Television: Doctor Who and the Name of the Doctor

"The Name of the Doctor"

Clara is summoned to an impossible conference call, alerting her that the deadly Whisper Men are closing in on Vastra, Jenny and Strax. Someone is kidnapping the Doctor’s friends, leading him toward the one place in all of time and space that he should never go. It’s a deadly trap that threatens to unravel his past, present and future…

I’m unsure about how I should feel about this episode.

On the one hand, I’m highly satisfied with how they wrapped up the Impossible Girl storyline–and how they wrote in the Great Intelligence into the fabric of Doctor Who history. What I didn’t like so much was how the whole episode didn’t feel like a proper Who episode.

Thing is, I don’t even know how to explain that. But one thing’s for sure. It starts with River Song.

Before we go forward, I would just like to explain how I’m very much a fan of River Song. Until Series 6 happened, that is. But I thought The Angels Take Manhattan did a great job at bringing back the River Song I liked. And then we get the one in this episode.

On the one hand, I liked the fact that Steven Moffat chose the version of River who knew everything to appear in this episode. On the other hand, this raises so many questions for me. Like, how did Madame Vastra manage to contact the consciousness of River Song in the very, very far future–where she lives in a centralized processor that only exists in a planet far away?

The timey-wimey bit worked with Clara, as we already saw that type of sending messages through time in Blink. But I’m really curious as to how they got River.

And why River? Because she knows the name of the Doctor? Because of Trenzalore? But this was just a conclave to talk about saving the Doctor, is it not? Did they know that they would need the name of the Doctor?

If we’re going for people who care about the Doctor, wouldn’t the Paternoster Gang attempt to contact Amy and Rory? Or Jack Harkness? Maybe Martha Jones? People who can actually help the doctor. So why not them? I understand the reality of returning cast members and budgetary constraints–but a clear explanation of why not them would help. Immensely. Especially since the recent run of episodes have all thrown homage to previous episodes–and it’s leading us toward the fiftieth anniversary special.

This is not to say that the episode was bad though. I thought it was exceptionally well-crafted. I just couldn’t get over the fact that for an episode leading to the anniversary, and for a finale episode, this felt really… small. As I said, it didn’t feel like a Who episode. Especially after the big episodes that led to the finale. Where was the grandeur of The Crimson Horror? The impossibility of The Wedding of River Song? Where was the heart-tugging moment of The Rings of Akhaten? The spectacle of The Bells of St. John? Where was the feel of adventure that they’ve been infusing the series with since Series 6’s mid-series finale A Good Man Goes to War?

There’s a feeling of something missing in The Name of the Doctor.

I must say though, Jenna-Louise Coleman did exceptionally well in this episode.

And I really do like the explanation we get as to why Clara became the Impossible Girl.

And I hope that this really is the end of the prophecy that Steven Moffat started in Series 5. That after the Pandorica opens, silence will fall when the question is asked. The Pandorica has already opened. Silence already fell. (And has fallen again.) And the question has been asked.

Let’s go back to the simpler arcs. Like Bad Wolf. Like Vote Saxon.

Or like the cracks in the universe.

Speaking of which. Have we already found out what made the TARDIS explode back in Series 5?

That’s something we’ve yet to discuss, isn’t it?

Well, we’ll hold off on it for now, as we digest the game-changing reveal at the end of The Name of the Doctor. Or we could discuss it during the six months wait we have to endure before the fiftieth anniversary special airs on November. Sound off in the comments section below.

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