This series of patchy episodes seems to have flown by and here we are at the much hyped finale. Doctor Who has never been so high profile, with success on both sides of the Atlantic, a tribute at the Baftas, and stories in the press of how this episode was accidentally leaked in America. It seems we can't get enough of Doctor Who yet I approached this latest 'best episode ever' with a certain amount of trepidation and even ambivalence; Moffat may be a great writer but his writing has certain consistent flaws that, to my mind anyway, make his version of Doctor Who as much annoyance as enjoyment. Series 6 was where his shortcomings as a master plotter were shown up with a convoluted and unsatisfying arc that gave too much airtime to supporting character Professor Song, that many fans have dubbed that series River Who. Will the resolution of companion Clara's 'impossible girl' storyline be any more satisfying? And of course there's the title of this week's episode; can the Doctor's true name really be revealed? Won't it make the title of the show a nonsense? More importantly, does anyone apart from people with very pale skin, thick glasses, a huge broadband bill and poor personal hygiene actually care? In the end once again Moffat cheated but this time, he ended up offering us something even more tantalising.
We start with a fangasm moment as Clara is spinning through some gold swirly stuff, complete with a voiceover that recalled Rose and Doomsday. We then see her, in some tremendous outfits from various decades, looking in on the past Doctors (via digital trickery). There's a guy in the background who looks like Colin Baker (is it Sylvester in a wig?), there's Tom from The Invasion of Time, Peter from Arc of Infinity, Bessie! Best of all, there's Doctor Bill, about to get into his stolen TARDIS for the first time with Susan. It's a marvellous and fondly put together montage - Moffat's way of letting us know that, while he doesn't believe in bringing back all the old actors, he knows that we should at least see the classic Doctors in this 50th Anniversary year. Thank you, Moff, it was really appreciated.
With his friends, the Paternoster gang, kidnapped, the Doctor must go to the one place he should never go - Trenzalore, mentioned as the location of 'the fall of the eleventh' at the end of Series 6. Clara receives the tip off via an ancient letter (shades of The Impossible Astronaut) and a magic candle that allowed her to have a dream conference with the Paternoster Gang and a dead River Song. Yes, you read that correctly. Here we have one of the finest examples of Moffat's annoying traits - his wilful disregard for anything that even resembles logical sense. A magic Silurian dream candle?! Bloody hell. We did get one great line however, as Clara and River meet where Clara revealed that of course the Doctor mentioned a Professor Song but she hadn't realised she was female. Priceless. The Doctor is soon blubbing about having to go to Trenzalore. Whatever happened to the Doctor's stiff upper lip? Jon Pertwee might have rubbed the back of his neck, Colin Baker may have looked out at the camera and shouted "Nooo!!!" but Doctor 11 loves a good sob. He's the Wallander of Doctors and, great as Matt Smith is, it's a device used too often. When a single tear rolled down Chris Eccleston's face it was electrifying but now we just think - he's off again! Perhaps his name should be revealed to be Boo.
|Doctor (Boo) Who|
Our heroes were menaced by the Whispermen, a new foe but one that felt rather underwhelming. In appearance they were the Trickster from The Sarah Jane Adventures in a top hat and had a hissy thing going on that recalled classic tale Fury From the Deep. They were basically foot soldiers for The Great Intelligence, still in the guise of Doctor Simeon (Richard E Grant) who had orchestrated the kidnappings to get the Doctor to say his name to open his tomb. OK - how arrogant would you be, once dead, to allow your very dangerous tomb to be opened by someone saying your name? Why? It made little sense, other than to tease us fans that his name would be revealed. In the end, River (present in a ghostly form by her link to Clara from earlier) said it out of earshot. Once inside we find that the Doctor didn't die and leave a body but a pretty light thingy in the centre of the TARDIS that was kind of Time scar tissue from all his various meddlings over the centuries. The Great Intelligence jumped in and set about erasing the Doctor from History.
By now it was pretty obvious that Clara would have to jump after him and, in the process, go about saving him all over time. It was a cute explanation of the Impossible Girl but also a little unsatisfying as well. Why could only the First and Eleventh Doctor see her? Are we meant to believe that thousands of Claras have been splintered throughout time just to save him? Are there alien Claras on Skaro and Klom? As usual with Moffat's big concepts, it didn't really add up when you really think about it. Wouldn't all these additional Claras totally mess up the Web of Time or something? Oh well, let's be honest, Doctor Who has never made sense over its 50th years. Best not to nit pick. Just sit and enjoy our Clara watching previous Doctors race about. Of course, this is quite reminiscent of The Parting of the Ways, where Rose, instead of splintering herself, seeded the clue Bad Wolf throughout Series 1. Anyhow, a newly restored Doctor raced into his own time stream to save Clara who had turned up in some spooky caverns with extras dressed as Doctors running around as if they were late to work.
Preview tapes had omitted the last five minutes and Moffat's little grenade in time for the anniversary special. There's a Doctor that Clara doesn't recognise, or us for that matter. Our Doctor doesn't even want to acknowledge him. Looks like Paul McGann's Eighth, whom fans had hypothesised had been the one to destroy the Daleks and Time Lords in the Great Time War, was innocent and we have a new Doctor, the real Ninth, that we never knew about. It's a simple yet brilliant idea and fulfils all Moffat's aims of producing a big hype worthy twist and to muck about with the fans, probably driving some to total collapse as they discuss what to now call Chris Eccleston's Doctor. As played by John Hurt, this Forgotten Doctor looks set to be a key part of the November special. Fair play Moffat - that was a great moment. Now build upon it.
|John Hurt is the err, Ninth? Twelfth? Forgotten?|
GK Rating: ****