Doctor Who executive producer Steven Moffat is always keen to point out that the now 50-year-old sci-fi show is at heart an easy-to-understand saga. But the wily scribe has no problem with having his lead character remind fans — or explain to newcomers — just what the bloody hell the show is all about. Take, for example, the point in tonight’s special Christmas episode, “The Time of the Doctor,” when Matt Smith’s semi-titular, two-hearted hero introduced himself to a couple of strangers thusly: “I’m the Doctor. I’m a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. I stole a time machine and ran away and I’ve been flouting the principal law of my own people ever since!”
What’s not to understand?
Actually, there was plenty newcomers might not have understood about a show which was both Smith’s swan song episode and an opportunity for Moffat to make callbacks to a generous swathe of episodes to feature the Eleventh Doctor. Daleks. Cybermen. Weeping Angels. The Silence. The Time War. Trenzalore. A certain ominous crack in a wall. A certain, red-haired figure from the Doctor’s past. A certain, uh, culinary combination of fish fingers and custard. All were featured in a Moffat-penned show that also introduced the actor who will play the Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi. Well, technically Capaldi was reintroduced in this show, having been briefly glimpsed in last month’s terrific 50th anniversary special, and technically he doesn’t seem to be the Twelfth Doctor given the fresh information supplied by Smith’s Doc in this show, and…Ah, screw it. Let’s press on, or we will be here all night!
With a full dramatic agenda, the Who folks could have been forgiven for taking their foot off the comedy pedal. Instead, the episode featured yuks at regular intervals, be it an extremely succinct synopsis of the entire River Song plot line (“They engineered a psychopath to kill you.” “Totally married her!”) to Capaldi’s worrying, TARDIS-related query to Jenna Coleman’s Clara Oswald (“Just one question: Do you know how to fly this thing?”). Plus? We got to see Smith without hair and imagine we were seeing Coleman without clothes—although it’s possible that may not be a first for some viewers.
Anyway, what did you think of “The Time of the Doctor”? Was it a fitting end for Matt Smith? A mouth-watering start for Peter Capaldi? Incomprehensible gibberish? Let us know!