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The Doctor Who Christmas Special was not all that it was cracked up to be.

“The Time of the Doctor” was Matt Smith’s farewell episode, although Steven Moffat did his best to ignore the fact. The convoluted plot allowed the Doctor Who showrunner to fit in as many references to the past three seasons as possible. Too bad for Smith that the screen time given to the Silence and the Weeping Angels meant less time for him.

This episode was like a checklist of elements and creatures we have seen during Moffat’s tenure as showrunner. Most of these creatures were rendered redundant and irrelevant to the plot by the end of the Doctor Who Christmas special, so why were they included at all? In fact, the reappearance of the Weeping Angels just demonstrated that Moffat was so pleased with his own (admittedly creepy, although completely overused) creation that he couldn’t help but use them. Again. Perhaps for Christmas, someone should gift Moffat with an editor.

“The Time of the Doctor” was an opportunity for the team to give a proper send off to the character we have loved since 2010, and the fantastic actor who has played him. To ignore the contribution of Smith to the series is at best ignorant, at worst insensitive and callous. We can pretend that this episode should have been plot-focused, but we completely believe that a Doctor’s final episode should showcase them as the focus, not as an afterthought.

Related: We rank every Doctor Who episode from the Matt Smith era

A jaded viewer might even consider that this episode was much more about a showrunner proving his own creativity than it was about celebrating an actor. That is, if you weren’t too busy trying to make sense of what you were watching.

Afterall, “The Time of the Doctor” was difficult enough for the superfan to comprehend. A casual viewer (many of whom tune in for the Christmas Special with their families) would have no chance at all. How could they recall the prophecy stating that “Silence will fall,” or the Doctor’s unknown fear from “The God Complex”?

This is not to say that there weren’t some enjoyable elements in this episode, like the truth field, and Handles (a relative of Cast Away’s Wilson?). But a few laughs don’t make up for cheating Doctor Who fans of a finale, and a goodbye. We would give up the rest if it meant Smith could have an emotional and special send off.

doctor who christmas specialAmy Pond’s (Karen Gillan) goodbye was one of the clear highlights of this episode. But to single out Amy, when Clara (Jenna Louise Coleman) was standing right in front of the Doctor? Talk about the brush off.

Of course it makes sense that the Eleventh Doctor would be reluctant to say goodbye to this body, as it was his last connection to Amy and Rory (Arthur Darvill). But to completely ignore the woman who had literally just saved his life, and who was apparently so special to him?

Seeing Clara once again reduced to a gloried prop did Moffat no favours in the eyes of the fans who already take issue with him. It also made very little sense for the character of the Eleventh Doctor, and as this was his very last chance to speak with her (as himself, rather than his next regeneration), we were surprised that he didn’t take it up.

Related: Why Karen Gillan should not have made an appearance in “Time of the Doctor”

Perhaps we could forgive the overly complicated plot, the lazy writing, or the contrived inclusion of past creatures – if it wasn’t Matt Smith’s last episode. And that is the critical point; there are no more episodes to fix these problems, or give Smith another chance. This was his very last episode, and we can’t get another one.

The failings of the writing are not what hurt so much when we watched the Doctor Who Christmas Special. No, rather it was the fact that Matt Smith was the casualty of them, when he deserved so much better.

Did you enjoy Matt Smith’s farewell in the ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas Special?

  • PabloRuiz7

    As always, you make excellent points Marama. Does anyone know if there is a Doctor Who writer’s room? Or does each writer write his or her episode, get notes from Moffat and the BBC and that’s it? I think it’s a show that would benefit from a writer’s room. Lots of writers giving each other feedback, telling Moffat to control himself and his time jumps.

    However, I have to say I did like the episode. It was wibbly wobbly plot-wise, but it resonated emotionally with me the whole time. Especially near the end when I cried ALL OF THE TEARS.

    • TheFirst

      I don’t think there’s a writers room. It’s pretty much Moffat who approves everything, story-wise.

      This is most appearant with Clara’s character. Every writer writes her different, so we don’t really know her.

      • PabloRuiz7

        And her relationship with the Doctor isn’t defined. 10 and Rose were romantic, Martha longed for the Doctor, Donna was the Doctor’s Best Friend…Clara, as of now, simply exists. I hope her relationship with Capaldi is quickly established so we get a sense of who she is.

        • TheFirst

          That’s part of the problem. Because Moffat hasn’t defined her yet, every writer writes her and her relationship with the Doctor as they see it, which is different for every writer.

          However, Jenna said she wants Clara and the Twelfth Doctor to be best friends, and considering the age difference, I’m pretty sure that’s what they’ll be. I don’t think there will be a romance.

        • HBT

          I chalk this up to her storyline as the impossible girl? She was a tool in that arc and was not necessarily real ya know? She kept dying, or forgetting and moving on a bit. I hope 12 gives her the opportunity to develop as a character or develop a personality.

          • http://www.hypable.com/author/lauracristiano/ LauraBC

            Agreed, after the whole “The Impossible Girl” there is too much unanswered. For starters, who the hell were those people at diner and how does she feel about who I assume were her Dad, gran, and step-mom.

  • Gary65

    Compare this to End of Time & The Parting of the Ways and it really highlights how inferior SM is to RTD. I have to be honest, the only behind the scenes person I give credit to on the last few seasons of DW is the casting director. Everyone from Matt to Jenna to Karen to Arthur to Suranne all the way down is impeccably cast. But a lot of the writing is just bad. I tuned back in to Dr. Who specifically for JLC & it’s so depressing to see her so misused.

  • guest

    I personally love Moffat, not only as a individual writer, but a showrunner too. This episode probably wasnt his finest (itwas a bit complicated) but I enoyed the references to 11s life. It was supposed to not only represent 11s life but an entire era of doctor who. My only problem with this episode is that Clara is such an awful companion. And it was too simple to just ask the crack/Gallifrey to help out the doctor, and use the regeneration to kill the daleks.

  • rdh01

    I liked it. About as much as I liked Tennant’s farewell. They were only ok because you feel a bit emotionally stunted at saying goodbye. I got it. I cried. I was content with this farewell.

  • Lotte

    I got pretty mad during the last episode, because for a normal episode it was mighty fine, but as a farewell for Matt Smith it really was dismissal and just disappointing.

