Doctor Who: The Time Of The Doctor by Steven Moffat – a review by GF Willmetts.

December 25, 2013 | By | 5 Replies More

Now, what to say about ‘The Time Of The Doctor’ without giving away spoilers. If you want those, I’m sure some other places will no doubt spill the beans. I’ll just try to keep them to the minimum and address the problems as I see them.


Y’see this story does have problems. It feels like I’ve missed an entire season somewhere. There’s no information about how the Doctor acquires a Cyberman’s head to provide himself with a verbal database. Nor for that matter how he knows the Mother Susperia of the Papal Mainframe or why he is prancing around naked. Apparently, he has some cybertech so he looks like he has clothes on. Then again, considering that he also gives Clara the same device, doesn’t explain how in freezing temperatures that they are both kept warm by it. As I said, it looks like we’ve missed a bunch of episodes in there somewhere.

The essential elements of the plot is the drawing together of various things from the past three years of the Smith Doctor regeneration and making some sense of it. Indeed, writer/show-runner Steven Moffat has already said that that was his intention.

All of the Doctor’s enemies, not to mention a few he doesn’t recognise yet, have got him trapped on the planet Trenzalore where it’s always winter and Christmas night at the same time. There’s no explanation as to how they grow their food, especially as they get about a quarter hour of day a…well, a night I suppose.

The crack in time that was there when he first regenerated is on Trenzalore only this time it will allow Gallifrey back into our universe except that would also bring back the Time Lords and re-start the Time War and the Daleks are keen for a rematch. To stop them getting at the breech, the Doctor becomes the garden of the village where it exists and although Clara visits a couple times, one not of her own choosing and becomes the second person to travel on the outside door of the TARDIS, the Doctor sees himself living out his days there. Anyone keeping an eye on his age ought to add about 500 more years. In his final age, the Doctor looks like the Hartnell Doctor.

In many respects, Moffat has gone for spectacular than story, quite the reverse of what he did with ‘The Day Of The Doctor’ and again, it’s pretty obvious where the 2013’s season’s budget went.

The solution for his further regenerations, which is hardly a spoiler, was top of my list for how it would be done when I wrote ‘Who By Numbers’ back in November. It doesn’t explain how he won the battle although the solution was top of my list and the Time Lords used him as a conduit for their final victory.

As with the change of the Tennant Doctor, there are some nice touches at the end of the  Smith Doctor that will have all Who fans giving a gulp and a nice surprise. No river, just a little pool. We also get a couple minutes of the thirteenth regeneration, the Capaldi Doctor and the TARDIS desperately needs someone to pilot it.

I’m writing this half an hour after watching it. No doubt those who’ve watched and recorded this story are currently re-watching and taking in all the information. Given the choice, I think I would have gone for more story than spectacular. With the Doctor effectively trapped on a planet for nearly 500 years, one would have to ask who was saving the people on various planets during that time. Then again, he’s a time traveller and with a new look can probably pop in and out without any of his enemies spotting him there.

It’s an interesting story but I can’t help feel that the ‘normal’ viewers will be wondering what’s been going on while the true-TARDIS blue Who fans will just be lapping it up. Hopefully, things will settle down again with the Capaldi Who.

GF Willmetts

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Category: Doctor Who, TV

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

Comments (5)

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  1. Due to visitors at Xmas I have only just watched this Dr Who. I just wanted to say that I agree with your comments entirely. Too much flash and not enough substance, and too many loose ends. . . This series needs to get back on track.

  2. As you state at the end of your review that you were writing 1/2 hour after the episode aired, my suggestion is that in the future you record and watch your review material two or maybe three times before writing. All the issues you complained about were answered in the episode, or in prior episodes if you were paying attention. This version of the Papal Mainframe clearly pre-dates “A Good Man Goes to War” and for how he know the Mother Superior, the Doctor knows everybody who’s anybody. I’m not saying there weren’t problems with this episode, as there were, but it seems to me you were in such a hurry to post a review of some kind that you didn’t quite give it a fair shake.

  3. UncleGeoff says:

    Hello Denise
    Under normal circumstances, I would watch films and such twice before reviewing. With people around the world wanting to see what we reviewers (and I’m only one amongst many) thought, we have to get a move on. This one is also tricky because I can’t do too many spoilers so I have to rely totally on reaction to what I saw the first time. [Want to see if you can review yourself??)
    If you’re read my other pieces I more than pay attention. A lot of the time, my predictions have been rather spot on, mostly because I know that I’m looking at and with ‘Who’ been watching it since 1963!
    Having the Doctor know or met every significant person is a bit of a cop-out. Apart from the fact that it makes him far too omnipotent, such visits all the time, just to have a beverage and a natter hardly seems realistic when he has a reputation for meddling.
    Comparing the two recent stories, the November one was far stronger. The Yuletide ‘Doctor Who’ is getting a reputation for being too weakly plotted and too much yuletide.

  4. Lewis says:

    I generally agree with your assessment of the episode. I would add that the pacing of the episode was very uneven. It felt like the first half dragged, and the last half was rushed.

    Here in the States, the broadcast was packed with commercials. After removing those the episode is only about 65 minutes. I’ve long had the feeling that Moffat writes stories which would fit better in a longer time-slot (as with the 50th Anniversary episode). Story elements seem to get tossed out at some editing stage to fit the time allotted. I suspect scenes explaining some of the plot holes were sacrificed in that way. The Christmas episodes under Moffat have all been disappointing to some degree, with strained storylines.

    Maybe being both the show-runner and writer on 2 series is too much, and Moffat’s writing has suffered as a result.

  5. UncleGeoff says:

    Hello Lewis
    People in the UK consider current ‘Doctor Who’ as similar to fast food. You eat it so fast that you don’t notice its gone.
    I never envy the States with multiple adverts all the way through. The story was about an hour over here.
    Moffat is also show-runner on ‘Sherlock’ which must also eat into his time. If anything, I wish he would bring in new blood scriptwriters, especially as he’s said in interviews that he doesn’t tend to interfere with what they write.


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