New Who: The Story Thus Far – The Doctor Trilogy

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John Hussey concludes his series analysing the revival.


‘The Name of the Doctor’

series-7-finale-poster-portraitSeries Seven came to an explosive conclusion with ‘The Name of the Doctor’ which began to unfold the long arc that had been present within the Eleventh Doctor’s (Matt Smith) era.

The whole idea behind the First Question was put back into the light with the inclusion of Trenzalore, the planet in which Dorium foretold about; a place the Eleventh Doctor mustn’t ever go. This all cleverly came about through the Great Intelligence’s (Richard E. Grant) schemes of luring the Eleventh Doctor there through the kidnapping of the Paternoster Gang.

Trenzalore was finally revealed after the Eleventh Doctor explained it to Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman). The planet in question was in fact the Doctor’s grave. I found this to be a surprise twist within the narrative which showcased Moffat’s superb writing skills.

The Eleventh Doctor forced the TARDIS to land on the planet that would see his demise, forcing the Time Lord to endure looking into his own shadowed future. As it turned out Trenzalore was reduced to a grave-yard filled with the bodies of a terrible war that the Doctor would be caught within or even perhaps caused through his continuous meddling.

River Song (Alex Kingston) came back for her (possibly) final appearance on the show, and it was a nice emotional piece to end her journey on. This River was of course from after her death in ‘Forest of the Dead’ who served as a projection, at first only thought to be seen by Clara, aiding in helping during the events of Trenzalore. She ultimately saved the Eleventh Doctor by answering the First Question for him off-screen.

It was later revealed that the Eleventh Doctor could see his wife the whole time but feared acknowledging her because he believed it would’ve broken his hearts. In the end River finally got him to say goodbye properly. This resulted in their best scene together which to this day makes me cry with both sadness and happiness. Her character was a true delight and should this be her last scene then I thank you Moffat for ending her adventures on such a high note.

The Great Intelligence made a nice little return as the main villain and with his new sinister minions the Whispermen he truly felt intimidating and without mercy. One of the scenes I loved the most was where the Great Intelligence nearly forced the Eleventh Doctor into answering his name in order to open his tomb. It felt so tense through the mere idea that his companions were being dealt the hand of death by the Whispermen and that the Doctor’s oldest and greatest secret may finally be revealed.

The interesting discovery was that the tomb itself held not the Doctor’s body but instead his entire timeline. The Great Intelligence’s goal was to merge with the timeline and rewrite the Doctor’s history for his own personal revenge.

‘The Name of the Doctor’ ended with massive amounts of revelations being revealed which started off with concluding ‘the impossible girl arc’. Clara’s alternative selves were the by-product of her jumping into the Doctor’s timeline in order to save him from the Great Intelligence. She splintered into hundreds of different Clara’s and helped the Time Lord throughout his entire timeline, even as far as being the one who aided the First Doctor (William Hartnell) and his granddaughter Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford) to escape Gallifrey in the first place.

The final revelation was the reveal that the Doctor had a secret incarnation. This was discovered after the Eleventh Doctor saved Clara from his timeline and they came into contact with this said incarnation. It was the biggest cliff-hanger in the history of the show with the promise that all would be revealed within the 50th Anniversary Special where everything would change.

‘The Night of the Doctor’

mcgann-regenerates-2013-nightThrough shared surprise we were all granted the reward of seeing the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) return to our screens within the 50th anniversary prequel ‘The Night of the Doctor’. This mini-episode brought about all his charm and energy within a short space of time, which to Moffat’s credit was a job well done.

The story showed his demise after his encounter with Cass (Emma Campbell-Jones), a space- pilot who believed him to be a part of the Time War along with his race, now deemed no better than the Daleks. To prove her otherwise he stood with her till the bitter end and went down with her as the ship crashed upon Karn (first seen in ‘The Brain of Morbius’).

The Sister Hood of Karn offered the Eighth Doctor his new destiny by slowly persuading the good man of healing that he would have to join the Time War in order to save the future of the universe. This sad turn of events showed the Eighth Doctor, in his dying moments, to throw away everything he was to become a warrior. The Doctor was to be no more as the long made promise of being the good man came to its apparent end at the birth of the War Doctor (John Hurt). It was both a heartbreaking episode whilst at the same time feeling so exciting due to have the Eighth Doctor ride again.

