Posted on December 30, 2013

timeofthedoctorMatt Smith in BBC America’s Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor


There’s a reason we waited way too long to post this review: delicious Christmas cookies. Well, there are two reasons: delicious Christmas cookies and liquor. Hang on. There are three reasons. Delicious Christmas cookies and liquor, which worked their nefarious wiles on us to keep us docile and unlikely to want to sit in front of a computer banging out opinions, and the fact that we were kind of angry at this episode and knew that a lot of the fans were in a state of weepy frenzy and you’d all take a moment from letting the light catch the tracks of your tears just so to tear us a new asshole for being heartless bastards.

In other words, we’ve watched this thing 4 times now and we like it a little less each time. If we keep this up, we’ll wind up hating it in a day or two.

Look, let’s get this out of the way: the last 15 minutes or so were just about perfect and yes, we teared up (when we weren’t cheering, that is). It was a truly beautiful sendoff both for the 11th-but-not-really Doctor and for Matt Smith. He always played the character like an old man in a young man’s body so it made a certain amount of sense that he would age himself up so drastically after being forced to settle down in one place for centuries.

Unfortunately that was just about the only thing that did make sense in this story. We’re gonna cop to some laziness here, as well as some Moffat fatigue, because we’re not even going to bother listing all the things that made no sense or were left unexplained. If Moffat couldn’t be bothered to write a story that holds together, should we really put all that much effort into showing how it falls apart? Besides, one thing we know for sure, you either loved or hated this special and there’s not a thing anyone can say to convince you otherwise. When someone who hadn’t seen it yet asked us how it was, we told them it was a lot like the Lost finale: nothing made sense but you’ll get a good cry out of it at the end.

But really, we can’t let this one question go: Why the HELL didn’t he load up the entire population of the Town of Christmas (there are not enough groans in the world…) into his TARDIS and take them away from all that danger? He claimed he was staying there for centuries, even though he knew he was eventually going to lose, so that he could save as many lives as possible. Well he could have saved all of them if he’d just loaded them up into his town-sized-on-the-inside Tardis and taken them somewhere else.

Also, since when did Clara gain the ability to command the Time Lords and why did no one else, least of all the Doctor himself, think to actually talk to the people on the other side of the crack and ask them to go away lest they be slaughtered? Wasn’t that the whole point? Everyone was there to kill the Time Lords when the emerged from their “other universe,” right? So why not have a good heart-to-crack talk with them and let them know that now’s not the best time to do this and by the way, since I’m your only shot at getting out and I’m out of regenerations, you might want to ease up a little so I don’t get killed defending you and leaving you stuck there forever?

Is it us?

Also, we spent most of Tasha’s scenes trying to figure out how River Song got a new body and became space-pope until we realized – with no small amount of shock – that she was merely Moffat’s latest attempt at writing a woman character, which means she’s exactly like his last attempt to write one. It’s actually embarrassing when you realize that he didn’t write a new version of River Song, he wrote a completely different character who sounded EXACTLY like her (“Hey, Babes.” HEY BABES? ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING US?), was also referred to as a psychopath, and can fly the TARDIS, because he literally cannot write anything but two types of women: the randy, adventurous middle-aged woman, and the wide-eyed, supportive, “assistant” girl with a mystery in her past. That’s IT. That’s all you get with him; endless cheap ripoffs of River Song and Amy Pond.

Don’t even get us started on the bizarre way Clara’s family was shoved into the story with virtually no explanation or introductions. Who was that woman at the table? No idea. Moffat never felt it important to introduce her. All we needed to know was that she’s a bitch. How typical for him.

Feh. It was bad. No two ways about it. And Moffat’s clearly burnt out on the character just as it became obvious in retrospect that Matt’s been burnt out for most of the last year. Everyone should’ve left when the Ponds did, because most of what followed after their departure was pretty bad, with the exception of the 50th anniversary special. We’re very much looking forward to Capaldi’s turn at the helm, but it’s tempered by the knowledge that Moffat’s still in charge.



[Photo Credit: Adrian Rogers/BBC]















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  • TropiCarla

    Bless you for this, TLo!

    • jmuns79

      I’m right there with you. And reading about people crying and loving this episode left me feeling like I’d already turned my club card in. Glad the bitter kittens agree!

    • Juliette Wojciechowski

      Bless you TLo and Bitter Kittens for confirming I am *not* a Grinch! Bah Humbug was my reaction to most of this episode. Poorly served all the way around. But, Clara as a barnacle on the Tardis was an apt comparison to my opinion of her value to the show, so there is that. I shall rewrite the entire thing in my head and ignore the rest. BTW, if the Weeping Angels can be confounded by their own reflection, why doesn’t everyone simply carry a mylar space blanket to use as a poncho and ta-da, problem solved! (See how I brought it back to fashion?)

  • StelledelMare

    Completely agree with all of this. Honestly, a large chunk of the fandom just wants Moffat gone because ever since he took over, the episodes don’t have as much heart, they make no sense, and his companions are some of the worst written that we’ve ever encountered. I agree that the last 10 minutes or so were brilliant but I just couldn’t get into the rest of the episode because none of it made sense and I found myself just waiting impatiently for them to hurry and get to the end. But I am looking forward to Capaldi’s run.

  • @Biting Panda

    As a person who has never seen a single second of this show, reading what people write about it is hilarious. It’s like a Mad Libs. Nothing makes any sense, despite correct grammar, spelling and punctuation. Bless you Whovians, and your obsession, you’re any easy bunch to shop for. My gifts to the teen boy cousins were big hits. (A Who Anthology and a seatbelt belt.)

    • muelonil

      Even though I like the show & look forward to it, this is sometimes how I feel when I DO watch it 🙂

    • StellaZafella

      I, too, love reading these comments about things/shows I’ve never indulged, because it’s neat to see that, even if we don’t all come to this site for the same reasons, we are all a pretty smart, clever bunch…and the snarks, even with no idea of what they refer to, sometimes are funny in themselves! Carry on Bitter Kittens!

      • @Biting Panda

        The Who lovers will always hold a special place for me. When I asked about my kid watching the show they gave great feedback and put me at ease. I appreciated being able to ask such a smart group of folks for their opinions.

  • MarieLD

    Yeah. I didn’t like it — and I really wanted to. It made absolutely no sense. (As a side note, my kids and I watched Top of the Lake, and my younger son who is the real Dr. Who fan commented that it — Top of the Lake — made even less sense than some Dr. Who episodes. That’s saying something.)

  • redhead with tattoos

    Yes this, all of this, so very much this, a million times this, over and over and over again.

    Bless Matt Smith for acting his little heart out and doing any and everything he could to turn this pile of crap into something watchable, and bless him for wringing every last little bit of emotion out of his final scenes (which were, as you said, the only redeeming things about this episode). He’s earned all the love he’s gotten and Moffat’s increasingly unbearable writing (I was never his biggest fan, but let’s be real: he’s been AWFUL since mid-season 6) shouldn’t take that away from him. But good lord, what an absolute steaming pile of incoherent crap.

    I also could not agree more with that last sentence: On the one hand I am so very excited for Capaldi and his wild eyebrows and wrong-colored kidneys. On the other, I won’t *really* be excited about this show again until Moffat is out of the driver’s seat. Any goodwill he created for me in the RTD era of this show has long since been spent.

    Also I remain despondent that Capaldi’s Doctor will not actually be Malcom Tucker-as-Doctor. Is it really too much to as for one TARDIS escape punctuated with “Fuckity Bye!”?? (Yes. It is. *weeps*)

    • redhead with tattoos

      *ask. I mean to say “ask for” in that last sentence. Oops.

      • SRQkitten

        A Malcolm Tucker-esque Dr. Who might actually get me watching!

        • redhead with tattoos

          If only the BBC could allow that level of cursing on what is, at its heart, a children’s show.

          • SRQkitten

            Having never watched the doc, had no idea! But was a huge Peter Capaldi fan from In the Thick of It (YEAH ITunes for carrying this show!) and would consider trying to get up to speed with Dr. Who but for the obvious issues our dear uncles have pointed out.

          • redhead with tattoos

            I highly recommend giving New Who a try starting with Season 1 of the reboot, with Russell T. Davies at the helm and Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor. Personally I vastly prefer RTD’s era to Moffat’s — while it sometimes veers into the properly ridiculous and melodramatic, it’s tense and enthralling and built on a foundation of spectacularly rich and fleshed-out characters, especially the companions. When a critical mass of friends got me watching a few years ago I accidentally watched ALL of that first season in one day — I sat down to watch one episode and the next thing I knew I was at the finale, stunned and crying and STARVING because it had been 12 hours and I hadn’t eaten, hadn’t moved, just watched one episode after another. I was, obviously, completely hooked by the end of that first episode, “Rose.”

