Mindy Newell: Good Night, Raggedy Man
The Doctor, Doctor Who, Series 5, Episode 13
Perhaps I expected too much.
Yesterday my dear friend and fellow columnist John Ostrander did an excellent job in explaining “wibbly-wobbly storytelling” that marred “The Time Of The Doctor,” Matt Smith’s final bow as the Gallifreyian.
I feel the same way as John. Though I will try not to repeat what John wrote because I expect you to click here and read his thoughts, but I just want to add some of my own.
The whole episode, as John and others have said, did feel extremely rushed and cramped – it could have used at least an extra 15 minutes, though I would have preferred a two-hour special, which I believe Matt deserved as it was his Doctor, especially, that reignited the global Doctor Who frenzy.
I still feel cheated out of seeing more interaction between the Doctor and Clara’s family. So much of Clara’s story as “The Impossible Girl” has to do with her mom and dad, I was excited when I saw the rest of the family sitting around the set-for-Christmas dinner table. We had never heard mention of them before, but unfortunately, it just fell completely flat for me. In fact, I think I felt a bit of embarrassment here, just as Clara did – umm, naked? Really? Naked?? Yeah, I know that being clothed in nothing but your birthday suit is expected when attending the Church of the Papal Mainframe, and the Doctor was about to whisk Clara off to see the Wizard – sorry, I mean Mother Superior Tasha Lem, but again, it just felt rushed and uneven.
I mean, since the return of Doctor Who in 2005 the families of the companions have played important roles in the Whovian story, especially Jackie Tyler and Wilfred Mott. Wouldn’t the Doctor have been at least a little curious about Clara’s father, the man who was led by a falling leaf to meet Clara’s mother? Couldn’t we have seen at least five minutes more of interaction?
Having Clara hanging on to the outside of the TARDIS, creating a “drag” on the time machine as an explanation as to why 300 years passed before she was able to return to the Doctor was an awfully complicated twist to emphasize just how long the siege of Trenzalore was, and to allow the make-up masters behind the scenes to work their magic in aging Matt Smith – although they did do a masterful job in hinting at William Hartnell in Smith’s appearance.
Actually, about Clara – do you agree with me that, as a companion, she just sort of played more of a Watcher (to borrow a Marvel Comics character) when compared to Rose or Martha or Donna or Amy and Rory? I understand that, as the Impossible Girl, the role of Savior is her ultimate role in the Doctor’s saga, but in too many episodes she seemed to be sitting by and waiting, and although her impassioned plea to the Time Lords on the other side of the crack in the wall was beautifully written and beautifully acted by Jenna Coleman, I would have liked to have seen Clara engaging in more physical action, as she did in “Nightmare in Silver.”
And the bestowing of the “extra” regeneration energy by the Time Lords as a way to get around the 12th and final regeneration was the biggest cheat of all – though it was a clever way and use of “dues ex machina” around the myth, which of course was set up years ago because who in 1963 could imagine that 50 years later the show would itself have regenerated into a world-wide phenomenon?
But, oddly enough, of all these flaws, the one that really got to me, the one that made me feel most cheated, was the regeneration of Matt Smith into Peter Capaldi. It happened in a literal “blink of an eye.” I suppose we are to understand that we didn’t see the “burning time/regeneration energy” flowing out of Matt because he spent it destroying the Daleks, but there was no punch – when Christopher Eccleston regenerated into David Tennant, and David Tennant (admittedly the most heartbreaking of all the regenerations, with his Doctor’s poignant “I don’t want to go”) into Matt Smith, you felt it.
Yes, Matt’s removal of his bow tie, letting it just fall to the floor, was wonderfully moving.
Yes, Karen Pond’s return as Amy was tear-jerking (and bravo to the BBC and Moffat and all of the Doctor Who crew to keeping it secret!).
But I think the final gut-wrenching heartbreaker would have been Matt suddenly blazing into energy as Amy said…
“Good night, Raggedy Man.”
TUESDAY MORNING: Jen Krueger
TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis
WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold