So with the Turkey eaten, presents swapped and after a post turkey doze through the Queen’s speech we come to Doctor Who; where we celebrate the season by having the two oldest, whitest Doctors get together to bar progress and deny the future. Whether you appreciate what’s coming or not you’ve got to admit: that it isn’t exactly a subtle metaphor is it? But subtle isn’t exactly on show anywhere in……………………….
You’ll get wibbly wobbly timey wimey nonsense and talk about fairy tales, overblown set pieces but not an ounce of subtlety. The story starts in three points of time:
a) Antarctica in 1986
b) The front line of world war one in 1914
c) whenever and wherever we last left the doctor as played by Peter Capaldi.
See before we carry on I should probably mention that I dropped out of Who a while ago. While I still count myself a fan, Moffat’s work was making the series unwatchable for me So I only know about the death of Clara and who this Bill Potts is by what the internet has told me. From what I’ve heard I haven’t missed much. Now you can leave your recommended catch up list in the comments below because we’re here to talk about this years Christmas special that sees these three story lines interweave. Our war captain who we shall just call Mark Gatiss, though his full offical title is Mark Gatiss with a moustache, finds time frozen just as he is about to find the one bullet in the world with his name on it. Things get worse when he finds himself dumped at the south pole with nothing but his trusty, standard issue, service revolver and his moustache. Here he finds two men claiming to be The Doctor. See Peter has made his mind up that he’s not so sure about this whole regeneration thing and that maybe he will give it a miss this time and finally get five minutes peace. Meanwhile David Bradley, who is here filling in for the late William Hartnell, is having the same problem; possibly because regeneration as we know it won’t really be invented for another few years yet.
This is not just any regeneration however but one that would make David Tennants six hour ramble round the shops and catch up with friends look like a gnats dying breath. Both carry on through the story with hardly a mention of it while at least number ten bothered to look slightly pained once in a while. The worry for me is that if this carries on we’re going to end up squeezing whole seasons out of the Doctor’s death. In fact thinking back you have to question why they didn’t choose David’s doc as the 2nd Doc of this tale especially seen as Peter mentions there is no memory of his uncertainty from the originals departure. It might have fit the whole death and battlefield motif running through the episode as well, what with him still being mardy about the time war. You can’t tell me he wouldn’t have been up for it too. That would have also solved the problem of Badley’s doctor number one. It’s not that he’s bad, far from it and Steven reminds us of how well he wrote the war Doctor in that way that feels like he’s saying “Look I could have wrote a good Doctor if I’d wanted too!” The esquing the gadgets in order to pay attention and figure out a problem are shown nicely with him noticing that the robots face is ever so slightly asymmetrical and that if he stopped waving the silly audio screwdriver around he might notice that. The thing is that if we’d got David in instead we might have skipped on the other half of his character and that being old, white and ever so slightly sexist. Something I don’t remember ever being a thing with Doctor number one. It’s almost as though we’re not bringing the character back for one more touching moment or honorific send off but just to do whatever the story calls for and to tell people to shut up and get over it. Cue lines such as “letting the doctor go” and telling us that this isn’t for anyone who doesn’t like it.
It probably sounds pretty dire for this episode, after all this is me advocating bringing back Doc Ten for one more go so you know it can’t be good.The thing is the episode itself wasn’t that bad. Half the twists were sort of obvious and guessed at by most people with access to the trailer the second it came out anyway and the end speech was a little lacklustre but maybe it didn’t matter seen as the whole episode was his goodbye. For the plot was a nice change of pace and felt like it fit the mood of Christmas rather than some of the big, over the top ones we’ve had since it’s been back. It was sweet and kind. You could have cut that last quarter of an hour and in doing so lost a few of the more “choice” moments throughout but even if, like me, you’ve hated Moffat’s run I’d suggest that there are worse things to watch after an over abundance of Turkey and mince pies and why not help yourself to another snifter of brandy too. You might need it.