VIDEO: Doctor Who “The Time of the Doctor”

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Christmas is over, and Ursa has a message for Matt Smith: you deserved better. She talks “The Time of the Doctor”, consequences, stirring speeches, and hollow threats. Oh, and wooden Cybermen. Can’t forget those.

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TV Show: Doctor Who

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  • The_Stig

    Yeah, that’s pretty much my three word summary of Time of the Doctor. “Matt deserved better”. You’re wrong about one thing though: Bowties were never uncool.

    • Jill Bearup

      Bowties have not always been cool. But they have always been wonderful and excellent.

      I’m hoping for more of a bowtie revival. I’m trying to encourage the doctors I know into it. Even the ones who normally wear dresses.

      This has not been as successful as I had hoped.

      • The_Stig

        There’s only one thing better than a bowtie, and that’s a cravat. Nobody in history rocked that thing like John Pertwee.

        About the regeneration scene though, I can see why they went the way they did, because they’ve already had two super-dramatic golden light regenerations. Three if you count Mary Sue—er I mean River. Still, I would have loved one last Geronimo for the road, though I was at least happy to see Amy turn up one last time and one final great monologue from Matt.

        I’m just glad River wasn’t in this episode.

        So….Miss Bearup, what’d you think of The Empty Hearse?

        • Jill Bearup

          You’ll have to wait a week or two, but you’ll find out. 🙂

  • “Ursa has a message for Matt Smith: you deserved better.”

    I have a message for Ursa: Speak for yourself! Matt Smith had a great run with great stories and a perfect ending. Maybe not your cup of tea but it’s more a matter of taste than quality.

    • $36060516

      She was speaking for herself. When someone states an opinion (such as “you deserved better”) it is traditionally assumed that this is the opinion of the person speaking rather than the opinion of everyone in the world.

      • Now if you just tried to traditionally assume what I meant in my post, you wouldn’t have to reply to it. 🙂

  • Thomas Stockel

    Man, Kirk really does get dumped on. :/ I won’t deny that it was a sixties show and there were different standards in how heroes were portrayed, but Kirk did have a couple losses. In City On The Edge Of Forever, he has to let Edith Keeler die. No wins, there. And in Amok Time Spock kills him. Sort of. It’s only through McCoy being awesome that he gets better. And if you look at Kirk’s run a lot of his successes are because of his crew; there is a collaborative effort.

    And at least he isn’t the Mary Sue Ben Sisko is; perfect single dad, emissary for an alien race, both an excellent engineer, tactician and martial artist. Yes sir, Ben Sisko can do it all…

    Sorry, I don’t mean to sound so defensive here, but Kirk was my captain, I guess I have a blind spot where he is concerned.

    Okay, with that out of the way, thank you for this video. You said so much (And so well!) that was on my mind regarding not only TOTD, but Smith’s entire run as well.

    • The_Stig

      Not to mention that he loses his best friend in the world in Star Trek II, he’s made to listen to his own son getting murdered in Star Trek III, and stealing the Enterprise to rescue Spock gets him demoted back down to Captain.

      • Thomas Stockel

        To be fair, SU does differentiate between t.v. Kirk and movie Kirk. By the late seventies with TMP writers and producers felt comfortable making Kirk fallible and selfish. I know a lot of people don’t like TMP but I love Kirk’s portrayal in that movie. And it only got better with TWOK. We normally don’t like to see our heroes grow old, but I think it’s even worse when they don’t grow up and fail to learn anything.

    • CaptainCalvinCat

      That’s okay, Thomas – Matt Smith is my Doctor, so I’m having a blind spot there, too. ^^

  • CaptainCalvinCat

    Where is my post? *blinks in confusion*

  • Gallen_Dugall

    Saw an interview with Moffat where he dismissed the entire science-fiction genre as meaningless fluff. Obviously not in so many words (and it is remotely possible I misunderstood what he was saying) but the intent that he didn’t think of it as a format for serious story telling was pretty clear (admittedly more from his body language than words) and it explains a lot.

    • Muthsarah

      Doctor Who has never once struck me as sci-fi. It’s pure fantasy. In space. With lasers. There’s no futurism to the Doctor, no sense of how what he does in any way reflects our near-future or our present. He’s pure magic, as is the Tardis, as are the Daleks (especially for their ability to keep coming back). The Villains of the Week fall out of the stars, do magic stuff, the Doctor vanquishes them with magic, they magically disappear….and the same thing tends to happen the following week. Hell, time travel goes on all the time (being part-and-parcel of the Timelords, I reckon) without any mention of paradoxes. It’s fantasy. Maybe (I dunno) that’s all he meant.

