The BBC released today the first photo of Peter Capaldi’s costume for his tenure as Doctor Who.
“Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is officially recorded in history today with the unveiling of his new costume. It’s sharp, smart and stylish – The Twelfth Time Lord means business.” said Charlotte Moore, Controller of BBC One.
Peter Capaldi said: “He’s woven the future from the cloth of the past. Simple, stark, and back to basics. No frills, no scarf, no messing, just 100 per cent Rebel Time Lord.”
Much of The Doctor’s character comes from the clothes he wears, from the very formal attire of William Hartnell, to the “Space Hobo” of Patrick Troughton, to the iconic scarf of Tom Baker. This outfit bears some similarities to Matt Smith’s final outfit; sans the bow tie and the red jacket lining has already got everyone talking. Like Matt and David Tennant before him, the outfit is simple, stylish, and doesn’t shout louder than the actor within it.
“We’re all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”
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…
As River Song is want to warn: Spoilers!There’s going to be a lot of talk in this column about what happened on this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special, ”The Time of the Doctor.” There’s no way around critiquing the show without talking about what happened in it. If you haven’t seen it but intend to, you may want to avoid this column.There are plenty of other fine columns here at ComicMix so you can read them instead if you like.
The Doctor is dead; long live the Doctor. Matt Smith’s tenure as Doctor Who has given way to Peter Capaldi’s. It all happened in this year’s Christmas Special, The Time of the Doctor. I wish I could tell you it was wonderful but, in truth, I was underwhelmed.
Steven Moffat, the showrunner and the author of the episode, is a very clever writer. Sometimes he’s too clever and sometimes he’s not as clever as he thinks. For the Fiftieth Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor, he was wonderfully clever with deeply felt emotional moments, a thrilling climax, and a special appearance at the end which just knocked my socks off and dangled them from my ears. In this episode, Moffat was very clever and very good as he so often is. All of which made my dissatisfaction with the Christmas Special so much the greater.
The Time of the Doctor had two important issues to settle. It was to mark the regeneration, the transition, of the Doctor from Matt Smith to the new Doctor, now played by Peter Capaldi. Having now established that Matt Smith’s Doctor was the final one in the Doctor’s regeneration cycle, it had to establish how Capaldi’s Doctor was possible. Moffat decided also to bring together dangling threads from previous episodes. That makes it a very busy episode and one of its narrative problems.
One of the problems is a prophecy that occurs in an earlier episode, The Wedding of River Song, it says that on “the fields of Trenzalore, at the Fall of the Eleventh, when no creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a question will be asked. A question that must never ever be answered: Doctor who?” Problem: Matt Smith’s Doctor is no longer the Eleventh Doctor. “The Day of the Doctor” introduced John Hurt as the War Doctor, who was now the Ninth incarnation and that made Matt Smith the Twelfth Doctor. If he isn’t the Twelfth Doctor, then all the hoohah of this being his final incarnation is just blather. The plot hinges on it.
There are a lot of problems with this story. Early on, it has his companion, Clara, frantically asking the Doctor to come to her apartment and pretend to be her boyfriend for a Christmas dinner she’s cooking for her parents and grandmother. This makes no sense to me. Clara is gorgeous and she can’t get a local guy to do the part?
When the Doctor and Clara get to Trenzalore, there is a small farming community of humans and the town is named Christmas. I guess we’re in the future. Beaming down, they find some Weeping Angels buried in the snow. The Weeping Angels were really creepy the first time I saw them; now they’re just annoying. Their powers change to whatever Moffat wants them to be. One touch and you’re dead. Or tossed back in time for some reason. One grabs Clara’s boot so she should be dead or tossed back in time or something but she’s not. The Weeping Angels then do not figure into the rest of the story.
All of the Doctor’s foes are gathered around the planet (been there, seen that in The Pandorica Opens) and we have the Daleks who were made to forget all about the Doctor except now they don’t anymore.
There is a crack in the wall that is a crack in space and time and the Doctor supposedly closed all that off in The Big Bang but, no, there’s one conveniently left. On the other side are the Time Lords who were frozen into a single point of time in a pocket universe in order to save them in The Day of the Doctor, except they’re broadcasting a message to the Doctor to see if its safe for his home planet, Gallifrey, to come back. This would evidently re-ignite the Time War and destroy the Universe. Not to mention Trenzalore and the human colony. The last time Gallifrey appeared out of its usual spot, it was going to destroy and replace the Earth (The End of Time). What’s a little consistency among friends?
