As with the SFCrowsnest Forum in recent years and this time there and here on the SFCrowsnest.org.uk, my comments on the latest season of ‘Doctor Who’. These will mostly be impressions – here’s my Doctor one, still ‘Geronimo!’ – rather than intentional plot spoilers. If you’re living in a country that hasn’t seen these episodes yet, read with caution but I’m not going to give too much away. If you can watch it first, that’s even better.
The Name Of The Doctor by Steven Moffat – 18 May 2013
Now this is more like it and confirms my earlier thoughts about the earlier episodes conserving budget as I doubt the likes of Richard E. Grant, the Victorian Trio, the fabulous Alex Kingston and, well, spoilers for the last name and it would hurt to tell you collectively wouldn’t have come cheap on the budget or certainly have bitten heavily into it.
Although I’m avoiding giving away the plot here, even giving my thoughts on some aspects is definitely going to be spoiler. If you don’t want to read it, don’t go further until you’ve watched the story.
It’s rather interesting with the opening sequence that we see cameoed in sequence order: William Hartnell and Carole Anne Ford, Tom Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton and Peter Davison. Oddly, not Colin Baker (his costume later in the story), Paul McGann and David Tennant (although as we know he’s going to be in the anniversary story in November that might be excused). Probably the best establishment shot is confirming that Susan was on Gallifrey so is a Time Lady. Hands up all those of who whooped on that bit of information on the screen.
From London 1883 to 2013, another alternative to establishing connecting across the centuries. Probably the most interesting is this isn’t the current River Song but gives obvious hints that she has to return to the series for at least a season at some time.
Probably the biggest question is the title of this story and although other names are revealed, including the Valeyard, then I’m glad that it’s not revealed. We already know that River Song knows and although she says it, we don’t hear it, let alone why the Doctor chooses to keep it a close secret. Thinking about this, I suspect it has to do with something that happened on Gallifrey rather than off his home world or why else would the likes of the Monk, the Master and the Rani also not have their true names. As they are all renegades, can I surmise that it’s because they were all rebellious renegades and had their real names stripped from them. If you are burning with curiosity, the Doctor’s real name was given in the 70s ‘The Making Of Doctor Who’ book but you would have to be able to read Gallifrey heliographics to pronounce it. If you refer back to ‘The Armageddon Factor’, Drax, another Gallifreyan but failed to made Time Lord grade identified the Doctor by his college name. If nothing else, it shows that Time Lords don’t keep the same name throughout their regenerations. Maybe having an active title serves them better.
The reveal for Clara is…er…revealed and soon as the Great Intelligence decided to undo the Doctor’s victories, it was pretty obvious what was going to happen next. There is a problem with this. Go back to the first 1963 adventures, had the Doctor failed with the primitive man, let alone the Daleks, he would certainly have been killed. Ergo, the Great Intelligence would only need to go to one destination and bye, bye Doctor. Indeed, it would even be before the televised adventures just after he left Gallifrey. Mind you, time is so convoluted, not to mention the reset of the universe a couple seasons back, that all regenerations can co-exist in some way. That would explain the odd times when several regenerations could interact for a story but it does leave a grey area as to why the Great Intelligence couldn’t have done a ‘Genesis Of The Daleks’ and simply have stopped the Doctor and Susan leaving Gallifrey in the first place.
A very metaphysical story and the set-up for the end for November is going to have you riveted to your seats come that Saturday. This story certainly makes up for the rest of the season. I just hope it reminds show-runner Steven Moffat that using this one as a template that we really do need some better structured stories with some well-defined foes for the Doctor to defeat with his wits more than his sonic screwdriver. Although he used it in this story, it wasn’t fundamental to the solution.
That’s not to say it’s perfect. Having the Doctor fooled by the children Clara looks after is definitely too stupid. Can anyone honestly say that a Time Lord smart enough to out-wit the most dangerous species in the universe would fall for such a thing because he wasn’t familiar with humans?
However, in the most important way, this story has made me want to see what happens next so although this isn’t a finale, it has all the makings of a two-parter. Where’s my TARDIS, going to move forward to November.