      For my part, while I don’t see the show as meaningless, I do see it as fluff, as fantasy tends to be. It’s the fanfic of genres. And I hope that doesn’t come off as dismissive. It’s just what it is. Fantasy has the least amount of restrictions, and the greatest wiggle-room for logic. It’s just easier to write something if you are free to dismiss any potential reader expectations that you feel don’t apply to the reality you’re creating, which fantasy, by definition, allows you.

      • Gallen_Dugall

        yep, I say the same thing about most of Star Trek, very little science fiction there

        However I’d contend that every genre excels at telling particular types of stories. You can tell important stories in fantasy and the fantastical elements help abstract the subject matter to make it more approachable
        I think to dismiss any genre is a sign of ignorance and in the case of science fiction it’s probably a sign of snobbery as well
        One thing I always loved about George Lucas (for all his many flaws) was his insistence that children’s stories should be deeper and more meaningful because even children have a natural hunger for good story telling

  • Alexa

    So as a non fan thus not a watcher of the series (not that its bad it just never really intrigued me completely) it seems from your description, as if they kind of tuned The Doctor into a Gary Stew, just by how powerful he is, and how he lives without consequence for his actions. And that we’re suppose to be okay with everything he does because he’s The Doctor, aka the protagonist, so he can do no wrong. That’s the feeling I’m getting from this description of Matt Smith’s run.

    • CaptainCalvinCat

      Sorry, what is a Gary Stew? Do you prepare that like a creepypasta? Or are you referring to a Gary Stu? In that case: Sorry, you’re wrong.
      The Doctor faces consequences for his actions. You have the silence, that wants to kill him, you have all his enemies who are out to kill him, and – sorry Ursa, over the course of the Smith Run are consequences.

      • Alexa

        Well I wasn’t sure weather the term used the abbreviated version of Stewart or Stuart, honest mistake. And with her observation it seemed as if the character had kind of went into that territory of story writing, where they write that the main character can do no wrong and we love him because he’s just awesome by default. Admittedly I watched a little bit of Matt Smith’s run in the beginning, not a lot but a little, and I did catch that big speech he made that he is the Doctor and you should fear him, and yeah it was awesome but it did have that sort of self importance without really earning it, that she was describing. But again that was the beginning, didn’t watch much after that. *shrug*

        • CaptainCalvinCat

          Yeah, so – I like the big speeches. I like that he declares “Boy, if you want to mess with me, you should know who I am. Do you STILL want to mess with me?”
          Plus: It has the nice side-effect, that while he is talking and making grandiose speeches, he can try to think his way out of the dilemma.

          Plus: The Doctor IS awesome by default – he is travelling around in a blue box, that is bigger on the inside than on the outside. How can that be NOT awesome. ^^

          • Alexa

            Well the character itself does sound awesome, but again you have to take into consideration each new interpretation of the character. But then again that’s not the complete fault of the actor, the writers can slip up in this regard. Really here it just sounded like the character was turning into, as stated before, a Gary Stu to a degree, not that he is like that in general. And while I don’t watch, in general, the show I do like the idea of him, and from I watched he is a very fun and likable character.

  • Muthsarah

    Well…in the interests of context: What was YOUR Who, Ursa?

    Tennant Seasons 2&4, but not 3? Tennant in general? Eccleston+Tennant in toto? Or, perhaps, something prior?

    I’m still SLOOOOOOWLY working my way through the Whos. I liked Eccleston (for the Eccleston moreso than the episodes, because…Eccleston), and Season 2 was pretty good as well, but three was disappointing bigtime, and I ended up skipping the second half (except for Blink, of course, which was goddamn MARVELous). I’m still near the start of 4, and very much looking forward to the changing of the guards with 5, hoping (but not expecting) that I’ll like it.

    What does “better” mean? Has Doctor Who ever been “better”? I heard the part about IX and X offering the villains-of-the-week alternatives, but….well….how often did anything come of that? From my recollection….never. The VotW were always pure, simple, stupid evil. At best, they’d just kill themselves, which doesn’t seem to fit the Doctor’s MO. Even if he hates you, he doesn’t want to hurt you. I’m thinking of “Dalek”, of course, the only time I can recall the VotW doing anything other than being purely malevolent. One viewing, FWIW.