            New Who is all on Netflix Instant so if you go and start with Season 1, Episode 1 you’ll be starting in the right place. With only 13 episodes a season it’s not too much of a time commitment and it’s definitely worth it. And since you have no sense of urgency you can space it out (unless it sucks you in like it sucked me in). But those first four seasons are glorious — and, frankly, Moffat’s first season as showrunner, season 5, isn’t terrible. The fast and furious downward spiral into crap happens pretty quickly after the beginning of season 6, though, but hey — this show regenerates with every showrunner and we’re hopefully due a new one soon!

          • MilaXX

            The fast and furious downward spiral into crap happens pretty quickly after the beginning of season 6, though, but hey — this show regenerates with every showrunner and we’re hopefully due a new one soon!

            AMEN! Because I’m tired of Moff right now, but to be honest by the time Davies was leaving I was ready for him to be gone. His undying love for Rose had worked my last nerve.

          • redhead with tattoos

            I love Rose. A lot. A lot a lot. And I don’t find it nearly as dominant of a storyline in later seasons as Rose haters seem to. But I LOVE Rose. And so that critique of “BUT RTD JUST HAD ROSE OVER AND OVER AGIAN” has never rung true for me. Martha had to deal with the immediate aftermath of her loss, but that season was far more a meditation on her growth and the Doctor’s selfishiness; Donna’s season was ALL about Donna’s growth and triumph (even Rose’s return is partially about Donna — “Turn Left” is one of the best episodes Doctor Who has EVER turned out, filled with amazingness and incredible women from front to back.. god I love that episode). Still, you like what you like. I just can’t understand how anyone finds anything to enjoy in the big pile of incoherent CGI effects the show has become during Moffat’s tenure as showrunner.

            Rose is still the best though 😉

          • MilaXX

            I’m not saying Moffs is better, but I dislike Rose with the fury of a thousand burning suns. I’m not crazy about the companion as a romantic interest that seems ingrained in nearly every NuWho companion. Nowhere is that more evident than in the character of Rose Tyler. I don’t dislike all on Moffs work and I didn’t dislike all RTD work. I appreciate that he resurrected the show I grew to love as a child and accept that NuWho is exactly the show I grew up loving.

          • redhead with tattoos

            See, I disagree with your assessment of Rose as simply romantic interest. Of all the companions who have been presented as romantic interests, or potential romantic interests, Rose is the only one who I think developed that way organically, throughout her season — she certainly wasn’t presented that way at the start. And while you have hints of a love story as early as “Dalek,” they’re aimed at the Doctor, not Rose. (“What use are emotions if you won’t save the woman you love” has nothing to do with Rose and everything to do with the Doctor.) In fact, the most overtly romantic first season episode (“The Parting of the Ways”) culminates in a scene in which Rose spits at Mickey and Jackie, “He’s NOT my boyfriend, he’s better than that.” Rose, at the very least, sees any romance between them as something much bigger than romance in the simple, straightforward definition. What happens after that builds through context and interaction, not through actual forcing of romance down our throats.

            In fact, I’d argue that MOFFAT, not RTD, has been far guiltier of the whole “every companion is a romantic interest for the Doctor!” forcing than RTD ever was. Yes, Rose says “I love you” in Doomsday, and forces the question again at the end of season 4, but Moffat is the one who forces the romance into “Girl In The Fireplace” which would have been SO MUCH better without all the blathering about “my lonely angel” and kissing; how I wish that episode was about the Doctor, Rose, Mickey and Reinette teaming up to take on scary clockwork robots), spent a season 4 episode and all of seasons 5-7 dropping “RIVER SONG IS THE DOCTOR’S WIFE THE DOCTOR MARRIES RIVER SONG LOOK THEY FLIRT THEY’RE MAAAAAARRIED” anvils on our heads, who gave Amy a supposedly rock-solid time-transcending love and then spent all her seasons either having her kiss the Doctor or “inadvertently” make Rory question their relationship because she COULD be talking about how much she loves the Doctor, and who reduced Clara’s entire arc to “I traveled with this man cuz I fancy him” in just this very episode.

            I can’t make you like my favorite companion (even though Rose is definitely the awesomest!), but I do take issue with this accusation that somehow RTD was all about romance, and making all companions romantic interests. Martha wrestled with an unreturned crush, but by far Moffat has been the one preoccupied with romance on Doctor Who. Perhaps RTD’s era seems like it because it was actually invested in world-building, which requires character-building, which means we have characters with emotions, who feel things and are often disappointed or betrayed by their feelings, which creates growth and depth. But that’s, to me, just a further condemnation of Moffat’s era. In Moffat’s era romance is anvil, shoehorned into every empty space without any real purpose for the characters, or the world, or the overall plot. In RTD’s Who, it was something that grew naturally, or showed up unwelcome and had to be dealt with. That’s so much richer to me.

            [[cough cough Rose rules BAD WOLF MOTHAFUCKA]]

            [[i tease, i tease]]

          • MilaXX

            It’s okay you can like Rose, I just don’t.

          • Missy

            I’ve grown fonder of Rose in comparison to Amy…River…Clara… She’s still not my fave, but she had depth. And also, Rose/Bad Wolf was *awesome* in the 50th anniversary special.

          • redhead with tattoos

            I totally understand the spectrum of opinions; I was just head-over-heels for Rose by the point in “Rose” where she posits to the Doctor that the Autons are students. It was just instant “YOU. I LIKE YOU. I LIKE YOU A LOT.” And then she just got better and better and better.

            My main issue is when people try to pull the “RTD made every companion a romantic interest” argument, which I think is obviously false just based on the characters presented in the RTD and Moffat eras. Yes, the Doctor had a multi-season, multi-universe romance with Rose (one that, it bears repeating, happened largely outside of expository dialogue — it was in looks and body language [in the *acting* as such] and gesturing dialogue than outright statement), but Moffat has really pushed the romance thing to the foreground. Starting with Reinette and carrying through his seasons, HE is the one who has made every companion a forced love interest. In RTD’s Who, love happened and had consequences direct and indirect, but it wasn’t a hammer we were hit on the head with every moment of every show.

            BAD WOLF is seriously the best ever though omg. I love Bad Wolf. I love Rose. LA LA LA OH THE GOOD DAYS OF DOCTOR WHO.

          • giddypony

            Thank god, I hate the character of Amy Pond so much I have seen very very little of Matt Smith as the Doctor. I can’t remember a character that I have ever hated more. And it has nothing to do with the actress. Just pure irrational “MAKE UP YOUR GOD DAMN MIND” over the Doc vs Rory …Ugh.

            Tobey Whithouse should write Dr.Who next . He’s wonderful.

          • fursa_saida

            Rose was never my favorite, but I didn’t mind her coming back in the RTD era. (I would like it to stop after the 50th, but then I’ve just given up watching until Moffat goes. I’ll probably tune in for Capaldi’s first just to see what he’s like, but otherwise I’ve generally quit for now.) But I’m all about Donna and Martha. I constantly go back and forth on which I prefer, though I think Donna has a slight edge.

          • redhead with tattoos

            I really can’t imagine Rose coming back for anything else other than the 50th (though I LOVED the use of her there — oh my darling Bad Wolf). It’s not like she’s come back for anything else, use of her stock photo in “Let’s Kill Hitler” aside, and they used Donna’s and Martha’s too.

            I LOVE LOVE LOVED Donna. Like so much. I was a sobbing wreck after “Doomsday” and I was nearly as much as a sobbing wreck after “Journey’s End” as well. Martha I’m less keen on — not only because her season was the weakest of RTD’s seasons (the Depression-era Dalek two parter…. oof). but also because there are actual things about her character that rubbed me the wrong way. She embodied a kind of educated chip-on-the-shoulder-ness that wasn’t unearned by her backstory, but which I find off-putting and unrelatable. I think that was at least partially the point, as her growth in the season helped her shed some of the “I’m smart and educated and well off and I’m entitled to be liked and appreciated!!” attitude in favor of being a generally more understanding and less naive kind of strong woman. But I found myself thinking “Shut UP, Martha!” often during season 3. I would say she’s grown on me some since then – moments that annoyed me when I first watched either don’t or annoy me less now – but she’s still not my faaaaaavorite.

            But then, that’s the beauty of RTD’s companions — they were complex and real and full and came with flaws and sometimes drove you batty. That is to say, they were CHARACTERS. Whether or not you liked them there was something THERE. The Moffat Female Character Templates A and B look even weaker to me in comparison.

          • St. Ace

            Martha, IMO, was definitely the weakest companion of the RTD series, because she was written rather poorly. She had to deal with the aftermath of Rose’s disappearance, so she was forced to be the One Who Wasn’t Rose. Like you, most of my problems with Martha was her “Why don’t you love me?” attitude throughout the season until the confrontation with the Master forced her to finally take actions into her own hands. So many times, she got in her own way because she desperately wanted the Doctor to look her way. Example, in “The Family of Blood”, even though she knows (and is the only one who knows) she’s masquerading as his maid in racist Edwardian England, she still expects to receive preferential treatment and behaves in a way that throws a lot of suspicion in their direction. Similarly in “Gridlock”, I hated her pushing the Doctor over and over again to hear his back story, claiming that he was shutting her out. Excuse me, but he’s only known you a short time and has had a traumatic history, so he does not owe you anything. You are not owed anything. He’s rewarding you with an adventure for your valor with the Judoon, but at that point, the Doctor has not yet decided to take Martha along as a permanent companion.
            Martha could have been so much more. She was smart and pretty and sassy, but she smacked so hard of desperation.

            That said, I still prefer her over Clara. Clara is by far the weakest companion since New Who. She has no character or emotional development and hasn’t actually been shown doing anything on screen. I hate how the new companions were all introduced as mysteries to be solved rather than kick-ass people that the Doctor wants to be befriend.

          • redhead with tattoos

            Without a doubt, Clara is the weakest companion I’ve seen on New Who. I was racking my brain yesterday to find a way to describe her a realized I literally have NOTHING. All I could come up with is that her mother died and she jumped into the Doctor’s timeline to save him in a move that may have been made totally moot by the rewriting of Trenzalore in the Christmas special. How old is she? Does she have friends? She apparently has a family, do they realize she disappears to travel through space and time? Does she talk to them? Her entire half season was devoted her to being a nanny but now she’s a school teacher – why? How? Does she have a boyfriend? Has she ever had a boyfriend? Who is she??

            We have no answers, and I doubt we ever will. Especially now that Moffat has a new Doctor to turn into some sort of infallible demigod. Sigh.

          • giddypony

            Love love love Martha on Torchwood.

          • Coleen

            Team Donna x1000!

          • Topaz

            RTD’s strength is, by and large, his character development and his commitment to portraying the sort of people that rarely get a look in on TV. But I find him a really, really poor, overly simplistic, slightly hysterical storyteller, and when character and unconvincing plot collide, the characterisation starts to fall apart too. At first Moffat’s writing seemed pacey and exciting, and his dialogue whip smart. But it quickly became apparent that he can only tell one story about a tiny handful of character types, and so the only thing he can do is to try and make the plots more and more brain-meltingly complex. I remember when he started he was great at ironing out all the plotholes. Nowadays I feel like he’s just shrugging and going “meh. No one will notice anyway.” Meanwhile his portrayal of women has gone from merely tiresome to downright offensive.

  • Patrick Cleary

    Moffat just doesn’t know how to write anything beyond over-inflated finales. Every minute of every episode he writes plays like it’s the end of a series, rather than a series of adventures. Clara could be a really fun character, but she literally gets dropped off to teach school until she has to cook a turkey(?!?!!?) or something equally benign.

    Moffat just doesn’t have it in him to write anything beyond fan-fiction-level schmoopy-eyed kissy scenes between the Doctor and a pretty companion, which will be interesting when Capaldi takes over.

    • Claire Haley

      I like Jenna Coleman but they really do not give her much. And I was so angry when they first got into the truth field and Clara started saying she fancied the Doctor. Have they not noticed that the best season of the reboot was the one season in which the companion didn’t have a crush on the Doctor? Give me a break already.

      • Are we really surprised that Clara has a crush on the Doctor? A charming young(-looking) man with a sense of adventure who will take you anywhere in time and space?

        The difference between Clara’s crush and, say, Martha’s, is that it’s not a huge plot point. In the two-parter “Human Nature/Family of Blood” we literally get this line from Martha: “You had to, didn’t you? You had to go and fall in love with a human. And it isn’t me.” Martha leaves the Doctor because she realizes he doesn’t value her enough and that her crush won’t be returned (good for her, by the way). She pines over him repeatedly in her episodes. Clara, on the other hand, is a little bit flirty – nothing terribly overt – and now we have this one little line about her having a crush. And now Eleven is gone, and her dynamic with the Doctor will most definitely change.

        • Claire Haley

          It’s not that it’s surprising that somebody would have a crush on the Doctor but I do find it slightly offensive that the crush is supposedly the reason most of these women are traveling with him in the first place (If I recall correctly, Clara mentions her crush when explaining why she travels with him) when there are a lot more compelling reasons! And I don’t know, it’s sort of weird to have a crush on a very old alien! Also, though her lack of a crush really helped the series, it’s kind of troubling that Donna is the only one who had a completely platonic relationship with the Doctor because she is (comparatively speaking) the “old lady” of the bunch and only wide-eyed 20-somethings are good enough to be romantic with him I guess? I don’t know, I have a lot of feelings about this subject.

          • AmyAW

            But his wife, River, was no doe-eyed 20-something, at least.

          • Claire Haley

            Well the River relationship is a whole other bag of marbles, since at no point did they really seem to have any sort of romantic chemistry despite the couple of kisses thrown in there. Or at least I never really got the sense that the Doctor loved her (probably because most of their “courtship” took place outside of the episodes and their “wedding” if I am remembering correctly was some sort of ruse to get out of that weird suspended time alternate universe? I have only seen the Matt Smith episodes once each and I don’t have total recall).

          • redhead with tattoos

            Not only are you right about the ruse, but just before the “wedding” happens in TWoRS, the Doctor shouts at River, “I DON’T WANT TO MARRY YOU.”

            How ~*romantic*~

        • lunchcoma

          I’m not surprised that Clara has a crush on the Doctor because Clara is specifically written to be a flirty love interest and the few things we know about her as a person are all in service of making her be a suitable flirty love interest.

          If Moffat had wanted to, he could have written a companion who wasn’t attracted to men at all or who viewed the Doctor as an annoying little brother or who had a somewhat antagonistic relationship with him. But he didn’t, because the goopy flirty stuff is one of his crutches and the sort of flighty, cutesy, smart-mouthed-but-not-actually independent companion is another one.

          • MilaXX

            I think this is why I want a proper male companion. Not a Jack Harkness flirt, not a school girl crush or even a love interest. I want a male companion in it for the adventure or perhaps an alien who has lost their home world. At this point, I’d even take Sarah Jane’s son Luke.

          • Amanda Throm

            Particularly why I loved Rory and Amy. They were in love with each other, and while Rory had his insecurities, there was never any doubt as to whom Amy would choose if it were between Rory and the Doctor.

            I don’t think there was anything REAL between Amy and the Doctor, other than the one time she took off his suspenders the night before her wedding, but truly she wasn’t about to leave Rory for the Doctor. They had a sibling love. I found that to be quite endearing and lovely, especially when Rory was in the TARDIS with them.

          • Matt Louden

            Amy tried to make out with the doctor at her own wedding “snogging in the shrubbery” or something to that effect. I’d say she kind of wanted to have it both ways, even post marriage xD

          • lunchcoma

            I’m very much in favor of either a man or a non-humanoid companion for the next season with Capaldi. Moffat’s definitely around for another year, and while I’d very much like a female companion who’s in it for adventure, or necessity, or really anything other than love, I don’t have any reason to think he’ll pull it off. Plus, adding a third person would presumably reduce Clara’s role a bit by putting some focus on another person.

          • Missy

            I agree with this. Completely. Martha was SO BRILLIANT…before they decided she should be in love with the doctor.

          • Poor Martha, she really got short shrift more than any companion. And to add insult to injury, they randomly married her off to Mickey for no reason! Mickey is sweet and all but talk about a downgrade.

          • Missy

            I still have nerdrage over Martha. Mostly because she was SUCH A GOOD CHARACTER until they ruined her by making her just-another-girl-in-love-with-the-doctor. They sort of redeemed her a bit when she helped save the world and all…but she could have done that without going all schoolgirl-crush. She was an almost-doctor for pete’s sake!

