I don't want him to go.
December 19, 2013 1:48 PM   Subscribe

The first proper trailer for Matt Smith's ultimate episode as the eleventh Doctor, "The Time Of The Doctor" dropped today. And apparently a star-studded tribute to Smith was made as a companion piece.
posted by mediocre (231 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Has any previous Doctor received this much media fawning over their departure? Eccleston, people were more upset about him only doing one season then grateful for what he did. Tenant, people didn't want to see depart necessarily but it seemed the right time. Smith though, seems to be getting huge amounts of tribute, praise, and gratitude for his time as The Doctor.

Not that he doesn't deserve it of course. He pushed Tom Baker down to my third favorite Doctor. Below Troughton and Smith.
posted by mediocre at 1:50 PM on December 19, 2013


I think you missed the last year of RTD stories...
posted by Artw at 1:53 PM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


No one is sadder than Matt Smith's twin brother Odo.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:57 PM on December 19, 2013 [25 favorites]


Maybe it's because without a new showrunner or new companion, everyone's free to focus on Smith's departure? Left over feelings from the fiftieth anniversary? Or, perhaps most likely of all, the BBC deciding to make a big event of it?
posted by yasaman at 1:57 PM on December 19, 2013


For me it feels like there hasn't been enough Matt Smith as the Doctor yet, but not due to a short tenure. When I go back to watch his episodes there just so many that I avoid because of ongoing megaplot that I don't want to plop myself down for. Subtract out the usual number of stinkers on top of that and it feels like he has very few watchable episodes at all. And that makes me sad because I really love seeing him faffing about as the Doctor in Doctor Who adventures.
posted by charred husk at 1:58 PM on December 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


I was very, very sad to see Tenant go, and I'm truly excited to see Capaldi arrive.

And that's all.
posted by MoxieProxy at 1:59 PM on December 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


CAPALDI
posted by Damienmce at 2:07 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I will miss Matt terribly. I thought he was brilliant throughout, even in episodes that didn't totally do it for me. I thought he perfectly nailed the description of the Doctor given by Verity Lambert in AAiTAS - C.S. Lewis meets H.G. Wells meets Father Christmas.

That said, I'm really looking forward to Capaldi. That thing he did with his collars when he walked out on stage during the live announcement makes me hope we get a little bit of One's attitude back into the character.
posted by jbickers at 2:08 PM on December 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


Smith is my favourite Doctor, followed by Davison, then T. Baker, then kind of a Pertwee/Tennant run-off. I kind of want to revisit the C. Baker and McCoy years at some point to see if they are better now than they were when I was 13 or whatever.

That being said, I am so excited about Capaldi that I only see this as a good thing, and an opportunity for Smith to go out without the maudlin dragging crapfest that Tennant was saddled with upon exiting the show.
posted by Shepherd at 2:10 PM on December 19, 2013


While Smith's certainly had a good run, and certainly put to rest any misgivings about him being the youngest actor ever to play the part, he has made the right showbiz decision in his timing his departure. As P. T. Barnum (or maybe Walt Disney) said, "Always leave 'em wanting more."

Meanwhile, Peter Capaldi's cameo in "The Day of the Doctor" has ratcheted up my anticipation with merely a glimpse of his raised eyebrows and piercing stare.

Incidentally, Strax the Sontaran has issued another Field Report: The Doctors.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:12 PM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


"The uploader has not made this video available in your country."

Is this what's it's like to be Canadian on the Internet?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:13 PM on December 19, 2013 [17 favorites]


I just started watching the new Dr. Who seriously this past month and am up to Season 4 episode 5. It took me almost all of Season 2 to decide that Tennant wasn't an imposter and I'm approaching the Smith years with dread that its going to take me until Capaldi retires to be persuaded that anyone but Tennant is Dr. Who.

That said, I did see the 50th anniversary special and even I, a neophyte, thought the cameo of Capaldi's eyes kicked ass.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:13 PM on December 19, 2013


Has any previous Doctor received this much media fawning over their departure?

No. Remember, though, Dr. Who has never been as worldwide-popular as it has now become, especially under Smith's tenure. A lot of that has to do with BBC America picking the show up here in the US, following a painful, months-delayed, run on SciFi Channel. Tossing in some co-production money hasn't hurt.

A do agree, too, that Smith is leaving too soon.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:13 PM on December 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think Matt Smith is my favorite, too, and he's how I got my daughter hooked on DW. I convinced her to watch his first episode with me, and after that first season we worked our way back through Tennant and Ecclestone.

I'm really just commenting now to get this thread in my Recent Activity for next week, to be honest.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:15 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Matt Smith, American Psycho

Critical responses
posted by Bwithh at 2:16 PM on December 19, 2013


DAVIDSON, YO. DAVIDSON IS THE BEST.
I HAVE A CRICKET BAT AND JAUNTY WHITE SWEATER FOR ANY WHO SAY OTHERWISE.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:17 PM on December 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Matt Smith's ultimate episode SPOILERS!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:18 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


No. Remember, though, Dr. Who has never been as worldwide-popular as it has now become, especially under Smith's tenure. A lot of that has to do with BBC America picking the show up here in the US, following a painful, months-delayed, run on SciFi Channel. Tossing in some co-production money hasn't hurt.

Exactly this. The initial reboot made very little waves on TV over here at all in 2005. SciFi eventually picked it up but since it's a US cable channel, there were always missing bits of the episodes. (I realized this once I actually got to watch the entire run on DVD later.) Then SciFi dropped it. Then BBC America picked it up way late into the Tennant run.

Something happened when Smith became the newest Doctor. Suddenly the whole thing exploded into a level of popularity I really didn't see coming. People that made fun of me loving my childhood show were now excited about it. It still strikes me as strange, tbh.
posted by Kitteh at 2:19 PM on December 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


DAVIDSON, YO. DAVIDSON IS THE BEST.

"Ooh, I'm the Doctor, I can save the universe with a kettle and a piece of string, and ooh, look at me, I'm wearing a vegetable!"
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:22 PM on December 19, 2013 [15 favorites]


Great videos and nice post. Glad to have a place to start chatting.

THAT SAID... I remain ever so slightly annoyed by our habit of making "Something Big Is About to Happen with Doctor Who!" posts, because when said big thing actually happens, it's nowhere to be found on the front page and you actually have to scan back through a week or so worth of posts to find an aging topic already several hundred comments deep.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:23 PM on December 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


Something happened when Smith became the newest Doctor. Suddenly the whole thing exploded into a level of popularity I really didn't see coming. People that made fun of me loving my childhood show were now excited about it. It still strikes me as strange, tbh.

I actually remember when Smith was cast, I was like "oh cool a celebrity crush I can have all to myself" (as an American who did not then know any other women who watched the show). I imagined that if I saw him on an NYC street, I'd be the only person to recognize him.

This very swiftly became Not The Case. It's kinda crazy how fast, actually.

PS: Don't discount Netflix's affect on Doctor Who's US popularity. Most people I know who are into it- including myself- first saw it there.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:28 PM on December 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


Well, then there's Rececemt Activity and the dance of removing it and reading it when you've had a chance to watch the thing...
posted by Artw at 2:29 PM on December 19, 2013


PS: Don't discount Netflix's affect on Doctor Who's US popularity. Most people I know who are into it- including myself- first saw it there.

+1

(Speaking of which, any word on when Season 7 will be available on Netflix?)
posted by The Gooch at 2:31 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pertwee forever and I will vanquish all who disagree with Venusian aikido.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:31 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember when Smith was cast too. They chose a picture of him in which he looked like an emo boy and when I later met friends at the bar, we spent the night making Emo Doctor jokes about him. "I bet he takes the TARDIS to a My Chemical Romance show!" "I bet there's going to be a lot of bad poetry writing in the TARDIS!", etc.
posted by Kitteh at 2:37 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I recently started binge-watching the show on Netflix with increasing fervour. Then I hit the Matt Smith episodes, and it very quickly became drudgery. Maybe I'll appreciate him more after a break.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 2:42 PM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Maybe I'll appreciate him more after a break.

Pssst. you won't. your first instincts are right, imho.
posted by MoxieProxy at 2:43 PM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I recently started binge-watching the show on Netflix with increasing fervour. Then I hit the Matt Smith episodes, and it very quickly became drudgery. Maybe I'll appreciate him more after a break.

I did the same thing and had the same reaction. You are not alone!
posted by saturday_morning at 2:51 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if there's a correlation between binge-watching and Smith dislike. Since I've watched the Smith years in real time, so to speak, I tend to remember good episodes and just kind of mentally skip over bad ones, but I imagine a patch of bad ones when you're mainlining them would really feel like a sour note.

Smith has had some of the best moments in the series, but also has hit some prolonged bouts with drudgery that, when I think back (pretty much anything that has to do with the initially delightful, eventually interminable, River Song) that I can see really getting on people's nerves if they're just downing the episodes in one steady stream.

No other actor I've ever seen has managed to do the turn-on-a-time transformation from energetic, fun-loving universe-hopper to weary, haunted, 1000-year-old-man like Smith does. Some have been good at fun-loving universe-hopper and others have been good as Solemn Thinkers, but Smith can just nail both in the span of 30 seconds, which never fails to amaze me.
posted by Shepherd at 2:53 PM on December 19, 2013 [18 favorites]


I remember when Smith was cast too. They chose a picture of him in which he looked like an emo boy and when I later met friends at the bar, we spent the night making Emo Doctor jokes about him. "I bet he takes the TARDIS to a My Chemical Romance show!" "I bet there's going to be a lot of bad poetry writing in the TARDIS!"

I saw a lot of that kind of "what is this emo boy fuckery" reaction as well - at first. Then they released video of an interview with him, where you got to see Matt in his full gangly flaily twitchy glory. And all those same people who'd been complaining, after they saw it, all said, "Ohhhhhh, now I get it."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:53 PM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


My favourite of the new Who. Rather sad he had to act in awful stories.
posted by juiceCake at 2:55 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I kind of want to revisit the C. Baker and McCoy years at some point to see if they are better now than they were when I was 13 or whatever.

Most of the stories are kinda crappy, but I think both were great, despite what they were given. C. Baker had a terrible outfit (which, apparently, he hated) and some really annoying companions, but was also delightfully (and sometimes disturbingly) deranged. Has there ever been a Doctor who in a moment of insanity attempted to strangle his companion to death? McCoy is also great, and a very Machiavellian Doctor; Ace is one of the best companions in the history of the show. And even though the episodes get increasingly bizarre, the surreal camp of some of them are actually kind of amazing.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:01 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


"The Eleventh Hour" was such a marvelous beginning for Smith, a person could be forgiven for having forgotten how lousy the following cluster of episodes was.