    • Jill Bearup

      By ‘better’ I don’t mean ‘more like the Davies era’ because that, you know, had its problems too. I mean better as in there are consequences, not everybody lives, and the Doctor isn’t quite so much of a woman-attracting army-repelling badass. Badass is good, and necessary, but…eh, that’s a whole other episode in itself.

      Eccleston was my first Doctor, so special place in heart (TM) there. Tennant (with Rose, with Martha, especially with Donna, less that stupid Donna-ending)…his spread out over a year episodes were hit and miss. So were all the regular episodes, I expect that. Not everything appeals to every taste. But Tennant is…my Doctor. Smith had some great moments, but not clicking with the companions and my general preferences for episode style mean he’s been great, but never a contender for the top spot.

  • quazal

    I love Matt Smith as the Doctor, but you pretty much encapsulated my thoughts on this episode. Though I think I had a bit more of break of “like this” and “hate this” parts of the this episode.

    I likes:

    1) Clora’s interaction with her gran gran wasn’t really needed, but it was sweet and touching, and actually quite Christmasy. As was her interactions with the Doctor, her chemistry with the Doc was believable and heart felt, though sadly her character seems like its at a bit of dead, and without mary suing her, doesn’ contribute much other than being a bit of his conscious.

    2) I did like the reversal of how usually its Clora (or insert companion name) is usually left behind to wait (and in some cases age, such as with Amy Pond) while Doctor speeds off in his magical box. This time its the companion speeds off in the box, leaving the Doc behind. It was nice bit a role reversal.

    I hates:

    1) So after watch virtually every piece of Who from the 60’s to current and wondering just how are they going to get past the whole “you are out regenerations now what” their just going to hand wave, “here’s a few more regenerations from the big glowing deus ex machine in the sky?” WTF. I was tempted to walk away at this point. Seriously, I expected something smarted, more interesting, and more than 2 minutes to explain one of the biggest parts of the Doctor Who mythos that has been rammed into our minds over the years. This was a midichlorians moment for me…

    2) Ok ok, maybe somewhere, someone can explain to me how if in the asylum of the dalek robo-proto-clora erased the minds of all the daleks from their hyperspace consciousness (or whatever it was), hwo the hell do they know who he is ? While I usually just hand wave this off as, they meant that group of daleks not all of them, my buddy still has serious linkara continuity alarms gong off for this.

    3) At the battle of gallifrey, here’s a simple defense plan to wipe out your enemies. Get a few youg timelords. Shoot them with magical time lordy rays. Induce regenerations. Shoot down entire ships with their overclocked regeneration bio-beams….rinse and repeat…invasion repelled…..there’s suspension of disbelief and forgiving the kaboom style modern regeneration, but seriously even highlander quicken was more restrained…

    • $36060516

      In “The Five Doctors” in 1983, the leaders of Gallifrey offered The Master a new cycle of regenerations if he saved The Doctor so it was established a long time ago that 12 was not an absolute limit.

      • CBob

        I think his complaint was more that the way the Doctor gets his new set should’ve been a much bigger, more dramatic thing, story wise. There was never any doubt that the writers would find a way to give him a new set if the show lasted that long, but it’s a horizon the audience has been aware of and has watched approaching for literally decades.

        Although I haven’t seen the episode, I’m inclined to agree in principle. Something big like that… it’s the sort of thing you make a season arc out of, or at least one of those “epic” multi-part eps they like to do once a season (like the return of Davros, or the whole Pandorica thingy), not something you just casually toss out of the way with a couple lines so you can get back to your current story.

        In fact, I’ll bet they did want to do something bigger, but were caught between the rock of having to turn a planned 9th doctor cameo into the War Doctor (thus bumping Matt Smith to the end of the line, regen wise), and the hard place of Smith deciding not to stay for another year.

        Still bad planning though. They should’ve had a better backup for not getting Eccleston back than just retconning a new past Doctor in his place. Would’ve given them another year, at least.

        • $36060516

          I see that point. It might be possible that the majority of viewers of this episode may not have been watching “Who” previous to Eccleston and so didn’t really have nearly as much emotion invested in the idea of the regeneration limit, though.

  • Dennis Fischer

    While I wholeheartedly agree that Matt Smith did deserve better, I think you were being too kind to “The Time of the Doctor,” which was a fairly wretched exercise sans any great meaning or intent. Steve Moffatt often wrote the very best episodes during the Tennant years, but as a showrunner, he has basically had a tendency of recycling his best ideas rather than coming up with new ones, and frankly, I couldn’t stand the first pair of companions Smith was saddled with, they dragged things down on a regular basis. Rory would stay true, and it comes out all right in the end, largely because the eons of suffering was skipped over. I hope they start coming up with more interesting and fresher stories. I quite liked the Pertwee and Baker Doctors, and I enjoyed both Eccleston and Tennant years as the emotional stakes were raised tremendously, but now the show seems content to swirl around reprising once scary and fresh ideas so much that they have become stale and threatless.