          • Andy Brent

            Take another look at Martha’s first episode… watch the Doctor’s behavior, the constant flirting, the winking, the kiss for Glob’s sake! How was she supposed to come away from that not smitten? I disliked the Martha*loves*Ten storyline, but because of how he behaved to get her onto the Tardis… and how he treated her afterwards. I don’t think Martha was ruined by the hopeless crush, but the situation certainly made me look at the Doctor differently

            Poor show, old man!

          • Matt Louden

            I actually think they make a good pair. Although he started out as derpy and even referring to himself as being on K-9’s level, his time in the alternate universe turns him into seemingly a battle-hardened commando who could obviously get a job at unit or as a bounty hunter or whatever the two were doing against the Sontaran. It was also nice to dove-tail both stories together so that we could move on and not wonder “what ever happened to…” etc

    • fursa_saida

      Once you learn to see Moffat’s patterns it never ends. He has his Towering Above All Others white dude protagonist who is constantly making speeches declaring/demonstrating his utter superiority to everyone else, because he is a Moffat power fantasy. All other characters are reduced in order to make said protagonist look great. Women are one-dimensional fantasies. Super!! high! stakes!!! everywhere!!!! You can tell by the speeches!!!! I can barely even deal with Sherlock anymore because of all this, and at least in Sherlock his shit is toned down a bit by the format/other writers.

  • Claire Haley

    I openly wept when Amy turned up at the end but this episode was SUPER DUMB. On top of having a nonsensical plot they felt the need to cram in all of the iconic villains which never fails to be boring. I have a pavlovian “sudden nap” response to both the Daleks and the Cybermen, and I’m kind of getting there with the Weeping Angels too because GUESS WHAT! The more times you show the same villain, the less scary they become because they’ve already been defeated so many times before. They could have used some of the time they spent on those useless moments on making the plot of the episode make sense.

    Like, why did the Doctor start looking old all of a sudden? Didn’t he age like 200 years in one of the more recent seasons? But he looked exactly the same. And no T no shade but the elderly makeup job was not so good. I could continue ranting but I’m mostly just bummed that Matt Smith’s last episode was such a dud overall because I liked him very much as the Doctor.

    • StelledelMare

      This was the exact question me and alot of people had. Somewhere along the line (and I still don’t understand how), the Doctor went from 900-something to like 1200 and never looked old at all so I really don’t understand that bit about making him appear like an old man.

      • Corsetmaker

        I’ve always thought it was the travelling that kept him young. So as along as he was going back and forth through time he didn’t age. Leave him in one place for too long and he starts to visibly get older.

        • DinahR

          Agreed, and this is underscored, I think, when he notes that Clara always looks young — she’s the one that’s been travelling now.

    • twocee

      The only logic I could work out was that the TARDIS was away from the planet for most of the 400(?) years that the Doctor was on Trenzalore (he kept saying he was “stuck”) and that the TARDIS somehow keeps him appearing young.

      But yeah, it was a stretch.

  • Scimommy

    Not gonna hear me complain about your review because I agree completely. They did squeeze the tears out of me with Amy Pond’s “Good night, Raggedy Man”, but that might be because I just miss Amy and Rory so darn much. Very much looking forward to Capaldi, though. I think he was a great choice for Doctor.

    You’re spot on with how Moffat writes women. I love Molly on Sherlock, but she fits the “wide eyed assistant girl” to a t. The promo photos from S3 are giving me hope that there might be more to her this season, so I guess we’ll wait and see.

    • I wonder how much of Molly Moffat actually has written? I think she is quite well-developed for the amount of screen-time she has had, and she does come in more to Stephen Thompson’s episodes, although that may be because I worship Louise Brealey.

      • Scimommy

        Love Molly AND Loise Brealey. Am hoping for some interesting Molly developments in S3 and will be grateful to whoever writes them!

      • fursa_saida

        Oh, man. I like Molly, because she’s competent and emotional at the same time and she’s just a lovely person, but I really hate what the show has done with her. Why on earth should she put up with the way Sherlock has treated her and then volunteer with compassion and, again, competence at the end? Why? WHY. I hate it. Especially when you consider Sally and Irene–just miserable female characters, or lovely female characters treated miserably, all around. (I will say that I think Lara Pulver did a brilliant job with the version of Irene she was given and managed to make her feel like a rounded person even though she wasn’t written that way, but the writing of Irene in that treatment fills me with feminist rage. And no, not because she’s a dominatrix–nothing at all wrong with that! It’s just everything…else.)

  • carolynmo

    Completely agree with your assessment. I was bewildered by it all and only enjoyed the last 15 minutes.

    • Matt Louden

      Alot of it didn’t make sense overall. Similar to parts of “The day of the Doctor”. The whole Zygon storyline in “Day” was left with no clear resolution (yay they talk to each other and a bomb’s about to go off), and the Daleks in Day were used a lot less than what I hoped.

      At least I can hope there will be another “Time war” special at some point since iirc they said that he had been fighting in the war for a while at least.

  • THANK you. I enjoy DW and can still fangirl with the best of them, but the constant holes in plots, consistent riffs on the same type of female character, and Moffat’s seeming desire to top everything else he’s ever done is getting old. A lot of the cozy camaraderie and fun has gone out of the show, replaced with twisty plots and over the top stresses that don’t actually bear out in the plots. I think Moffat is better confined to a single, full arc episode (like Blink, or most of the Sherlock episodes) where he can get twisty and clever but is FORCED to wrap things up rather than allowed to let them dither on until they collapse under their own weight.

    • Swivels

      Yup. I love DW, but I’m really tired of this Lost-esque “I’ve made it too complicated and I don’t know how to resolve it, so I’ll just throw everything and the kitchen sink at it and let the fans convince themselves it makes sense somehow.” And yes, female characters who don’t fit into one of the two archetypes Moffat seems to be capable of writing would be nice.

  • Andy Morris

    i’m glad to see this didn’t make much sense to people aside from myself cus I had blamed it all on post-christmas dinner fatigue and too much wine, but this was a mess. I almost wish the sendoff had been an episode that wasn’t the christmas one, it was all way too much plot to handle on the day. I like my christmas specials shmaltzy and easily followed and relatively funny (a la Runaway Bride or the Christmas Carol episode) so one can sit down on the verge of a food coma with a family of casual viewers and have a damn nice time.

  • razorqueen

    Yes, Exactly–especially this: “We’re very much looking forward to Capaldi’s turn at the helm, but it’s tempered by the knowledge that Moffat’s still in charge.”

  • Super_Red

    Thank you for once again being the voice of sanity! The 50th was perfect, but this was a mess. You articulated many of my problems with it, and the sad reality is that I have more. I’ll admit to tearing up with he regenerated, but I was more focused on “SINCE WHEN DO REGENERATIONS TAKE OUT DALEK FLEETS???” *sigh*
    The one thing that I did find interesting was the knowledge that this stand-off was the reason the silence tried to kill the doctor. But, like Moffat does every time he revisits a freaky-ass monster, it just made them less scary on the whole. And that still doesn’t explain the notion that the Silence have always been there. Aren’t they the ultimate “monster under the bed”? Wasn’t that the whole point? Oh, but no, they’re just genetically engineered priests of something. No worries. *sigh*
    When I watch episodes with Moffat at the helm, I feel like I’m watching the storyboarding process. “And then there are daleks! And then cybermen! And the Silence! and BOOM!” Lots of grand ideas, but ultimately sacrificing the narrative for the visual.
    I AM looking forward to Capaldi, and I hope he has better chemistry with Clara if they’re going to keep her around. Yes, everything with her family was pointless. While I’m not opposed to the fun moments of “the Doctor doesn’t know how to communicate with ordinary humans” the “oh, I guess I should have made it so they thought I was wearing clothes. oopsies.” was just stupid.
    Okay, I’ll stop ranting. Thank you, boys!

  • Eclectic Mayhem

    Guys, I couldn’t agree more. Usually I’m a fairly staunch Moffat defender but this was abysmal.

    I think he – Moffat – is in sore need of someone who will say “NO” to him. Just “NO”.

    He just frittered away another 300 years of the Doctor’s life in one episode! When we got him back in 2005 he was – what? – 900 and some odd years? And now he’s closer to 2000? It’s utterly meaningless at this point.

    I might have cared more about Tasha whosit and about ‘Handles’ the Cyberman head’s desperately sad loss if we hadn’t just met them FIVE MINUTES EARLIER!

    The whole naked, hologram, key hiding nonsense seemed to have been introduced solely to explain the fact that Matt was wearing a (bad) wig. I mean really?

    Awful. Awful. Awful.

