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.
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