He (and the Moffat run in general) gets better.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:04 PM on December 19, 2013


I still never felt like Smith quite matured into the version of the character I wanted to see. I'm not sure why or how, though. But he just feels less fully formed than Ten did.

Curious if we'll get one last River Song appearance after Capaldi's regeneration. Still think that's been foreshadowed from the beginning.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:06 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


By far the weirdest Doctor, like a katamari of all the weirdness of the Doctor's whole 900 years. It is very easy to imagine him living in a junkyard, playing the recorder, wearing frilly shirts (frilly shirts are cool), concealing jelly babies in his vast scarf, nibbling on the celery boutonniere he wears in his coat of many colours and twirling his Riddler cane. Possibly simultaneously.

I'm not sure that he's my favorite Doctor, primarily because I don't think I have a favorite Doctor, but The Eleventh Hour is what I use to introduce newbies to the show. I think his tenure is a perfect place to start.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:08 PM on December 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


DAVIDSON, YO. DAVIDSON IS THE BEST.

Surely good enough to warrant getting his name right, at a minimum.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:09 PM on December 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


See, I have the opposite reaction to many of you when it came to Smith: the RTD-run episodes, were, to me, frequently in the D to F range. Childish, bounding thoughtlessly from on-the-nose metaphor to barely-there plot to hat-brained idea, etc. I couldn't abide most of them.

At least the first season of Moffat's run had nothing, I feel, that merited worse than a C, and while it got worse (I loved The Lodger; I loathed its sequel; I loved Blink; I disliked-or-hated anything else with Angels, which continued to cheapen the idea), it still had a better hit rate than it did during RTD's era. I had no affection for half of the big! movie-sized! last season for Smith, though. A Town Called Mercy? Blegh.

So because of that, I feel far more affection for Smith (non-RTD, although cursed with some stinkers) and Eccleston (who had some stinkers but at least had fewer episodes than Tennant).

Also it looks like Orla Brady, who played Elizabeth Bishop on Fringe, is going to be in this episode, so that's nice.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 3:13 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll be glad to see Matt Smith go. I wish they'd boot out Moffat, too. Smith's been enjoyable, and grown into it. But the stories have been overall so very terribly whiz-bang that it makes Davies' run of the show look like serious drama.
posted by Catblack at 3:19 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm another one who quickly binge-watched the entire Eccleston and Tennant seasons and then had difficulty slogging through the Smith episodes (it has taken me close to a year to get through seasons 5 & 6 after finishing the first 4 and all the specials within a couple months).

At least for me this has absolutely nothing to do with Smith's performance (which I think has been fantastic and Amy Pond may be my favorite companion) and everything to do with the many complicated, difficult to follow, often boring multi-episode arcs that have accompanied his tenure.
posted by The Gooch at 3:22 PM on December 19, 2013


I love the Eleventh Doctor, but he's smart to leave now.

Every Doctor has had to soldier through crap episodes. It's part of the tradition!

Also, Karen Gillan is super adorable with a shaved head.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:22 PM on December 19, 2013


So because of that, I feel far more affection for Smith (non-RTD, although cursed with some stinkers) and Eccleston (who had some stinkers but at least had fewer episodes than Tennant).

Same here, actually. I loved RTD's first season, but started to really sour on him during Tennant's run. I did not like Martha's whole unrequited love for the Doctor plotline (though I liked Martha), I adored Donna but couldn't abide her ending, and then the four specials featured the Tenth Doctor getting more and more unbearable. Plus all that business with the Master left me completely cold. When I go back to the Tenth Doctor's episodes, there aren't many left that I genuinely enjoy rewatching, and I've pretty much hated all of RTD's finale episodes except for the first two seasons.

But with Smith and Moffat's run, there are more Eleventh Doctor episodes I wholeheartedly like, I've probably rewatched The Eleventh Hour more than any other episode of Doctor Who, and for all that Moffat's finales can be messes, they don't actively infuriate and/or bore me. I am pretty well sick of multi-episode arcs though. I'd like a season of standalones with maybe some searching for Gallifrey thrown in.
posted by yasaman at 3:24 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


As much as I am looking forward to Capaldi, I really wish we had more years of Smith and it was Moffat who was leaving. Great writer, not the greatest showrunner.

Now if Moffat were leaving and they were turning over creative reins to Wright, Pegg, and Frost, then we'd have something.

Also, Troughton and T.Bakes are the best I will pelt you with jelly babies if you disagree.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 3:29 PM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I kind of want to revisit the C. Baker and McCoy years

C. Baker...was also delightfully (and sometimes disturbingly) deranged. Has there ever been a Doctor who in a moment of insanity attempted to strangle his companion to death?

I can't talk about the sixth Doctor without first issuing a trigger warning for domestic violence and spousal abuse. Immediately after regenerating into #6 the Doctor negs his companion Peri, makes wild and baseless accusations, strangles her, then informs her that he intends to isolate her from her friends and family by keeping her away from Earth forever, to serve him. That's text, not subtext. That's his first episode. There's no redeeming that, and little from his subsequent run is worth remembering. Even his crossover with the Second Doctor is nothing to write home about.

The Seventh Doctor (McCoy) was my Doctor growing up, and I'd say he's one of the best. Dresses like a clown, bluffs like slightly psychic paper is for amateurs, plots like a chessmaster, and seems at heart to be a malevolent little troll who is just barely redeemed by his paternal love for Ace. The best of his work is among the best of the show. If you only watch one episode, try "Curse of Fenric," currently on Netflix. Soviet agents versus Merman Vampires is just the start of it.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:31 PM on December 19, 2013


Curious if we'll get one last River Song appearance after Capaldi's regeneration.

I hope so. River's my favorite of the Smith-era characters.

What I'd really like to see is the producers (and BBC) drop the pretense of Who being a kid's show and do some good, solid time-travel sci-fi episodes that don't involve running-around like scared cats yelling constantly about how we're all going to die, waving the sonic around. Honestly, I'd love to ban any concept of death, killing, etc. for awhile. It's gotten to be a lazy crutch on Who.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:31 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am pretty well sick of multi-episode arcs though. I'd like a season of standalones with maybe some searching for Gallifrey thrown in.

More 2 parters! Though I understand that they decided against doing any more of those for some reason.
posted by Artw at 3:31 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hint: It IS a kids show.
posted by Artw at 3:32 PM on December 19, 2013


Hint: It IS a kids show.
Not anymore. Not by a long shot.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:33 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The 2-parters were a hard sell for viewers, and they didn't cost any less. I'm bummed that they're gone, too, but whaddyagonnado.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:34 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Moffat seems intent on making the show ever-more hyperkinetic and anxiety-inducing. I get enough of that in my real life. I haven't seem the past couple seasons as a result.

Well, that and the difficulty getting the episodes without cable.
posted by jiawen at 3:51 PM on December 19, 2013


I can't talk about the sixth Doctor without first issuing a trigger warning for domestic violence and spousal abuse. Immediately after regenerating into #6 the Doctor negs his companion Peri, makes wild and baseless accusations, strangles her, then informs her that he intends to isolate her from her friends and family by keeping her away from Earth forever, to serve him. That's text, not subtext. That's his first episode. There's no redeeming that, and little from his subsequent run is worth remembering. Even his crossover with the Second Doctor is nothing to write home about.

I can totally see that, and I didn't mean to suggest that his violence is, you know, a "good" thing. Just rather that his darkness and mental instability made him, to me, a very interesting take on the Doctor. Although I've been watching the show since PBS first started airing Tom Baker's run, I'm not, like some fans, insistent on the idea that the Doctor has to be always admirable, lovable, heroic, nonviolent, whatever. I enjoy seeing things that make him a more complex, challenging character.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:52 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Curious if we'll get one last River Song appearance after Capaldi's regeneration.

If it involves her total and complete no-take-backsies annihilation in a supernova, I am all for the idea.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:01 PM on December 19, 2013 [13 favorites]


I hope so. River's my favorite of the Smith-era characters.

Mine too. The library two-parter is actually what got me hooked on the show, even though I'm not sure that her later/earlier (in her own timeline) appearances lived up to that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:03 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Question Re: River Song

Did we ever see the Doctor give her the sonic screwdriver that she then shows him in the library?

Also, you may remember my obsession with Susan Foreman. My current theory (hope) is that Clara turns out to be the daughter of the Doctor and River, and that Clara will someday give birth to Susan! And then Susan is sent back to Doctor #1 to be raised safely in Gallifrey.
posted by MoxieProxy at 4:11 PM on December 19, 2013


Hint: It IS a kids show.

One that the showrunners say should be enjoyable by adults. To quote Davies himself in the book "Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter", page 323:
There's this great misconception that the Slitheen are for kids, and episodes like Human Nature and The Family of Blood are for adults. In fact, adults can enjoy daft green monsters, and kids can appreciate emotional, grown-up drama.
Or Moffat:
It's aimed at kids and adults. And why should anyone care about this? If you watch it, then it's for you. It shouldn't matter. I mean the specific thing about it being a children's program, is that it follows the imperatives and narrative rules and the joy of children's fiction. If you watch Doctor Who at 9 pm at night [as you do in the United States] it's going to seem a bit odd. It's energetic. The Doctor walks straight out of the TARDIS and into trouble, and you accept it. The Master becomes Prime Minister of Britain, and you accept it. It's got all the brio and vigor of Harry Potter, Narnia and Star Wars. That doesn't mean it doesn't appeal to adults. Star Wars, the most successful film franchise ever, is explicitly for children, but adults love it. Doctor Who is my favorite thing in the world. If you're in Britain, we'll show you the sticker books [and] the lunchboxes. In the schoolyard on Monday, they're all talking about Doctor Who. That doesn't mean it's childish. It's very sophisticated.
And by the time RTD created Torchwood any idea that he viewed the DW universe as a children's thing went completely out the window.

Just because it's made for children, doesn't mean it has to be bad (compare, say, that goddamn animated turkey-film from this Thanksgiving to something like Finding Nemo).

It's also the only inventive bit of sci-fi on the airwaves right now and I'm a bit saddened at how unabashedly bad it can get. I don't mind the Doctor immediately landing in trouble, every single week. It's the bad writing, lame characters, and mediocre plots that make me sad.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 4:12 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow, you guys are awful defensive about watching a kids show. Maybe I should call it a family show to make you feel better.
posted by Artw at 4:24 PM on December 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Did we ever see the Doctor give her the sonic screwdriver that she then shows him in the library?

