Doctor Who Review: The Time of the Doctor

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Losing the Doctor is always an emotional experience.  This one in particular hit me hard because Matt Smith is “my” Doctor.  Almost all Whovians have one Doctor they grow particularly attached to and for me it was his 11th incarnation.  While I have been very much critical of Moffat’s writing, particularly how he writes the Doctor’s treatment towards women, I’ve always enjoyed Smith’s acting in the part.  He brought a fun, childlike joy to the Doctor that was very much enjoyable despite the questionable moments he was given in the scripts.  Even with the wackiness, he still had a dark edge to him that made him an extremely appealing mix of contradictions.  I’m looking forward to Capaldi and I have a lot of faith in him, but that only lessens the sting of losing my Doctor by a little bit.  Smith is my Doctor and I’m incredibly sad to see him go.

 

DoctorWho4This regeneration was a bit easier on the Doctor than the last couple.  This time he was dying of old age and was expecting a permanent end to come, unlike the other ones where he was killed before he was ready to go but knew there was a regeneration waiting for him on the other side.  In fact, he was smiling as the glowing energy began to surround him and change his form.  It was still painful to bid farewell to Smith, but at least from the Doctor’s perspective it was under much better circumstances than the last few deaths he experienced.  I was handling the whole scene well until Amy appeared.  The moment she stepped onto the Tardis floor the waterworks began.  I became a sobbing mess.  Amy was the first face the 11th Doctor saw.  She was his best friend and losing her was devastating.  At that point I began to cry and I didn’t stop crying until the credits finished rolling.  While Smith’s Doctor is my Doctor, Amy was my favorite companion, so this was a double dose of emotional trauma for me.

 

DoctorWho1The transition to Capaldi was also very different than the past few regenerations.  We’ve become used to the bright lights exploding and a new face emerging from within it, but this time we got a reset to a younger version of Smith’s Doctor before we get a new face.  Perhaps this was an attempt to give us a few more moments with him before the switch, much like Tennant’s farewell tour in The End of Time.  This made the change in faces abrupt.  It just happened out of the blue and even Clara was taken back by the sudden switch.  But then Capaldi jumped right into the role and we got our first glimpse at our new Doctor’s personality.  “Kidneys!” will forever be ingrained in our memories as the first words Capaldi’s Doctor said, but Smith’s was “legs!” so we seem to be setting a theme of random body parts being shouted immediately after regeneration.  What will be next? Toes! Ears! Intestines!

 

Amidst the emotional devastation of losing Smith, there were still moments in the episode that earned a deeper critical look.  The continued sexualization of the Doctor and his flirtation with his companions are irksome for many and this episode only added on to the ever growing list in that regard.  A large portion of the plot in the first 15 minutes required the Doctor to be naked, even though he did have a cloaking tool that gave him the appearance of clothing.  When invited to pretend to be Clara’s boyfriend he jumped at the chance to play the part, including a rather jarring pat on her bum in front of her family.  Then there’s also the random kiss with Tasha, which came out of the blue and was completely unnecessary.  The Doctor under Moffat’s command just doesn’t seem to treat women with much respect, which is particularly painful for me as Smith, as I’ve mentioned repeatedly in this review, is by far my favorite Doctor.

 

DoctorWho2Not everyone has a problem with the sexualization of the Doctor, though.  There’s a large portion of fans that want to see the Doctor and Clara enter into a romantic relationship.  While people who don’t want him to be with anyone other than Rose or River and the people who view him as a primarily asexual being are upset by these moments, Clara/Doctor shippers were given a wonderful gift this Christmas.  Their ship is sailing strong.  Even they seemed bothered by the kiss with Tasha, though, and it’s honestly hard to tell why that was written into the script at all.  What was the point?  What did that add?  It only highlights that Smith’s Doctor is sort of inappropriate with women, which is a taint on the character that saddens me.

 

The episode also turned into “Moffat’s Greatest Hits” essentially.  We had the Silence, the Weeping Angels, the crack in the wall, and so on.  The Cybermen and the Daleks also made an appearance, but the attention was very much focused on Moffat era challenges and villains.  Moffat has the bad habit of only focusing on his own writing and putting anything that preceded his era on the backburner.  Sometimes he ignores it completely or rewrites it to fit his needs.  The 50th anniversary was one big rewrite of the Time War and it seems that theme carried on over to the Christmas special.  It often feels like he’s writing entirely for himself and not for the Doctor Who franchise at large.  Doctor Who needs a writer who honors canon that came before him, not disregards it.  Moffat needs to go.  Doesn’t he look tired?

Overall there was a lot to be upset about in this episode, but Smith’s final moments were written beautifully.  My favorite Doctor and my favorite companion got one final moment together, even if she was a hallucination.  I was a sobbing mess in that scene, which means it essentially accomplished what it set out to do.  It was moving, heartbreaking, and a fitting send off for Matt Smith.  It’s the end of another era on Doctor Who.  I’m grateful for all that Matt Smith has given us and I look forward to Capaldi.

Author: Angel Wilson

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.


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About the author

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She's contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She's written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.

Comments

  1. Matt Smith’s Doctor is not inappropriate with women. It’s the other way around. They know it makes him uncomfortable when they go after him that way, that’s why they do it.

    1. I’m going to assume this is sarcasm because it doesn’t make any sense. The Doctor is the one who patted Clara on the butt in front of her family. The Doctor is the one who kissed Tasha, not Tasha kissing the Doctor. And these are just the two examples from THIS episode. There are a ton of things in other episodes that he’s done including the “it’s a woman” line and the language he uses to describe the women in his life.

      That said, Matt Smith is my favorite Doctor regardless of Moffat’s womanizing writing.

      1. You’ll just have to pay attention a bit more to past episodes. Watch a few more interviews with Matt Smith. You’re reading the scenes incorrectly.

        He’s a big social nerd imitating what he thinks is expected of his behavior (to comic effect). River Song’s advances towards him are unnerving for Matt’s Doctor. He has no poor attitude about women.

        1. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to strongly disagree with you here. Perhaps you should watch some more interviews with Steven Moffat. Moffat’s language towards women and attitude towards women are seeping through into the character of the Doctor. Past incarnations of the Doctor haven’t behaved this way and yet under Moffat’s hand he has become incredibly inappropriate. And nothing you say will convince me that patting a girl on the butt in front of her family is in any way appropriate. If you believe that it is you who are incorrect.

          -Admin Angel

        2. The Doctor has been around for 900+ years, I think he’s had time to learn what his behavior should and should not be. Tennant never slapped anyone’s ass for comedic relief, and saying that’s comedy relief is degrading Clara into an object because then she’s just there for the Doctor to use to be funny. “Oh look I’m definitely dating Clara so I’ll slap her on the butt in front of her family instead of treating her with respect because haha I’m the Doctor” when the Doctor’s never done that with literally any one else.

          Matt may be the actor but Moffat is the one that writes how the doctor and his companions act and like Angel said, his views on women are seeping into his writing more and more.

          I don’t even know if all this makes sense; if I’m putting into words what I’m trying to convey here but I hope my point makes it across.

          1. The Doctor has no real idea about what it is to have a human girlfriend. He’s standing there stark naked in front her family and slaps her on the behind. Don’t tell me that’s serious or in any way degrading to her. Lighten up.

            1. We can and we will tell you that that is degrading. Previous Doctors did not have this problem. Moffat takes the wheel and suddenly he’s a bumbling fool around women? Moffat has made many questionable statements regarding women in interviews and now the Doctor seems to be doing the same thing. It makes no sense. We will not “lighten up” about misogyny.

              -Admin Angel

              1. Oh I see this is just an anti-Moffat rant. Matt Smith chooses how to play his version of the Doctor, bumbling or not.

                1. You choose the word “rant.” I choose the words “critique” or “analysis.” What gave away the fact that it was against Moffat? The fact that I mentioned it numerous times in my review and subsequent comments? Welcome to the conversation. Glad to have you finally join us.