    • WendyD

      I have to completely disagree with you on the wig situation. I have this thing for British boys with good hair (see avatar 😉 ) and I was despondent when Matt shaved his head for the Ryan Gosling movie. I knew he’d be wearing a wig for this episode, but I honestly completely forgot about it while I was watching the episode until he pulled it off for the gag with the key. That was a DAMN good wig! Plus I loved that the whole shaved head deal allowed for that line about his “delicate” eyebrows. LOL. Also, the wig that Karen was wearing for her TEAR JERKING scene at the end was 50x better than the one they had her in when she’d cut fringe after she thought she was done during S7 and had to come back to do some additional scenes.

      • Eclectic Mayhem

        I can definitely agree with you on Karen Gillan’s wig.

      • MilaXX

        I thought both wigs were awful. I spotted Matt’s before the joke about it & Karen’s just looked lank & bad.

      • grapecranberry

        “Your ears are like rocket fins.” “I know! 😀 😀 “

    • MilaXX

      That scene with Amy Pond at the end was all the more laughable because both Matt & Karen were wearing such awful wigs. Really I think Moffs thought it would be a cute nudge-nudge, wink-wink thing revealing Matts’s wig, but all it did was draw attention to it.

  • MarTeaNi

    I have enjoyed approximately 4% of the Moffat/Smith series and this was no different. I haven’t watched most of this last year because I just couldn’t take it, but tuned in for the big finale. All the problems I had were only amplified. I am curious to see Capaldi’s turn on the merry-go-round but ultimately, it’s going to be Moffat that decides whether or not I skip this incarnation too. I know we can’t seem to get a woman Doctor, but can we get a woman to helm the show at least? Or Neil Gaiman? Getting reeeeal sick of doe-eyed companions over here…

    • redhead with tattoos

      Yes. Good lord, how much do I miss Julie Gardner? SO MUCH. I MISS HER SO MUCH.

      Personally, I’m pulling for Nicholas Briggs — he’s not just the voice of the Daleks, he’s also been at the helm of the Big Finish audioplays for a few years now. The classic Doctors aren’t my favs, but GOOD LORD THE STORIES ARE SO GOOD. Complex and challenging and sci-fi and timey-wimey (to borrow a phrase that now makes me want to stab myself in the ears) and weird and dark and romantic and just AMAZING and rich. And on top of that, they really seem to understand the history of Doctor Who’s mythology and its malleability without the constant need to be flash bang and one-up and retcon at will. Nick Briggs for showrunner!!

      • MarTeaNi

        I would be absolutely ok with Briggs as showrunner. Everything you describe is what I’ve felt the property has been lacking recently. I just miss being excited about Doctor Who, instead of bored and frustrated. I gave up on the Moffat headed series when I realized I was only watching out of inertia. I’ve got a friend who is going to loan me the audio plays (with a particular McGann emphasis since that’s his favorite), I’m looking forward to that way more than more Moffat.

    • Missy

      Getting reeeeal sick of doe-eyed companions over here…

      Me too. It seems that when there’s a competent female companion, her one weakness is doe-eyed love for the doctor. It’s been done. I’m over it. I want a good female character. More than one, really, but I’d settle for one. Maybe if Jenny and Madame Vastra (and Strax) somehow came back…

      • fursa_saida

        The sad part is that Jenny and Vastra coming back sounds like a nightmare to me, because I just know that Moffat would find a way to work in some hint at a threesome. I just KNOW it.

        • Missy

          *sigh* You are sadly so, so right.

  • d4divine

    I couldn’t agree more…just last night my husband and I were wailing over Moffat destroying Sherlock Holmes with his over the top stories that had holes like Swiss cheese in the plots…thankfully for me I could stare at Benedict Cumberbatch all night long. Haha

    • fursa_saida

      Have you watched Elementary at all? It might fill some of the Holmes hole in your life, if there is one. The crime plots are nothing spectacular, usually, but they aren’t full of holes; more importantly, the character work is really fantastic. I find that take on the characters to be much truer to the stories than the BBC ones, even though the direct references don’t come so thick and fast. (They’re there, though! You just have to keep more of an eye out.) It does start a bit slow, though, so it takes a little patience to get truly hooked. (Also, to anyone who has concerns regarding manpain and Holmes, I will just say that that trope gets thoroughly upended by the end of season one and leave it at that.)

    • redhead with tattoos

      I will second the recommendation to watch Elementary. And third, fourth, fifth, and sixth it. SUCH a fantastic show. My favorite Holmes/Watson duo by far, and my FAVORITE FAVORITE interpretations and presentations of some other characters (who i cannot name because SPOILERS) as well. Seriously, cannot recommend enough.

      • Swiftlytiltingplanet

        I will third!

  • mmebam

    Sounds about right. I was going “WTF????” till the very end. And even then, did Moffat official retcon the Time War?

  • cocohall

    My 15 year daughter is a Whovian and asked me to watch this with her as she was anticipating having a sad when Matt Smith made his goodbyes. And so I sat and wondered what drugs you would need to ingest to have any of this make sense. Thank you for confirming that I’m not completely losing my mind. I know the show premiered in 1963 and it is remarkable to me how a show about time travel seems to be forever stuck in the sensibilities of that decade, especially the female characters. But as another BK commented, Christmas shopping for a Whovian could not be easier – the avalanche of Who merch is stunning. My own Whovian got the 50 anniversary book, socks, a Tardis laplander knitted hat, a puzzle, and a calendar. And that was just the tip of the iceberg, in terms of what was available. She couldn’t have been happier. I’m thrilled she is also a Downton Abbey girl and a Sherlock girl, as I can actually look forward to watching those with her. I will say that my daughter has found a very nice group of quirky, chummy friends through her love for this show. You Whovians seem to be a very nice bunch. :0)

  • porcupie

    I don’t know, I loved it. I fully appreciate all the concerns about it, and I think that Clara still isn’t working properly. But Matt became my favourite Doctor, and so his leaving episode was always going to mean a lot. He was allowed to be everything that his Doctor is; funny, mad, brilliant, scary, wise. He’s truly a magnificent, brilliant actor, and this episode was kind of a showcase for all of his talents. I’m also still a fan of Moffat. Of course he has his flaws, but I think he’s truly genius in his ideas and plotting and his characterisation of the Doctor; I’ve never understood the arguments that I read in some places on the internet that he can’t handle emotion, since I think the ’emotional’ moments that he’s written have always resonated with me perfectly. And I grew up with Nu-Who; I was 11 when it first started and I’ve watched it ever since, so even though I’m used to regenerations by now, Matt’s was still a punch to the stomach (like I said, even though he wasn’t my first Doctor, he’s become my favourite), and I wept like a baby. I don’t think it was the best episode of 11’s run, but I preferred Matt’s beautiful, bittersweet goodbye (with bonus little Amelia and grownup Pond, which sent me into hysterical tears) to 10’s melodramatic “I don’t want to go”. I don’t know, I agree with the negatives, but I still loved it.

  • Diva in 4 Inch Heels

    I actually fell asleep for about 20 minutes during the initial broadcast on BBC America and I agree that the last 15 minutes were great. Not amazing, but it’s what we got as an exit for Matt Smith’s portrayal of the Doctor and Peter Capaldi’s first appearance as the same character. I’m sorry to feel this way, but Matt really HAS been on “auto-pilot” since Arthur and Karen left the series and it shows in how horrible his chemistry was with Jenna-Louise. The writing has just never been strong enough to help build up any sort of interest in my in the Doctor’s fascination with his “Impossible Girl”. I’m really hoping for the best with Capaldi, but I really do think that Moffat HAS to exit and they need some new blood at the helm of this series.

    • Jenny Ziv Scott

      I’ve not warmed up to Clara. She just doesn’t seem to have the right reactions to the things happening around her. When the Cyberman scooped up the girl she nannied for, Clara had a look of bemusement on her face. Even when she found out they were Cyborgs she didn’t seem so freaked out. And I have issue with the fact that they had this little flirtation for the season but he’s River’s man.

      • Caroline Lindsay Whitham

        I feel so sorry for Jenna-Louise, she did great work on a soap called Emmerdale here for years, but then I’d thought maybe she doesn’t have much range and that’s why Clara feels so flat. However, at Christmas she was in a short series called Death Comes to Pemberley as Lydia Bennett and completely stole the show; she was hilarious and ultimately heartbreaking and it showed up just how bad the writing and development of her character has been on Who. She’s obviously doing her best to shine through a cardboard cutout, and it’s such a shame. That’s why her pixie girl is always edging further and further into manic, I think – you can see it in her eyes. I really dislike Clara and I really love Jenna-Louise, so maybe I should give Karen Gillan another chance in something else. Maybe she’s not such a terrible actor either!

