Anticipating The Time of the Doctor
Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull prepares for Matt Smith’s final episode.
Christmas Day, known for delicacies, delights and, in the world of Doctor Who, death. Each festive special of the show has been carefully sprinkled with sugar but that doesn’t mean the writers shy away from darker subjects. A Christmas Carol, whilst being fun in itself, had a melancholic topic at heart and Voyage of the Damned’s main crux was that it was almost too bleak. Now we’re at the end of Matt Smith, our beloved Eleventh Doctor’s tenure and it’s time for one last bow. But at Christmas. Thank you, Steven Moffat for that one but I suppose EastEnders is always unhealthily gloomy around this time of the year.
Like last time I’ll be looking over what we know about The Time of the Doctor and trying to assess as much as possible.
The Eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith (and a wig).
It’s with deep sadness that I have had to type that line for the final time. Matt Smith may not have been ‘my’ Doctor but he’s still one that I will forever have a fondness for. His madcap demeanour, his jammie dodgers, his fezzes and his general flappy-hands-and-big-hair-ness are all delightfully memorable traits; ones that define the Eleventh Doctor.
The Time of the Doctor has said to have Smith in almost every scene. This is music to my ears. In his last episode I want to see as much of him as humanly possible because as of next year he’ll be gone so let’s lap up what we can. The events of The Day of the Doctor will, most likely, have appropriate repercussions on the Doctor but I don’t think he’ll be dwelling on it too much as there’s the small matter of his death. How the Eleventh Doctor regenerates is a mystery (not to the cluster of press folk who congregated in the BFI last week) but hopefully he’ll bow out with not a whimper but a bang.
The Twelfth Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi.
I’m probably cheating here but the Twelfth Doctor is known to be making a short but sweet appearance at the end of The Time of the Doctor when the Eleventh Doctor has left us. The questions on everyone’s lips are: what will his first words be? What will he be like (demeanour, behaviour, interaction with Clara)? And how will Capaldi fare?
Clara Oswald, played by Jenna Coleman.
I have a big long list of reasons why Smith should stay for another series (but deep down in my heart a part of me knows it’s time for him to go) and up near the top is Clara. The Eleventh Doctor and Clara just haven’t had enough time together and the fact The Time of the Doctor is their last adventure is heartbreaking.
The one other person most affected (other than the Doctor, naturally) by the events of The Time of the Doctor will be Clara, obviously. She will witness the Doctor miraculously change his face into a man much older and much more Scottish than him. In The Christmas Invasion Rose Tyler struggled to get to grips with the new incarnation of her Doctor but by the end of that story she was fine (she got over it alarmingly quickly, in my view). I feel that Steven Moffat is better at dealing with reactions than Russell T Davies and that Clara might not be so welcoming of the Twelfth Doctor or she might react against him. It’d be easier for the story for her to just acknowledge the change and travel on in the TARDIS but I’d feel had; I want to see a proper response from Clara.
The Villains and Monsters
The Weeping Angels.
Last seen in The Angels Take Manhattan when they deprived the Doctor of Amy and Rory, the Weeping Angels are getting more and more vindictive with every appearance. In Blink they started off as deadly scavengers with no real voice but then Moffat gave them one in The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone. The Angels Take Manhattan had them take the Ponds and this had a profound impact on the Doctor. Now with them returning will he fly into a rage?
In the trailer released earlier this month there’s a shot of snow-coated woodland and Clara getting her ankle grabbed by a grey hand. We all know that one touch means you get sent back in time so how will Clara get out of this one? The hand may not actually be that of a Weeping Angel or it could be a weak statue a la The Angels Take Manhattan.
In Series Five, Six and Seven the Daleks appeared intermittently because Steven Moffat, and others, felt they were overused. Now he’s only gone and included them in two episodes in a row. I’m not complaining, really. The Daleks have been an integral part of the Doctor’s lives and it’s always nice when they show up in one Doctor’s swansong to wave him off. Judging by the trailer they seem to remember the Doctor (after Oswin erased their memory in Asylum of the Daleks) and that they foreshadow his regeneration. However, the Daleks and the Weeping Angels seem like backbenchers compared to these demons…
One of the problems with fans I’ve seen is that they’re pretty impatient. I’m not generalising here but there are certain quarters of the fandom who sit and grumble about Steven Moffat because he hasn’t wrapped everything up. The Time of the Doctor is when, hopefully, everything is tied up. No dangling plot strands, no one is underused and monsters like the Silence are used to their full potential.
Last seen in The Wedding of River Song the Silence has had the door shut on them ever since. There are accusations of lazy writing from Moffat but it’s quite clear he’s not done with them. Looking at the trailer once more it appears the Doctor is in league with them at some point. They’ve also developed their wardrobe with some chic turtlenecks.
Time and space debris
The departure of one Doctor means something of a showstopper. David Tennant’s The End of Time pulled out all the stops to make it a celebration of the Tenth Doctor’s life and hopefully we’ll see this here with the Eleventh Doctor. It’s set in stone that Orla Brady is playing the Mother Superious of the Papal Mainframe, Tasha Lem and that she might come to blows with the Doctor at some point (see: the trailer). Clara’s family also get a bit more fleshing out after last appearing in The Rings of Akhaten. James Buller has been recast as Clara’s dad, Dave (replacing Michael Dixon) and Madge off Benidorm is her grandmother. The Doctor will also acquire a new friend in the form of disembodied Cyberman Handles (voiced by comedian Kayvan Novak).
So that’s my summary of The Time of the Doctor. Will it be the right send-off for Matt? Will we get to see much of Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor? And, most importantly, how will the Eleventh Doctor regenerate?