Wednesday, December 25, 2013

And One Greeted Death Like a Old Friend

Below "The Tale of the Three Brothers," there are spoilers for "The Time of the Doctor" -

That was one hell of a regeneration!  But first - there was a story.

There are huge chunks of the Eleventh Doctor's tenure that we don't have accounted for, precisely.  Space between "The Wedding of River Song" and "Asylum of the Daleks" - plus all that time in Series 7 with the Doctor dropping off Amy and Rory and Clara and having adventures on his own.  I expect that Big Finish will have plenty of fun with those empty spaces when the time comes.  I only mention this because - it's almost fitting that we got something similar with "The Time of the Doctor."

I really loved this story.  We were introduced to the concept of Trenzalore back in "The Name of the Doctor," and it's right that Eleven gets to close that storyline out.  Give Twelve a fresh slate to work with and get down to business without having to clean up what was left behind.  But what I enjoyed the most about this is that it was treated like the Time War. Alluded to, mentioned, glimpsed at - but never shown explicitly. Ultimately, this story is about saying goodbye to the Eleventh Doctor - but not in an overpowering and intense way.  The flashbacks and small nods to the past are so perfectly placed within the story, just as fleeting reminders of what's come before.  As with the nods in this 50th Anniversary year, they are simply there to pay tribute and don't take over the actual story that's going on. Those little "kisses" (if you like) were just so perfect and wonderful.

We see the Doctor age and get old - spending centuries defending the town of Christmas. Probably the first time since his first incarnation that the Doctor actually got old and died. Clara pops back in and out (like the TARDIS has gotten used to this whole "Okay, Wednesday is Clara Day, so let's go get her!" Okay, maybe not really like that, but you get my drift).  The Doctor is ready to make his last stand and his last stand is supposed to be on Trenzalore.

But if we learned anything from "The Day of the Doctor" - indeed, if we learned anything from the Eleventh Doctor - it's that time can be rewritten and nothing is set in stone.  Not even the Doctor's gravesite.

This is Matt Smith's moment and all praise and gushing goes to him. So often, the Eleventh Doctor is described as an old man in a young man's body. Well, this time we saw the old man come out for a short time. Matt is going to go far in his acting career, absolutely zero doubt in anyone's mind (well, there better be zero doubt. If you have doubts, I'm coming after you with a stick!) No matter how he looked, he was still the Doctor (even with his head shaved - that was a clever little lampshade-hanging moment). Clara knew it and I knew it and everybody knew it.

And the regeneration - you know, I listened to today's Verity! Extra and something that got brought up was how much kids in particular have latched onto the Eleventh Doctor. When Ten regenerated, I was a sobbing mess - mostly because he was a sobbing mess (kind of).  But Eleven - Eleven was ready to go. And because he was ready to go, his fans (and I'm thinking of kids in particular) can be ready to let him go.  Yes, it's sad - yes, I shed a few tears (just like Clara did). But Eleven's time is up. He's lived a good long life (even if we'll have to wait to see... well, hear it) and he's happy.  His life wasn't a live-fast-die-young sort of thing that's happened so many times in the past. He had so many laughs and joys and heartbreaks and he's done. Even when he thinks he's used up all his regenerations... nope, Gallifrey peeks out through the cracks and says (in essence) - okay, here's some more golden-sparkly-stuff - go do your thing!

 But then - WHAM! And there's Twelve! No prolonged shower of gold sparks, no bonfire, no screaming - just... there he is prattling about the color of his kidneys and how do you fly this thing?

(And poor Clara is there thinking "Oh shit - now what?")

Other things -

- Wow. Gallifrey came back sooner than we expected!  Even before we knew it had come back.  That's what the cracks in Series 5 were about (wonder how much of this is Steven Moffat thinking it out in advance or if he just thinks of cool things at first and then figures out how to use it in later stories).

- On that note - all the explanations for all the strange things throughout Matt's era were there. Explained and gone and done with. And oddly - I'm okay with that.

- Clara Oswald is an English teacher at Coal Hill School. There is nothing I don't love about this.

- The Cyberman's head is named "Handles." And the thing kind of reminded me of K-9. Why does Eleven keep making friends with things he should be scared of? (Because he's the Doctor - that's why).

- The Doctor just happens to have the Seal of Rassilon from "The Five Doctors" in his pocket.  Because of course he does.

- I had a tough time settling on a title for this blog post. But I remembered the line from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows about greeting death like an old friend.  And just now, I was looking through my notes and I said something about the Sontarans having an invisibility cloak on their ship - so there's some serendipity for you.

- "Ten had vanity issues." You know, when I heard that Moffat was counting that as a regeneration, I wondered how he was going to explain that so it didn't sound half-assed. But that line made it all okay.

- The Oswald Family Christmas. Most. Awkward. Christmas. Ever. But I liked the poem in the cracker that Clara read to the Doctor later.

- The clock struck twelve when the Doctor's regeneration blasted all the Daleks. Yeah, yeah - someone's gonna bitch about the nuclear regeneration energy. But the way I look at it - the Time Lords sent it direct, they might have built in the explodey-ness of it all - I'm okay with it.

- He takes off the bow tie and drops it to the floor right before he regenerates. The Feels.

- Though I am glad that he got his young face back before he regenerated. I just wanted to see his face as I knew him best before he had to leave.

It still hasn't quite settled in that Matt's actually gone and Peter Capaldi is actually the Doctor now. I have about eight months to get my head wrapped around that fact. I might even rewatch "The Time of the Doctor" later and still not accept it. Then again, I might watch it later and burst into big, fat, messy tears. I never quite know. I did watch BBC America's "Farewell to Matt Smith" before "The Time of the Doctor" (it's really nice being home for Christmas with my parents' satellite TV) and I was getting all choked up during that. I've said it over and over again (especially on Tumblr) that I'm just not ready for Matt to leave. But I am grateful to him for his part in making Doctor Who a huge success. Not just a commercial success (though that is extremely important) - but a success with individual people. And when I say "individual people," I mean "me." Sure, I started with Eccleston and went onto Tennant and then to Matt Smith when I first started watching Doctor Who - mainlining and all that. I started watching around the time that Series 5 was finishing up it's premiere run. Eleven was still very new to everyone and I wasn't sure he'd unseat Tennant as my favorite (and then I latched onto Davison and we all know how that turned out). But I will say this - if Matt had not been as good and wonderful as he was, I don't know that I would have continued watching the show. Doctor Who would have been just another show that I once watched on DVD because I was bored, but I never followed in real time (I do that a lot).  But between the stories and the characters and Matt's performance as the Doctor, I kept coming back. And Matt kept impressing me and making me fall in love with his Doctor. The same Doctor who has kept me going through some very dark times, even since that initial impression. Words will never adequately express what this show means to me, and that is due in a very large part to how Matt played the role. I may never meet Matt in real life, but I would like to just tell him how thankful I am for what he's done and wish him nothing but the best in future.

Thank you, Raggedy Man. For landing in a little girl's backyard - for not standing back and watching her cry - for making her laugh - for being her friend - for taking her hand and yelling "Run!" - for taking her through all your incarnations and feeding her love of stories and adventure and fairy tales. Because of you, she's going to be just fine. Through all of time and space - things will be okay. And it's all down to you.

You just watch us run.

No comments:

Post a Comment