‘The Day of the Doctor’

50th-poster‘The Day of the Doctor’ changed the life of the Doctor forever by showcasing his most important day: the day he ended the Time War. The inclusion of the War Doctor was so inventive and fresh and really demonstrated that the Doctor has secrets and that we don’t fully know him. This incarnation really showcased that with the idea that he fell so far and became everything he wasn’t in order to do what was essentially right. The War Doctor in the last day of the Time War essentially had enough and wished to use the Moment (Billie Piper) in order to end everything once and for all.

The whole point of the plot was to allow the Doctor to see himself: who he was and what he would become. It was a lesson for the different incarnations who had all seen their horrible side-effects caused by the Time War. The War Doctor becoming a murderer, the Tenth Doctor becoming a burdened traveller of guilt and regret whilst the Eleventh Doctor simply forgot through shame and becoming cold and somewhat bitter, hiding his sadness through his childishness. The Moment wanted the War Doctor to see this at first hand and this interaction slowly made them all realise that time could change.

This important plot-point was utilised through their interaction with the Eleventh and Tenth Doctor starting off weary of the War Doctor due to their shame and disgust over him. Later on the Moment had the War Doctor talk about the final day of the Time War which resulted in the Tenth Doctor becoming angered by the Eleventh Doctor forgetting about the number of children on Gallifrey he burnt, showcasing how far he had pushed himself into the shadows.

Eventually they all came together in order to see history retell itself through a new viewpoint. Though they still didn’t agree with their actions, they at least wanted to make sure the War Doctor wasn’t on his own nor to be deemed the villain. The Eleventh and Tenth Doctor in the end viewed him with sheer respect knowing now that he, through his misdirection, actually fought to keep to the promise more than any of his other incarnations. It was a beautiful revelation for the War Doctor as it meant he finally saw peace in his actions and this was brought about by the respect of his future selves and the proud nature he had in becoming them.

Clara proved once again that she was the Doctor’s saviour by being the one to shed tears over the idea that the Doctor could possibly cause the death of his own people. The Moment also emphasised on this idea by showing the three Doctors the innocent people and children they will burn through their actions of supposed victory. This pushed the Eleventh Doctor to do the unthinkable by undoing his mistake. The entire adventure he had with the War Doctor made him realise that together they could do something different by saving Gallifrey instead of destroying it.

Moffat incorporated the resolution of saving Gallifrey perfectly through the idea of the Gallifreyan technology suspending an occupant in time like a painting. This had been used to tell the tale of how the Zygons travelled through time to invade Earth at a more advanced point in time and was also used to aid the three Doctor’s in reaching Kate Stewart within the Black Archive. So it seemed logical for this seemingly simple Time Lord trick to be used for the grand finale of all plans. But of course for such a monumental moment in Doctor Who’s history it would take not three but thirteen Doctor’s to save the day.

This was an exciting moment within ‘The Day of the Doctor’ which gave a brilliant conclusion to the landmark occasion. It also went as far as giving a glimpse to the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi). What made the anniversary that bit more glorious was it served its purpose in giving the Doctor his next journey in live: to search for Gallifrey. It was nice Tom Baker could come back to be the one to tell the Eleventh Doctor that that was his new goal.

What finished off the special was the idea of redemption. The War Doctor through the Doctor Trilogy was deemed the villain within the Doctor’s timeline and would be viewed as one through the whole premise of not including him within the numbering scheme. He was to be forgotten for his terrible actions, almost like banishment for a crime. But by the end of the plot he was deemed a hero and respected for his actions and he himself could experience this feeling and no longer have to regret his actions. He could regenerate with a smile on his face and know that although his future selves would forget his pure actions, he himself knew he had done good in the end.

‘The Time of the Doctor’

time-of-the-doctor-poster-b-portrait-white-title-largeThe Eleventh Doctor’s story, and The Doctor Trilogy, came to a crashing end during the events of ‘The Time of the Doctor’. The entire ‘silence will fall arc’ made (in my eyes) a satisfying conclusion. It was nice to see all the unanswered questions answered and put together in a clever way.