  • AlisonCanRead

    I liked this episode but didn’t love it. There isn’t one thing that I can necessarily saw was poorly done. Rather, it was messy as a whole. I liked the use of the angels and the silence. It only took a few minutes and was a good shout out to monsters who’d been large parts of Eleven’s reign. The show did a good job of answering a lot of unanswered questions, but so much effort was spent on that that the episode felt disjointed. I think this episode is more similar to Journey’s End than End of Time Part II since the former episode was where RTD tried to sum up his entire tenure in two episodes. And it succeeded far more than TotD. And as many problems as End of Time Part II had, I think it was better than Time of the Doctor (plus I love 10th Doctor emo sap).

    And as much as I love the sentimentality of breaking the fourth wall with Matt’s “I’ll always remember when the Doctor was me,” his performance in that scene was wooden and awkward. It almost looked like it was a Matt puppet. I did love Karen’s guest spot. I would have liked to see Arthur there too, but as he’s performing in Once in NYC, he wouldn’t have been able to shoot it. It may have given Clara short shrift, but she has only been his companion 1/2 a season. Amy was there 2.5 seasons. Karen/Amy’s brief presence was the most emotional moment of the regeneration scene for me. Plus it also hearkens back to previous regenerations where old companions returned.

  • Bing

    Completely agree, A sad excuse for an episode that felt so rushed and was filled with a ton of useless bits. I mean, did he REALLY need to make Tasha Lem another character which flirts with the doctor? It really felt that her lines were meant for River but since he can’t bring her back, he created Tasha Lem! Can’t wait for a new showrunner to save the day.

    • Maria Wang

      Oh now Capaldi’s Doctor is gonna refer to Matt’s Doctor as the ‘flirty one’….i just know it.

      But my, has our Doctor grown up. Remember when he was so uncomfortable with Amy’s advances

      • rashmiviswanath

        Well, it was the night before her wedding….

        And what was with the filthiness anyway? I mean, she makes him twirl around and oggles at his body when he’s naked. WTF?? Bed as an altar? All the sexually charged leaning during serious conversation. Out of the blue grabbing and kissing? It was just weird.

  • K@

    I’m my opinion the losers were the ones who watched Doctor Who with a critical eye and didn’t let themselves enjoy it for the amazing ride it was. Was it perfect? No. But it was also exciting, action packed, sweet, sad and emotional.
    Douglas Adams once said that the challenge of Doctor Who was to make it simple enough for adults to understabd and complicated enough to hold a child’s interest. Well, I understood the whole thing. And my three year old loved it. She was sooo excited to see all the different bad guys on one place! And regeneration episodes are her favorite. We rewound the Smith-Capaldi regeneration about twenty times today. She thought it was “The most awesomest regeneration ever”.

    • S.K.Hansen

      Critical analysis is a big part of fandom. We can enjoy Doctor Who, while also acknowledging it’s faults and missed opportunities.

      • K@

        I absolutely agree. But I’ve seen many more negative comments than positive ones and it seems everyone is being a little too critical and by doing so you can’t truley enjoy the ride. It us like people are looking for things to nitpick.
        I personally am just being emotional on the first couple viewings of the episode. Matt Smith is gone and I cried my heart out. Then Capaldi showed up and I had goosebumps and chills. What a crazy episode!

        • WeasleyIsOurKing

          YES! My thoughts exactly!

        • Trent Taylor

          I think letting a bad episode go, when the standard for such an episode should be excellence would just be wrong. It wasn’t crazy at all. It’s entirely too comfortable. It wasn’t fresh or exciting or anything. It felt like Moffat got bored and just said, eh, why not. Should I give a decent explanation? Eh. I can get by with it. He didn’t even try. Would it be in poor taste and arrogant of me to make Matt Smith’s Doctor take up half of the Doctor’s lifespan? Maybe, but who cares, the fans will get over it. General poor ideas getting put to screen.

          • NotSoQwerky

            I think you’re mistaken, and these were actually generally great ideas getting put to screen. While sure, you could consider Matt Smith’s incarnation living for almost as long as all previous incarnations combined, to be an act of poor taste or arrogance on Moffat’s part, or you can consider it for what it is – a plausible ending to the life of The Doctor. He knows he’s Thirteen, he knows he gifted his penultimate regeneration to Rose, diminishing the potential for healing he can provide to the universe. He knows that to live means to weaken, becoming more vulnerable and less powerful toward his foes, thus he stays in a deadlock of perpetual life, ensuring little victories – hundreds of years of Christmastonian lives, and many fixed toys. And all that time he’s stuck between his two ideals; he idealizes the prospect of no longer being the lonely god and giving life back to the children of his people, yet would that be in the greatest interest of the universe, as per his chosen name.

            So instead of running off and potentially dying from a gunshot wound in a San Francisco alley, our Doctor stays, devoting himself to individuals, as he has always done, until he can do no more.

          • Trent Taylor

            Which would be a good point if it was responding to the actual issue being Moffat’s arrogance. From my understanding, when talked about originally the regeneration limit was more of a safety thing, and could easily have not counted regeneration energy being sent into another body. It’s an artificial limit. Moffat could have easily not had counted that, and he could have not gone and messed with the time way just because he could. So for the purposes of being critical of Moffat, 11 is in fact 11, or arguable 12. He has two regenerations left unless you WANT him to be the last, like Moffat did. It’s still Moffat being arrogant to matter how you slice it.

            You can’t explain away the issue using reasons created by the issue itself.

          • NotSoQwerky

            I’m not sure I quite understand the point you’re trying to make…aside from the bit about your wanting for being critical of Moffat.

            The show had clearly established Matt as the thirteenth incarnation by articulating the logical fact that Metacrisis counts, and introducing the War Doctor to fill the character hole of a Doctor’s role as a Warrior during a War.

            There’s no need to be critical of Moffat here, he addressed a piece of mythology which has been debated by fans for thirty years, and managed to do so whilst respecting the character the show is built around. That’s his job. It’s not arrogance, it’s showrunning.

          • Trent Taylor

            It’s self importance. Equally justified could been a situation where we knew the Eighth doctor had been in the war, he mentioned how the meta crisis didn’t count towards the regeneration limit, since his face/DNA didn’t change. But instead, a new doctor was introduced, one of the fundamental choices made for the revived series was changed, and other sins that are still bad, but not really worse than anyone else.

