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Review: Doctor Who Christmas Special "The Time Of The Doctor"

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Posted by: Darren Blackburn, U.K. Correspondent
created 12/25/2013 - 8:34pm, updated 12/25/2013 - 10:36pm

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Earlier this year head writer Steven Moffat promised Whovians a triple celebration for the Golden Anniversary. It’s great that he kept his word with "Time of the Doctor." This superb Christmas present gave the Eleventh Doctor a great showcase, tied up lots of dangling plotlines scattered through his tenure and also gave us a brief taster of what’s coming next year, but we’ll get to that later.

Before the episode descended into some very serious and sobering denouement, we had some lovely funny opening moments. I mean did you expect to see Matt Smith nude in the Tardis with a handy console knob hiding his sonic? Me neither. Or cooking the perfect Turkey with the Eye of Harmony. I loved Clara’s granny seeing through the holographic disguise – yeah she didn’t believe the Doctor was Clara’s boyfriend either. And Handles – the disembodied Cyber head certainly deserves a series of his own. 101 conversations with the Tardis’ telephone perhaps. Even Matt wearing a wig – bald at one point – never has a toupee been so important a plot device.

Regulars viewers who have followed Moffat’s twisting turning Silence Will Fall arc were finally rewarded with major revelations - perhaps for some not in great a detail as perhaps some may wish. I got to say I was overjoyed to see the return of the Crack In Time, the source of the mysterious message transmitting from the town of Christmas on Trenzalore. And wasn’t it grand that Moffat revealed that is was the Crack that the Doctor feared in Room 11 back in "The God Complex?"  It turned out it was Madam Kovarian of the Papal Mainframe who opted to blow up the Tardis to stymie the bitter war that the Mother Superious tried to prevent – only to come undo by those nasty Dalek nanites. And the Silence were Vicars? Blessed are those that forget their sins and...what was I writing....??

Oh yes, there was indeed more. A partial return of the Alliance – well a great assortment of Eleventh Adversaries with the Weeping Angels getting full marks for being scary in the snow. There was a worry that too many foes in one story would scattered the primary emphasis of the story. Thankfully, we knew Mr. Moffatt would ensure Smith got center stage – and he did practically appearing in most scenes. The idea of him, alone defending the town and its folks over 400 years perhaps sounded repetitive and recycled. However, as he got older we soon realize that sooner or later his time would run out, he would see one last sunrise and sunset, and you have to hand it to Matt Smith he played the part well right to the end.

We also knew the thorny question would soon arise on exactly how the Doctor would carry on with his regeneration cycle exhausted after Captain Grumpy and the Tenth’s vanity issues gobbled a few lives up. 12 is the limit; so as a bit of a disappointment, we don’t get an absolute answer. Turns out it's the Time Lords on the other side of the Crack from the pocket universe where they ended up after "Day of the Doctor," and as a bit of thanks for ensuring their safety they reward the Doctor with a new cycle –just as they have done occasionally with other agents in the past.  Perhaps some questions should remain unanswered – after all, we still thankfully don’t know Who he is.

And so the Moment was prepared for Capaldi to enter stage left and make his mark. And wasn’t it brief! One last minute cameo from Karen Gillen (also wearing a wig fresh from filming Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy). One last moment of seeing the bow tie - then a bowl of Fish Fingers and Custard later there he was. All mad eyes and in need of a Tardis Driving Manual with a new set of Kidneys and a Scottish lilt to boot. It's early days to say how I’ll react to Peter when the 12th Doctor returns in nine months time, but return he will for the Time Lord’s adventures are perpetual – and rightly so.

So Happy New Year, Doctor Who. And Farewell Matt Smith. Geronimo! 

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