        I’d really recommend Death Comes to Pemberley if you don’t mind someone messing with Austen, and although they sadly miscast Darcy, it does have Matthew Goode as Wickham and Anna Maxwell Martin as Lizzie so it’s pretty joyous.

  • MoHub

    This is why I remain true to classic Who.

    • MilaXX

      I started watching the Sarah Jane Chronicles as a palette cleanser.

  • AmyAW

    AMEN! I’m tired of Moffat and all his recycled stories. Yes, goodbye Matt, great send off but most of that was just useless crap to throw as many things in as possible. After all, it worked so well in the 50th to use a bunch of Doctors (really, it did. I’m not being snarky), so if we throw all the bad guys in here, along with the Time Lords and Gallifrey (that we just discovered isn’t obliterated), why it’ll be grand. ARGH! Moffat, step away from the Tardis!

    • Diva in 4 Inch Heels

      “After all, it worked so well in the 50th to use a bunch of Doctors (really, it did. I’m not being snarky), so if we throw all the bad guys in here, along with the Time Lords and Gallifrey (that we just discovered isn’t obliterated), why it’ll be grand. ARGH! Moffat, step away from the Tardis!”

      I know. Everything leading up to Smith’s final episode had been amazing. I still have “An Adventure in Time and Space” on my dvr and “The Day of the Doctor” was a fitting tribute to 50 years of such a wonderfully interesting and thought-provoking program. So, to cap off Smith’s era in such a shambles really saddens me, because Smith as the Doctor has made this show a huge success here in the U.S. and not just a “cult thing” anymore.

      • Matt Louden

        I was/am hoping that the potential search for Galifrey would be a big piece/arc of the 8th season, not just a “oh look something for the Christmas episode” plot point.

  • Vanessa

    Yup. Makes me cry–when I look back at Eleventh Hour, which was almost perfect and think of how this particular arc has degenerated.

    Moffat is burned out on this and needs some respite. Many “cool” moments strung together with no real coherence.

    Happy New Year all!

  • Kristi Puckett Carrillo

    Yes! This! Thank you!

  • kittentoes

    It felt like they just slapped together some unused footage and story lines.

  • lunchcoma

    I didn’t care for this episode either. I don’t demand a high level of making sense from Doctor Who, but this was worse than usual, and there wasn’t any suspense. We all knew there was going to be a regeneration, I’ve long since lost hope that the loathsome Clara will be killed off, and I didn’t get a chance to know any of the one off characters enough to truly be concerned for their well-being.

    Moffat really is terrible at writing women. I smirked a bit at Tasha because she reminded me of the good old days when River was cool and not a pathetic creature who formed her whole life around the Doctor, but you’re right that she’s just a retread. And Clara is awful. The actress does what she can with the role, but there’s absolutely nothing to the character beyond being a wide-eyed twee thing with a crush, and it’s irritating that she keeps being given special powers to justify her continued presence.

  • mskgb

    Adding my thanks to the general gratitude. I had planned to view the episode again, thinking that previous watching while knitting had resulted in missing major plot points. You’ve confirmed my suspicion that they didn’t exist.

  • Jangle57

    I watched about 10 minutes of the beginning, then switched to something else, turning it back on to catch the last 5 minutes or so to catch him regenerating. It’s on dvr but I haven’t felt any sense of urgency to watch what came in-between those two moments. Totally agree about Moffat but then I’ve been complaining about him since he took the reins so to me the whole Matt Smith period has been a crash and burn for me. Can’t say I’m looking forward to Capaldi only because I can’t be sure the writing is going to get any better. On the plus side, I was never sure if it was Matt Smith or the writing that was the problem; at this point, I’m pretty sure it’s the writing. Ebru is showing the David Tennant/Catherine Tate episodes right now – those never get old for me (well except for Midnight, which I totally despise).

  • Frank_821

    Yes I was disappointed by the special. I was actually annoyed by the scene with Amy Pond. For the reasons I wrote on another blog questioning her inclusion. here’s what I wrote:

    “…The issue isn’t Amy showing up per se. Dramatically it makes sense since she was the first face and will be the last face he sees before he goes away. But it would have worked better if he hallucinated her while he was still old and just before he went off to what he believed to be his death at the suckers of the Daleks. But if they still felt the need to play that moment just before regeneration, he should have been alone in the Tardis. Then the scene would have truly resonated,

    Clara shouldn’t have been present. In fact Clara really didn’t fit into this story at all. The story would have worked better if it was River (before she died) who was there with him on Trenzalore instead of a possible copy of her within the Mother Superioir. It would have been more believable if River was the one to plead with the Time Lords and the final moment with Amy would have felt more appropriate.

    But of course Clara Oswald is the companion of the moment so she has to be in the story. Sadly the writers, in my opinion, have not had a chance to develop her as a fully fleshed out character. On paper, she should be a suitable companion that the fans would take to. But so far, I feel she comes across as generic. I don’t dislike her but I don’t care about her. This is not the actress’ fault since Oswin from Asylum of the Daleks and Clara from the Snowmen were terrific and engaging characters…”

    To add what Tlo has already written, Clara Oswald was crammed down our throats but approached more as a plot device rather than a real person. I keep thinking what a difference between Victorian Clara and the “real” Clara. The former was brazen, ambitious and loved unsettling Matt Smith. I always felt that Clara seemed to revel in throwing bawdy comments the Doctor’s way in order to yank his chain-but would never really be interested in him romantically. The modern Clara seems so “by the numbers” It really bugs me she was given such a pivotal task in not just 1 but 2 such important stories in the NuWho era.

    As far as Tasha. She is in a long line of Moffat’s obsession with Time Traveler’s Wife. It’s gotten beyond old. When it was Madame Pompadour and the initial run of River, it was wondrous and heartbreaking. By the time we even got to Clara, it’s “really? again?”.

    Ultimately Moffat needs to stop being the show runner or at least the sole runner. He needs to let someone else’s vision sink in. I suspect it would strongly revitalize his own writing for the show.

    • MilaXX

      Yu’ve just summed up why Clara doesn’t work for me as a companion.

    • Cee

      Yep. Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep. Especially ditto on how River would have worked so much better than Clara.

    • twocee

      Yes, yes, yes on the problems with Clara. I caught the Snowmen on Christmas Eve on BBCA and I was struck by how much I really liked the Clara in that episode versus my feelings towards the present-day Clara. As many others have said, she has been presented as nothing more than a “mystery” with no substance and no reason for us to actually CARE about her. She literally has no personality other than “sassy” or “perky” and has no chemistry at all with Matt Smith. I really liked the 50th anniversary special, but I was quite pissed off that Clara was the companion there for these Who-universe shattering moments. I acknowledge that many people were tired of Amy and Rory but it would’ve been so much more meaningful to have them present for these moments than a companion that we barely know.

      At least the Doctor focused on Amy as he was regenerating. So help me, if he’d stared longingly at Clara at that point I think I might have thrown something at my TV.

    • Missy

      I really, really enjoyed Clara-as-Oswin…she was brave and competent (and also spunky/plucky/funny) so I was really excited for the actress to take on the companion role. Alas. We get Clara-as-latter-day-Martha/early Amy/etc.

    • omg_dora

      Some other review onine noted that Clara does absolutely nothing in this episode except call up the Doctor for a zany sitcom reason and cook a turkey. It seems she NEVER does anything except be pretty, make a sentimental speech and cry. Being a shallow gal, I’m still mesmerized by her adorable Powerpuff face and cute preppie-hipster outfits (all of which I want for myself) but I can’t wait to see the character leave and be replaced by someone more like an actual person.
      You know what would be perfect? If the Tardis went to some pastel cartoon world populated by happy fluffy pastel aliens that look like a cross between Corgi puppies and marshmallow and Clara fell in love with an inhabitant and decided to stay there forever.

  • gabbilevy

    While I mostly agree that this was an overstuffed mess (Moff deciding never to do another two-parter was one of his absolute worst decisions, many of this season’s episodes have been this way), and also fully admit to loving it a little anyway, a few quibbles with your interpretation:

    – The Doctor didn’t have his TARDIS. Not until Clara came back anyway (and yes, I know, he sent her away in the first place). And while he was trying to protect the people of Christmas, that was the side job: the primary purpose of him camping out was to prevent Time War II from breaking out. Not that the plot on the whole makes sense, but within the Doctor’s personal code of morality, it is at least somewhat logical.

