Hi to the all the Hot Cute Girly… and Boy Geeks out there,
Well, I had every intention of writing a review for the latest episode of Season 7B, “The Name Of The Doctor”. I had watched the episode several times. I had written notes. Mendy and I even had a scene-by-scene discussion over Skype as to what made this episode so awesome – especially for somebody like me who has been watching the series since he was a kid and had several “fangasms” about how the history of the series was honoured and the part that Clara has had to play alongside the Doctor’s adventures since the very beginning, along with THAT moment at the end of the episode where you see “Introducing John Hurt as The Doctor”.
I had every intention of putting that review out there… and I procrastinated. I read the other reviews and thought, “How the hell am I going to say anything different than these guys?”
And then a certain pair of gentlemen by the names of Matthew Robert Smith and Steven Moffat made an announcement on the 1st of June 2013 that kinda made any review, feedback or soundbites kinda redundant. Yep, Mr Smith will be handing over the TARDIS key to his successor at the end of the Christmas episode, presumably in a blaze of CGI fire and morphing effects as in the style of his two predecessors.
Now, it’s understandable that fans of the series, particularly those who have joined post-2005, are, at present, a little shocked about the timing of the announcement, after all we have the 50th anniversary episode to look forward to, but could this be a case of, as Shirley Bassey sang, “That it’s all just a little bit of history repeating” ?
Fans of the series back in 1983 were living in the Greatest Hits compilation that was Season Twenty featuring the return of Omega, The Mara, The Master, The Guardians and a certain Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart and were building towards the Gallifreyan Wonderland that was “The Five Doctors”. However, the lead actor of the time, Peter Davison, decided to leave the role at the end of the Twenty-First season with the announcement being made during the break between the season itself and the special. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
I have been watching the series, as far as I can remember, since Jon Pertwee’s last season in the role when I was just short of two years old. (I definitely remember the “Eight Legs” and “The Great One” in “Planet Of The Spiders”). My first proper experience of watching a regeneration along with the rest of the country was Part Four of “Logopolis” when the seemingly indestructible fourth Doctor regenerated after seven years on our screens. Now, bear in mind that I was eight years old when this episode was shown. That’s seven years where half a year’s worth of Saturday nights were devoted to watching a tall, curly haired alien who wore a scarf that seemed to last forever. Understandably, I was more than a little sad that Tom Baker was leaving the role, but I was excited that one of my then, and still, favourite actors in Peter Davison was taking over the role.
Now, why am I talking about a slice of my childhood? Well, as Patrick Troughton said in his first story, “Power Of The Daleks”, “Life depends on change, and renewal” as so does a programme like “Doctor Who” where you have numerous production and scripting teams alongside the many Doctor and companion teams. Even the latest new season has had a regeneration of sorts. I don’t mean the change in design of the TARDIS set from the magical Ed Thomas version to the current Michael Pickwoad version or Matt’s change of costume from his geeky, tweedy Doctor to his more Victorian inspired incarnation, but it felt like Season 7 was a case of A Tale Of Two Seasons.
There was the change of Team TARDIS with the departure of the family atmosphere that Amy and Rory Williams-Pond brought to the programme and the arrival of the mysterious “Impossible Girl” Clara Oswald and, along with it, a change of emphasis in Matt’s portrayal from free-wheeling adventurer to a darker, more care-worn incarnation of the Eleventh Doctor. Yes… bow ties were still cool, but whereas with Amy and Rory you believed it, with Clara I felt that the Doctor’s trappings of “coolness” was more of a suit of armour protecting the wounded man within and hiding a darker, less compromising nature. This darker, more pained nature has permeated “Season 7B” from the way he mourns “Victorian Clara” and seemingly dispenses with Dr Simeon and The Intelligence in “The Snowmen”, through his description of the old man who has travelled far, experienced much and lost so much in “The Rings Of Akhaten”, to the final scene of “The Name Of The Doctor” where he is repulsed by the man who “broke the promise”. Although this is an anniversary season, “Season 7B” has been more funereal in tone, reminiscent to the darker Season Eighteen prior to Tom Baker’s departure or “The Waters Of Mars” prior to David Tennant’s departure, as though it has been getting us ready for a forthcoming change of leading man. (Plus, let’s not forget that Dorium warned the Doctor that his trip to Trenzalore would result in “The Fall Of The Eleventh”. The clues were there, we just hoped that they wouldn’t come true this early).
Let’s not forget, however, that Matt has given us four years of a well crafted, fully rounded portrayal in his time as the Doctor. We have had the highs of fish fingers and custard, “Who Da Man????”, anti-gravity motorbikes and scoring goals for a The King’s Arms soccer team. We have had the lows of defeat of his defeat at Demon’s Run which led to the loss of Melody Pond and the victory of the Daleks in World War 2 London. We have had the joys of the love and marriage of his two companions in Amy and Rory, the discovery of a new friend in Clara, the continuation of the U.N.I.T. legacy in Kate Stewart, and the joyous reunion with two former companions in Sarah Jane and Jo; and we have had the pain of the Doctor’s loss of his beloved Pond family, the regular partings from his wife, the lesson that time cannot be rewritten in the case of souls such as Vincent Van Gogh and a single parting “Hello” from the soul of his TARDIS. Matt’s era has pushed and pulled on our heartstrings with sadness and joy coming hand-in-hand.
Let’s not be too sad though, we have a birthday party to prepare for that will feature not just one Doctor, but three (including that fella who broke the promise), and a whole host of friends and foes, along with a Christmas special which will, I hope, tie up the remainder of Doctor Eleven’s loose ends… but most of all, let’s look forward to seeing two more episodes of watching the clever boy and his impossible girl run, before we have one final “Geronimo” as he hands over to Number Twelve.
Thank you Matt. You’ve been a really “cool” Doctor.
(Now, better check the odds on who’s going to be the next Doctor and put a pound bet on with the bookie.) 🙂