Saturday, 25 May 2013
The Name Of The Doctor and Series 7 Review
So, the finale of Doctor Who series 7, tantalizingly called 'The Name Of The Doctor', will the Doctor's name finally be revealed? Is this his greatest secret? Well obviously there was no way the Doctor's name would be revealed, unless you want a surefire way of getting DW cancelled again. Regardless of what the Doctor's name is, revealing it is always going to be an anticlimax. Anyway, so after what I thought was the poor 'Nightmare in Silver' but the decent 'Crimson Horror', things have taken a turn for the worse as the Doctor's friends are being kidnapped.
Madame Vastra gets hold of some information by a prisoner about what is supposedly the Doctor's 'greatest secret'. She calls a meeting of the Doctor's allies, Jenny, Strax, Clara and River Song. Following a discussion it is revealed that his secret was space time co-ordinates for Trenzalore, as revealed in series 6, this is the place where 'the eleventh will fall' and where the grave of the Doctor rests. But with Dr Simeon/The Great Intelligence kidnapping his friends, the Doctor is forced to face his death and travel there in order to save them. Once there, it is revealed that the only way to get inside the tomb is if the Doctor's name is spoken, the Great Intelligence starts to kill Clara and co, only stopping if the name is spoken.
But with River still mentally connected to Clara, River says his name so no one else can hear it, opening the chamber. Inside lays a destroyed abandoned TARDIS with the Doctor's 'timeline' running straight through the middle, everything he is, his past, his future and everyone he's ever known. The Great Intelligence reveals its plan to step inside his time stream and re writing his history, turning his victories into failures and finally defeating the Doctor. As he does this, star systems go out, a universe without the Doctor has vast consequences. Clara decides to go in there to stop the G.I. and save the Doctor every time he's in trouble, in order to make sure his timeline is not destroyed, thus explaining why she is the impossible girl and why The Doctor met her in 'Asylum of the Daleks' and 'The Snowmen'. The Doctor knows he must save Clara though so unwittingly steps into his own timeline, discovering Clara in a dark and unknown place outside of his timeline.
As the two meet they are aware of another presence in the room. Clara explains that she has never seen this version of him, but the Doctor replies saying that he chose the name 'The Doctor' himself, as a 'promise', and that the mysterious man in the corner was 'the one who broke the promise.' The man turns round, and yes IT IS JOHN HURT, playing a version of The Doctor! Phew, quite an episode ay.
Firstly I have to say, despite a pretty lacklustre series, probably the worst since the 2005 reboot, this episode really made up for everything the writing team have done wrong over the past year. It was a thrilling, brilliantly acted and surprising finale. I had fears that the resolution to Clara's 'impossible girl' story arc would be underwhelming, and that this secret that the Doctor harbours would be equally as anticlimactic. But thankfully I was proven very wrong! The idea that Clara slips into The Doctor's timeline, thus finally explaining why she lived and died twice in totally different ages was a brilliant one. I'd rattled my mind each episode for the reason why she was the 'impossible girl', and never once thought of something like this, a lovely little twist from Moffat.
Obviously as mentioned above, the Doctor's name would never be spoken, but the secret revealed at the end was even better. Introducing a never before seen Doctor, thus sending DW fanatics into a flurry everywhere, with theories bouncing all over the internet. Even better, the legendary John Hurt will be playing this Doctor, you couldn't see a better man in the role. I couldn't imagine a better set up leading into the 50th anniversary episode in November, Matt Smith, John Hurt and of course the returning David Tennant all playing their respective Doctors.
Matt Smith was absolutely superb in this episode, a real acting tour de force. The moment when Clara tells him about Trenzalore, you really see Matt's acting skill, I was on the verge of tears as he croakily faced the reality of death. Matt has very unfairly received criticism during series 7, any issues with the show are due to failures in the writing department, Matt has been the only redeeming feature for most of this series. With better scripts he would easily be regarded as one of the best Doctors.
I do feel somewhat like the Great Intelligence as a villain has been wasted. It felt like it was only used as a mere nod to classic who as opposed to being a genuinely formidable enemy. I would love to see Richard E. Grant back though, he was a terrific villain, snarling, vengeful, and quite simply, frightening. The Whispermen were also a nice new addition to the Doctor Who monster club, despite doing very little they were rather creepy, I would love to see them back too.
However, I do have some reservations. Whilst I do like Madame Vastra and Jenny, I simply can't stand Strax. Despite offering some comic relief, he is a mere annoyance on screen and I was hoping when Vasta was forced to kill him, he would stay dead. Sadly I was wrong. Next series we need less Strax. Throughout the episode I loved the nods to classic who, from the 'The Valeyard' down to Clara appearing in old episodes. But the CGI seemed very clumsy throughout, it didn't ruin anything, just seemed to be lacking in any decent post production value.
A lot of questions arise from this episode, of course the most asked being, who is this Doctor John Hurt is playing? There are a million theories all over the internet for this, so i'll leave this discovery up to you. Other questions arise though, this prisoner who held such vital information about the Doctor, who is he? All we know is his name is Clarence, it's possible he was just manipulated by the G.I. in order to get to Madame Vastra, if this were true then he is very much a sloppy plot device, I'm sure Moffat could have thought of better, more interesting ways for Vasta to gain the space time co-ordinates. With River Song appearing but saying goodbye to the Doctor at the end of the episode, does this now mean River's time with DW is over? I like River, so if this were true it would be a loss to the show, yet she does seemed to have run her course. However before she says goodbye, she says she is still able to have a mental connection to Clara, and when the Doctor asks why, she of course answers, "spoliers!". So is there more to come from River? Are Clara and River somewhat connected? There is still more to be discovered here. I also saw a decent point made on another blog yesterday, cast your minds back to 'The Bells of St John', the only reason Clara ever meets the Doctor is because a woman in a shop suggests she rings the Doctor's phone number because it's 'the best helpline in the universe.' Could it have been River? Or Rose? After all she is returning for the 50th anniversary, but as of yet this question ,like so many others, remains a mystery.
So as a finale, 'The Name Of The Doctor' was a return to form for Moffat and the show. Series 7 has generally proven to be a dud, despite some decent episodes. But with so many new twists revealed in this episode, it's hard not to be excited for the 50th anniversary and Series 8. Either way as a stand alone episode, this was easily one of the best since series 5, Clara is great, but Matt Smith has consistently been dazzling, a wondrous mix of child in a sweet shop and ancient time traveller, as long as he continues to play the Doctor my faith in the show remains.
The Name Of The Doctor: 5/5
Doctor Who Series 7: 2.5/5