I vividly remember watching the episode of Sex and the City where they finally revealed Mr Big’s name. It was such an intense letdown that I couldn’t believe it had been given the go ahead to be screened. I was so disappointed, and I wasn’t even that big a fan of Carrie and co. Thus, I approached this episode of Doctor Who with some trepidation, worried they would reveal our favourite alien’s name as Bob or Trevor or something. It wasn’t helped by the big hype machine calling this a gamechanging episode. I’ll be the judge of that, thank you very much.
As ever, one has to put trust into Steven Moffat because the guy knows what he’s doing. Actually, in perusing other reviews of the series seven finale, I stumbled across this on Pauseliveaction that I thought summed up the entire episode:
Steven Moffat can do story and he can do dialogue and he can do heart. He does struggle a bit on the sci-fi bit sometimes though. I had several moments of “what?” and “well, that’s lucky [rolls eyes]“
The two bits that stand out the most for me from the Name of the Doctor are both human, emotional, Matt Smith moments. His reaction to Trenzalore, and his conversation with the echo of River Song. Both incredible and beautiful and moving. Along with those, the strength of acting when Jenny realises she may have been murdered, Clara’s resolve in knowing what she has to do, these are the things that made the episode great.
The story was okay, although at this point in my Doctor Who career, I am mostly glad when the big showdowns aren’t a disappointment rather than cheering on greatness. I liked the concept of Clara through the years, and it was a bit of a treat to see the previous Doctors in action, it didn’t really work that well. Using previous footage is always a risk and technically, it just didn’t look good. I did like the bit with the shadows of the Doctor brushing past Clara, that was better. Unseen, a hint of what has been before, rather than bold as brass trying to insert her where she doesn’t really belong.
Of course, the game-changing moment wasn’t a name, it was never going to be revealed in that way. Instead, it was a face, a brand new face for the Doctor - although it confused me that moments after our Doctor said this one wasn’t called the Doctor, it read on the screen that he was. It’s impossible to try and fathom what or why, where they are going with this or what the plans for the 50th can involve. I am happy to just relish what they’re doing, that the showrunners are not afraid to push the boundaries.
I had just been saying to Mr C that whilst I enjoyed Matt Smith’s portrayal of the Doctor, it felt like time for something new. We had Ecclestone for one brief moment, and Tennant did just the three and a bit series. Smith has wrapped up his third, and, I reiterate, although I think his work is getting better and better, I felt like I was ready for a change. Clara feels very similar to Amy, and it hasn’t been the breath of fresh air I thought it might, but this new Doctor could provide the shakeup I’ve been looking for.
It’s really good to be wrapping up a series and still be keen, excited and anxious for the next episode to arrive. Good work everyone!