This entry started out as a comment on Michael Ray Johnson’s blog, Of Dice and Pen, however proved to be too long for the comment form to accept, so I decided to post it here.
This episode struck me as an “epilogue” to Matt Smith’s storyline, and just as with the last few episodes of Babylon 5’s Season 5, it seemed more like the writer told he needed fill an hour of TV, but not really have any ideas to build a story with.
Epilogues are great, when used effectively. Here, as you say, there was just way too much going on crammed in and stuck together. The town’s name, Christmas, was clearly contrived for use in the Christmas Special. A bit like, “oh, we’re writing a Christmas Special, we’d better make a note of that fact, but we’ve got a Doctor to kill off, a cliff hanger to wrap up, and a new actor to introduce. We’re swamped!” … “Oh wait, let’s call the town Christmas and bake a turkey in the TARDIS!” … “YEAH!”
The story does have parts going for it. Bringing back Amy Pond for a quick “bye bye” was a nice touch, as was removing the bow tie (bow ties are cool), and as Christopher says above – the snap to the new Doctor was brilliant (“do you know how to fly this thing?” was an AWESOME line).
Eventually, the fact that the Doctor was going to run out of lives was going to have to be dealt with. There’s no reason for this needing to be a huge deal, because regeneration as it stands is a huge deal anyway. It just keeps going, and now, fortunately, and given that it took the BBC 50 years to go through the initial 12 regenerations (admittedly through a little bit of a back-door excuse thrown in by Moffat for the fun of it) I think it’s fair to say we don’t need to worry about this again for, oh I don’t know, another 50 years*.
I also don’t agree with the accusations of sexism levelled against Moffat. So, he smacks Amy on the butt? Yeah, it’s inappropriate for a guy to do that to someone in a professional setting, but let’s face it – the Doctor and Amy aren’t in a professional setting. They’re, by that point, very close friends having a lot of fun together and, because of the nature of their adventures, they have a very intimate life together. It’s not a marriage, or sexual, since Amy’s with Rory, but still, when two people spend as much time together as the Doctor and Amy do, and become that comfortable with each other, it’s something that I can see happening.
I could have done without the doctor flashing Clara’s family. It was a moment that was obviously thrown in for a bit of a laugh, but it fell totally flat. There was no need to build in a necessity for nudity as a show of respect to the Papal Mainframe, but since Moffat did put that bit in there, having the Doctor naked on the TARDIS made sense. Projecting clothes into Clara’s mind when preparing to go to see her family? Silly to the extreme – but sexist? No; just dumb.
I think Moffat is getting unfair treatment when it comes to the so-called social issues. So, he downplayed LBGTTQWHATEVEROTHERLETTERSTHEYDECIDETOADDTHISWEEK
characters? There’s not a complete lack of them, like one blogger posted. Canton Everett Delaware III shows up in The Impossible Astronaut and The Day of the Moon, and as well, there’s the rather unusual relationship of Vastra and Jenny, who are, not only both female, but completely different species!
There’s “inclusiveness”, and there’s “tokenism”. Inclusiveness puts a trait, such as homosexuality, into a character, and leaves it alone unless it’s crucial to the plot. Canton Everett is a good example of this – he reveals, at the end of The Day of the Moon that he wants to get married, to another man. It’s just there and stands alone, for itself. It makes for a nice humourous end to that particular character’s storyline without beating the viewer over the head with it. Tokenism, on the other hand, is exactly that – beating the user over the head with it. Tokenism takes a character, puts in a trait, and then makes it blatantly obvious that it’s there deliberately, intentionally, and says to the viewer, LOOK!! RIGHT HERE! WE’VE GOT THE GAY CHARACTER! SEE?! LOOK HOW INCLUSIVE WE ARE! WE’RE GOOD, INCLUSIVE PRODUCERS AREN’T WE? And so on.
Not only is it very annoying to the viewer when this gets done, it’s also insulting to the very community that the producers are trying to include! If it seems forced, it usually is, and produces a very cynical response. As John Barrowman said at Calgary Expo last Spring: “I’m a man who happens to like other men.” He doesn’t define himself by his sexual orientation, and neither should we. He made it very clear that he is comfortable with who he is, and that’s all that matters.
Doctor Who’s showrunners, both Moffat and Davies before him, have done an excellent job of being inclusive without resorting to tokenism.
*Average time spent playing The Doctor = 3.5 years * 13 lives = 45 years:
Doctor Harnell: 4 Years
Doctor Troughton: 3 Years
Doctor Pertwee: 3 Years
Doctor T. Baker: 7 Years
Doctor Davison: 3 Years
Doctor C. Baker: 2 Years
Doctor McCoy: 3 Years (Dammit, Jim, I’m a Time Lord, not a physician!)
Doctor McGann: (Not counted due to one full-length story and one brief appearance)
Doctor Hurt: (Not counted for the same reason)
Doctor Eccleston: 1 Year
Doctor Tennant: 4 Years
Doctor Smith: 3 Years