Nope, though we've seen the moment just before, which is also just before Trenzalore, in one of the "Night and the Doctor" shorts.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:30 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The "First Night" and "Last Night" Night and the Doctor shorts really should have been fit into actual episodes instead of straight-to-DVD shorts. A few good pieces of the River storyline click into place there.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:36 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, you guys are awful defensive about watching a kids show. Maybe I should call it a family show to make you feel better.

"Too childish for adults, it was at the same time occasionally felt to be unsuitable for children of a more timid disposition" was how the BBC's audience report summed up audience reaction to "An Unearthly Child" (which was a pretty mild episode compared to what the Doctor would quickly get up to).

Sydney Newman's background notes covered the paradoxical appeal of his genre-defying proposed programme:
"But we are not writing Science Fiction. We shall provide scientific explanations too, sometimes, but we shall not bend over backwards to do so, if we decide to achieve credibility by other means. Neither are we writing fantasy: the events have got to be credible to the three ordinary people who are our main characters, and they are sharp-witted enough to spot a phoney. I think the writer's safeguard here will be, if he remembers that he is writing for an audience aged fourteen... the most difficult, critical, even sophisticated, audience there is, for TV."
Adults and children are both willing to accept a lower grade of material for the sake of entertainment and distraction. It needs a bright adolescent to take this kind of show as seriously as it deserves while still delighting in it.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:39 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's also the only inventive bit of sci-fi on the airwaves right now and I'm a bit saddened at how unabashedly bad it can get. I don't mind the Doctor immediately landing in trouble, every single week. It's the bad writing, lame characters, and mediocre plots that make me sad.

flibbertigibbet, speaking as someone who grew up on the diamonds in the dungheap of late-era old-Who, I am gladdened by how bad how unabashedly bad new-Who usually isn't.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:49 PM on December 19, 2013


I am pretty well sick of multi-episode arcs though.

They sort of solve the problem of the fact that the writers want to stuff about 65 minutes of plot (what used to fill out 4 20-miinute serials) into 45 minutes of show, but they introduce problems of their own. They'd do better in a world where each new episode of Who wasn't the Biggest Boldest Best Ever!
posted by immlass at 5:10 PM on December 19, 2013


I really wish they'd just cut it out with the corny motorcycle chases and such.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:11 PM on December 19, 2013


Hint: It IS a kids show.
Not anymore. Not by a long shot.


Emo show I'd say. Well, sorry, not quite accurate, super duper like this is seriously the most emo you can get like ever in this universe and all the other quantum universes emo show x trillions.
posted by juiceCake at 5:13 PM on December 19, 2013


I don't watch Dr. Who, but this is all over the internet, and I find it genuinely unsettling.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:15 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


If it involves her total and complete no-take-backsies annihilation in a supernova, I am all for the idea.

I would like the opportunity to favourite this Russel T. Davies/Steven Moffat style but the Internet on this planet and every other one past, future, and present across at least 20 billion universes would choke on it.
posted by juiceCake at 5:16 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


"The uploader has not made this video available in your country."

I think this is the video, maybe someone can confirm. Try it before it gets taken down: Strax Field Report

"Little is known of the 8th Doctor's exploits except that he chose to become a female for this incarnation."
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:16 PM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Did we ever see the Doctor give her the sonic screwdriver?

It's supposed to be a family show...
posted by Renoroc at 5:31 PM on December 19, 2013 [20 favorites]


There really isn't as much distinction between child and adult fiction as many people think. Children seem to need fewer and better words, that is all. Almost all of my work over the last twenty years has been involved with making books for small children and I really don't see it as in any way diminishing. One of my favourite TV series of the last ten years has been In the Night Garden, which is beautiful and silly and funny and sometimes oddly sad but always ends well and has a target audience that are supposed to be asleep by seven o'clock at night. People are people. Some of them are big, and some of them are small.

I think Doctor Who over the last three years has been one of the most remarkable television series of an era dedicated to spitting out remarkable television series like camels spit out whatever that stuff camels spit is. It has been a persistent and ongoing pleasure to see what happens next. If only we could say so much of life.
posted by Grangousier at 6:07 PM on December 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


The Card Cheat: Fans know that as the drunk giraffe dance.
posted by plastic_animals at 6:12 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


You guys should you know that all of you are wrong that there are differences in the quality of Who eras. I binge watched all of the new Who and didn't find any of the different portrayals to be much better or worse than the previous.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:21 PM on December 19, 2013


I wish they would SLOW DOWN. I'm sick of being introduced to some new monster, fighting it, and stopping it in 45 minutes flat. The older series had more of a travelogue feel - over several episodes you could really get the sense that you're stranded somewhere for some time with them as they leave the TARDIS behind and really get down and dirty with the natives. I wish the new show had that same lavish feeling. These running gimmicks like "Bad Wolf" and "Silence Will Fall" are a lousy substitute for an actual story arc.
posted by scrowdid at 6:25 PM on December 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


It really must have been nerve wracking making the old serials, knowing that if one's a dud you're stuck with like four weeks of it before you can move on to something new.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:44 PM on December 19, 2013


I mean seriously, imagine if "Fear Her" were a four-week serial.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:46 PM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Jason: well, on the plus side you would only have to deal with about 22 minutes of crap per week, which sort of lessens the impact.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:54 PM on December 19, 2013


Wow, Fear Her. What were they thinking? You know an episode is rubbish when you have to actually TELL the audience how they're supposed to feel.
posted by orrnyereg at 6:57 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just want to see Capaldi travel through time and space to deliver a serious bollocksing (sp?)
posted by angrycat at 2:37 AM on December 20, 2013


bollocksing (sp?)

Bollocking. We are arch and restrained, which is why we only use one bollock in this matter. There are rumours that Churchill may have used two at some points, but they are unsubstantiated. It was less of an issue midway through the war however, as Hitler could both famously give quite the bollocking and only had one to use (the other was in the Albert Hall after a suspected SOE action).

I hope this was helpful.
posted by jaduncan at 3:24 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Matt Smith was fine, but his entire run was just awful. I realized the other day that seasons 5-7 tell the story of The Doctor discovering he's a character on a TV show.
posted by Legomancer at 6:10 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Legomancer:
I realized the other day that seasons 5-7 tell the story of The Doctor discovering he's a character on a TV show.
...that ends with Patrick Troughton escaping from the Land of Fiction after having been imprisoned for centuries.

It's why the universe seems to increasingly revolve around the Doctor - he's the one writing the story from the heart of the Land of Fiction. He eventually makes it so obvious that he wakes himself up. Since this is pre-War Games the Timelords don't actually exist when he returns to his universe - he made them up to replace his far grimmer and banal origins...
posted by charred husk at 7:09 AM on December 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Legomancer: the story of The Doctor discovering he's a character on a TV show.

Have you heard my pitch for a spin-off series?
posted by Rock Steady at 7:20 AM on December 20, 2013


You know an episode is rubbish when you have to actually TELL the audience how they're supposed to feel.

This is a great summary of the key philosophy of the new Who in general, particularly with the soundtrack.
posted by juiceCake at 9:07 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bollocking. We are arch and restrained, which is why we only use one bollock in this matter. There are rumours that Churchill may have used two at some points
Well, sure. But mostly because Hitler couldn't.
posted by genghis at 9:51 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mine too. The library two-parter is actually what got me hooked on the show, even though I'm not sure that her later/earlier (in her own timeline) appearances lived up to that.

If River had only appeared in those two episodes, with the rest of her relationship to the Doctor occurring off-screen, she would have been my favorite short-term companion of all time.

As it is, I HATE HER SO VERY MUCH AND NEVER WANT TO SEE HER AGAIN.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:03 AM on December 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


If her further appearances had been just like The Angels Take Manhattan, showing up as a fellow-traveler for one-off adventures that neither of them expected, that would be great too.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:09 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is a great summary of the key philosophy of the new Who in general, particularly with the soundtrack.

Murray Gold is the musical equivalent of sitting in a movie theatre next to a very large, very loud man who feels the need to explain everything that is happening on the screen, and how it makes him feel, to everyone else in the theatre at all times.
posted by Shepherd at 10:15 AM on December 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, River's a great concept and embodied in one of my favorite ladies, but they kinda wrote it weird. What would fix it, for me, is if she became an actual companion for a season or two now, and you actually *saw* a real, believable love story arc play out. Now that Capaldi is in, it would even be age-appropriate, and the idea of an unstoppable team that honestly anticipates each other's every move would be fun to watch for an episode arc. Then, once you see this epic love story play out between them, go back and watch the original episodes you disliked and suddenly they're totally poignant.

Oh how I hope this is their long game... but I'm afraid it's not.
posted by scrowdid at 10:24 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


And by the time RTD created Torchwood any idea that he viewed the DW universe as a children's thing went completely out the window.

Which is ironic when you consider that Torchwood's idea of "sophisticated adult content" came across like it was conceived by an eight year old.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:37 AM on December 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


I thought we'd all agreed to pretend Torchwood never happened?
posted by Artw at 11:05 AM on December 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh how I hope this is their long game... but I'm afraid it's not.

That's always been my hope, too. After Amy and Rory first left, I honestly thought perhaps we'd get half a series with River as a companion--it could have been a really nicely done thing. But no. Now it seems like we've steamed past the point of the narrative where that's at all likely, which is too bad.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:23 AM on December 20, 2013


I don't recall giving up my right to make fun of Ianto.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:04 PM on December 20, 2013


Murray Gold is the musical equivalent of sitting in a movie theatre next to a very large, very loud man who feels the need to explain everything that is happening on the screen, and how it makes him feel, to everyone else in the theatre at all times.

I'm personally convinced the BBC hired him solely for the purpose of the Proms, because $DEITY knows it's not for the incidental music that's never incidental. Bring back the radiophonics!
posted by immlass at 1:15 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a new preview clip for the Xmas special: Clara and the Doctor try to cook Christmas turkey.

But back to more important topics: arguing about which Doctor had the best regeneration scene.

The most important thing about a regeneration episode/scene for an actor playing the Doctor is not to wait too long to do it. First, there's the show biz adage of Barnum/Disney mentioned earlier: "Always leave 'em wanting more." Just as important, in the wise words of Vanessa Williams, is "Save the best for last"—something that can't be done if all the creative energies have been expended earlier in the run.

Let's run through the regeneration scenes/episodes in order of awesomeness:

#1: Patrick Troughton (3 seasons)
#2: Christopher Eccleston (1 series)
#3: Peter Davison (3 seasons)
#4: William Hartnell (3 seasons)
#5: Paul McGann (1 TV movie)
#6: Jon Pertwee (5 seasons)
#7: David Tennant (4 seasons)
#8: Tom Baker (7 seasons)
#9: Sylvester McCoy (3 seasons + TV Movie)

* Colin Baker (2 seasons) never of course received a regeneration episode, which ultimately may or may not have been a bad thing for him.

