Unpopular Opinion: The Name of the Doctor
Guest contributor Shay Hatchard gives an alternate viewpoint on the Series 7 finale.
“Perhaps I’ll like it after a second viewing…”
This is what I thought, alongside disappointment, after the closing credits for The Name of the Doctor rolled. And, unfortunately, even after two subsequent “I’ll grit my teeth and try and watch this” sessions, I found myself turning off the episode halfway through and wondering why it just did not appeal to me. This article is my case against a quite popular episode in the Whoniverse for fans like me who just don’t feel the episode.
Trenzalore Would Have Worked Better In Series 6
One of my biggest problems with the episode was the disappointment of Trenzalore. After much build up for the final resting place of the Doctor, through Series 6 and the ‘Next Time’ trailer, in conjunction with Nightmare in Silver, the end result was – well, not what I expected at all.
The way Trenzalore has always been presented in the era of the Eleventh Doctor, I honestly thought Steven Moffat would have used its first appearance in the series in a slightly better light. Not that I can entirely blame Moffat for the look of the planet – the CGI TARDIS just felt cheap and out of place, and I found myself sinking at the feel of the place.
After absolute no foreshadowing in the entire 13 episodes set before, I think it would have worked far, far better in the theme of the sixth series. We already had foreshadowing – the dark theme of the Doctor’s imminent death – and we had a strong season to back it up (unlike, I find, the ‘blockbuster’ feel of Series 7.) Which links into my next point…
Why have they only kidnapped FOUR – and only the most recent – of the Doctor’s friends?
…Why on Earth has the Great Intelligence only kidnapped four of the most unimportant characters (in comparison to others) in the Eleventh Doctor’s time? With Clara having next to no interaction with Eleven throughout her debut season, and Vastra, Jenny, and Strax only becoming ‘main’ characters in their two most recent episodes (The Snowmen, The Crimson Horror) it’s hardly as exciting or thrilling as it could have been. Imagine – even if the episode wasn’t set in Series 6 – you could have had River, Rose, Donna, Martha, Jack, Kate Stewart, Amy, Rory, Susan and so on. When you look at it like that, you could have included a few more characters involved in the kidnapping without overloading too much. Or just got rid of the current line up and replaced it with better characters. You decide.
The Great Intelligence was one of the strangest choices of villain
It feels like Moffat was desperate to throw in random references to the past 50 years across Series 7: Part Two because he knew that the anniversary special wasn’t going to be looking back as much. From little references to Susan, the Doctor’s grandaughter (The Rings Of Akhaten), along with the return of the Ice Warrior (non-plural; Cold War), to the return of the Great Intelligence. With its three appearances in the second half of the series, I felt all were just unnecessary nods to the past, and I felt this the most in this episode.
Any other villain could have filled the place in a much better and significant way. For example, the Master would have been a great choice and made much more sense. It could have been much darker, and would have fitted the Trenzalore theme that I keep mentioning. Hardly anyone knew who the Great Intelligence was – some could say this was a way of intertwining them into New Who, but I can’t see the character making another appearance now.
Hurt’s appearance was the only point of the episode – and even that was spoilt
The whole episode just didn’t really link up to anything. Sometimes looking back I feel the only good part of the episode (other then the stunning pre-title sequence) was the reveal of John Hurt as the hidden Doctor – but even that had been terribly leaked thanks to the DVD going out early. It just wasn’t a surprise, but it was the crowning jewel on this disappointment of an episode.
So when the closing credits rolled and I just simply felt sad, at not just this episode, but the entirety of Series Seven. I know it might be an “unpopular opinion”, but I didn’t feel it was working, and it never quite has for me.