          • Jason J. Willis

            Cute. You say that he should be blamed for not making a choice that was “equally justified.” If it was only equally justified, either choice would be nothing but a decision and neither could be faulted, unless you were looking to fault someone for the sake of faulting them, as is the case here.

          • Trent Taylor

            The internal logic is what I was referring to being equal. Not the external politics or story based merits.

        • spacie19

          I’m curious how you feel about how most people raved about the 50th Anniversary special? Do you think people were just bandwagoning with their praise? I thought 7B was mostly disappointing, the 50th was amazing, and then was disappointed again by the Christmas ep. I’m not looking to nitpick; I’m looking to be entertained. When you have 50 years of a show, expectations can be high. But that’s just it. It’s like the writers are over-thinking it. Just tell a good story. Flesh characters out. That’s all I want! You don’t have to jam 50 monsters in one ep to achieve that!

          • K@

            I loved the 50th! My only problem was Moffet sort of rewriting all of RTD’s backstory. I actually prefer RTD to Moffet… Tennant was my first doctor. But for the most part, everything for the 50th made sense. And I don’t see all the villains back for the Christmas episode as being a bad thing. I guess I would compare it to a firework show’s finale. The season started out slow and worked up to this grand crescendo with all the tricks up their sleeve. I used to be super nitpicky but now I take the show for what it is… A lovely fairytale about a small town girl and her adventures through time and space with the greatest being in the universe. I have a lot more fun with the show when I’m not caught up in details. I guess I watch with my heart, not my Brain. =)

        • EvilZygonRabbit

          I used to be a lot more critical of Doctor Who than I am now. I spent way too much time following the Series 6 finale dissecting everything I didn’t like about the plotting, the characterization, etc. But in preparation for Matt’s exit, I went back and rewatched a lot of those S6 episodes purely for the sake of nostalgia, and found myself loving them more than I ever expected. Even not-particularly-amazing Doctor Who is still fantastic television.

          The thing is, people take the show too seriously. It’s not so much science fiction as science fantasy – and bonkers science fantasy at that. It’s not MEANT to be taken seriously. It’s not LOST, thank goodness. In fact, comparing the wrap-up of the Silence arc with LOST season 5 easily shows Moffat to be a superior planner, IMHO. In any case, Moffat has a lot of haters who were gathering in force to tear this last Silence installment apart, people who only stayed quiet during “The Day of the Doctor” because they were still crying over David Tennant’s departure and were (understandably) happy to have him back. In the end, Matt Smith got a far, far better last story than Tennant did.

    • Jose810

      Well said

    • Anthony

      It’s not unfair to say an episode was bad when it was bad… that doesn’t make one less of a fan. That makes you a person who expects a certain standard when the bar has been set and understanding that a regeneration episode is an important moment, not only to to close out a doctor but, to (literally) toss a new one in with a moment of confusion!

      This was not a great episode… and that is unfortunate.

    • Maria Wang

      You know I completely agree. Cause I used to be one of those innocent, oblivious viewers who just enjoyed the show. Until I started reading reviews, and listening to DW podcasts that goes into in depth analysis of each episode, nitpicking on every single thing that’s good and bad about it. Oh ignorance is bliss.

      My eyes have been opened to so many little things, things i would have never thought of on my own. So now I can’t help but see plot holes and technically impossible things…. I missed the days when I simply didn’t question what was happening and just watched the bloody thing.

      • Tirzah

        I felt uncomfortable and just a bit unhappy with the first three quarters of the show, without really understanding why. When I read this review, I felt validated and generally better–knowing that someone else had the same feelings you did, and reading their articulation of it, can actually set you at ease.

        I don’t fault people for enjoying something in a way I didn’t. Go ahead, like it all you like; I’ve enjoyed things other people have been discontent with. My discontentment with parts of this sendoff ep does not invalidate other people’s pleasure!

        Nor does the pleasure of others invalidate my discontent. And having others that share my gripes DOES make it feel valid. That’s why I like to read these reviews, to see if I have any company in this quarter.

        If your ignorance is blissful, you don’t have to read these things. :P I know I wouldn’t read a poor review of The Day of the Doctor if I saw one, because that one made me purely pleased.

        • Maria Wang

          Oh, I couldn’t possibly stay away now. I like to hear people talk and discuss about it, praise it, point out the details…only it often points flaws I don’t see. And then I realize…ohhh…well…great, now I am aware of one more fault.

          • K@

            I don’t have a lot if friends who watch Doctor Who, so I loooovvveee the posts on Hypable! I can finally discuss my favorite show with other fans!

    • EvilZygonRabbit

      I think that’s wonderful! Children are happy. Matt Smith’s work is complete. :) Seriously, why can’t we all just relax and enjoy the show the way kids do?

    • Matthew Howland

      Couldn’t have said this better myself. Personally loved how quick it was.

  • Winkyxx

    Ten(ant’s) farewell was extremely depressing but Smith’s was like a victory.

    • Maria Wang

      I felt the opposite actually. I was so sad for him, He was there for hundreds of years, fighting an seemingly endless war. He grew so old and tired and weary. It was so sad to see him dancing and laughing with the children knowing that it would all come to an end. And he seemed lonely, when Clara showed up at the end there.

      Sure, he had his last hurrah, but it seemed like he had been hurting for a long time.

      • rashmiviswanath

        I hated how he danced around after getting his regeneration energy. It would have been nice if it was played straight.

      • Qitkat

        I agree with some of what you are saying. He was quite lonely, and the war going on endlessly was wearying and aging to him, but clearly he felt relieved that his time was up, and I enjoyed his triumph and jubilation as a great contrast to Ten’s leaving the show, and feeling such regret (and I love David Tennant and sobbed with his final scenes). This felt like a perfect send-off for Matt, for the character and spirit he had imbued the Doctor with; at the end he seemed like an old man who had become a young man again, with all the attending hopes and dreams, and then for a brief time he was young again physically too from the regenerative power, and it was the perfect circle for me.

  • http://ravenclaw1991.tumblr.com/ ravenclaw1991

    I personally enjoyed it a lot.. Was it the best Christmas special? Not my a long shot, but I still really liked it. And, yes, while rushed, it did tie up a lot of loose ends and now a lot of things make sense.