The other factor is how many final episodes for individual Doctors were also those for veteran production teams and which of them were clearly burning out, e.g. Russell Davies & company.

Leaving after only three seasons, Matt Smith is following the examples of Hartnell, Troughton, and Davison and is positioning himself for a good last hurrah. Moffat, who's sticking around and showing no sign of leaving, may not be doing himself any favors when and if it comes time for him to write Capaldi's departure (although who knows if that will technically be a regeneration).
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:16 PM on December 20, 2013


The truth, Steve, is that "Knight Rider" is actually a children's program.
posted by heathkit at 1:37 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey, Torchwood's "Children of Earth" was amazing. And featured Capaldi as poor Mr. Frobisher. I think I've watched that ten times. It's legit scary and emotionally affecting. YMMV, of course.
posted by angrycat at 3:08 AM on December 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't believe you guys had a Who thread while I was out getting my drink on.

I am just going to rewatch the Ultimate Doctor bit about Peri's Boobs, and then I am going to watch The Enemy Of The World, because *ahem* MY DVD ARRIVED TODAY AND THIS ONCE LOST STORY IS IN MY HANDS AND OH MY GOD.

Thank you.
posted by Mezentian at 4:50 AM on December 21, 2013


I just want to day that Colin Baker haters need to hear his audio adventures. (start with .. The Pirates...?).

They were trying to do an arc before people understood what it meant, including the people who were making it).

And, also, if we agree to ignore Torchwood, we have to ignore all the good bits: Children Of Earth, Countrycide, They Keep Killing Suzie.... it's not all sex aliens and busty cyberwomen.
posted by Mezentian at 4:58 AM on December 21, 2013


I'm still seeing a net gain.
posted by Artw at 9:16 AM on December 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


The worst part about Torchwood is that the base concept is perfectly decent. It could have been the Angel to Doctor Who's Buffy. Only fitfully did it ever live up to that promise. Most of the time, it was just a bunch of rumpy-pumpy.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:25 AM on December 21, 2013


Take all the 'shocking" bits out and it's basically Agents of SHIELD.

I actually liked what I saw of Sarah Jane Adventures quite a lot.
posted by Artw at 11:36 AM on December 21, 2013


Scooby Doo with blood and tits
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:02 PM on December 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


If they only wanted Torchwood to be shallow titillation, it could still have been a perfectly fine, depth-free show that knew what it was and didn't care - unfortunately, the biggest problem with Torchwood was that nobody really seemed to know what the hell it was supposed to be. The good episodes are when they settle into some semblance of a consistent feel for a while, but that never really held, it was a schizophrenic show.
posted by jason_steakums at 3:53 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sarah Jane Adventures is mostly awesome. People like Phil Ford and RTD did some of their best writing in it instead of the main show.

Torchwood's problems were effectively nailed by Dead Ringers out of the gate.
posted by Mezentian at 4:23 PM on December 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


The whole 'Eleventh Hour' panel from the Doctor Who 50th Celebration. It's allegedly here, but I can't see it.
posted by Mezentian at 4:17 PM on December 22, 2013


jason_steakums: "It really must have been nerve wracking making the old serials, knowing that if one's a dud you're stuck with like four weeks of it before you can move on to something new.

I mean seriously, imagine if "Fear Her" were a four-week serial.
"

But there's a positive side to the old way of doing things. With enough time to work with, you can salvage the worst story and still make it entertaining. Maybe Chloe could turn that London street into a real-life version of her imagination - like Doctor Who crossed with The Regulators, or the "It's a Good Life" episode of Twilight Zone, except with a protagonist who doesn't understand what she's doing. If they had weeks to film and a clear enough idea of what worked and what did not (the Olympics thing), it could be pretty decent by the end.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:51 PM on December 22, 2013


Maybe, but the old way of doing things featured plenty of long-term misses. We just usually politely pass over those in silence.

My thing with Showrunner Moffat is that I think that Sherlock played to his strengths, on a structural level. Three 90 minute episodes, with the series arc jackknifing in the third episode. Moffat's imagination is very cinematic, for better and for worse. Not to say that Doctor Who should be run that way, but many of the problems with Moffat's Who might have been ameliorated if that had been an option - fewer, longer episodes.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:01 AM on December 23, 2013


After Amy and Rory first left, I honestly thought perhaps we'd get half a series with River as a companion--it could have been a really nicely done thing.

The idea of Companion River fills me with ambivalence. 60% of the time she's good-to-wonderful (e.g. Series Five), but 40% of the time she's okay-to-awful (viz. Let's Kill Hitler).
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:04 AM on December 23, 2013


In another thread someone posted a link to a panel someone had with Moffat and Smith and a couple others after the 50th Anniversary show - and Moffat said something wonderful about The Doctor and the kind of hero he is (I'm gonna be paraphrasing):

"They didn't give him a gun, or a sword, or a blaster - they gave him a screwdriver, something you use to fix things. They didn't give him a spaceship or an X-wing fighter - they gave him a box that people used to use to call for help. And what'd they give him for a superpower? Not heat vision or x-ray vision or super strength or anything like that - they gave him an extra heart."

It's absolutely the kind of finding-symbology-in-random-things that only a big fanboy would do, but I really really liked that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:13 AM on December 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's absolutely the kind of finding-symbology-in-random-things that only a big fanboy would do, but I really really liked that.

It's a great metaphoric summation of the Doctor's character, and it's also thoroughgoing bollocks. The details Moffat brings together were all added at various stages in the programme's history, by different creative teams, all for different reasons. Sydney Newman chose a police box because he wanted something visual and mundane rather than the initially proposed invisible TARDIS. Patrick Troughton started using the iconic sonic screwdriver halfway through his run (and then only occasionally). Jon Pertwee was the first Doctor confirmed as having two hearts in his first serial. The Twelve Regenerations—and whatever numeric symbology that entails—wasn't mentioned until Tom Baker's run. Et cetera, et cetera. Part of the secret of Doctor Who's longevity is its gradual development of its mythology, as opposed to springing fully formed from the brow of Verity Lambert.

Consider how far the Doctor character's come from its prototypical description in the background notes: "DR WHO. A frail old man lost in space and time. They give him this name because they don't know who he is. He seems not to remember where he has come from; he is suspicious and capable of sudden malignance; he seems to have some undefined enemy; he is searching for something as well as fleeing from something."

We'll see how much Capaldi's Doctor recalls the character's somewhat anti-heroic roots. One of the tabloids claims they have a huge spoiler about a cameo for "The Time of the Doctor" (hover text to read here).
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:30 AM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Consider how far the Doctor character's come from its prototypical description in the background notes.....

And consider how far your own character has grown and changed from your own youth.

I know that the specific details Moffat was referring to were all added for different reasons than he was saying, and what's more I'm sure he does too. I take his speech as an after-the-fact acknowledgement that, even though they were chosen for different reasons, they are beautifully suited to the kind of creature that The Doctor has grown to become over the past 50 years.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:10 AM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


And consider how far your own character has grown and changed from your own youth.

Quite so, and yet is still recognizably the same person...

One of the many things I love about Doctor Who is that it's come up with its own ingenious solution to reconciling continuity with the problem of character growth in the television medium. In a world of syndicated reruns, characters aren't encouraged to change much once a successful formula for their show has been established. Sci-fi icons Captain Kirk and Mister Spock hardly evolved over the course of the original Star Trek, to say nothing of the long-running M*A*S*H's wacky and irreverent Dr. Hawkeye Pierce, All in the Family's "lovable bigot" Archie Bunker, or Aqua Teen Hunger Force's sociopathic beverage Master Shake. And The Sopranos addressed this implicitly with Tony's failure to move beyond his psychological issues and his criminal enterprises. Novelistic character progression simply isn't on the agenda of the average TV show.

But the Doctor does change, literally and metaphorically, while remaining a hero as recognizable as Sherlock Holmes or James Bond (also notable for the number of actors who played the role, admittedly in more conventional fashion). William Hartnell's portrayal of the character certainly evolved as the programme grew more focused on him after his first companions left. Still, there's a testiness to Tom Baker's Doctor, for instance, that recalls Hartnell's. Beyond that, though, one can argue there's a personal progression behind all the different Doctors, even as the actors pick up cues from their predecessors while creating a new role for themselves, just as Matt Smith was inspired by Patrick Troughton. Incidentally, the best post-regeneration introductory scene for a new Doctor is a tie between David Tennant's and Colin Baker's, for establishing the next iteration based on its predecessor (though we all know how well the Sixth turned out).

Anywho, here's the latest teaser video from the BBC: a Sontaran guide to Christmas.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:38 AM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


This the video EmpressCallipygos mentions.
posted by Mezentian at 1:01 AM on December 24, 2013


If River had only appeared in those two episodes, with the rest of her relationship to the Doctor occurring off-screen, she would have been my favorite short-term companion of all time.

As it is, I HATE HER SO VERY MUCH AND NEVER WANT TO SEE HER AGAIN.
posted by showbiz_liz on ... December 20


Which could have happened, had they been able to cast Kate Winslet.

Instead, her character reminds me of the Weeping Angels and many other baddies - a great concept that got burned to the ground with multiple appearances, each trying to top the others, each somehow lesser than before.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:01 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ooh, those last few minutes were such fun.
posted by rory at 3:50 PM on December 25, 2013


That special was so weird. It would have been awful expect it was Matt's last, so it made some kind of crazy sense. I'm glad Moffat answered a lot of those unanswered questions, but in a very uninspiring way. Oh, well, there's a line drawn under all that stuff and we can start fresh with Capaldi next year.
posted by crossoverman at 4:09 PM on December 25, 2013


Frankly, that was a better send-off than Tennant got.
posted by Kitteh at 5:08 PM on December 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Kitteh: "Frankly, that was a better send-off than Tennant got."

I'm pretty sure the reason I liked the episode more than most of my friends so far is that I made the poor life decision of rewatching End of Time earlier this week. So much horror that I blocked out somehow in the intervening three years...
posted by bettafish at 5:33 PM on December 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


My take is... yes it was rushed and yes it would have been nice to have those dozen plot threads tied up over several episodes rather than an hour and yes the pacing was somewhat off. I also shamelessly loved every minute and cried at the end. So there.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:19 PM on December 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'll probably give the first few episodes of Capaldi's run a try, but that was terribly written in my opinion. It just felt . . . lazy. I enjoyed the 50th special but I'm realizing that I could tolerate almost infinite silliness thanks to Tennant's chops as a comedic and dramatic actor. This was silly but not in a fun way. Usually Moffat does Christmas magic well, at least. But I didn't feel anything except sort of weariness.