    – I actually think your first instinct was right: Tasha {i:is} River. The aforementioned similarities aside — and they’re more than just passing, and even Moff isn’t that one-note with his female characters — her name is Tasha Lem. L-e-m… M-e-l (anie Pond)? We know River had some Time Lordian ability to regenerate, and Moff has repeatedly proved himself willing to rewrite himself into and right back out of corners when it comes to rules like River giving up all her regenerations to the Doctor. She’s also rumored to make an appearance next season, and has a habit of hanging out with the clerics-cum-soldiers. I’m giving it at least a 50/50 chance.

    That said, I really wish Moffat would hand the reins over to someone else. It’d be a loss if he stopped writing individual stories (he’s been the writer many of NuWho’s very best), but he’s a terrible show runner. Matt Smith, who was never less than glorious, often elevated really crap material in the past three seasons. I’m going to miss him dreadfully. But Capaldi has me curious. I’m excited.

    • The Doctor had the TARDIS for several hundred years after he sent Clara home a second time. And he stated outright that he knew his task was ultimately hopeless but he was going to stay to continue to save as many lives as he could. He could’ve saved all of them by taking them out of there. Sorry, it’s not logical in the slightest.

      I’m not holding my breath on the Tasha Lem being River thing. It fits absolutely nowhere in her storyline. And Moffat is that one-note with his characters; especially his female ones.

      • kerryev

        I thought he stuck around to keep all the bad guys away from the crack, but couldn’t figure out why the people couldn’t be safe in the TARDIS at least during active firefights.

    • MilaXX

      I agree it time for Moff to pull back a bit. I don’t dislike him as much as many do and I agree he’s had some good moments, but eps like this give me a headache.

  • MilaXX

    I didn’t hate it, but no, I definitely didn’t love it. It was a bit of a let down after the 50th. Part of me thinks it was too much to try and cram a Christmas special and the Doctor’s regeneration into one ep., but, honestly Moff just doesn’t’ do endings very well. This was just as jumbled as the Ponds leaving. As for Clara, the actress seems nice, but I don’t care for her as a companion. can’t put my finger on it, and it may very well be Moff’s writing, but she’s too perky. This instant family when previously there had been no mention of one other than a widowed dad that she hadn’t seem to have any contact with felt forced. Going forward I would like to see a bit of a shakeup. The Doctor needs a male companion. Not one like Captain Jack who wants to shag him, but a true, along for the ride & adventure companion.
    If I was grading this, I’d give it a C+ and that”s mostly based on Matt’s performance as the Doctor.

    • twocee

      I wish Rory’s dad had become the companion for a while.

      • MilaXX

        Rory’s dad or Wilf would have been great

        • Missy

          Ha! I had the same thought about Wilf.

        • Matt Louden

          Wilfred would be interesting, as iirc they haven’t had any Old companions for a while/if ever (I’m not an expert on every companion ever pre 2005, so don’t quote me). 10th and Wilfred had such a connection in “End of Time” that made me like him overall more than Donna.

      • Missy

        Or Bernard Cribbins/Wilfred (Donna’s Grandfather)!

  • GenieinTX

    It was so awful, so awful.

    I’m totally going with the Tasha is River Song with a new body. I was pissed off at Moffat for writing a River-like character the whole time until the psychopath comment. Then she flies the TARDIS. She is totally River. I think it’s possible. River’s mind is in a computer. The Church is called the Papal Mainframe – basically a computer. The computer put River’s consciousness into a body. I wrote a fan fiction to work it out, and I think it does work. Some of it is a bit off, but it’s Moffat, what do you expect.

    • Tasha Lem had never seen the Doctor in his Matt Smith incarnation before. I can’t conceive of a way, outside of rewriting time, that she fits in River’s timeline, which took place almost entirely during the 11th Doctor’s life.

      • GenieinTX

        Yes, that is a sticking point, damn Moffat. But the way I made it work in my head is that River admits that she and the Doctor lie all the time and this was another one of those times. It’s a stretch, I know. But if you go with it, there could be reasons why she would lie. Maybe she didn’t want him to know she was River, maybe they were hiding the fact that she was River for some reason, he didn’t want the universe to know his wife is alive and make her a target.

        The whole idea that Tasha needed a flirtation and a backstory with the Doctor was unnecessary. She could want to help him and not want to sleep with him and not be able to fly the TARDIS. But, I just can’t dismiss the “you have been fighting the psychopath inside you your whole life.” That seems too important. Why would we know she’s been a psychopath her whole life, unless she is a psychopath we know.

        • stoprobbers

          Because, as they said, Moffat only knows how to write two kinds of female characters: “the randy, adventurous middle-aged woman, and the wide-eyed, supportive, “assistant” girl with a mystery in her past.” And, according to Moffat, any “randy, adventurous middle-aged woman” who has any sort of confidence and power is a psychopath. (Which, frankly, is truly appalling.)

          I know you’re trying as hard as possible to justify, but there is no there there.

          • Matt Louden

            It would be an interesting plot point, but considering I had to rewind my DVR when they talked about the paradox and explaining pretty much seasons 5-6, I’d really hate for things to get more convoluted than they already are. :/

  • Our household reacted to the episode in much the same way. It was so convoluted and confusing. At first we tried to make sense of what was happening and at a certain point we just decided to turn off our brains and stop trying to make sense of it all because it was never going to make sense. The unfortunate thing for me is that Moffat’s less-than-stellar writing has tainted my view of Matt Smith as the Doctor. I quite enjoyed his first season or two, but even in the last Amy & Rory season I started to find him tiresome. On to Peter Capaldi…just wish we were getting some better writing along with him.

  • Lauren Lynch Fox

    They had to show that mess on Christmas?

  • Frank_821

    Yes I think it is best for now Moffat either sticks to be a show runner or sticks primarily to writing.

    Tlo was right in that there are far too many plot issues to list. A big one for me was the existence of the Doctor being wiped out from the memory banks of the “dalek hive mind”.This idea never worked mainly because Moffat bungled this twist. Small wonder he undid this “game changer” only a year later. Daleks are not like the Borg and they are not computers. They are a fascist society but they are composed of living beings capable of independent thought. More so he wrote in another episode that EVERY logged record referencing the Doctor was removed. How was Dalek Clara able to pull that off? And how was the Papal mainframe able to be immune to such tampering.

    That stunt just didn’t work since there would still be millions of entities throughout the galaxy with living memory of the Doctor.


    Maybe things would have been so bad if they had started Season 8 in the fall to better develop the whole Clara/Impossible girl story line. Also then they could have stretched some of the stories (like Angels in Manhattan) into 2-parters that needed to be expanded.

    Oh well at least Moffat gave us Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax. Well what do you know, he can write a different type of female companion. Oh wait, technically they don’t count as companions 😛

  • Synnamin

    thank you! I opened up this post just to see if you had anything to add with my assessment, which would make me think differently about it. Alas, you had no new insights, but confirmed my feelings about it. This episode was probably one of the worst I’ve seen in the reboot. One of my friends said it reminded him of Girl in the Fireplace (my favorite episode). Now I’m wondering what, exactly, he put in his eggnog.

  • Qitkat

    I forgot it was on, truly, and watched late one night eagerly a few days later, and may have dozed off a couple of times. Which may be why some of it made no sense to me whatsoever. OTOH, bad writing may be the reason (for the dozing and the nonsense). But I still didn’t hate it the way some evidently do. I never ever considered that River was now Tasha something-something, and I am pissed at the idea, because now it will be stuck in my head if I ever watch again. Clara was poorly written in this episode, much of her time was spent on stuff that didn’t matter, but I loved Matt in every single scene, and he did indeed bring all his marbles to this final game, and came out a winner. I thought he was marvelous. He got to play all the range of emotions he has become known for, silly and endearing, moody and broody, outraged and fierce, quirky and aloof, tender and caring. The transition into the new Doctor was rather odd, drawn-out, and then suddenly, Poof! here’s Peter Capaldi! and he doesn’t remember how to fly the TARDIS?? The story was properly mysterious in places, very timey-wimey, and I did get a bit of a shiver with the appearance of Weeping Angels, the Silence, and the Crack in the Wall. And I liked the old Cyberman head, ala Wilson. I thought the aging Doctor looked most authentic in his middle age. I appreciated his embracing that death was coming, a release for a lonely, very old man, in pain, and it became a moment of triumph rather than the very sad departure of Ten (who still remains my favorite). But you’ve raised some excellent points as to why it ultimately didn’t hold together well.