  • Nix

    I was underwhelmed… the plot was so convoluted, I was only following about half of it… (and I’m a fan that’s been watching for about 4 years now)… mostly, I just didn’t care about it. The most annoying thing was the plot points that seemed to go nowhere… was it really necessary for Clara to get scared by the Silence, or to have the Weeping Angels involved? Because nothing actually resulted from that, did it? I also didn’t like the bit when they sped up time and we were suddenly having the Doctor’s life narrated as if it was all history… not sure why it bugged me, but it did.

    I liked the end part, with the doctor being saved by the time lords, and the bit with Amy and the fishsticks… but honestly, I felt like they could have spent more time tugging at our emotional heartstrings… they could have somehow brought amy & rory into it a bit more, maybe more clara moments (like christmas dinner), some river song, and yeah, just more of a tribute to Matt… I know they did do that, but a bit more would have been nice. So yeah, pretty much agree with everything you said above :)

    • Elphaba Thropp

      I understood the Silence thing when it was explained that they were part of the Church, which was why they blew up the TARDIS way back in series five. But yeah, the Weeping Angels and Daleks really had no meaning except to remind us all of how brilliant and amazing Moffat thinks he is.

    • JBuff

      Why didn’t Clara go back in time when the Weeping Angel grabbed her heel?

      • Maria Wang

        they don’t always send you back in time…or maybe it had been weakened, maybe it’s allergic to snow. Take your pick

  • JettePop

    I agree this episode bothered me a lot too. I felt Matt’s overall performance was great and his screen time wasted.

  • Matthew Howland

    I feel like everyone is just hating on it cause Matt left, no other reason and they’re finding reasons to hate the episode. The real losers of this episode are the ones who picked it apart and stripped it down to try and find everything wrong with it rather than enjoy their last hour with the 11th Doctor. C’mon guys.

    • spacie19

      No way. The episode was not entertaining. That’s why so many people are hating. The 50th ep was fantastic. And that’s why so many raved about that one. Pure and simple.

      • Amir

        I personally loved this special.

      • Jason J. Willis

        I found it very entertaining. My whole family did. Sorry you didn’t.

    • Maria Wang

      No…I don’t mind that Matt’s left. I’m ready for a new Doctor. There are other reasons why I won’t rank this a top Xmas episode. I actually enjoyed Doctor Witch Wardrobe and The Snowmen much better.

  • Darbear

    I completely disagree with this. Steven Moffat is the best thing that has happened to Who since Russell T. Davies got it back on air. Have you people watched End of Time? It is about The Master turning the entire human race into replicas of himself. Am I the only one who thinks that this is a ridiculous plot point? The Time of the Doctor (and the rest of the Moffat era so far) wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty darn close.

    • aditiverma

      Moffat is amazing, but the main problem is that he hasn’t been able to establish Clara. Smith and Coleman have been doing their best, but they’ve been let down. SM is a brilliant writer, and we can see that with Sherlock all the time, but DW is different in character to Sherlock which must be humanly plausible. Picking tricks out of the air is possible in DW, but doing it too many times runs that well dry… like here. Clara just seems to exist, as someone else says.

      This episode was okay, again elevated by Matt Smith, but pretty boring. It was less of a disappointment than the 50th to me, but it was nowhere near the Ponds-level writing that we know SM is capable of. If the latter half of series 7 had more River to bring it together, it may have worked better overall for all of us, but certainly in this episode- we could have done with all the Ponds most of his time as The Doctor was spent with them, and SM missed this trick too among many others.

      Also- what the hell were the Weeping Angels *doing*?

  • Elphaba Thropp

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Exactly what I’ve been saying. Also, I feel that Jenna Coleman was greatly disrespected in this episode. I have nothing against Jenna because I know that it’s not her fault, and I try not to have anything against Clara, but her character has nothing. She has no faults (try to find one. try.), she’s apparently perfect at everything she does, perfectly cute and perky, can make the Doctor change his mind with a single tear, and she somehow managed to travel on the outside of the TARDIS back to the Doctor. Um, I’m sorry, but a) how the heck did she manage to fly it from the outside to the Doctor AND survive the process, when we all know fully well that you would die from the time vortex exposure, as demonstrated by Captain Jack in series three. I highly doubt that the TARDIS (or *my* TARDIS, I don’t know what Moffat has done to her as of late) would simply take her back, clinging to the wood.

    • NotSoQwerky

      Faultless?! Clara clearly can’t cook a Christmas turkey.

      As for the TARDIS travel, well she didn’t fly it, the chunky yellow sonicy thingy directed it back to The Doctor after dropping Clara off. And, though I may be mistaken here, I believe there was a line explaining how she could survive the trip on the outside, that went a little something like “She extended the shields to protect you. No wonder she took so long to get here – lugging you around.”
      The difference being the TARDIS was trying to kick Jack off due anomaly business, but as we’ve seen over the last series, the TARDIS has come round on Clara and is far more accommodating to her now.

      • Elphaba Thropp

        …I am not sure whether or not you are being sarcastic in the ‘faultless’ area, as being unable to cook a turkey isn’t exactly in the list of acceptable character faults. I can’t cook a turkey, that doesn’t make me a well rounded fictional character.

        I realize that the sonic directed her back home, but how exactly do you explain her maneuvering the TARDIS *back* to the Doctor, which was my point? You may recall that Rose had to use a TRUCK to pull the console off, and nearly killed herself in the process by absorbing the time vortex. What did Clara do, give the TARDIS a wink and a smile?

        • NotSoQwerky

          Hahah don’t worry, I was kidding about her culinary skills being a major foible. And no, it was your drive and integrity balanced out with your naivety that made you a well rounded fictional character…the green skin resulting in hardships helped facilitate this character development as well. Back to Who though, most companions have still been pretty idealized and shallow in terms of character depth at their seventh episode mark, which is about where we’re at with Clara, and it could be argued that, by the end of their tenures, most recent companions greatest fault is a romantic obsession with the Doctor.

          Oh no, what I think happened was that the thing in the sonic socket was like an auto pilot, which was always going to return the TARDIS to Trenzalore. It wasn’t going to be the same as Parting of the Ways, where The Doctor intended for the TARDIS to slowly die in the middle of London, he knew that the TARDIS’ final resting place was on Trenzalore, for he had seen it in The Name of The Doctor — he was setting all of his ducks in a row so that all would be as he knew it to be. Clara just hitched a ride on the pre-programmed return flight, and the TARDIS accommodated her by extending the shields to protect her.

