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OK, yes, internet. I think we are all agreed that that wasn't the best episode of Doctor Who ever. But that's OK. Not every episode in the world's longest-running SF show can be brilliant.

The basic problem this time is that Moffat pretty much just put up on screen all the notes he's been keeping about how the time crack, the Silence, the question hiding in plain sight, Trenzalore and the Lore of the Twelve Regenerations should be resolved, without troubling to knit them into a coherent story or to give them any emotional weight. They were all there, all answered - tick, tick, tick - and it's nice to get the twelve regenerations thing sorted and out of the way especially. But they came too fast, devolved into rabid canon-fodder, and most of us ceased to even care because there wasn't enough of a story to bind them together.

Still, there ya go. Tasha Lem was pretty cool, although considering she was the most fleshed-out newly-introduced character of the entire story, I could still have done with a bit more time getting to know her. I hope we might see more of her in future, anyway. Also nice to meet Clara's family - and perhaps we'll see more of them, too, now that Moffat has gone to the trouble of inventing them? It's not like they were really needed for this one episode, so I hope they have a future in some others. And I did very much like the idea of the Doctor growing old in Christmas town, knowing that he can never leave and never win, but fighting off enemy after enemy all the same, and counting each one as a victory. In some ways it reminded me of The Last Doctor, a short story which Paul Cornell wrote for Christmas 2009 - except that Cornell's story is much, much better, because it has characters and emotions in it, and a still small calm at its core, rather than just a whole shopping list of enemies and plot elements.

The small things:
  • When the Doctor talked about making an invented boyfriend, and said that there was "no easy way to get rid of an android", was that seriously a shout-out to Kamelion? A genuine question - I still haven't seen any of his episodes, so can't answer properly myself.
  • Or maybe he just meant Handles, who was excellent, and a lot like K9?
  • I'm no Strictly Come Dancing fan, but I liked that it was on the telly in the Oswalds' flat. That's the kind of ordinary lives touch that RTD used to be so good at, and which I miss sorely - not to mention a lovely cheeky BBC bit of self-inter-textuality.
  • The people in Christmas town telling the Doctor to "be happy here" reminded me of the creepy villagers in Children of the Stones wishing each other 'happy day' all the time. Except that that came to nothing, because the locals weren't actually creepy at all. Pity, really.
  • I liked the idea of the Silence's true purpose being to act as confessional priests, with everyone forgetting what they have said to them. That gives them a depth they've never quite had before for me.
  • And yeah, the poem which ends "Eleven's hour is over now, the clock is striking Twelve's" was nicely used.
Otherwise, that's it. I have nothing more to say about this episode. On to a proper Peter Capaldi story, please.

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Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
parrot_knight
Dec. 25th, 2013 09:27 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed it, but agree with your points. A few more minutes, just to develop Christmas and its people a bit more, would have been appreciated; though the idea of the Doctor living and dying to save generations of people when the answer to the question, which would have sealed the crack, was hidden in his own manner of living. The new cycle of regenerations was a bit glib - I wondered whether the Doctor had engineered the explosion of the TARDIS himself, or perhaps Tasha Lem would, and siphon off the energy from the Eye of Harmony or something to give him a new regeneration cycle, leaving an injured TARDIS and story possibilities...
swisstone
Dec. 25th, 2013 10:48 pm (UTC)
"Moffat pretty much just put up on screen all the notes he's been keeping about how the time crack, the Silence, the question hiding in plain sight, Trenzalore and the Lore of the Twelve Regenerations should be resolved, without troubling to knit them into a coherent story or to give them any emotional weight."

That pretty much nails it for me.
maviscruet
Dec. 26th, 2013 09:16 am (UTC)
The oddest thing to it for me was yes it resolved the "limit of regenerations" thing - but did so by randomly using up a regeneration....... which was just odd......
kernowgirl
Dec. 27th, 2013 01:47 am (UTC)
I agreed fully with you. I kind of wished they'd just done a small-scale Christmas episode which happened to kill off the Doctor--I know that the whole Trenzalore thing needed to be featured, but... I'd rather some smaller and with actual emotion.

My favourite touch of the change over was dropping the bow tie. Least favourite, gratuitous Amy cameo. Bah, humbug.
radiantbaby
Dec. 27th, 2013 06:22 am (UTC)
(here from who_daily)

The people in Christmas town telling the Doctor to "be happy here" reminded me of the creepy villagers in Children of the Stones wishing each other 'happy day' all the time.

I <3 this review most for the 'Children of the Stones' reference (LOVE THAT SHOW!).

Also nice to meet Clara's family - and perhaps we'll see more of them, too, now that Moffat has gone to the trouble of inventing them?

Well, we saw her father in flashbacks before (though this was a different actor -- but then again, he is older now). And then her mother is dead, of course (which is a big character motivation for Clara), so I guess that was her step-mother? I *loved* her grandmother, though!


Edited at 2013-12-27 06:23 am (UTC)
strange_complex
Dec. 27th, 2013 11:14 am (UTC)
Oh my - and you actually have a Children of the Stones icon as well! You are probably the only person on the internet with one of those, you know, and for that I salute you!

And yeah, I'd actually forgotten about the previous appearances of Clara's parents when I wrote this. It's a pity there was no in-story reference to remind us, as that would probably have made the whole scene more poignant - especially given the stuff about Clara's mother dying in Rings of Akhaten.
pippaalice
Dec. 28th, 2013 10:08 am (UTC)
I think you have hit the nail on the head really. A friend of a friend said it might have worked better as a two parter. I feel a bit more forgiving to it now but I think the fact it was so much worse than the 50th has made me view it more harshly. Also I don't really like nor get the timelords throwing regeneration energy through the crack in the sky. Or 11 using it to shoot at Daleks. I may have missed an important point during this though as my Dad decided Who was the perfect point to carve the rest of the turkey and make a lot of noise. Sigh.

a Twitter friend mentioned that the robot boyfriend was probably the robot Master from Scream of the Shalka but Moffat might have had a different thing in mind.
strange_complex
Dec. 28th, 2013 01:00 pm (UTC)
Yeah, coming after The Day of the Doctor didn't do it any favours, did it? And although you may well have missed things due to Christmassy shenanigans going on around you, that's something the author of a really good Christmas episode should surely anticipate. It shouldn't stand or fall on catching every single line of dialogue, still less multiple times over like this one.

Your friend's Scream of the Shalka theory is great. :-)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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