  • $36060516

    Glad to hear I’m not the only one repulsed by scenes of the Daleks and other villains cowering in fear of the wonderous Doctor and River Song. I prefer The Doctor as an underdog, not an ubermensch.

    • CaptainCalvinCat

      Actually, I like these scenes – because aren’t they more realistic? Imagine: You are batteling a foe that you tried to kill and kill and kill again with all you have – and no matter what you throw at him, he survives. Oh, he might regenerate – yes. But he is – sorry, to say – timelord victorious.
      Only a fool would say: “yeah, he defeated us time and time again… psssh. We will kick his ass this time.”
      The more realistic answer is: “The Doctor is here? HOLY CRAP! Run for your lives.”

      • $36060516

        Although if they’ve encountered him that many times they probably also know he prefers not to kill his adversaries, so they probably wouldn’t be that worried about losing their lives.

        • CaptainCalvinCat

          “Prefers” is the operative word here.

    • The Doctor has always been both, really. The guy routinely saves/disrupts entire cultures just by showing up for a few hours.

      I prefer it when the episode’s antagonists haven’t heard of him. There are far too many frequently recurring baddies in New Who for my taste.

  • danbreunig

    Ursa, I’m just going to ask outright: would you recommend The Day Of The Doctor to a non-Whovian?

    • Jill Bearup

      Um…probably not. I mean, if I wanted to get them interested in Doctor Who? I’d start with ‘Rose’. The Day of the Doctor is hella fun, but I think it’s too backwards-referencing to really grip a newbie.

      • Sofie Liv

        yeah.. Day of the Doctor is kind of the big climax refferencing the entire run of the show, being the final pay-off to what has been going on. So well.. no, that is like starting a book at the ending chapter.

        One, you loos all the build-up, so you can’t sense the importance of what is going on.

        Two, you will have no idea in hell what the heck is going on.. Also remember to read my article reviewing this exact same episode, now on the front-page…. hei Ursa.

        • danbreunig

          Thanks for your own tip there. Just read my last comment to Jill up there and that sums up my take on it.

          Haven’t stopped reading the articles. 🙂

      • danbreunig

        I kind of figured, but thanks for the tip. I was debating that: watch this, and that’s all I’ll ever need; or skip it, and live in more ignorance of this massively beloved universe?

        It’s like all the big Whovians are having a huge house party and know that whole universe inside-out, while I’m on the sidewalk and the most I know is whatever I can see through the window. I know the core synopsis and major players, but as for particulars like which Companion is which, well…so far I’ve had less than ten episodes ever of Who throughout all its existence and only maybe two to three of the Smith era (he and Baker are the two I think of most when I think about Who).

        Oh well. At least I’m a Vernian.

  • The Horror Guru

    Totally with you on this, Ursa. Though full disclosure, I’m a David Tennant and Tom Baker faithful – I love it when the Doctor is legitimately challenged with no win scenarios and faced with uneasy questions e.g. “Do I have the right?” Matt Smith was a fantastic actor who brought a lot to his role, but I cannot say I ever truly felt his Doctor was challenged.

    I also did not like how they even took the menace out of a huge chunk of his enemies by having him face them all at once as if they were nothing – Twice! Like, compare that to Series 2 when the Daleks and Cybermen face off: “You would destroy the Cybermen with four Daleks?” “WE WOULD DESTROY THE CYBERMEN WITH ONE DALEK!” Holy shit, that was -intense!- Or Series 4 when the radio signal becomes telligable, and the spine-tingling “EXTERMINATE” echoes off the screen. I GOT CHILLS! The fear the character’s felt OOZED off the screen and mingled with my own, but during Smith’s run? I can’t say I ever felt that way.

    Even the Weeping Angels had their menace removed way early on when they showed the audience their movement. This had the unfortunate side effect of reminding the viewer of the fourth wall, that you at home are not effected by the Angels because you are watching them through the T.V. screen. Compare that to Blink, where you don’t see them move and instead see them as the characters do. Static statues that shift position when you look away, creeping closer… and closer. The fourth wall is invisible in that episode, and the threat of the Angels feels all too real. It’s a shame they took that away as I think it was that aspect that made the Angels so amazing to begin with.