          • Elphaba Thropp

            Ah, okay ;)

            That does make sense. I wish they had explained that, though :/

        • Jason J. Willis

          The doctor had set the TARDIS to return to him already. She just made it slower, is the idea. She did not steer it.

  • Kirsten

    Matt had the perfect goodbye, he was always the hero and he died the hero by choosing to stay and fight for the town, it was emotional and it’s NOT suppose to be the same as David’s or Chris’s they where DIFFERENT regenerations of the doctor, Matt’s doctor had a very sad goodbye and that goodbye was made just for him because that’s what type of doctor he was. His regeneration was not choppy and unfocused it was long and sad just like David’s but in Matt’s own way.

  • Tyler

    I disagree completely with this, this episode celebrated everything that happened in Matt’s time on the show. Yes Moffat threw in monsters here and there but with good cause this was where the doctor was suppose to fight all his enemies and die doing it. meaning all of them weeping angels included would be there. Now the thing with Clara, she isn’t leaving she has probably two more seasons on the show, 11 was leaving and Amy was the biggest part of his story. So when she showed up I was happy, the whole time wait for it I hoped I would here her say, “Hello Raggedy Man”and then he turns around and bam she’s there and I got that. To say this was not how Matt should have left. He had his moment. Chris and David had amazing goodbyes, but Matt was the only one who looked straight at the audience and goodbye. The Time of the Doctor, wasn’t the most christmasy episode, but it was the perfect good by for Matt.

  • rashmiviswanath

    I am so glad you talked about how the Doctor whimpering about Amy when Clara (who had literally just saved his lives by talking through the crack, again.) was standing right next to him. He lied to her and sent her back. She still came back feeling loyal to him. I would’ve been furious….Talk about a brush off! There were so many ways to include Amy in that scene and not thumb the nose at Clara. Say what you will about Tennant, or Davison…the other Doctors at least remembered their companions equally in their last moments. And what’s this whole deal with ‘first face this face saw’ anyway? I mean…humans see their doctor’s faces first. Doesn’t mean dash. It’s not like they’re simpering over those people.

    There were so many ways to write these same scenes in much nicer ways. And no Rory! Just Amy. This annoyed me too! And there was some pseudo romantic tension happening with the Doctor and Amy holding each other’s faces and staring….euggh. Why couldn’t it have just been written a little more nicely? But other than all this…..great to see Karen Gillan…. :-)

    • aditiverma

      Personally- no Rory, Dream Amy and No RIver. Also: No Strax, Vastra or Jenny.

  • Maria Wang

    Why does Doctor Who always have to cater to the casual viewer?

    • Dave Ostroske

      There’s always the danger that the show will end up only appealing to fans and not to casual viewers. We’ve had a lot of fan-centric treats over the past few months. I’m grateful for that, as a fan. And because we won’t see Capaldi in full stride as the Doctor until August (phew, another long wait!) that danger, that we’ve lost new or occasional viewers, is present right now. I don’t suppose we could get a simple minisode where the new Doctor and Clara succeed in un-crashing the TARDIS, some time around Easter, just to appeal to the Not We? I’d like something like that, and so would the new audience that would make Peter their Doctor!

  • kevin connors

    bring back the dr matt smith

  • Dave Ostroske

    Amy Pond’s face was the first face that Eleven saw. Clara’s face was the first face that Twelve saw. Don’t you think that point was explicitly made?

  • Blair

    I just feel that when DT left, at the end of his regeneration episode, you felt a sense of the Time Lord he had been-powerful, lonely, complex, etc. At the end of this particular Christmas special I had no sense of who MS was as a Doctor throughout his era. Judging by the final episode, he would essentially be characterised as a flirt. From Clara’s phonecall and then for the majority of the first half. Then he aged hundreds of years and Clara didn’t ask why, which is odd to me. & the Doctor in all those years didn’t have a plan to get his TARDIS back or to stop the war and bring Gallifrey back. We won’t even get into the fact that the Doctor had no intentions of speaking his name & you’re telling me I’m to expect for hundreds of years, enemies are supposed to come, with no resolution or any other war development? I missed something. & an aging Doctor is just going to fight off all his enemies with a screwdriver? It just felt incomplete. So we got no power from him, like we have seen many times, because he was aged to an old man. We had no sense of his light-hearted cleverness where he banters about and solves major issues in no time at all. We got a little funny. We got the old man who loved to protect innocent children & fix toys that weren’t broken. But there was more than enough missing and more than enough “empty” scenes where time passed and things happened but we felt there was no plot development.

    We knew the Doctor was lonely, but bringing in the faulty Handles scene made him seem pitiful.

    And the Time Lords zapping a regeneration to him through a crack in time? Time Lord science with no real explanation just seems like a cheap trick to continue the show.

    I expected an epic plot to completely explain how the show will continue, not a cheap string of references and no logic to go along with them. There was not enough focus on the war going on and what it was about because after the episode, it was unclear on timing and Gallifrey and why enemies were coming to Christmas & destroying the town. It also is unclear as to how the Doctor got Clara out from his timestream on Trenzalore-a giant gap that I suppose will just be dropped now. So much feels unfinished, especially because the Doctor and Clara’s relationship still seems odd to me.

    To summarize the episode in one word:

    • aditiverma

      Exactly. The 50th was also incomplete. What a mess :(

  • EvilZygonRabbit

    How could they recall the “Silence will fall” prophecy? I don’t know, what with living under a rock for the past five years. Absolutely impossible.

    Seriously, the only people who wouldn’t have gotten that would have been people who didn’t have any prior exposure to the show, and even they could have absorbed it from the context of the episode.

  • jefnvk

    “Afterall, “The Time of the Doctor” was difficult enough for the superfan to comprehend. A casual viewer (many of whom tune in for the Christmas Special with their families) would have no chance at all”

    That is what happens when you have a show with story arcs. The monster of the week thing only keeps people interested so long (The X-Files was a great example of this), if you want a continuing fanbase, eventually you need more there. Especially so, now that stories are mostly only one episode long, instead of the 4-6 that they were in the old series.