Also the Orbis audio drama did the whole Doctor-settles-down-and-forgets-who-he-is so much better.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:41 PM on December 25, 2013


It was lazy and rushed. That was really bad.

I'm still looking forward to Capaldi, though.
posted by homunculus at 8:01 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Frankly, that was a better send-off than Tennant got.

Okay, but being better than The End of Time wouldn't be hard. And at least this was only an hour. End of Time is 135 minutes!

I was moved at the end, sure, but I'm going to miss Matt Smith and I already missed Amy and, boy, Clara still remains a non-entity. I was entirely puzzled by the family Christmas scenes, since we basically know nothing about her life - and the actor playing her father was different.

Anyway, a little bit of Capaldi goes a long way.
posted by crossoverman at 8:04 PM on December 25, 2013


Having given it a little thought (a foolish error, perhaps), my only MAJOR problem with this episode is "We can only come through this crack if we know it's the doctor! Oh, hey, it's the Doctor? Better save him and then close up this here crack!" Like... why? And, for that matter, why not come through any crack at all, anywhere? Why should the Doctor need to be there? He put them in there to begin with! Plus, if they did come through you can bet he'd be there in approximately five seconds.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:25 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Crack! Silence! Doctor Who? Kovarian! Papal Mainframe! I'm just going to have characters say words we've all heard before to give some kind of impression that I've planned this all along! River Song! Amy!

Moffat hasn't really known what he was doing with all those things since it was revealed that River Song is Melody Pond. A pity really.
posted by crossoverman at 10:16 PM on December 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


So. Many. Wigs.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:18 PM on December 25, 2013


This episode spent a lot of time trying to wrap up loose ends from Series 5. I guess there's someone out there who can finally sleep at night after three and a half years wondering why the Tardis exploded.
posted by Gary at 2:25 AM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


That made... no sense.
At all.
I mean, what?
And yet Scottish Accent.
posted by Mezentian at 2:33 AM on December 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Frankly, that was a better send-off than Tennant got.

It felt like it dragged the same, and it was all still "time lord", so, not in my opinion.
It was on par with The End of Time.
posted by Mezentian at 2:34 AM on December 26, 2013


I'm hoping the callbacks and exposition were Moffat's way of settling all family business so he can get a fresh start with Capaldi. Clara is already more or less a blank slate because every time the Doctor picks her up she seems to have a completely different backstory for her "normal" life.

I'm worried we are going to spend another series dropping hints about the Doctor's "real name" being the key to the universe and all the bad guys showing up for cameos at Christmas.
posted by Gary at 3:10 AM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Capaldi already second greatest Who ever! I WILL ACCEPT NO ARGUMENT!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:38 AM on December 26, 2013


[Spoiler ahoy - in case anyone reading this didn't come here for the post-ep discussion.]








I know it was all bollocks, but I loved the way Moffat faced all of the 12-regenerations stuff head-on and then deus-ex-machina'd that sucker. Forty years of Whovians obsessing over a 1970s scriptwriter's throwaway few words, and it's all resolved in... a few words.

Plus, that split-second moment of regeneration was so refreshing after the last few. That look on Capaldi's face in that moment held such wonderful possibilities. Fingers crossed.
posted by rory at 3:41 AM on December 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Having given it a little thought (a foolish error, perhaps), my only MAJOR problem with this episode is "We can only come through this crack if we know it's the doctor! Oh, hey, it's the Doctor? Better save him and then close up this here crack!" Like... why? And, for that matter, why not come through any crack at all, anywhere? Why should the Doctor need to be there?

The Doctor saying his own name wasn't just a way to know it was him, it was a code to let the Time Lords know it was safe to come back through. So Clara telling them it was him but not giving his name sent the message that "it's him, but it's not safe in this universe yet, and in fact he needs help in this universe" so the Time Lords saved The Doctor so he could come back later and try saving them again.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:37 AM on December 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


I like The AV Club's recap.
posted by Kitteh at 5:10 AM on December 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


The episode was awesome and probably one of the best regeneration episodes. I Can't wait to see what Capaldi brings to the role...and was that a Scottish accent I detected toward the end?
posted by Renoroc at 5:30 AM on December 26, 2013


I haven't watched it yet (it's cued up! Just need to get work out of the way to assuage my conscience) but if nothing else I feel confident that it can't be the worst Christmas special because the only thing worse than The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe would be Steven Moffat stepping through my TV and stabbing me in the eyes.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:38 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like a lot of recent Who, I thought it was an incoherent mess that was a ton of fun to watch. I think I've given up on trying to follow the plot - I mean, there was tons of stuff that the AV Club reviewer pointed out that I simply didn't catch. But it's still a huge amount of fun to watch, just for the ride. I really hope the next season brings the show back to simpler adventures and less "giant story arc that changes everything."

Also, after seeing him in the role (albeit for only a few brief minutes), I can't shake the feeling that Capaldi is going to be "one and done" like Eccleston. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think I am.
posted by jbickers at 6:52 AM on December 26, 2013


Whovians obsessing over a 1970s scriptwriter's throwaway few words,

*sharpens axe*

You wanna rethink that description?
"a 1970s scriptwriter"
Because that's Robert Holmes you're sledging.
Shit's gonna go down when the fanboys arrive.
posted by Mezentian at 7:04 AM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm with you jbickers, I think this Doctor is in it for a year or so (one season plus a year of specials). He's a fan and this is a dream job, but Moffat is also clearly on the outs. He'll give the next show-runner a clean break. But what a ride.
posted by Mezentian at 7:07 AM on December 26, 2013


I want to watch the Capaldi episodes with EmpressCallipygos. She's pretty much going to remind me to relax, because it's just a show. I am not sure I agree with her reading, but it would temper my anger.

Also, instead of sharpening my axe, I should have primed my monkeys. Stax would be so disappointed.
posted by Mezentian at 7:24 AM on December 26, 2013


Dude, it's not "my reading" of the show, The Doctor flat-out SAID that was the deal with him saying his name. I mean, yeah, I do have an "it's just a show" outlook in that I don't get pissed if an episode is meh, but they do hang together better than people think and they do tell you how.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:48 AM on December 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure about that. I mean, it's hard. But, and I have watched it the once, but it seemed that on the other side of the Crack is Rassilon and his buddies. I thought that was explicit, but maybe not.

But I squeed at the Five Doctors prop. So, I'm that sort of man.
posted by Mezentian at 8:01 AM on December 26, 2013


I enjoyed it, the plot made sense to me, and for once I didn't feel like the deus ex machina ending made no sense at all or just consisted of handwavium, nor that we needed an extra 20 minutes to resolve the plot. The fast-forward made sense for a change. But my time in comics fandom has taught me to turn off my inner 40-year-old and turn on my inner 10-year-old when I watch Doctor Who. It needs to make enough sense, but not too much.

I'm sad Eleven is gone, but he left me wanting more (unlike Ten). Still, I'm excited for Capaldi. My Whostivus grievance list this year is short.
posted by immlass at 8:27 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Frankly, that was a better send-off than Tennant got.

Colin Baker had a better send off than Tennant got.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:00 AM on December 26, 2013


But, and I have watched it the once, but it seemed that on the other side of the Crack is Rassilon and his buddies. I thought that was explicit, but maybe not.

....Nah, I didn't get that it was Rassilon on the other side, but all of Gallifrey. And the reason he wasn't saying his name was because the Daleks and Cybermen and all sorts of beasties were waiting above the planet for him to do precisely that, so they could then pounce and re-start the Time War.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:03 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


mezentian: i don't think saddling one person with a new-to-them show to run AND a new Doctor is so much "clean break" as "horribly stressful." I think Moffat actually has complained about this very thing. much easier to take the reigns of a beloved show if you arent also trying to break in a new actor and help develop an entirely new personality for the lead character.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:17 AM on December 26, 2013


God, I watched the Tennant send-off prior to last night's episode, and was horrified that they put my doctor through that maudlin mess.

The writing could have been better. I do dislike this *greatest hits* shit they've got to throw into episode. I also thought that Smith and Coleman had a chemistry that was not really well used in this episode. Maybe they were pulling it back because the age difference between Capaldi and Coleman.

I guess there's an implied *this doctor is different*, which would have been more interesting if a) it had been more explicit and b) the reason for the difference was less fucking lame. I mean, what the hell. Speaking of Tennant's send-off, there's a large inconsistency in terms of whether the *spoilers* are assholes are not.
posted by angrycat at 10:00 AM on December 26, 2013


That being said, I enjoyed it and am still a big fan.
posted by angrycat at 10:05 AM on December 26, 2013


Maybe they were pulling it back because the age difference between Capaldi and Coleman.

I was just wondering if this would be an important plot point for next season- the fact that Clara obviously has a bit of a thing for the Doctor (she even says it in this episode, when standing next to the truth tower- "because I fancy-- oh!"). But now, the Doctor is much older and less attractive (arguably), and who knows how else he'll be different? When 9 turned into 10 it was "brooding cute youngish guy turns into manic cute youngish guy," so Rose just had a bit of an adjustment period and then was fine... but going from "impish childlike youngish guy" to "intense-eyed old dude" is a bit more of a shock. How will Clara cope? Will it require her to act, unlike most of her plot thus far? Will the revival's continual insistence on making the Doctor have romantic and sexual relationships continue with Wrinkly Scot Doctor? We shall find out in eight freakin months I guess!

(Of course if you wanna get technical, Clara has seen every other Doctor ever, and so ought to be the best-prepared of any companion in history to accept this change with grace. Does she remember all that? I can't recall.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:07 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sad to see Matt Smith go, and very excited to see what Capaldi brings to the table, but count me among those who did not enjoy this episode very much. The "greatest hits" feeling that angrycat mentions is exactly right.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:29 AM on December 26, 2013


So...he dies of old age and now his regeneration has a blast radius that wipes out his enemies. Is this what is meant by mailing it in or were the prior episodes done so shoddily that this was the only possible resolution?
posted by asra at 11:13 AM on December 26, 2013


I do dislike this *greatest hits* shit they've got to throw into episode.

