Now, what to say about ‘The Time Of The Doctor’ without giving away spoilers. If you want those, I’m sure some other places will no doubt spill the beans. I’ll just try to keep them to the minimum and address the problems as I see them.
Y’see this story does have problems. It feels like I’ve missed an entire season somewhere. There’s no information about how the Doctor acquires a Cyberman’s head to provide himself with a verbal database. Nor for that matter how he knows the Mother Susperia of the Papal Mainframe or why he is prancing around naked. Apparently, he has some cybertech so he looks like he has clothes on. Then again, considering that he also gives Clara the same device, doesn’t explain how in freezing temperatures that they are both kept warm by it. As I said, it looks like we’ve missed a bunch of episodes in there somewhere.
The essential elements of the plot is the drawing together of various things from the past three years of the Smith Doctor regeneration and making some sense of it. Indeed, writer/show-runner Steven Moffat has already said that that was his intention.
All of the Doctor’s enemies, not to mention a few he doesn’t recognise yet, have got him trapped on the planet Trenzalore where it’s always winter and Christmas night at the same time. There’s no explanation as to how they grow their food, especially as they get about a quarter hour of day a…well, a night I suppose.
The crack in time that was there when he first regenerated is on Trenzalore only this time it will allow Gallifrey back into our universe except that would also bring back the Time Lords and re-start the Time War and the Daleks are keen for a rematch. To stop them getting at the breech, the Doctor becomes the garden of the village where it exists and although Clara visits a couple times, one not of her own choosing and becomes the second person to travel on the outside door of the TARDIS, the Doctor sees himself living out his days there. Anyone keeping an eye on his age ought to add about 500 more years. In his final age, the Doctor looks like the Hartnell Doctor.
In many respects, Moffat has gone for spectacular than story, quite the reverse of what he did with ‘The Day Of The Doctor’ and again, it’s pretty obvious where the 2013’s season’s budget went.
The solution for his further regenerations, which is hardly a spoiler, was top of my list for how it would be done when I wrote ‘Who By Numbers’ back in November. It doesn’t explain how he won the battle although the solution was top of my list and the Time Lords used him as a conduit for their final victory.
As with the change of the Tennant Doctor, there are some nice touches at the end of the Smith Doctor that will have all Who fans giving a gulp and a nice surprise. No river, just a little pool. We also get a couple minutes of the thirteenth regeneration, the Capaldi Doctor and the TARDIS desperately needs someone to pilot it.
I’m writing this half an hour after watching it. No doubt those who’ve watched and recorded this story are currently re-watching and taking in all the information. Given the choice, I think I would have gone for more story than spectacular. With the Doctor effectively trapped on a planet for nearly 500 years, one would have to ask who was saving the people on various planets during that time. Then again, he’s a time traveller and with a new look can probably pop in and out without any of his enemies spotting him there.
It’s an interesting story but I can’t help feel that the ‘normal’ viewers will be wondering what’s been going on while the true-TARDIS blue Who fans will just be lapping it up. Hopefully, things will settle down again with the Capaldi Who.