    Yes, it is a Christmas special, but I was glad to see most of the current arcs wrapped up with this Doctor, some of them have been dragging on quite long enough. As this is his last episode, it is inevitable that if they are to not continue, they needed to be addressed, whether it makes it hard for a once a year viewer or not.

    All I hear here is a bunch of Monday morning quarterbacking. Got better ideas? Take them to the BBC, maybe they’ll hire you on as a writer.

  • Buzz

    Now we have to figure out where it ranks in his line of episodes.

  • Gulab Jamun

    I agree 100% with this article

  • Suzanne Gentle

    Terrible episode. Although anything with Clara in makes my skin crawl. Jumped all over the place and I agree that more emphasis should have been placed on Smith. Would have liked to have seen River in some way in this ep. Peter Capaldi? No thanks think I’ll pass from now on.

    • Lucas Mass

      What’s wrong with Peter Capaldi? You can’t judge him Before you’ve at least seen an episode with him as the doctor

      • Suzanne Gentle

        I absolutely can judge him. I’ve seen Capaldi in many things and don’t like him. Its as plain as that. I’ve seen his various acting techniques and he’ll be a poor Doctor. You like him and I don’t. Are you saying I have no right to an opinion? I stand by my statement. Old man Capaldi is wrong for the role. We’ve had funny, quirky and younger doctors. I don’t want to go back to the stiff old men of old. Boring! Matt Smith and David Tennant will always be the Doctor to me. A combination of both which is what Matt Smith offered on a sort of time sharing role but which was turned down by Moffat would have been perfect. Capaldi? No thank you

        • Lucas Mass

          Again, you shouldn’t judge how he’s gonna play the doctor before you actually seen him play the doctor. Remember how much insane hate Matt Smith got?

          • Suzanne Gentle

            I DO NOT like Capaldi and find his acting skills lacking and always have. He is not suitable for the role (Or any role for that matter as the man is talentless). I’m sorry you seem to be a huge fan but I do not like him. For goodness sake accept my opinion as you are entitled to yours. I have no interest in this untalented actor and can only hope he doesn’t break a hip whilst trying to play the role.I won’t be watching and I won’t reply again to you because I have no idea why you are trying to force me to like him. Very odd. Make your own point in a comment and stop replying to mine. He should be sat in a nook with Norris in the Rovers Return not playing an iconic character like Doctor Who.

          • Poppy Cox

            Get a grip of yourself and stop being an overly sensitive and ageist drama queen. I think the real issue is that you have had your young, hot Doctors taken away from you and had them replaced by an older man about which you cannot fantasise. It’s all very insular and ageist. Go on – throw a strop – you know you want to.

          • Suzanne Gentle

            rofl I’m throwing a strop? And pleaaaaaaase,, you actually think Matt Smith is hot? Ewwwwwwwwww. I’m ageist? I’m older than Capaldi you prat! The Capaldi followers come out of the woodwork. I have no interest in little girls screaming at the pc screens because I made a comment saying i don’t like Peter Capaldi. Now I’m blocking as i soooo like having the last word and won’t hear any of Capaldi’s knicker wetting fans respond. He’s a terrible actor, he’s dull as dishwater and I would rather the series ended now than this untalented little man take on the role for which his skills are sorely lacking. xxxxxx

          • Cguy

            lol dude, what the f**k is wrong with you?

          • Lucas Mass

            I am actually not a fan of him as I’ve barely seen him in anything but it doesn’t matter because we have barely seen the man as THE DOCTOR and I think everyone should at least give him a chance in THAT role (pretty much noone did with Matt Smith and look how that turned out). From the little I have seen it seems like he has a great presence on screen. If he walks into a room he will have your attention which is a great quality for the doctor to have (Eccleston and Pertwee had that presence aswell) while doctors like Matt Smith and Peter Davison had to earn that presence. Nothing about him screams that he can’t possibly play the doctor when you look back on all the other 12 actors so far. If he turns out to be different. Awesome! we need change because that is what Doctor Who is about, Matt Smith was nothing like David Tennant, David Tennant was nothing like Chris Eccleston and Chris Eccleston was nothing like Paul McGann but they are all still great Doctors.
            If you don’t like him, fine. But don’t hate on him before you’ve seen him do the job. If you still don’t like him after his first couple of episodes, fine then you have a right to not like his doctor. For example, I don’t particularly like Ben Affleck as an actor but I still won’t hate on him as batman before I’ve seen him actually PLAY Batman.
            Just remember, 12 actors have played the Doctor so far and none of them have been bad. Not a single bad casting choice yet

  • K@

    Marama, This article was a blast to read! Even though I might not agree with it completely, it gave me lots to think about! I love getting different perspectives on Doctor Who and this article was very well written! Thanks for sharing your opinion!

  • SDP

    Didn’t particularly care for the shots at David Tennant’s Doctor with Moffets referencing to 10′s “vanity” for using a regeneration. I had a chance to watch David Tennant’s Doctor again recently and if you are honest and placed them side by side it is evident who the better Doctor is…whether you are the darling of the American Audience or not…Tennant’s Doctor is the better Doctor because David is a better actor than Smith.
    I am glad Matt Smith is gone and am looking forward to see what Peter can do as the next Doctor.

  • Jon

    I thought it was excellent, even at my most critical it’s a seven and a half, more like eight. A good story, great farewell for Matt’s Dr, a great closure of previous stories, Amy being the last face he sees is perfect and Coleman was amazing

  • Muttlee2

    IMHO,enjoyable and some memorable bits; but maybe too much was attempted in too short a space. The story was the problem,not the acting. Matt was really at his finest here.

  • http://www.doctorwho-fansite.blogspot.com/ James Grayh

    >>>”It also made very little sense for the character of the Eleventh Doctor, and as this was his very last chance to speak with her (as himself, rather than his next regeneration), we were surprised that he didn’t take it up.”<<>>”A jaded viewer might even consider that this episode was much more about a showrunner proving his own creativity than it was about celebrating an actor.”<<<

    Are you seriously suggesting that the episode was not focused A) on the Doctor almost entirely, and B) on showcasing Matt Smith's acting talent, especially when as Old Eleven, like they did for Karen Gillan as Old Amy in 'The Girl Who Waited'? That was surely The Moff – having said many a time that Matt Smith plays a very old Doctor in a very young body – finally wanting to show us an old Doctor who also looks old as well as acts it (in mannerisms, primarily).