The Doctor spends 300 years on Trenzalore (Clara is sent home but comes back in what, for her, is the same day.). The Daleks want to kill him before he dies of old age. Defiant, the old boy goes out to meet them. Clara convinces the Time Lords on the other side of the time/space crack that they need to save him so the they send him a new batch of regeneration energy, enough for a whole new cycle of lives. Never mind that, the last time we saw them, the High Council of Time Lords were trying to kill the Doctor. The Doctor focuses the excess regeneration energy to wipe out the Daleks and regenerates, after a soulful monologue and a nice cameo from a much loved companion, into his new self. Yay.
I could go on at even greater length than I have but the episode was simply too busy by half. New characters and concepts are tossed in and there’s a lot of explaining away of what we previously thought and, along the way, invalidates an episode that occurred at the end of the previous season. Things are shoehorned in and continuity is changed or disregarded where it’s not convenient. That’s bad writing and that’s disappointing when it’s from someone as gifted as Moffat and who told such a wonderful story just one episode earlier. This Doctor Who Christmas Special was coal in the stocking and it’s a damn shame it came on the 800th episode and such an important moment in the history of Doctor Who.
The question’s not IF you cried, it’s when. The Doctor hangs around one place for a while, Matt Smith bids the show farewell, and Steven Moffat pulls at all the threads and brings everything into a neat little bow. It’s the end of an era, and the exciting start of a new one, because it’s…
THE TIME OF THE DOCTOR
by Steven Moffat
Directed by Jamie Payne (more…)
With Matt Smith’s final episode (well, until the hundredth anniversary, anyway) imminent, the cast (and showrunner Steven Moffat) sat down to talk about their thoughts about the Christmas adventure. Guest Orla Brady (Tasha Lem) also discusses her experience with the show, and her experience with new Doctor, Peter Capaldi. Read on for the juicy details.
The Day of the Doctor was everything the fans were hoping for, and the new Blu Ray 3D / DVD combo set is a perfect way to hang onto the adventure in perpetuity if you don’t want to take up space on your DVR.
The star of the package is the anniversary episode itself. The picture is perfect , with detail aplenty for those who weren’t lucky enough to catch the episode on BBC America in HD, or in the theaters. As yr. obvt. svt reviewed and analyzed here on this site it features both Matt Smith and David Tennant, plus a heretofore unseen Doctor, played by John Hurt, teased in the last episode of the seventh season. They all meet when the “War Doctor” chooses to destroy both armies of the great Time War, but is given a second chance to reconsider by an unexpected source – the very weapon he plans on using. Throw in Queen Elizabeth the First (AKA Mrs. The Doctor), the return of the Zygons, and a cameo that they kept right up until the end, and you’ve got a real belter. My god did I love that gulping noise Tennant made every time he gets kissed by the Queen…
The extras are a bit slim, but what there is is cherce. Both mini-episodes are featured; The Last Day, a short adventure that chronicles the fall of Gallifrey’s second greatest city, Arcadia, and The Night of the Doctor, which featured the return of Eighth Doctor Paul McGann, Both adventures look amazing in Hi-def – McGann’s return to the role is dramatic and gritty. They did a wonderful job showing what happened to The Doctor through all those missing years.
A feature by BBC America, Doctor Who Explained, offers a great primer for the series. The teaser trailer is included, as is the much-fabled Comic-Con trailer, which Moffat was able to keep secret to all who weren’t in the room with various threats and saber-rattling.
A pack of collectable trading cards rounds out the set, manufactured by Topps, who have yet to make Doctor Who cards in the US, which rather opens a promising door. A set of twelve, they form a single collage when assembled.
The Day of the Doctor is available from Amazon.com and all purveyors of things DVDish and Blu-Ray-ey.
Yeah. I know. I’m last on the bandwagon, yet again. But that’s OK, kiddos. I found Nirvana well after Kurt Cobain passed away. As many of you would also note, I found Star Trek: The Original Series just a little over a year ago. Funny enough, that was one of my most popular columns. For all the nerd-rage that exists when we poke and prod one another about our loves, we’re also the first sub-culture to embrace noobies with the unbridled passion of 1000 angry Daleks. That’s joyful rage though, so it’s all good. A bit over a week ago, I became of a fan of Doctor Who. Whovians, take me into your bosom. Move the celery stalk first.
