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Best of Matt Smith: The Name of the Doctor

best-of-matt-smith-name

Across the next couple of months Doctor Who TV is running a series of polls to celebrate Matt Smith’s era. We want you to cast your votes on every story and at the end we’ll be comprising a list to find the top scoring.

We continue Series 7 with The Name of the Doctor. All you have to do is rate the story with your score out of 10, so get voting and join us again tomorrow for the next episode.

Step back in time...

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168 comments
DW_girl
DW_girl

10/10. One of the best finales ever to grace our Doctor Who screens. I found it nicely wrapped up the series long arc about The Doctor's real secret, and I liked the solution to the multiple Claras. Clara, by this point, had properly redeemed herself in my eyes, after many episodes in which I almost forgot she was actually there. Her legendary line: "Run, you clever boy, and remember me," was absolutely perfect in that scene. The Doctor was on top form here; I really felt for his emotions, yet at the same time we are left wondering what could be so bad that he'd hide it from us. Well, the secret was rather shocking, and it set up a good strong story for the 50th. In terms of the Paternoster Gang, Jenny stole the show with her "I think I've been murdered" line, which was somewhat creepy and tragic. The Great Intelligence was a 'great' contender for the Doctor and his friends, and his jumping into the Doctor's time line was matched nicely with the Impossible Girl plot, with little to no questions left. In addition, the Whispermen were another of Moffat's genious creations- they were positively scary, and the inclusion of River Song, in what could possibly be her last appearance (although I hope not- I think we need the whole sonic screwdriver lending thing to be addressed on screen), was very fitting.

Stradiwhovius
Stradiwhovius

I wasn't sure if I could vote on this. If you were to ask me when the story came out;or for the majority of 2013 actually; I would have given it around a 4 out of 10. I didn't like it much at all. Now I'm starting to appreciate it more for what it is rather than - perhaps - what I hoped it was going to be, and I would park it closer to a 7. 

However, as I write this little mini-review, I'm just remembering all the things I didn't like about it. I found the Whispermen to be underused and the threat in general to be a bit on the weak side; in particular the fact that we never really got to see what the Great Intelligence/Whispermen was actually doing in The Doctor's time stream. That was a missed opportunity, I think. Jenny "dying" was a bit naff, particularly as there was no need to explicitly say she was dead. This is the only episode where I've found Strax annoying: The moment in question being when the Whispermen are stopping The Doctor's friend's hearts, and he is completely destroying the tension by acting... Well, like Strax. 

I never bought into modern!Clara as a companion, so her sacrifice didn't mean that much to me. In addition, the drama lacks punch because we know from the second the GI steps inside that Clara will too. Finally, I found River's final scenes to be a bit too conclusive for a character I had hoped would never get one. There was an element of tragedy to The Doctor never being able to give her a proper goodbye, and I feel this sequence ruins that slightly, and doesn't make a massive amount of sense to boot.

But on the positive, I find the generally dark and foreboding tone of the episode to be beautiful. I'm singling out the first scenes on Trenzalore (with such haunting music!) and Clara telling The Doctor about the message to the tune of "A Secret He Will Take to His Grave" to be among my favourite moments in all of Series . 

I won't give a final rating right now. I still can't decide. Will do it in the recap instead.


stargazer0118
stargazer0118

Great visuals, nice fanservice, great score, and some great performances, but the story seems so weak the more I think about it. Exciting cliffhanger too. 7/10

Tardis Stowaway
Tardis Stowaway

9/10, one of my, if not the number one, favourite from Series 7


First, the opening scene. It was at that point that the 50th really began for me, seeing all of the Doctor's together in such a nice little opening scene.

The idea of 'time travel in dreams' is something that does bug me, there doesn't seem to be any scientific explanation that I can think of to actually cover it in a way that I can just pass off as Sci-Fi, but it's hardly a big point. I didn't really think the Paternoster gang were much use in this, other than a few gags, but I appreciate the fact that they were actually essential to the plot, for the Doctor to actually travel to Trenzalore, and I did enjoy their performances like usual and so I'm not complaining. It was nice seeing River, and I think that the goodbye she was given was fitting.