    I do agree that the Weeping Angels are being overused and didn't need to be in this episode. In fact, while watching it first time I was stuck with the feeling of how much the Weeping Angel scene stuck out like a sore thumb as something that felt tacked on, not adding anything to story or character. I got the sense that it was just something The Moff just fancied seeing the Weeping Angels do.

  • Delena

    Of course it glorified Moffat, had a convoluted plot, and treated female characters as props. It’s Moffat. What did you expect?
    All I can say is it was better than the 50th Anniversary. It was enjoyable enough. I’m just pumped for Capaldi.

  • Alexa

    The only ep this season i reeeally disliked was the 50th. I hate the new plotline of the doctor not actually killing the Time Lords- it made him so much more complex and interesting.. But dear lord i love matt smith

  • Michael Esau

    I can’t believe I watched the same episode as some of the people commenting here. It’s probably fourth in the 8 Christmas episodes. How could people not comprehend that “The Day of the Doctor” was the send off? This is just a bridge to the next doctor and some Xmas day entertainment. A great episode all around.

  • Mariel

    I agree with this article. Throughout the whole episode, I wanted to see more of Matt. But it was just a jumbled mix of weird plot settings and unnecessary stuff. It didn’t really have that wow factor. And it didn’t really focus on Matt,Himself. Since or was his last episode, I wanted to see the best of him, so that I can cherish him while it lasts. :/

  • Chris

    A few points about ‘The Time of the Doctor’. Overall, I thought it was a decent regeneration story, but I think that Moffat’s resolution to several plot strands didn’t make much sense with respect to series 5-7. Here’s a couple and let me know what you think:
    1) the Doctor met the papal soldiers before in Flesh and Stone. If their goal is to stop him answering the question, why didn’t they shoot him? The Silents could also have got rid of him in during season 6, without their complicated plot about engineering his death as a fixed point.
    2) When the real / robot doctor is shot he begins to regenerate. How does that fit with The Time of the Doctor?
    3) The explanation of the TARDIS explosion and River Song don’t make much sense. In order to stop another ruinous Time War, they blow up the TARDIS, which destroys the universe. Oh, and they didn’t explain how they did it. As for the creation of River Song, that’s a really tortuous plan guys. All you need is a alien species that can shoot accurately!
    4) The origins of The Silents makes little sense. They were previously portrayed as a parasitic species that lived on Earth for ages. Are we to believe they lived there for thousands of years just to make a spacesuit. Surely their superiors could have provided one!

    • Shrimps

      3) They apparently stalked Amy, in order to test her for pregnancy frequently, then captured her when the test came up positive.Then they maintained a flesh avatar, that the real Amy was unknowingly operating for at least 7 months, transmitting the signal all over the Universe and at least once outside the Universe. Then after the Doctor failed to rescue her, they took the child back in time to sixties America, raised her to kill the Doctor, apparently didn’t stress out when she ran away, but let her do her own thing until they found her just before they put her in a suit (which could operate on its own and didn’t need a stroppy Time Lord in it) in a lake, where the Doctor agreed to die because of reasons. What could go wrong with a plan like that?

      When they abducted Amy, why didn’t they just brainwash her and give her a gun? By making it a big thing at a set time, they made it likely that the Doctor could avoid it.

      In fact, on day one of the siege, why didn’t Eleven tell the Time Lords that it wasn’t safe to come through the crack and to stop transmitting? Why did Handles manage to translate what the Doctor?TARDIS couldn’t? The message was aimed specifically at him! it was nonsense.

      Matt was excellent though, Also, at least Eleven was noble – he didn’t anyone for the death of his glorious self and cry like a wuss.

      • shrimps

        he didn’t BLAME anyone

  • Freedom of expression

    People watched the story to be entertained. Some were not entertained. They have expressed their disappointment. That is their opinion and their right.

    Deal with it.

    If you enjoyed it, that’s great. Do not tell others they are wrong. Their opinion is just different to yours.

    Absolutely sick of the fascists that tell people they have no right to criticise something that they liked.

  • Nino

    When 10th Doctor regenerated I cried my eyes out, now I’m just excited for the next, older Doctor. p.s I liked Matt too tho.

    • Lucas Mass

      That should mean Matt’s regeneration was better because its not supposed to be that emotional, it should make you excited for the next doctor

  • Vegas_Bob

    I think it fell a little flat. . .there were more questions than there were answers. . .

    1. Why didn’t the Doctor know what planet they were going to, the Tardis had been there before?

    2. Speaking of the Tardis,if the message was a “Gallefreyan” code, why didn’t the Tardis translate it?

    3. Why didn’t Clara know who the Silence are? She went through time and saved the Doctor, so she should have known about them from there as well as from the video tape of the lunar landing.

    4. Why didn’t they explain the Doctor’s injuries that left him hobbling with a cane?

    5. If the Church of the Papal Mainframe was attacked and everyone was killed by the Dalek’s, how were they able to help the Doctor (was there afresh set of troops sent, but not mentioned?

    6. Why didn’t Clara know who Amelia was (again, she saved the Doctor, etc., etc.)?

    7, Why did they bring Amy back, to me, it cheapened what Clara went through with the Doctor, in what should have been a final scene between her and him? (especially since the Doctor and Amy had their final scene)

    8. Why the almost instantaneous transformation to Peter Capaldi? (were they just to rushed at the end?)

    I did love Handles, he was sort of Wilson-esque. . .but all-in-all, I felt this fell flat. . .it wasn’t as emotional as I thought it would be as by the time they got around to Matt’s regeneration. . .it had been drawn out for too long. . that he was the 11th. . .er. . .the 12th. . .I’m sorry, the 13th. . .I realize they had to include the “War” Doctor, but the ‘Hand-Doctor”. . .ah well.

    Although I did not initially like Matt’s Doctor, too quirky, too different from David’s, etc., I grew to love him. He really did have a knack to be so young and so very old all at the same time. . .he will be missed. . .that being said I cannot wait to see what Capaldi’s Doctor will be like.

  • Teranel

    I think the real problem is that the 50th Anniversary Special restored my faith in Moffat after 2 sub-par seasons, only to dash all my hopes with this even-more-terribly-written episode.

