember everything, promises he 'will always remember when the Doctor was me'. With a drop of the Eleventh Doctor's iconic bowtie, Clara and the audience bid him farewell before the welcoming of Peter Capaldi.

For all the beauty of the final five minutes however, the rest of the episode falls stagnant after the build-up put into Smith's time as the Doctor.

The episode is humorous enough at times, referencing 'fandom' jokes such as 'The Drunk Giraffe' and Smith's lack of eyebrows, and the Doctor being naked in order to visit the Papal Mainframe. This humour, however, and the touching departure of Smith are not enough to detract from the fact that this episode was written only to pay tribute to Smith's part on Doctor Who as opposed to a solid, grasping plotline.

The Time of the Doctor ties together much Moffat's era thus far: fish fingers and custard, the Silence, Weeping Angels, Amelia Pond, Sontarans, Trenzalore, the list is endless, and yet there is little more to the episode. The episode acts as brief glimpse into what the Doctor has faced over the previous seasons somewhat-sloppily pasted together in an attempt to honour Smith's work, but instead feels like Moffat patting himself on the back. All that's missing is a fez.

Doctor Who
The Doctor | Image sourced from BBC America
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Why? The farewell to a much loved Doctor
Where: On your couch/in your bed
Cost: On you TV or on iPlayer
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