                  I have absolutely no problem with Matt Smith’s portrayal of the Doctor. In fact, I stated as much in my review, which it almost seems like you just skimmed:

                  “While I have been very much critical of Moffat’s writing, particularly how he writes the Doctor’s treatment towards women, I’ve always enjoyed Smith’s acting in the part. He brought a fun, childlike joy to the Doctor that was very much enjoyable despite the questionable moments he was given in the scripts. Even with the wackiness, he still had a dark edge to him that made him an extremely appealing mix of contradictions.”

                    1. It’s great that you say that then don’t actually point out any of my contradictions. What part is a contradiction? The fact that I don’t like that he’s a bumbling misogynistic fool around women, but enjoy Matt Smith’s childlike playfulness? My enjoyment of one is not mutually exclusive to my disgust with the other. Matt Smith can play him in the same joyful manner, but the slapping of the rear, the inappropriate kisses, the language used, all of that is in the script. Or at least I will assume that is in the script until they state those were specific Matt Smith adlibs. I’ve been to three separate Doctor Who panels in the flesh and watched numerous others recorded later and not in a single one of them have they stated that he does any adlibbing. Therefore those parts were most likely in the scripts. Therefore they are not Matt Smith’s fault. Please point out my contradictions.

            2. Yeah, right. Becuase the Doctor never spent time at all on Earth. Like, in his third incarnation he was not at all stuck on Earth for a really long period of time. He’s not at all a very wise men, instructed in a variety of cultures due to his travels. For God’s sake, he’s never been in modern day London ever! Poor thing, he lived +900 years never traveling with humans!
              Are you seriously trying to say that the Doctor does not know about that kind of things? Eleven has been traveling with a couple for a long time, when did you see Rory slapping Amy’s butt, while he’s naked in front of her family on Christmas’ dinner?

              1. He gets a new mind with each version of the Doctor. I’m sure other versions knew not to air-kiss fellow football players, but not Matt 🙂

                1. Just because he has a new brain doesn’t mean the knowledge he’s collected before has been erased. He should still know how to not treat human women poorly. If this behavior is due to a regeneration, then once again this is Steven Moffat’s fault for writing it that way. None of the other incarnations that I’ve encountered (1, 4, 9, 10) have treated women in such a way. Why this one? Because Moffat (and apparently YOU too) believe this type of behavior is ok. It is not ok. It is not appropriate.

                  1. Oh that’s not true. I bet he doesn’t remember much about Venusian aikido anymore 🙂

                    I asked my wife what she thinks from a woman’s point of view. She agreed that it was all just silly and harmless.

                    Tasha Lem on the other hand, well she’s so sexist towards the Doctor that she may as well be River Song 🙂

                    1. I hate to break this to you, but your wife doesn’t speak for all women. I am also a woman and I don’t think having my butt patted in front of my family is “good fun.” It’s gross and offensive. I feel like you are intentionally trying to rile me up now with your comment about Tasha and River. I’m close to writing you off as a troll because that argument is a bit difficult to take seriously.

                    2. RE: Tasha Lem Being Sexist Towards the Doctor

                      Doctor and Clara approach (Nude) Mother Superious Tasha Lem.

                      Lem: Is that a new body? Give us a twirl!

                      Doctor: Tash, this old thing? Please,I’ve been rocking it for centuries.

                      Lem: Nice though. Tight.

                      She’s just like River and pilots the Tardis like her as well.

                    3. I fail to see how her piloting the Tardis makes her sexist? Also I’d like to remind you that this entire episode was written by Moffat. Therefore these problematic elements are also Moffat’s fault. I have many issues with the way he WRITES women, not just with the way his Doctor treats them. This further drives the point home that Moffat has a consistent habit of sexualizing the Doctor which I think is weird and highly problematic for oh so many reasons.

                    4. It has nothing to do with piloting the Tardis and you know it. Fans are having fun imagining that Tasha is somehow a mirror of River Song. There are lots of clues.

                      Really if you don’t like Moffat, don’t watch his shows. RTD is never coming back.

                    5. Why is it that you automatically assume I want RTD back? I absolutely do not. That would be terrible. I found a lot of his plots very boring, so way to go making an assumption that is entirely incorrect. I’d rather have Mark Gatiss take charge.