I didn't mind them tying up the mysteries but the GREATEST THING EVER is one of Moffat's weaknesses, not that it was any better under RTD, and it may be a structural problem of Nu Who. When Doctor Who was on all the time, it wasn't occasion telly, except for the very few anniversary specials. Now we get 13-episode seasons plus Christmas specials, so out of fourteen, we get three guaranteed Special Episodes, or four if we get a midseason break. That's too much special compared to everyday episodes/serials.
posted by immlass at 11:18 AM on December 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


The Daily Dot pretty much covered this for me. (massive spoilers, obv.) Such a confusing letdown after enjoying the 50th so much. I wish they'd bring in a new show runner and companion - I think 11 deserved much better than this.
posted by Space Kitty at 1:05 PM on December 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Damn the critics and wet blankets. This was everything that the best Doctor Who stories are. A huge mess, a glorious, tittering, giddy mess that left me in tears and screaming for more. Watching it in a restaurant with others, when the moment of Capaldi arrived in an instant there was literally a collective gasp. Everyone bracing, shocked and not knowing how to handle this like we just were not ready for it to end. But before we even had 1 second to register our shock, we met a new man and readied for the future.
posted by mediocre at 1:22 PM on December 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Damn the critics and wet blankets.

The blankets are wet because Moffat peed on them.

Steven Moffat stepping through my TV and stabbing me in the eyes.

Stab him back. You will be doing everyone a great service and you will be honored for your sacrifice.
posted by homunculus at 1:28 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


> The blankets are wet because Moffat peed on them.

Lawrence Miles, is that you?
posted by mediocre at 1:31 PM on December 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's Robert Holmes you're sledging.

I've never connected the 12-regenerations thing with anyone in particular, because The Deadly Assassin wasn't shown on Australian television during my formative years, and I've still never seen it. So all this "limit of twelve" stuff has been a trope of the New Who years as far as I've been concerned, rather than part of some Old Who Testament.

But I'll temper my comment. "Whovians obsessing over a 1970s scriptwriter-and-script-editor's few words which could have been either throwaway or a mischievous attempt to mess with future writers and producers of the show."

Shit's gonna go down when the fanboys arrive.

I'll be hiding behind this couch.
posted by rory at 1:45 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ugh, I loathed that episode. Such a horrible mess that barely made sense, maybe if you only squint sideways at it and not too closely.

Soooo.... the time Vortex was enough to drive The Master mad from looking into it, and Jack died from clinging to the outside much as Clara did...but Clara was just, I dunno, a bit cold from her ride?

So while I know the Impossible Astronaut didn't happen, really, explain how the Doctor started to regenerate there when shot?

Look, I can stretch my suspension of disbelief as far as any, but at least keep somewhat to your own world-building, you know? The two things I mentioned above are just a couple annoying points I could have overlooked if the rest was plausible and made sense. As it is, they're the straws that break the back of this ridiculous camel of a plot.
posted by Windigo at 1:47 PM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, the whole nekkid Clara and Doctor, what was the remotest point of that? The wig part was a giggle, but really, couldn't they have used all that time to actually flesh out the plot a bit more?
posted by Windigo at 1:50 PM on December 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


> keep somewhat to your own world-building

I've said it previously. But I feel like a lot of people who criticize Who do so for consistency, continuity, and canon issues. Thing is, Doctor Who has from the very beginning gleefully ignored its own continuity. It is as though the harshest critics are the ones who want a show that Doctor Who is not, never was, nor ever claimed to be.
posted by mediocre at 1:57 PM on December 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


No, that's not true. The show DID try to keep its ducks slightly more in order in the past. Of course it's gleefully ridic and handwavy and that's one of its charms - but at some point a line does have to be drawn, or you're left with a complete mess such as last night's show.
posted by Windigo at 2:01 PM on December 26, 2013


There is not a single element of the Doctor Who mythology that has not been controverted, contradicted, or one hundred percent been ignored when the story at hand necessitates it. Even the most basic bits, he is actually named Doctor Who (no wait, he's The Doctor), what to call the time machine (Susan came up with the term TARDIS, wait, no, the Time Lords defined the term TARDIS when they were invented/grown), regeneration (it's a renewal, Troughton sees Hartnell when he looks into a mirror and says Time Lords can barring accidents live forever.. no wait, Time Lords can die of old age it just takes an extraordinarily long time and there is a 12 regeneration limit.. no wait..) the list goes on..
posted by mediocre at 2:09 PM on December 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


mediocre: Watching it in a restaurant with others, when the moment of Capaldi arrived in an instant there was literally a collective gasp.

That was a great moment, but I still don't understand why we got Young Matt Smith back for a minute there to do the regenerating.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:15 PM on December 26, 2013


I'm sure someone could come up with a story based reason. The fact that this was the first regeneration of a fully new regeneration cycle means it will have a few quirks we aren't accustomed to or something..

But really, its because they needed Matt to have the big bomby destroy the Daleks with regeneration energy moment AND have him make a heartbreaking speech. Notice how he casts a sidelong glance almost-but-not-quite-directly-into-camera fourth wall moment when he says "I will always remember when The Doctor was me." Kind of hard to do both of those at once.
posted by mediocre at 2:18 PM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Though I was really hoping that they would have put Capaldis face into the first few frames of the closing credits in the manner that they did for the Davison/Baker regeneration. It would have been a great way to hammer home that things are different now.
posted by mediocre at 2:24 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


..but Clara was just, I dunno, a bit cold from her ride?

But *waves hands about wildly* Clara has previously stepped into The Doctor's Timeline (after he died... but did that even happen now?) and was split across all of time and space, so she's probably okay with the Vortex.

That is the best I've got, and I am even more confused now than I was a second ago.
posted by Mezentian at 3:12 PM on December 26, 2013


and I've still never seen it.

I think it's worth seeing.

I'm with you, I've have been fine with handwaving away the regeneration limit, especially we we could have had the Doctor not flicking his wrist and destroying yet another Dalek fleet.
posted by Mezentian at 3:16 PM on December 26, 2013


yet another Dalek fleet

The more Daleks that appear in a episode, the less scary they are. This wasn't an ironclad rule in Classic Who, but it is in the new series. The scariest they've been since the reboot is in Nine's single-Dalek episode.
posted by immlass at 3:31 PM on December 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


The Doctor clearly said that the TARDIS extended its protective field around Clara as it traveled through the vortex.
posted by mediocre at 3:42 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm going to link to feelinglistless' review because I think it captures why even though some of us are happy to handwave certain idiosyncrasies in Doctor Who storytelling and canon, this episode is a big old mess - and dramatically inert. Like, there's literally no dramatic tension in the whole episode. We get the 13th-and-final thing explained halfway through the episode and fixed with a TimeLord-ex-machina... but apart from that, things just happened. Narrated by a character we've never seen before.
posted by crossoverman at 3:46 PM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


...well, I thought the whole idea of The Doctor settling down in one place for hundreds of years to be quite touching, so....tttthhhhhhhbbbbbbbffffffff.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:56 PM on December 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Doctor clearly said that the TARDIS extended its protective field around Clara as it traveled through the vortex.

Further fanwanking about this: Jack got killed clinging to the outside of the TARDIS because the TARDIS didn't much like him and his fixed-point-ness. Presumably she didn't see fit to extend the force field around him, especially knowing that he'd be fine anyway. As for not going crazy looking at the Time Vortex, presumably poor Clara was just clinging to the side with her eyes closed.

I agree that this felt dramatically inert and was a bit of a mess, but I didn't hate it. I don't care that the regeneration limit was Timelord ex-machina'd away, because I never cared about the limit anyway and always figured it would be.

I don't know, even when Moffat's finales are complete messes, I feel a sort of fondness for them anyway. I too found myself surprisingly touched by the idea of the the Doctor settling down in Christmas for centuries, just to avoid making a terrible, impossible choice. I think it was a nice continuation of him refusing to destroy Gallifrey. Staying wouldn't have been a decision the Ninth or Tenth Doctors would have made, I don't think, so it had real resonance that the Eleventh Doctor did so.

I find I'm much more willing to roll with Moffat's finales when I remind myself they're essentially fairy tales. And there's no use getting caught up with nitpicking or small details in fairy tales.
posted by yasaman at 4:10 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


And there's no use getting caught up with nitpicking or small details in fairy tales.

But how then can we spend endless hours wondering if Tasha Lem is River Song or not? Or why Handles had Mr Smith's voice?

I did like Handles.
posted by Mezentian at 4:17 PM on December 26, 2013


I've said it previously. But I feel like a lot of people who criticize Who do so for consistency, continuity, and canon issues. Thing is, Doctor Who has from the very beginning gleefully ignored its own continuity. It is as though the harshest critics are the ones who want a show that Doctor Who is not, never was, nor ever claimed to be.

Fortunately most of the criticism has little to do with continuity but is focused on how over the top melodramatic the series has become.
posted by juiceCake at 5:08 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Behind the scenes docco if anyone is interested.
posted by Mezentian at 5:19 PM on December 26, 2013


Handles WAS the best thing about it, yes.
posted by Windigo at 5:29 PM on December 26, 2013


Handles: more personality than Clara.
posted by crossoverman at 6:14 PM on December 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


...well, I thought the whole idea of The Doctor settling down in one place for hundreds of years to be quite touching, so....tttthhhhhhhbbbbbbbffffffff.

It's a great IDEA. Poorly executed.
posted by crossoverman at 6:15 PM on December 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have to say, Handles wasn't voiced by the guy who did Mr Smith. I am shocked.
posted by Mezentian at 6:58 PM on December 26, 2013


Eh, I thought it was a decent episode. Kind of... utilitarian in parts. Like, running down a checklist of loose ends. Moffat's episodes don't normally feel like they're too short to me, but this one could have used a bit more time to show-not-tell those bits - like, it would have been cool to actually see Kovarian's schism during the siege of Trenzalore. But there was plenty to enjoy, and I didn't actively dislike any of it. Clara hanging onto the TARDIS: yep, it was actively trying to shake Jack off, and she was able to handle jumping into the Doctor's timestream so she's probably resilient to the Vortex. (Also the Vortex making you nuts is a little wishy-washy anyways, since plenty of people have taken rides bodily through it as a matter of routine with the Vortex Manipulator.) Explodey regeneration and being temporarily young again: he mentioned that it was due to the new regeneration cycle. Those little things didn't bother me. There was a ton of blink-and-you'll-miss-it explanation in the 50th too and I loved that, so I don't think those little quibbles are where the episode went wrong.

I think maybe the biggest thing is that we kind of paused the story of the first few seasons with "The Wedding of River Song" and went off on some other story tangents in season 7 and the specials, and now we're coming back to it and it's jarring and disconnected and rushed. This story could have worked just fine with a bare minimum of change (minus Clara though) if it went Season 6 > 50th > This. But since we last saw tons of plot points from this special at the end of the season 6 finale, they could have maybe made it known during season 7 that these dropped threads were still out there and waiting to be resolved - a crack here, a Silent there, a freaking proper introduction to Tasha Lem somewhere in season 7, and the regeneration limit bomb dropping muuuch earlier (even before Hurt's reveal, he wouldn't have needed to be all "I am the last regeneration!" so much as just, y'know, making it clearly known that the limit of 13 still stands, way earlier).