  • I feel fairly certain that Tasha was another search-and-replace recasting. In other words, similarly to how the War Doctor came about once Christopher Eccleston turned down appearing in the 50th Anniversary Special, it feels like Tasha was when Alex Kingston was for whatever reason unavailable (or unwilling) to appear in the Christmas Special. One quick search-and-replace on the script later and voila, a new character attached to the dialogue but very little rewriting otherwise.

    • Missy

      It certainly felt like this was the case.

  • AvaLehra

    YES! It was SO bad. Thank you — I thought it was just me.

  • thehousesparrow

    But what did you think of Capaldi? Any thoughts on him?

  • twocee

    I very much wanted to love this episode, and I came away feeling much like you did. While Matt was not my favorite doctor, I always liked him a great deal and I WANTED to be sad to see him go.

    But this season has been a total mess and I think the inherent problems I’ve had with it carried over too much into the Christmas special. I actively dislike Clara and the “relationship” they’ve written between her and the Doctor. I was completely bored with the Impossible Girl storyline (didn’t care why she kept popping up, wasn’t impressed at the resolution). And except for the ghost story near the middle of 7.2 I found the individual episodes to be fair to middling at best. I have to agree with others who say that it’s time for Moffat to hand over the reins to someone else. Which makes me said considering that some of my absolute favorite episodes of Who were written by Moffat (Silence in the Library, Blink, The Empty Child).

    Side note — I’ve begun rewatching the NuWho from the beginning with Eccleston and I have to say, I’m amazed at how much better I’ve liked the episodes. Even the obviously lower budget, cheesy special effects and sometimes clunky stories, they have a fun about them that seems to be severely lacking in the Moffat-era Who from at least the end of Season 5.

  • Alexis Boucher


    I have been having similar discussions with my fellow Whovians in the wake of this episode. The end got to me… no matter how bad Amy’s wig was. And I did get a bit weepy. The rest was.. meh. Just meh. Matt deserved better. I was skeptical of him for a while since Tennant is MY doctor, but over the last few series his work in the show has been one of the few things I really enjoyed. A lot of the rest was just… meh.

    Did it piss anyone else off that an Angel touched Clara’s leg and NOTHING happened to her after we just saw Amy and Rory get sent back to the early 20th century when the same thing happened?

  • ScarlettHarlot

    I always thought the reason River gave her regenerations away to revive the Doctor in “Let’s Kill Hitler” was to set up the work around the 13 regen limit. So I was a little disappointed that the River regens were completely disregarded and suddenly the Time Lords gift him with more regenerations. I am also still not clear why they would give him more when in The Master/10 eps they were furious with the Doctor. Ugh.

  • Anathema_Device

    Yes, great write- up, T Lo. I was so confused throughout this episode. Every season gets more manic and jumbly and rapid fire. I’ll miss Matt Smith, though.

  • Lattis

    Watching this episode left me grumpy.

    We just got done watching the 2nd Doctor in “Enemy of the World.” Patrick Troughton has always been one of my least favorite incarnations of the Doctor – but pound for pound “Enemy of the World” had more of what I love about Doctor Who than “The Time of the Doctor,” and it was clunky, filmed in black and white and had (the always-on-the-verge-of-fainting) Victoria on board.

    I would love it if they quit with the overblown Doctor as Savior uberstories and just calmed down and told some good stories. Not sure how they back away from the grandiose story arcs but I for one would welcome it.

  • samitee

    OMG yes. NOTHING made sense. By the time he got around to actually regenerating, I was thinking “oh, great, the episode was so confusingly bad that I don’t even have it in me to cry now.” But then ghostly Amy Pond showed up and I have to admit I teared up…

    The one awesome thing I’ll take away from this episode is imagining Space Pope Tasha being assassinated and succeeded by the Lizard Space Pope from Futurama. Tee hee.

  • omg_dora

    What TLo said. Exactly. The only bit that I liked about this episode was Matt Smith’s acting (dude’s good). Oh, also Clara’s outfits were preppie-hipster-cute as usual. The rest of it I just couldn’t follow at all. What the hell was up with this small (human) town in the middle of nowhere living in the middle ages? How did they even get there? Whatever.

  • Jenn

    “Also, we spent most of Tasha’s scenes trying to figure out how River Song got a new body and became space-pope until we realized – with no small amount of shock – that she was merely Moffat’s latest attempt at writing a woman character, which means she’s exactly like his last attempt to write one. It’s actually embarrassing when you realize that he didn’t write a new version of River Song, he wrote a completely different character who sounded EXACTLY like her (“Hey, Babes.” HEY BABES? ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING US?), was also referred to as a psychopath, and can fly the TARDIS, because he literally cannot write anything but two types of women: the randy, adventurous middle-aged woman, and the wide-eyed, supportive, “assistant” girl with a mystery in her past. That’s IT. That’s all you get with him; endless cheap ripoffs of River Song and Amy Pond.”

    Sweet god, THIS is exactly why I worry about the next incarnation. Perhaps if Capaldi has a male companion (heavens forfend…), it might suck less.

    • Swivels

      That’s also exactly why I wanted to grab everyone who wanted a female Doctor for the next incarnation, shake them by the lapels, and shout “Are you insane?” at them. I’m open to the idea of a female Doctor at some point, but NOT while Moffat is in charge. Given his track record with female characters, it would be an unbearable, unwatchable, painful mess that would make us look back at this episode as a golden age.

  • jennygirl73

    My husband and i could not agree more with you! We looked at each other and said “wow were you bored too?” I also had the usual wtf is going on here thing that seems to happen with Moffat’s big reveals anymore. Still can’t quite figure out when River and the Doctor got married, and all that Silence crap.

    Anyway, the last 10 minutes were awesome, but am glad to see Matt go. Looking forward to Capaldi and hoping his reign ends the rapid fire back and forth with the this companion.

  • Swiftlytiltingplanet

    OMG. THANK YOU! It was just….dumb. Especially after the general wonderfulness that was the 50th. And I have been ready for Matt Smith to go for at least a year. (Had an argument about that with a friend last New Year’s Eve.)

    I’ve been re-watching from season one of the new Doctor episodes. I miss Rose.

  • Corsetmaker

    I never expect much from the christmas episodes, they tend to be iffy. But this was generally a bit of a mess. I appreciated him trying to tie up loose ends like the crack, the blowing up of the TARDIS, the Silence and Kovarian etc. But as per usual, he tries to do it in too short a time and ends up with a rushed, over-complicated pudding of a story. I really think his aversion to two parters is the biggest problem.
    Odd, it wasn’t until after the episode when I read other comments that I made more than a passing link between Tasha Lem and River. Anyway, I’m looking forward to Peter Capaldi getting stuck in. I have a feeling we’ll go back to a more classic approach. It’s a new era, and although Moffat is still in charge, I reckon the other writers will be coming more to the fore until whomever takes the wheel.

  • Camille Chapman

    I so agree with this review! I have been having arguments with my kids about how bad it was!!

  • Dominique

    This entire review is on point. I feel so bad for Matt Smith because he got stuck with such awful writing, so everyone hates him even more (I think). His last scene was really great, and the regeneration, but those were literally the only parts of the episode I enjoyed.

  • fogharty

    ”But really, we can’t let this one question go: Why the HELL didn’t he load up the entire population of the Town of Christmas (there are not enough groans in the world…) into his TARDIS and take them away from all that danger? He claimed he was staying there for centuries, even though he knew he was eventually going to lose, so that he could save as many lives as possible. Well he could have saved all of them if he’d just loaded them up into his town-sized-on-the-inside Tardis and taken them somewhere else.”

    This this, a thousand times this.

  • Too bad you’re right when it comes to the ‘either you hated it or you loved it and nothing we say can change that’. I wish I could change people’s mind about being so damned positive about this trainwreck, ’cause it wasn’t. I even think you were kinda positive, because I sure as heck hated the final fifteen minutes as well due to the way the regeneration was done, with the Doctor destroying the Daleks (since when did he become so callous as to want to destroy lives, even those of his enemies?) with his regeneration power? Blegh. Anyway, I’ll do the same as you and leave it at that. I just grow tired of trying to defend my opinion by always saying ‘but I don’t HATE Moffat, I hate the way he writes’ and ‘I know Davies wasn’t perfect either, I never said that”. In other words: for my negative opinion on Moffat’s writing to mean something I have to APOLOGIZE first and even then people can’t seem to get past the fact that I severely dislike the writer they think is some kind of supernatural genius. So… thanks for writing this. I really hope it’ll get better from now on, but I won’t hold my breath.