I once again have to mention the acting of Matt and Jenna - they performed perfectly and with emotion that looked natural.

The ending was completely unexpected, I already knew John Hurt was involved in the 50th in some capacity from a previous announcement, but I didn't at all expect the appearance or the revelation that he was in fact a Doctor.

Sarah Manning
Sarah Manning

10/10 in my opinion it's the best finale since the revival. It also helped cement Clara for me as a serious companion.

DawnTime
DawnTime

10 that's all I am saying.!

MaraBackman
MaraBackman

I really didn't like this episode at all, mainly because it felt boring and anti-climactic for me as I had no interest in Clara's mystery as a plot-device or even in her character, which still doesn't feel like a believable well-rounded person at all. I also didn't like the use of the GI for this story, because he didn't have enough of a personal connection to the Doctor to justify such a vendetta against him, while it felt very much out-of-character for the GI to go for petty revenge as it had said before that revenge was stupid. The episode also managed to horribly diminish the dramatic effect of death, by giving Jenny two fake-outs within the same episode. The resolution was also predictable enough for the episode to lack any tension, also because it was obvious that we would not get to hear the Doctor's name at all, because after fifty years it would inevitably sound disappointing whether his name was something dramatically Time Lord-y or something ordinary. It's a 4/10.

ElizabethGreer
ElizabethGreer

Exceptional. From the opening sequence, to Matt's reaction of the news on Clara's couch, to John Hurt's introduction at the end.  River and The Doctor's goodbye was beautiful, romantic, emotional, and it epitomized their relationship completely.  Trenzalore, "Doctor Who?", Impossible Girl resolution, Dorian, all brilliant.  Matt was PERFECTION.  I also enjoyed the name reveal tease-- his name, hidden in plain sight..still, and always should be, a mystery.  Well done!

NewWho2012
NewWho2012

Great episode, I remember the tense moment when the Doctor was almost forced to reveal his name to open his tomb "Doctor Who?" and the end with the mysterious War Doctor appearing in the Doctor's timeline. 9/10

pinkjaguar12
pinkjaguar12

I really like this episode.  Matt Smith's acting is on point and beautiful as usual (especially in the scene outside the door and inside the TARDIS room), and Jenna is actually REALLY GOOD in this one.  I love the resolution of Clara's story.

Galactic Yo Yo
Galactic Yo Yo

So I like “The Name of the Doctor”. I like the resolution of why Clara was showing up in the Doctor’s life over and over. It feels organic, which it easily couldn’t have been. (For example, take a look at the resolution of how the Doctor survived being shot by the astronaut in “The Wedding of River Song”.) The design of everything is great and the emotional moments land. My one beef with this episode is that it doesn’t really have a story. It’s just the Doctor and Clara reacting to stuff for forty minutes until Clara finally saves the day. It answers our questions about Clara and Trenzalore before finally giving us a great big new one, but it feels smaller for its lack of an actual story to tell. If the Doctor and Clara had a bit more proactive, this wouldn’t have been a problem, but for most of the episode’s running time, they’re just riding the rollercoaster towards the end.

Still, everything about it is well executed. Matt and Jenna kill it. The Great Intelligence is a bit of a nonentity, but that’s not too much of a story killer. Also, I want to take a moment to single out “Trenzalore” from the episode’s score. Ever since that episode, the piece has become my favorite Murray Gold composition from the entirety of his run as composer. It’s just so otherworldly, yet profoundly sad. As appropriate a mood for Doctor Who as any. Honestly, I think Gold’s work during series 7 has been the high point of his work for the show, as “The Long Song” and “Clara’s Theme” are also aces. But “Trenzalore”, that just …hits me.  


grumpyoldcow
grumpyoldcow

"The Name of the Doctor", is still hidden. In plain sight. So everyone thought we'd get the Doctor's real name. Color everyone who thought that foolish. After all, look who wrote it. Moffat, of course, is one big teaser. The little Dalek.