Speaking of the 50th, I thought it was a nice touch that 11 didn't quite remember everything that happened - traditionally it's the eldest Doctor in a teamup that remembers it clearly or at all, and it seems like they're sticking with that with 11 being foggy on the events. That would mean everyone but 12 has foggy or nonexistent memories of the real outcome of the Time War... aaaand, I've got $5 on 11 not remembering the encounter with Tom Baker in the museum, because in my heart Tom Baker really was a future Doctor spilling the beans on his own future to 11, knowing he'd forget.

I do like the idea that's been floating around that The Master tossed that regeneration energy out of the crack, and I hope we catch up with him and Dalton's Rassilon doing their thing some time (with a regenerated Master with a proper evil goatee!). And I really really hope Clara is actually given screen time to get fleshed out now - the difference between her and Rose, Martha, Donna, Amy and Rory is that Clara's mostly been a plot mover for The Doctor's story with very little time given to her story. Jenna Coleman's good enough to pull it off if she just gets a chance, but honestly Vastra, Jenny and Strax have been more fleshed out than her.

Handles shoulda been companion for a good season or two, though. "Shut up, Rory, we're doing Handles' idea!" The Doctor all infiltrating a Cyberman ship by wearing an oversize coat and sticking Handles out the neck hole. ALL HANDLES ALL THE TIME, MOFFAT.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:12 PM on December 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Handles shoulda been companion for a good season or two, though. "Shut up, Rory, we're doing Handles' idea!" The Doctor all infiltrating a Cyberman ship by wearing an oversize coat and sticking Handles out the neck hole. ALL HANDLES ALL THE TIME, MOFFAT.

I am officially on board for a The Handles and Strax Adventures spinoff.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:19 PM on December 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


I wonder if Moffat had a whole final season for Matt Smith envisioned in his head, which would have addressed all these plot points in a more... sensible fashion. One episode to introduce the Papal Mainframe, one to show the Silence's true origins, and all throughout the season, the Fear Beacon summoning races from across the galaxy, recurring much like Bad Wolf did, hell even Handles as a companion for a few eps to really build that pathos. But then the scheduling for Doctor Who got all fucked up, and Matt Smith decided to leave, and Moffat realized he had to cram his entire master plan into sixty minutes.

This may be giving Moffat too much credit, of course.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:20 PM on December 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Love the comment, showbiz_liz. Do you think you can fit it in five words?"
posted by jaduncan at 7:30 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dream plot for next season: 12's memory really has been temporarily fried, and he picks up a companion who is actually the Master, but he doesn't know that since he doesn't remember. A blank slate Doctor dropping into his lap is basically a Christmas present all wrapped up and delivered for the Master, and he toys with him, trying to mold him into a Doctor more like the Master while resisting being molded himself by the good parts of the Doctor that remain, while Clara is left to figure out how to save him once the Master realizes she's a "bad" influence on the Doctor and strands her somewhere in time... only for her to meet the Doctor's Daughter, Jack, Martha and Mickey, the new, improved Torchwood. Because they shouldn't be consigned to history's dustbin, dangit.

The series after can have Rassilon, the Master, the Rani, the Meddling Monk, a revived Morbius and the War Chief going all Superman Revenge Squad on the Doctor, with Omega as a kind of shadowy wild card behind it all. I want some old-school Time Lord villain action with this revived Gallifrey.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:35 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Handles was so 790 robot head that I just assumed it was a Lexx shout-out.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:37 PM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder if Moffat had a whole final season for Matt Smith envisioned in his head

This wouldn't surprise me. The leaving of Matt Smith always felt like it came out of nowhere. I mean, Tennant did three, so of course Matt Smith leaving after three shouldn't have been a complete surprise. But to go from announcing his departure, re-casting and gone in six months is a whirlwind compared to when Tennant took 18 months to leave!
posted by crossoverman at 8:37 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if Moffat had a whole final season for Matt Smith envisioned in his head

I would have guessed a half season for the sort of plot arc we're talking about, which, if S8 starts next August (IIRC), would have put his regeneration squarely in the 2014 Christmas special.
posted by immlass at 8:42 PM on December 26, 2013


Series 8 is running straight through - all thirteen episodes.
posted by crossoverman at 8:43 PM on December 26, 2013


when Tennant took 18 months to leave!

Oh, come on, The End Of Time Part Two's coda wasn't that long.
posted by Mezentian at 8:45 PM on December 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


Now that the whole regeneration limit thing has been firmly nailed into its coffin (though we all knew it was never going to mean the end of the show) I'd love for the next series of showrunners to basically be like "I'm here to tell the story of Doctor #X, it will take X years to do it, here is the Doctor for this story, who is contracted for the whole run, and at the end he will regenerate and someone else will get a crack at writing the next story." and really let a tight plot run its course without the fear of a wrench being thrown into the works with an actor leaving. Burn through those regenerations and turn it into some hybrid miniseries/anthology show with a new showrunner and Doctor every few years. Even throw in some single-year showrunners/Doctors for creators who might be amazingly awesome but maybe lacking in really wide appeal (I mean come on just give me one year of Grant Morrison's Doctor).
posted by jason_steakums at 8:52 PM on December 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


What I'd like is for fewer connected story arcs, fewer over-arching mysteries, and less off the "all of time and space is doomed" finales.
posted by Mezentian at 8:57 PM on December 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


What I'd like is for fewer connected story arcs, fewer over-arching mysteries, and less off the "all of time and space is doomed" finales.

If I could pick just one of those it would be toning down the bombast in the finales. (Also in the music if I get a second wish.)
posted by jason_steakums at 9:09 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if Moffat had a whole final season for Matt Smith envisioned in his head

He never got around to it if he did. The plan was always that Smith would be around for three series, more if Moffat could talk him into it. After Smith announced he was leaving Moffat said in an interview: "We discussed ages ago that we would do three series and then he would do the 50th and then he’d do Christmas. That was Plan A for a very, very long while..."
posted by plastic_animals at 9:18 PM on December 26, 2013


Whatever it was, something felt like it got derailed in series 7. I wonder if maybe Amy and Rory stayed on too long. They could have just retired to live their married life/been ditched by the Doctor as he went underground at the end of The Wedding of River Song, and that would have freed up the first half of series 7 to flesh out Clara and get on track. It's not like anybody was happy with Amy and Rory's eventual fate anyways, giving them the Martha ending where they just exit stage left to have new Doctor-less adventures and live their lives would have been a step up.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:32 PM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'll never understand why Amy and Rory were brought back for half a season. I didn't mind their ending - but that was another awful Moffat episode to get there.

For me, all of Moffat's great work ended with "A Good Man Goes to War". The reveal of River as Amy and Rory's child was great - revealed in a dramatically satisfying way, with emotional resonance and finally answering some long held questions.

It's like he didn't really know where it all went after that. Even though he clearly knew some of it. He just didn't know how to play it out. So we got all the answers as exposition in "Time of the Doctor".

The problem with the way British TV is commissioned and written is that it's not really conducive to A) story arcs and B) multi-year arcs. Moffat likes to play a long game, but in between there are episodes where other writers are coming in and there never seems to be an emotional throughline. He tried to make Clara "the impossible girl" story as easy to slip into all the other episodes without giving anything away - but it never really built, the answer just got revealed.

Even the RTD years, which I think were more consistently entertaining and rarely suffered the feeling of dramatic intertia (on a micro or macro level), had to play the arc stories as word-of-the-year mostly. The writing of the show doesn't lend itself to a dramatic build from episode-to-episode.

All that said, I believe Moffat is trying something different for Series 8 - at least creating the arc story with the other writers in mind/in consultation, though I'm not sure he's gone as far as to create a US-style writers room. And it's likely each episode will follow directly on from the last, as in Tom Baker's first season. Hopefully that might lend the show more emotional continuity.

As long as nobody's trying to blow up the universe and the Doctor doesn't have to reboot it again.
posted by crossoverman at 9:54 PM on December 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Aw man, I just realized the crappy DVD/Blu Ray situation - since the 50th and this Christmas special came out after the Series 7 box set, I'm gonna have to have annoying standalone boxes for them unless they get thrown in the Series 8 set. It's BSG Razor all over again!
posted by jason_steakums at 9:54 PM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


"...well, I thought the whole idea of The Doctor settling down in one place for hundreds of years to be quite touching, so....tttthhhhhhhbbbbbbbffffffff."

Yes, and it went off really well in the Eighth Doctor novels's Earth arc.
posted by feelinglistless at 1:36 AM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Feelinglistles, I've gotten bogged down in the Virgin Adventures (New Ace is... actually worse than I expected) but am I right in thinking you refer to the one-heart, all amnesia version of McGann's Doctor in the BBC adventures?

I try not to pay attention to too many reviews, but I recall something about that.
(My only real point of contact seems to be dim memories of a Fourth Doctor/Eighth Doctor semi-crossover).

I'd like the Doctor to settle down for a while, but if he does I want to, you know, care about the characters in his orbit and not spend all my time wondering how much a planet where it is always Christmasy and night would suck and not drive people insane.
posted by Mezentian at 2:14 AM on December 27, 2013


"Researchers" merge faces of every Doctor into one revealing portrait.

It's interesting. One of my favourite things about Lungbarrow is the illustration of Hartnell and McCoy (who we assumed would be the last Doctor at that point if my memory is not mistaken).

I can see two Doctors clearly.
posted by Mezentian at 2:17 AM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Surprised to see Jenna Coleman popping up in Death Comes To Pemberly*... not that she's terrible in Who (imho) but she does a great job with Lydia the few moments she's on screen in the 1st ep

*BBC adaptation of a sequel to Pride and Prejudice written by PD James
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:56 AM on December 27, 2013


a sequel to Pride and Prejudice written by PD James

Wait, whut?

I mean, I can smell someone nearby smoking pot, but I think I just totally read that line because there is no way I am stoned by proxy (unless there is a $Phish concert on my lawn).
posted by Mezentian at 6:35 AM on December 27, 2013


so, query re: motivations: why does Gallifrey want to come out of their universe? I mean, I can understand why The Doctor would want to go to his home world, but why are they so on fire to come back to the first universe?
posted by angrycat at 6:49 AM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


angrycat: why does Gallifrey want to come out of their universe?

Boredom, I guess? Must be claustrophobic for Time Lords to be locked down to a single planet.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:18 AM on December 27, 2013


angrycat:
so, query re: motivations: why does Gallifrey want to come out of their universe? I mean, I can understand why The Doctor would want to go to his home world, but why are they so on fire to come back to the first universe?
I'm assuming it's just them where they are. No one to Timelord over.