A major point of the story was the reveal of what Trenzalore really entailed for the Eleventh Doctor. His encounter with the planet in ‘The Name of the Doctor’ wasn’t in fact the real danger of the prophecy. The real danger came about with the revelation that the First Question needed to be answered in order to allow the Time Lords to return through a Time Crack. The reasoning behind the Silence wanting to stop him was due to this act bringing about a second Time War.

‘The Time of the Doctor’ showcased how the Silence came about after the Church of the Papal Mainframe, led by the Doctor’s old friend Tasha Lem (Orla Brady), decided to utilise their power to prevent the Time Lords’ return. This resulted in Madame Kovarian and her fellow followers to break off and make their own schemes to prevent the Eleventh Doctor, which resulted in the events of Series Five and Six.

Her attempts to stop the Doctor ended with her actually creating the events of the incidence in the first place through blowing up the TARDIS and forming the Time Cracks. It just showed that Moffat was still keen to do his usual timey-wimey nature which really did make sense out of all the questions that had plagued us throughout his tenure.

Of course the main point of the adventure was the Eleventh Doctor’s demise. He underwent a slow death of time as he was forced to remain on Trenzalore to protect the Time Crack from being destroyed by his enemies. The dilemma in question was whether he should bring the long earned return of his people and to no longer be the last of his race. The difficulty in this was that it would bring about another war but if the Time Crack was left unattended then not only would the Eleventh Doctor lose his chance at bringing the Time Lords back but the people of Trenzalore would meet their demise also.

The Eleventh Doctor slowly became an old man as he lived out his life on Trenzalore protecting the people from the might of his enemies. More revelations came about when it was revealed that the Tenth Doctor’s half-regeneration in ‘Journey’s End’ was in fact counted as an incarnation. With the revealing of the War Doctor it was made apparent that the Doctor was on his last life and would age to death on Trenzalore during his final battle, as shown within ‘The Name of the Doctor’.

It was interesting to see Clara’s fight throughout the episode as she tried to save her best friend from his fixed fate. What made her efforts harsher was the Eleventh Doctor using the cruel trick of sending her back home not once but twice. This reflected back upon the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) when he tried to send Rose back home during his grand finale. In the end though Clara’s determination was pure and undoubtedly never ending even at the end as the Eleventh Doctor prepared for his final moments; frail and helpless against the Daleks never ending onslaught.

These final moments brought about an emotional end to the Eleventh Doctor’s era starting with Clara begging the Time Lords to help the Doctor change his fate. Listening to her emotional speech and words of wisdom the Time Lords granted the Doctor a brand new set of regenerations so he could start again. In a triumphant final, the Eleventh Doctor used his regeneration energy to smite the Daleks during their moment of arrogance and over confidence. The Doctor was not yet defeated and showed even in his most desperate hour that his great enemy should beware.

The end finally came in that tear-jerking last scene showcasing the Eleventh Doctor, now younger again, saying his farewell and vowing never to forget when the Doctor was him. What made his final moments all the more saddening and happy was that he got to gaze upon his trusted friend Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) once last time. Despite Clara’s plea for him not to go the Eleventh Doctor was then gone in a flesh of golden light. The Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) was born.

With his new regeneration cycle the Twelfth Doctor takes on the mantle as his journey through time and space begins on 23rd August where untold adventures await him. Daleks, Medieval robots, Coal Hill School, Dinosaurs, UNIT and Cybermen are just some of the exciting elements that will appear in the Twelfth Doctor’s debut series. The second chapter of Doctor Who’s legacy is just around the corner. But first things first, the Twelfth Doctor must learn how to fly the TARDIS…


My Verdict

  • ‘The Name of the Doctor’ – 10/10
  • ‘The Night of the Doctor’ – 10/10
  • ‘The Day of the Doctor’ – 10/10
  • ‘The Time of the Doctor’ – 10/10

Thank you for following my series. I hope it has proved entertaining and interesting during the long build-up for Series Eight. Again thank you for reading and giving your support.

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