9/10 from me. It's not a favorite episode, but contains so many favorite parts. Epic favorite parts.

Loved the dark atmosphere throughout the episode. Sad, even. For someone who talks alot about hope the Doctor's lifetime is a collection of sadness, as he acknowledges with, "The tracks of my tears."

The wrapup of the River Song arc was a masterpiece. Bookending from her introduction of "Hello, Sweetie" to her goodbye scene with "Goodbye, Sweetie, than spans how many years, 5 or 6?, and with her music playing, and with the Doctor admitting he didn't know how to say goodbye to her, there couldn't have been a dry eye for the River/Doctor fans. I know mine weren't.

While this episode was written about the enigma that is the Doctor, the Impossible Girl's mystery is revealed. I loved it all, "Run you clever boy, and remember", and we loop completely around to Who's beginnings. And I thought that was the big game changer.

Nope. Moffat's biggest yet is waiting, in the form of the Doctor that is the Doctor's biggest secret -the one that cannot bear the name of the Doctor. And the trilogy is off and running.

Paternoster Gang please get your own spinoff series, so I don't have to see you in Who again.

Galax
Galax

Why so many people are complaining about the lack of "many companions" taken by the GI ? For god's sake, where the GI, the Whispermen or anyone, actually said in the episode that it had to be the Doctor's "most important" friends so he could possibly want to save them ? I think even for Mickey, he would go. Actually, the choice of the Paternoster gang is pretty logical, because it was them who took care of him in The Snowmen and we never spoke again about those events following Amy and Rory's farewells. Also, the GI couldn't take a past compagnion like Rose, because it would be a big plot hole : why did we never heard about that then ? So beyond production limits, the choice of the Paternoster is logical.


When I see people saying "Why Vastra, Jenny and Strax ? Should have been Rose, Susan or Amy", It's only the greedy fan who is talking. And the situation is very ironic if you look which episode he is actually talking about : the one with every single Doctor making an appearance and more flashbacks and references we had ever had, yeah, yeah, the same episode that is focused on the show's title, focused on the main character, the Series 7 finale that could be a New Pilot, leading to the trilogy of the Doctor, his name, his day, his time : and this episode is The Name of the Doctor. Still, the fan always wants more...

VictorWong1
VictorWong1

There are, basically, two highlights of this episode. They are so big that they blow away pretty much every objection to the plot, the lameness of the villains.


The first, and the really big one, is Clara interacting with almost all of the Doctors. (Eight and Nine got a little shortchanged.) I'm inclined to think that those scenes would never have happened had this not been a 50th anniversary year.


The second, the not so big one, is the introduction of John Hurt as the (War) Doctor. I suppose its success depends on how you measure the amount of buzz generated by the fan community WRT his existence. Was he the real Valeyard? Was he a super-dark evil Doctor? We pretty much had all summer and most of the fall to work that one out.


I agree that the Great Intelligence wasn't really used very well this season. He ought to have been prominent in more episodes, and should be played more like BBC Sherlock's Moriarty character. Whispermen? They hiss a lot, they morph into Richard E Grant, they have the Darth Vader Force Vulcan death grip. And not much else.


But these objections were all second fiddle, when compared to how Moffat wanted to present what the Doctor's corpse would look like. The idea of a column of light, instead of a skeleton, is definitely discomfiting when you consider Rassilon's proposal of turning the Time Lords into "beings of pure consciousness" back in The End of Time.

TheNightmareChild sees into your soul!
TheNightmareChild sees into your soul!

Other than a poorly developed villain and just a couple of things I'm not completely clear on (How exactly was Clara helping the Doctor while in his time stream?/How did the Doctor and Clara get out of the Doctor's time stream?), this was a gripping episode that set up very nicely for the fiftieth anniversary.  8/10

Polyphase
Polyphase

5/10. The Great Intelligence is one of the worst villains of all, cannot understand why he was brought back :(

BrIdGeWoOd4Be
BrIdGeWoOd4Be

Because this poll is simply for: The Best of Matt Smith, I've had to vote 10/10. Why? Does it need saying? His acting in this episode is superb. The Time of the Doctor has become the topic of his finest performance as the Doctor, but in my view, Matt's performance in The Name of the Doctor is far superior. The breaking down on the sofa - to THAT look he gives the G.I. before entering the tomb. Pure class.