As for Rassilon and the bad Timelords waiting on the other side, consider that they could have potentially been waiting for several centuries in there. While there may not have been a change of guard they may have had time to mellow. If they are brought back to the show, though, I imagine they'll still have sticks up their butts or at least will want him for president - the Doctor needs something to run from, after all.
posted by charred husk at 7:23 AM on December 27, 2013


The Time Lords might be cut off from a lot of their power in another universe, like the TARDIS was in Pete's World.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:34 AM on December 27, 2013


okay, gotcha.
posted by angrycat at 7:36 AM on December 27, 2013


@Mezentian

Sort of. Without going into too much detail, there's a set about about six novels about the Eighth Doctor stranded on Earth living through the twentieth century. Torchwood pretty much borrowed the idea for Captain Jack.
posted by feelinglistless at 8:13 AM on December 27, 2013


Oh dear, another regeneration scene that looks like it should have been scored to Whitney Houston's version of "I Will Always Love You"....

And now while we settle in to the long wait for Capaldi's Doctor, here's a deleted scene from Smith's last episode.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:14 AM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been watching Thick of It, and man, if anybody here hasn't seen it, especially the first season, it is so good. Capaldi is like this evil genius who goes around terrifying various civil servants as the Prime Minister's enforcers. It's sort of like Darth Vader were a bureaucrat and swore creatively in a Scottish brogue.
posted by angrycat at 8:43 AM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


angrycat: I've been watching Thick of It, and man, if anybody here hasn't seen it, especially the first season, it is so good.

In The Loop is basically a movie spinoff of the TV show, and it is available for streaming on US Netflix. Capaldi is goddamned amazing in it. Fuckety-Bye!
posted by Rock Steady at 8:58 AM on December 27, 2013


Capaldi seems kind of adorably fidgety nervous in his interview on (best friend) Craig Ferguson's show back in 2009. I cannot wait for his first post-becoming-the-Doctor interview with Ferguson. Like, I'm looking forward to that as much as I am the new season with as big of a pair of Who nerds those two are.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:38 AM on December 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


CraigyFergy for The Master opposite Capaldi's Doctor, please and thanks
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:15 AM on December 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Do ye find as ye get older, your toenails get sharper?"
"Yes!"

Seriously, I want to get into the TARDIS and come upon the two of the tripping. Damn.
posted by angrycat at 12:05 PM on December 27, 2013


No one to Timelord over.

Less that, more nothing to watch.
Timelords like to watch.
posted by Mezentian at 12:38 PM on December 27, 2013


I cannot wait for his first post-becoming-the-Doctor interview with Ferguson.

I've been waiting for that since the moment they announced it was Capaldi.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:45 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


This article about Capaldi's upcoming role as Richelieu just appeared on my Facebook stream. I'd forgotten this was coming, but 1. I want to see it and 2. I'll be interested in seeing him in a role besides In the Loop/Thick of It, so I hope we get it soon here in the States.
posted by immlass at 3:21 PM on December 27, 2013


If you want to see Capaldi in a non-Thick of It role - Torchwood: Children of Earth. I mean, I assume this crowd has already seen it, but by some chance you haven't. DO IT.
posted by crossoverman at 3:52 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


He's in the not-as-good-as-their-other-projects Mitchell and Webb movie Magicians, in a small but funny role. It's worth a watch, imo, especially since Jessica Hynes is in it and she's pretty much great in anything.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:10 PM on December 27, 2013


Less that, more nothing to watch.
Timelords like to watch.


"Tom, did you skip to the end of this civilisation? No, don't tell me what's going to happen! Goddamnit."
posted by jaduncan at 3:05 AM on December 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Infinity Tivo
posted by jason_steakums at 9:03 AM on December 28, 2013


Just in case and before this thread closes, I want to officially call a prediction. When I watch the last couple seconds of Smith, there is a moment that is either a simple affectionate between Doctor and Clara.. or something intended to be built upon later. It seemed a bit odd to me to include a blink and miss it shot of Clara putting her hand next to The Doctors glowing, about-it-be-significantly-more-wrinkled hand and the manner in which Smith said "Hey."

Then, as Capaldi snapped into existence, the first thing he does is look at Clara like something he can't entirely believe is there. Or something he needs to kill immediately. I don't know, it is likely nothing. But I think there may have been an intended subtext that 11/12/13/Smith/Capaldi in that couple seconds saw something about Claras TRUE identity. Something familiar and Gallifreyan (thus the "Hey.") but also something impossible (thus the bewildered glare from Capaldi). Not going to speculate any further then that, however.
posted by mediocre at 2:18 PM on December 28, 2013


That there might be more to Clara than we currently understand would not surprise me one bit. One of the blessings/curses of Moffat's tenure is that scenes that seem innocent and inconsequential when they occur later turn out to be important.

Before Capaldi was announced as the next Doctor I had a half-baked idea that Coleman would play the next Doctor. For a split second when the Doctor's regenerating hand reached out to Clara I thought it was really going to happen - his body was truly worn out, he'd transfer the regeneration energy to her, and the whole Capaldi thing was a ruse, but it was not to be.
posted by plastic_animals at 4:29 PM on December 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


That there might be more to Clara than we currently understand would not surprise me one bit.

A human girl with a personality would be a surprise.

After Smith announced he was leaving Moffat said in an interview: "We discussed ages ago that we would do three series and then he would do the 50th and then he’d do Christmas. That was Plan A for a very, very long while..."

The more I think about this, the more it sounds like PR nonsense. If Smith was really always leaving after Series 7, why not keep Amy and Rory for longer? Why send them off mid-series seven? Why not keep them around so that the emotional toll of the Eleventh Doctor regenerating was heightened?

I know television production can throw curve balls, but why get rid of your supporting cast before your star leaves? (I guess if Karen Gillan was determined to leave, introducing a new companion so at least the Twelfth Doctor doesn't start completely fresh is a reasonable idea.)
posted by crossoverman at 5:50 PM on December 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just watched it. It wasn't a very good episode taken on its own, but it had some very effective moments, it closed dangling plot threads without making a big deal of them, and it added some nice little biographical elements to the Doctor's mythos (e.g. defending a town for 300 years), so I thought it was good enough. Though, I'm in a pretty forgiving mood after The Day of the Doctor, which was terrif.

One of the nice things about having 11 regenerate as an old man is that they can bring Matt Smith back for cameos in the far-flung future without needing to invent an explanation for his wrinkles.

Tennant modeled his Doctor on 5, and Smith modeled his on 2. Who is Capaldi going to mimic? My money's on 3.
posted by painquale at 8:02 PM on December 28, 2013


Tennant modeled his Doctor on 5, and Smith modeled his on 2. Who is Capaldi going to mimic? My money's on 3.

Although Capaldi would have grown up in time to start with Hartnell, the height of his Doctor Who obsession spanned the Pertwee-Baker years—see these example of his teenage fan art and 'zine articles. It's a good bet that his interpretation of the role will call back to both.

That more-than-slightly-mad-eyed look his Doctor gives Clara is pure Tom Baker (though his Hartnell-esque lapel-tug at his entrance during the announcement episode couldn't have been coincidental…).
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:22 PM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


(thus the bewildered glare from Capaldi).

I just saw it as Malcolm Tucker.

Capaldi will be his own Doctor, and I don;t think even he knows how he will play it.
Having seen him in Torchwood/The Thick Of It, Fires of Pompei and Neverwhere, I think he can pretty much play anything, because that's not even a very wide selection of his work.
posted by Mezentian at 3:31 AM on December 30, 2013


Capaldi looks good as Richelieu
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:50 AM on December 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Big Finish did the Doctor meets Richelieu.
*nods*
Actually, didn't Dr Who do it direct?
posted by Mezentian at 4:44 AM on December 30, 2013


The Atlantic seems to have touched a nerve with its article subtitled "How Doctor Who Betrayed Matt Smith". The author sums up Moffat's 11th Doctor as "a swaggering bully—who also withholds vital information from the people about whom he supposedly cares the most", even as he defends Smith as "a wonderful actor and was perfectly cast as the Doctor". He then goes on to accuse the showrunner of "storytelling cowardice" in which each "sacrifice, tragic loss, or moral compromise is invalidated by some kind of reset button, with no physical or psychological cost". (This may be the definitive pro-Smith/anti-Moffat diatribe for Nu Whovians.)

Ah well, at least Capaldi is happy he gets to keep his Scots brogue as the 12th Doctor.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:59 AM on December 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Good article. Thanks for linking that Atlantic piece, Doktor Zed.
posted by homunculus at 11:46 AM on December 31, 2013


"Producer Steven Moffat weaved Capaldi’s accent into the plot by using Scot Amy Pond as the last person 11th Doctor Matt Smith saw before regenerating."

Ah, so that explains it. Okey dokey.
posted by homunculus at 11:46 AM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


at least Capaldi is happy he gets to keep his Scots brogue as the 12th Doctor.

DAVID TENNANT WAS ROBBED
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:47 AM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great article indeed. I agree wholeheartedly that the Christmas special was shit and that the over top melodrama that is the signature of the series is made even worse by the fact that these supposedly very sad and dire events (and we have music to really tell us this just in case we didn't pick up on it) are absolutely meaningless anyway.

No wonder it's so popular.
posted by juiceCake at 4:21 PM on December 31, 2013


The "How Doctor Who Betrayed Matt Smith" thing annoys me. They cast someone everyone hated, and made people believe, and gave him a range to exceed, which he did.
Smith was a huge chance.

There are issues with the Moff era, but I am not sure that Clara is any worse than Martha. Not everyone can be Donna. Rory was largely defined by his love for Amy (who treated him like shit a lot of the time), but his lack of character development never gets criticised.

I, like everyone, hopes Moffat writes smaller, character focused stories next time. The pieces are there, and he showed with Time that he gets the issues. It almost feels like sometimes he can't get himself under control. Maybe he should stick to scripts.

I agree wholeheartedly that the Christmas special was shit an


I hated it, rewatched it, enjoyed it. Like I did with Day... enjoyed it more. I think there's a lot to enjoy regardless of how bad it is.
posted by Mezentian at 3:31 AM on January 1


Rory was largely defined by his love for Amy (who treated him like shit a lot of the time), but his lack of character development never gets criticised.

Rory had a much more well-developed character than most companions. He had a kind of willful, nebbish sulkiness and a mixture of arrogance and insecurity that felt very real. He was a beta male who begrudgingly accepted being a beta male, and I thought that was a pretty fresh type of character for a TV show. Rory was great.
posted by painquale at 6:30 AM on January 1 [3 favorites]


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