  • Phil Hopkins

    I have to say I disagree with nearly every point above and invite the displeased ones to go back and review all the previous doctor’s regeneration stories and scenes as they have clearly let the epic Tennant departure color their memories. I’ve been puzzled by the rambling complaint I’ve seen so much as I found the story easy to follow, though packed with back references to both modern and classic episodes that did require you to pay attention and know the show’s history. I think the biggest problem with this episode is that everyone was expecting a David Tennant-level long emotional good-bye. The fact is Tennant’s departure was a one time thing due to the slow death from the radiation. All the other doctors have gone quickly and in many cases with almost no emotional pomp and fanfare, and certainly nothing like Tennant received. I enjoyed the episode–even more on second viewing–and Smith’s parting words were beautiful.

  • S


  • cnd

    I kind of understand why they brought Amy back. She was the first face to see that particular face, and with Clara, yes she sacrificed herself for him, but she was always a mystery to him. He never really figured her out.

    11 never really got over the Ponds. Maybe that’s why I found Clara boring, she never really got a moment to shine. Who knows, maybe with 12 she’ll show us what she’s truly made of.

  • Oliver M. Canstree

    I didn’t see the inclusion of Daleks, Angels and Cybermen like that. I saw it like him paying homage to the last seasons, without forcing them into the plot. They were nice nods towards Matt’s era. Loved the episode upon the third watch (had to watch it on a TV as well), and the regeneration scene was perfect from the start. Really don’t care much about the rest of the episode, because I didn’t feel it mattered much, when most people would be waiting for the last scene.

  • Ginger-livered-doctor

    ‘Amy’ did not come to bid the Doctor farewell – it was ‘Sexy’s ‘ method of comforting him because of his regenerative distress! That’s also why we saw young Amy, and the fish fingers and custard. Moffat has penned some of my favourite episodes – this wasn’t one of them however. It is much better on subsequent viewings.:-)

  • Trey Vera

    I found that I really liked this episode after re-watching it. But I was hoping that the regeneration would have happened before the very end of the episode. I thought he was going the regenerate and then Capaldi was gonna finish the job. I think that would have made this regeneration even better. Don’t get me wrong, this regeneration was hands down my favorite one, but if after the beams of light finished coming out of his hands and face, he just turns into Capaldi… I would have just died in excitement. Seeing a regeneration partway through an episode instead of the end would have been a site to see…. The last meeting of Smith and Giligan caught me off guard (probably would have had to punch a hole in the wall if my brother wasn’t there, just to feel like a man again…) I did my best to listen to River Song… SPOILERS….. I mean…. Come one! Seriously! Revealing Capaldi that early as the next Doctor. I was outraged… Does Moffat not listen to his most popular side character in the Matt Smith series… And what about The Doctor wanting to be a ginger…. He just lost all interest in that!? That was a dream of mine to see The Doctor become a ginger. Also just knowing what he’s going to look like ruins the whole mystery of “who/what” The Doctor will turn into next.. But I digress, I did want to see the Silence and The Doctor actually work together more instead of that super badass shot of them walking through through the battle!

  • Stef Idontwantogo

    I’m a big fan of the show but I saddly miss R.T. Davis and his flawless scripts. Of course, they weren’t perfect every time but all bits was tied. Moffat brings wonderful ideas as fireworks are : they do the thing at first sight but I couldn’t rewatch them without shrugging at the “that’s it because it’s a paradox” or “that’s a lucky guess, was it?”. They’re just show of lights and effects with fantastics and wonderful actors. My inner child loves the show, the fanfic author in me cries because of all the loose ends.

  • Karen Lee

    I do agree poor Clara has been more of a plot device than a character, something that hopefully can be put to rest in Series 8. However, I have made peace with the fact that The Doctor’s last moments before regeneration weren’t spent indulging her because, after rewatching the episode, I realised that his heartfelt plea to make saving her his final victory, and his goodbye and thank you when he actually thought he was dying; not regenerating, not changing, but actually disappearing altogether from the fabric of the universe he helped weave into the wibbly-wobbly mess it is, was far more powerful and indicative of their relationship than Amy showing up at the last to, at first glance, ‘steal Clara’s thunder.’ He wasn’t ignoring her when he thought all his chips were gone and there wasn’t a Pond in sight when he hugged her for the last time and said goodbye, actually meaning goodbye in the fullest scope of the word. As we’ve been lead to believe that Clara’s been hauling his arse out of the fire for centuries, his thank you was particularly poignant too. To me, that was his moment with Clara, when he thought he was facing the absolute end, not when he was simply confronted with the prospect of a whole new set of lifetimes in which he would become just another chapter. Since, despite everything, I am more of a Clara fan than an Amy advocate, I am okay with all that. I think it makes sense.

    After all, Clara at that point wasn’t going anywhere. He hadn’t lost her the way he’d lost the Ponds and the Doctor has this tendency to be rather reflective when he’s about to be rewritten into a new complex jigsaw that he has very little control over. Whatever he became was always going to be Clara’s to deal with and I think it would have been the ultimate cement block around her ankles to have tied her to his version as a pivotal part of his regeneration goodbyes because she sure as bloody hell needs a chance now to stop being his ‘get out of jail free’ card. At least as a plot device, Clara’s at least been allowed to be a powerful one but we’re surely done with that now. Make her a character.

    I didn’t think this was a great episode. I think it had some lovely moments and I still enjoyed it but a story that revolved around hundreds of years passing as part of a stalemate was always going to suffer a bit, I think. Still, it gave Smith a chance to say goodbye and he seemed, in interviews, to be happy with it so I suppose that’s good enough and now we cross our fingers for Capaldi. I can’t wait.

  • Esme

    Ok, I just found this site, and l completely hate it. Every artical I’ve seen is hating on Doctor Who…or more specifically, Steven Moffat’s era. Why can’t people just enjoy the show, and not try to pick apart every detail? And if they can’t enjoy the show, then what’s the point of writing an entire artical about something they don’t like? They need to find something else to do with their time.

  • shyx111

    Thank god it’s just your opinion, because the one who was betrayed by the plot was not Smith, who had an amazing era and one of the most wonderful exit in the whole series, but was Tennant with that non-sense of “death=regeneration” thing in The End of Time and all that soap-y with Rose during his era.

    And… “convulted plot”, actually Time has a very very simple plot with lots of references to the past to catch, Moffat’s writing is far from being lazy.

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