A bit of backstory to begin. Unshaven cohort Kyle Gnepper has long been an outskirt Who-fan. Unshaven cohort Matt Wright also partook of the good Doctor upon subscribing to Netflix. My own timey-wifey has been a fan for quite some time as well. Heh. As we are all apt to do when everyone we know is in to something, we feel the latent pressure to join in the rapture. So, on occasion, I tried. And tried. And tried again.
Each time, the same feeling would pass over me. I’d glare at a Dalek, or a Cyberman, or whatever the thing-of-the-week was, and I’d scoff. Even ladled with every well-budgeted CGI and modeling trick, the episodes reeked to me of technical limitations. Much as I’d railed against Trek, I couldn’t find the suspension of disbelief due to the constraints of a TV budget. And much like Trek, what was really missing was my understanding and appreciation for characterization.
If you’ll allow me one more deviation off the pathway before I gush over “The Day of the Doctor” special… it’s the aforementioned note of characterization that I need to extrapolate on. Take Firefly. There, Fox supplied Joss Whedon with a budget that made his sci-fi romp visually appealing at the get-go. Without the stigma of eww, this looks like it cost pennies to make, I was quicker to give the show a try (still way late and well after the show was DOA). As much as I wanted to hate the show, like so many before me, I was enchanted by the roguish charms of Captain Mal. I bought into the character, and quickly thereafter, I bought into the show. The same could be said for my finding love in other series like House, Modern Family, and more recently Hannibal (which I can’t wait to return). The common factor here is simple: my adoration is bestowed to shows (and comics, movies, et al) that give us strong characterization.
Now, onto Who. As I’d said briefly above, I’d given myself several chances to fall in love. Each time, I was met with an odd fellow who dazzled my friends, but confounded me. His mannerisms, his oddness, his aloofness irritated me. And when I’d make an attempt to find the hook of The Doctor, I’d be met with either terse explanations (“It’s just how he is, in this incarnation…”) or lengthy diatribes that attempted to cram decades of knowledge into a tight ten-minute lecture. In both events, I simply didn’t get it. Much with Trek, it would take me having to clear my head of preconceived opinions and walk into things blindly.
After dinner with my parents, my wife, son and I retired to the casa del pescador. I’d noted that somewhere around the 8:30 hour the living room TV was still blaring. You see, that is typically night-night time round these parts. But there, wide awake, sat my young scion and my lovely lady partaking of the Doctor. Figuring it would be best for me not to attempt to daddy-lecture my own wife as to the importance of adhering to a strict schedule, I opted instead for what all us white people do when we want to make a point, but fear confrontation: I sat in the same room silent, in hopes that waves of passive-aggression would communicate my feelings.
What? (See what I did there, Michael Davis?)
And so, I sat for the better part of an hour, watching “The Day of the Doctor.” With three Doctors sharing screen space, I was curious. David Tennant with his sand shoes, Matt Smith with his fussy hands, and John Hurt with his John Hurtiness. They occupied the same space, playing iterations of the same character. Different lives, but ultimately the same consciousness. And between them, a history, a future, and a mantra I had not heard until then.
“Never cruel or cowardly. Never give up, never give in.” And there it was. Just as I’d found my love of Trek via Kirk’s labido and Bones’ testicular fortitude. Just as I’d found my love of House via his unseen pain and self-doubt (and because it’s fun to watch him be a jerk). Here was The Doctor, making the hard choices, living and reliving moments in his lifetime, and decidedly declaring a purpose. This was to me the same as the oath of a Green Lantern, or Truth-Justice-and-the-American-Way.
When I’d posted on Facebook that I’d found a love for the character and now decided to jump in with the new season to come… I was pelted with more comments than I’d seen in the last year. Seems the whole world had become Whovian without me, but were quick to open their Tardi (Tardidisisisisis?) to me with open arms and weee-oooo-weee-oooo’ing sonic screwdrivers. For the record, I liked Tennant just a bit more than Smith (sorry, that Fez ain’t cool, no matter what he says), and Hurt more than either of them (“Why are you pointing those things? What are you going to do, assemble them a bookshelf?”). Doctor Who is about a hero who fights the good fight for all the universe, through all times. That I can certainly get behind. And now? I look forward to the future… the past… and all the timey-wimey in between.