Sunday, 19 May 2013

The Name of the Doctor Review [MASSIVE SPOILERS]

Huge spoilers for The Name of the Doctor follow - you have been warned.

This is the finale we've all been looking forward to - and I was surprisingly quite excited. I commented on Twitter that I haven't been this excited about a finale for ages. I certainly don't remember feeling it for Series 5 and 6 (although both of those finales were better than those that had gone before), and perhaps I was for The End of Time but that was extinguished pretty quick. The Series 4 finale? Maybe I was excited for Rose coming back. The Series 3 finale? I was definitely excited for. So there you go. The first time I've been really excited for a final in six years.

Like the Series 6 finale, the story wasn't an adventure as such. It had no real story of it's own, it was more there to tie up the ends and be exciting and interesting. It was both exciting and interesting, and despite the lack of story (that was probably only ever really going to get done in a two-parter), it was really really good. In fact, most of fandom agrees that it was really really good. I say most of course - I haven't been on Gallifrey Base yet.

The Doctor's Greatest Secret
So yes of course his name wasn't revealed as we all knew it wasn't. That didn't stop us worrying deep down. But of course we'd probably all thought "well if it's not his name, what does his name mean". And of course - it's about keeping the name of the Doctor intact, in one piece, morally correct. The arrival of John Hurt as the Doctor (more of him later) provided a good last minute twist, and it's always nice when they use the episode name in the actual episode.

John Hurt
I'm not entirely convinced how much of a Doctor he's going to be - but then that's the point. He's meant to be different. And now some people hopefully understand that the Doctor isn't called John Hurt (maybe the BBC should have considered how they did that...), there are lots of questions as to who he is. The most common answer is 'The Time War' Doctor. He probably is, it makes sense - but it would still be lovely if he was something completely different. I am looking forward to seeing how it works though, especially with the chemistry Matt and John had very briefly on screen.

The Old Doctors
Aside from some dodgy editing and colourisation (most notably the moment where Clara falls face forward in the park after seeing Troughton), this bit was lovely. And it's lovely they finally made use of that pointless green screen in The Invasion of Time as well. That story needed a bit of picking up. It was fairly obvious from the moment they revealed the picture, and to some even before that, that Clara would be forcing the Doctor on his way through time and space. It was a lovely twist. But Clara needed a headdress.

Clara
At last, characterisation! Clara has finally become a proper, fully rounded character, who engages on her own with other characters. She's amiable, she has her own relationship with the Doctor (though I'm still not keen on her constantly being dropped off to look after the kids) and she's, at last, a complete character. Special mentions to Neil Cross and Neil Gaiman for pushing her along that track. Oh and Steve Thompson.

The Gang
Vastra, Strax and Jenny were a lot better. Strax's humour was back on form after dipping slightly in The Crimson Horror, and Vastra and Jenny were good too. The moment when Jenny declares "I think I've been murdered" was actually shocking - Doctor Who needs more of these moments!

River Song
For me, River was the only slightly dodgy link in the episode. She didn't quite fit in with the tone of it. There were quite a lot of very quick tone changes, laughing one minute, Dr Simeon being threatening the next, but they worked quite well.With River, tiny moments felt out of place. She doesn't fit the show any more. She, ironically, only fits in as a ghost or an echo, not as a complete character. However her purpose in being there, aside from turning up and practically narrating the story annoyingly once or twice, was fulfilled in the ending. She had an ending as a character. I like the fact that the Doctor has, in an almost unspoken way, reached the end of his timeline with River, and it's good they had a proper goodbye. What was better, is that the Doctor's line after his kiss with River actually made me laugh! I was quite surprised. The kiss itself I thought worked - though clearly fans didn't. But then they didn't in 1996 either, so they'll get used to it. It was, to my knowledge, the first proper kiss (not a genetic transfer, random Cassandra kiss, vortex transfer or half-human Doctor/Rose kiss) that the Doctor has actually.. performed since 1996. So I was happy. Strangely.

Dr Simeon and his Whispermen
Were amazing. Richard E Grant was absolutely outstanding, and it was nice to see the Great Intelligence being the ones who want to rewrite the Doctor's life. Out of all the aliens that have encountered him over and over again - it's the Intelligence, who have come up against him on screen three times. I thought that was a nice win for classic fans. I'm glad the Intelligence has been so prominent in the series. The Whispermen worked well, as did their rhyming couplets. I'm not entirely sure why they were there - parts of the Great Intelligence of just undertakers, but they were good. And their entrance in just murdering Jenny was certainly unforgettable.

The Day We Went to Trenzalore
It was incredible. It looked incredible, and the idea of it was incredible as well. The direction in this episode was absolutely superb, and the acting was different to how it normally is, and amazing. It was acted with complete seriousness, which really added an edge to the scenes where the Doctor goes to his grave. Literally. The whole episode was pieced together really well, and it was paced much better than some other episodes. And the sonic screwdriver was barely used!

Overall - this wasn't a perfect Doctor Who episode. It couldn't be. There wasn't enough of a standalone plot, and it was a little bit too reflective to be perfect. But, for what it was, as a look back and tie up things episode - it was perfect. When compared to other Doctor Who episodes this has to be looked at with the whole of Clara and Simeon and River's arcs - so it can't really be judged independently.

Quite clearly though - it was simply awesome.
The series on a whole was good - but come on Moffat - we can do better than this.

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