DaftDalek
DaftDalek

9/10 I don't think there is a single whovian who didn't lose his mind in the opening sequence. Fantastic!

Maryanne123
Maryanne123

A perfect melding of the epic and intimate with the greatest opening and closing moments in all of Who (apert from An Unearthly Child). Cerebral, compelling and bowing down in homage to all 50 years which proceeded it. Heartbreaking foreboding of 11's demise, gorgeous, gorgeous farewell between 11 and River, tender moments between Vashtra and Jenny and spine chilling new villains in the Whispermen. Matt is beyond magnificent - natch - butJenna matches him as she reveals that she is the most selfless and courageous companion of all. The ending reveals why Moff is the master of television drama.

I can't see how anyone could not be moved, thrilled and thoroughly entertained by this episode. Does not need so much as a minute more or less. I think it is even greater than Day of the Doctor which is unbalanced by the cringeworthy (and unnecessary) addition of 10 and a subplot which I guess Moffat was forced to write as broad comedy to limit Tennant's potential for teeth gritting gurning. I agree with the thatre critic from The Stage (and many others) who found that 10's inclusion in Day only highlighted the wide gap in acting ability between Smith and Tennant. I know it was meant for a laugh but this is the one episode in the trilogy that I woukd change. The bookends around it are flawless.

Anyway back to the good stuff about Name of the Doctor. Easily 10/10 - perfect Who.

Americanwhovian
Americanwhovian

wonderful 10/10 started geeking out in the first second. I wish they would have said how clara saved the doctor other than yelling at him as he ran by. also the doctor stealing the tardis and a type 40 without a chameleon circut!!

Ninjauthor
Ninjauthor

personally I wasn't that impressed, it was still a very well put togther episode (although little happened till the climax) but I didn't come away feeling it blew me away so a 7.5/10 for me

EricPavlat
EricPavlat

7.5/10. I rounded down to 7 because Moffat never satisfactorily resolved the cliffhanger and he didn't give Eight a face-check, merely a fractional tie-shot.

sontaran17
sontaran17

Sensation! Utterly Perfect!! The Best conclusion to the best series out there!! I still get goosebumps!! Just ahhhhhhhhhh!! 10/10

Rani Nose
Rani Nose

For reasons that I can't explain I feel like I should like this episode more than I do.  There just seems to be something very empty about TNotD.

Deus_Ex_Machina
Deus_Ex_Machina

I feel that the only real problem with this episode was that it wasn't deep enough. You never really had time to sink your teeth into it. If it were a two parter, it would have been better. The other problem is the Whispermen. They came no where near to living up to their potential. Other than that, a brilliant final. That cliffhanger that made the internet explode, I'll never forget that. Another part that most fans overlooked was the fact that Clara saw every Doctor from his birth until his death, but only saw 11 Doctors, meaning the 11th Doctor was the last incarnation and that he was going to die after that. I was eager to see how Moffat would overcome that one. The Paternoster Gang were a little irrelevant to the plot, but we're still great fun to have along for the ride as usual. And River Somg was great as usual. A crowning jewel in a brilliant half a season. 9/10.

GregChipman
GregChipman

@trenzalew Some of the best cinematography in the history of the show... 1/10. Some of the best cinematography in the history of the show... 1/10.

TheIlluminator1
TheIlluminator1

Well actually they hinted us that the Great intelligence/whisper men were just casually messing up the doctors life, being everywhere causing mass destruction to the Doctor.

KingoftheOod4450
KingoftheOod4450

@stargazer0118 Exactly how I felt, down to a tee. Spine-chilling on first vieweing but another Series-7-specialty (messy) when you analyse it.

The 11th Doctor
The 11th Doctor

Who needs science when you've got dreams!

Dreams can take you anywhere you want!

It's just a dream!

Maryanne123
Maryanne123

Exactly. This is a celebration of both 11 and the history of the show. Name is 11's time in the limelight, soit is logical that it be the Paternoster gang and River who arethe focus. River is after all the most important in the Doctor's life over these last 50 years along with Susan. The next episodeis the one which name checks all the companions and includes Saint Mary Sue Perfect Rose, although thankfully not in her simpering incarnation in seasons 2 and 4 of NuWho.

From what I am readinghere andwhat I recall reading at the time, only a tiny majority rate this episode ss being less than 10/10. People always want to nitpick,especially when something is as watertight and confidently perfect as this episode.

Now the next episode doeshavea couple of flaws but not of Matt or Moffat's making....

Maryanne123
Maryanne123

As Neiil Gaiman said already and Moff and Gatiss and pretty well every actor and crew member who has worked on Who during his time, Matt is not just the best actor who has ever been on Who, he's up thetre with the best actors working in the UK today, end of! Name and Time more than prove tht.

Amy is Hannibal
Amy is Hannibal

@ThePotatoOne  Clara's echoes helped the Doctor in ways, be they direct or indirect, that undid the Great Intelligence's alterations. She entered the timestream with one objective: Save the Doctor. So the time winds distributed her across the Doctor's lifetime and inserted her in such ways that would overwrite the GI's sabotage (i.e. putting her in a position to where she could eventually tell him which TARDIS to take, to where she would be dying in a way that stopped the GI in Victorian London, to where she would sacrifice herself at the Dalek Asylum, and so on).

As for them leaving the timestream, they did so just as they came in: on foot. It is a widely-held misconception that the Doctor exiting the timestream was ever an issue, which it wasn't. Clara wouldn't have been able to do it on her own, which is why the Doctor needed to enter it in order to extract her. But his presence within the timestream would have generated massive paradoxes if he had taken too long to locate her. The danger was not in the Doctor being able to exit the timestream, but rather, in him being able to find and rescue Clara before his presence in the timestream caused it to cave in.

MaraBackman
MaraBackman

@Polyphase Technically you could say that the GI was never brought back at all, because he was so different from prior characterization that he might as well have been someone else.

Adric the Genius
Adric the Genius

@Deus_Ex_Machina Well, Eleven was meant to die on Trenzalore.  He didn't, so the whole of the Name of the Doctor should never have happened.  I hope Moffat gives an explanation.

Stradiwhovius
Stradiwhovius

@TheIlluminator1  It's hinted what they're up to yes, but it's similar to the problem I have with Time of The Doctor in that respect: It's like having a story explained to you rather than actually experiencing it. The GI present a threat which ultimately remains abstract, I think it would have been nice to make the resolution seem more active by showing a bit more of what actually happened in the time stream.

Amy is Hannibal
Amy is Hannibal

@RhonDOH @VictorWong1  Huh. That's actually not too different from the way that I imagined it. I tend to think that the TARDIS generates a manifestation of the Time Lord with whom it is "bonded" via the Rassilon Imprimatur's timeline upon their death (since the Time Lord and the TARDIS are linked, the TARDIS could probably track and consolidate their temporal "scar tissue," since it would be the TARDIS' scar tissue as well due to it being the vehicle used to tear into the fabric of time in the first place), so in a way, it would be due to the Time Lord's connection with their TARDIS. :)

Amy is Hannibal
Amy is Hannibal

@Adric the Genius @Deus_Ex_Machina   That was explicitly brought up in "The Time of the Doctor".


DOCTOR: This is where I end up. This face, this version of me. We saw this planet in the future, remember? All those graves, one of them mine. 

CLARA: Change the future. 

DOCTOR: I can't.

And later: 

DOCTOR: Yes. We saw the future, Clara. This is how it ends.

CLARA: Change it. 

DOCTOR: Ha. 

CLARA: Like Tasha said, change the future. 

DOCTOR: I could have once, when there were Time Lords. Not any more.

Thereby establishing that the Time Lords have the capacity to maintain paradoxes, as has been said and shown in previous episodes.