                      I am not going to stop watching Doctor Who because I find one writer problematic or another writer boring. There’s enough that still keeps me engaged and I’m not going anywhere. As I said, I loved Matt Smith and he kept me intrigued. Now Capaldi looks to be very entertaining as well, so why stop watching? Part of critical media analysis is to point out flaws when you see it. If you don’t like analysis, quit reading it.

                    6. The fact that you can say that Tasha is just like River opens up another problem people and myself have with how Moffat writes women. All to most of his women are the same cookie cutout of the same traits. And all to most of his women all want the Doctor and that’s just crazy.

                      The way Moffat is writing this story is that all the women love him and don’t call him out when he kisses them against their will or degrades them in different ways. Because the best way to write is to write what you know, and maybe that’s all Moffat knows when it comes to Doctor Who but it’s problematic.

                      Does anyone call the doctor out on any of this in the show? No and that’s not realistic and don’t say “Well it’s a tv show it’s not real” when you write or read a story of course you must have a small suspension of belief but there’s a point where it goes from being believable to being ridiculous and the fact that no one cares that he slaps her ass or forces a kiss on tasha just crosses that line.

                      Also lots of young kids watch this show and when you’re putting something out there for people to see, lots of people to see, you need to be a good role model. You need to show people a hero that everyone can look up to and the fact that the doctor can and will act this way is teaching young kids it’s ok.

                      Honestly I don’t think you’ll ever change your view point or even try to think of it differently that maybe there is a problem with how women are portrayed, so I just say that Angel should close this thread or something to keep it from going on.

                    7. I agree that he won’t change his mind, but closing the thread would stifle discussion which is welcomed here. If he starts becoming abusive and breaking our rules I will block his IP.

                      That said, you have great points. Thanks for chiming in.

                      -Admin Angel

                    8. Funny. I used to think the way you do before I grew up a bit. I know where you’re coming from and it may take a while for you to wise up as well.

                      I’m not saying your feelings aren’t valid, they are. Just realize that with a little more life experience you’re going to feel silly that you ever felt this way.

                      I can tell you that real people are being degraded every day of this world. Turn your outrage to that. Make a difference there. Don’t hold fictional people up as heroes, you’re only going to be laughed at.

                      On a lighter note. Go check out what the fans are saying about Tasha Lem & River Song. It has nothing to do with Moffat creating cookie cutter female characters that are all in love with the Doctor. Go and have fun for a change.

                    9. I’m not sure who you are directing the “grow up” thing to, but either way it’s a personal attack which is against our TOS. You are attacking people on a personal level instead of dissecting their arguments. We are an analysis site. If you don’t want to read analysis, do not come here. I am blocking your IP. Please do not come back.

                    10. Freedom of speech means that the GOVERNMENT does not have the right to limit your speech. We are not the government. We are a privately run website. You clearly do not understand the first amendment. Nor do you realize that this website is run by many people who aren’t even in the United States. We are not the government. The first amendment has nothing to do with us.

                      I do not know why your IP ban did not stick but I am going to try to block it again.

                      Edit: Oh I see. You changed your IP. Well please take your misogyny, misunderstanding of the first amendment, condescending attitude, and blatant trick to get around my ban and go away. Thanks for driving the point home about your intelligence. The lack of understanding about freedom of speech saved me the trouble. I appreciate it!

            3. Just because it’s not supposed to be serious doesn’t mean it’s not degrading. Would you slap your girlfriends ass in front of her parents? Because I certainly wouldn’t and that’s only being alive for 27 years. Considering he’s got 900-something more years to learn how to act that’s not acceptable. And I can still enjoy the show and still see the problems that lie within it. Just like Supernatural. I like the show but I know it has it’s own problems.

              Being a fan of a show is not just about liking it and ignoring any problems. It can also be liked but also point out and notice the flaws and hope it can do better. Russel T Davies had his own story problems but at least when he wrote the doctor it wasn’t blatantly sexist like Moffat does.

              1. Thinking about it myself I might have stumbled onto a clue to the real problem here. The Doctor is the protector of everyone, this is not something any of us or any of the writers will disagree with. Being massively clever, strong, dashing, compassionate but hes also very human with his emotions. My guess is in an attempt to make him more relatable more like just any man Moffat pours his personal view of what a man should be which is chauvinistic which is not The Doctor.

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