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Doctor Who's 2013 Christmas Special: "The Time of the Doctor"


It's easy to say that the magic of Doctor Who is that it's constantly able to reinvent itself, but that's not entirely true. It plays a part, yes, but the real magic—the magic that has fueled the series for the last 50 years—is the relationship between the Doctor and his companion. It's a special relationship; without companions, the Doctor would not be the Time Lord he is today. They keep him grounded, they teach him lessons, they save his ass. And just like with the Doctors themselves, fans have their own personal favorites. 

David Tennant will always be my Doctor. It doesn't mean Matt Smith didn't worm his way into my heart over the course of the last three seasons—if I'm being honest, he did much more than that—but Tennant has always been and will always be my Doctor. But the title of favorite companion? That's a difficult question to answer. If you'd have asked me prior to Smith's run, you probably would've heard a resounding cheer for Catherine Tate's Donna Noble. She was adventurous, she was loud, and she was bold. She wasn't in love with the Doctor, she was in love with the time spent with him, the adventures she experienced while traveling in the TARDIS and helping him saving the world. Donna was a firecracker and she was fantastic. But just as Tennant left, so did Tate, and fans were, for the first time since Russell T. Davies rebooted the series in 2005, facing a new world with both a new Doctor and a new companion at the same time. Who was Matt Smith? Who was Karen Gillan? Why should we care about them?


I'll be the first to admit that at 26, I didn't expect Smith to be any good in the iconic role of the Doctor. He was the youngest man ever cast in the role, and I wasn't entirely convinced that he could successfully portray a character who was supposed to be several hundred years old. I wasn't convinced he could play the deep-seated anger and regret that was necessary for a man who had killed his entire race. But by the time the credits rolled on "The Eleventh Hour," Smith's first episode as the Doctor, I knew that I'd been wrong. Smith's Doctor was eccentric and silly and unable to sit still. He brought a sense of energy to the role that Tennant didn't really possess. That's not a dig at Tennant, it's just that he was a different Doctor, he possessed different skills. While Tennant was funny and charming in his own right, the tenth Doctor definitely carried the burden of his past sins. Smith's Doctor was more light-hearted, and he seemed to exist purely on a diet of coffee and Pixy Stix. But it worked.

Part of the reason it worked so well was Smith's chemistry with Gillan's Amelia Pond. She was as fierce and loyal as he was erratic and goofy, and as a team, they worked like magic. Because fans were introduced to the two of them together, they were a package deal. You couldn't really have one without the other. The addition of Arthur Darvill as Amy's fiance and eventual husband Rory added a certain level-headedness to the TARDIS, and together the three of them were the ultimate trio. Because Amy and Rory were a couple, the series never really had to worry about the romantic aspect of the show that accompanied the Tennant era. Amy tried to jump the Doctor a couple of times, but it was never like Rose's relationship with Ten, or Martha's unrequited love for him either. Amy and Rory loved the Doctor and the Doctor loved Amy and Rory.


When it was announced in December 2011 that Gillan and Darvill would be departing the series in the middle of Season 7, but Smith would be staying on, many fans questioned whether or not this was the right call. Eleven without the Ponds? Was that even possible? And although I was not one of those fans—I've yet to be let down by a new Doctor or companion—I have found myself looking back at Smith's time with Jenna Coleman's Clara Oswald and wondering if maybe the series would have been better off if Smith had departed alongside his former castmates. 

It's not that I dislike Clara as a companion, it's that she had the misfortune of following a really great first act. She suffers from what I call Martha Jones Syndrome. Just as Martha wasn't Rose, Clara isn't Amy. They weren't/aren't terrible characters in their own right, they just couldn't/can't live up to the beloved companions who came before them. The chemistry between Smith and Coleman also isn't as electrifying, and Clara, while seemingly independent, still feels a bit too much like she's in love with the Doctor for my liking. There have been times where Coleman has been wonderful—"Asylum of the Daleks" (as Oswin Oswald), "The Snowmen," and "Hide" come to mind—but there have been even more times where I've felt hollow in response to her character. By no means do I blame Coleman for this, however, because even if she isn't Gillan, she's also not being given the best material.


While I've never been as harsh as some critics on Steven Moffat's version of Doctor Who (I loved "The Pandorica Opens" and "The Big Bang" despite their convoluted nature), his penchant for over-complicating stories and then overwriting them by a simple out has grown to be worrisome. I gave him a pass for the "The Day of the Doctor" because it was the 50th Anniversary Special. That episode existed on a separate grading scale. By essentially erasing the act of the Doctor killing his entire race and actually saving Gallifrey, he changed the direction of the series. Some fans hated this, but I gave it a pass because it's probably something the series needed. It opened the door to a new set of possibilities and it also allowed for the Doctor to receive a new set of regenerations in "The Time of the Doctor," to fix the strict 12 regenerations problem. But Moffat cannot continue to write these long, drawn out, over-serialized narratives and still maintain the quality that fans have come to expect from Doctor Who.

Yes, it actually was rather nice to see Smith's era wrapped up in a nice little bow with the crack in the universe returning, and having the TARDIS explosion explained. And I'm actually tearing up again as I remember Gillan's Amy returning to say goodbye and goodnight to Smith's version of the Doctor, but the over-complicated stories that have accompanied the Smith/Moffat era have definitely been controversial among critics and fans alike. It happened with Amy as The Girl Who Waited, and it happened with Clara as The Impossible Girl. Moffat has spent a lot of time dreaming up new ways to recapture the magic of "Blink," a truly magnificent hour of storytelling, but that wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff worked because it was a contained story. And many of Moffat's complicated stand-alone episodes in the Smith era have been truly great, but I think it's time to hang up the extended mysteries and questions before it's too late. He painted himself into a corner by introducing Trenzalore and the Doctor's death, but then wiped it all away with the equivalent of a throwaway line of dialogue.


"The Time of the Doctor" was, if I'm being honest, kind of a letdown as Matt Smith's final episode. It felt like it dragged a bit in the middle, and I never really cared about the town of Christmas or the Doctor being its savior for several hundred years. To be fair, I've been building this episode up in my mind for months, and it had to follow the well-received "The Day of the Doctor." So it would have been nearly impossible for "The Time of the Doctor" to live up to expectations. And there were aspects that I enjoyed. For example, the truth field was a nice touch, because the Doctor has never been a truthful man. He's skated by on lies and half-truths and being the smartest person in the room, so it was interesting to watch him simply have to stay quiet after several seasons of being a wound-up chatterbox. 

It was also a fine showcase for Smith's specific talents as the Doctor—he was funny, he was awkward, he was flirty, and he talked a lot while pretending to have plans. I also really enjoyed seeing him age as the Doctor, even if it felt a bit like a plot contrivance for him to work in the explanation about the regeneration issue. This episode was great if you look at it strictly in terms of Smith's performance in the role. But I can't say I particularly cared all that much about the actual story, or about Clara's storyline within it. Every time she appeared to save the day, the Doctor would send her away to save her life. And every time that happened, I wondered why I didn't feel anything. 


Coleman did a fine job portraying Clara's sadness over the possibility of losing the Doctor forever—I felt the same sadness whenever I remembered this was the last time I'd see Smith's bowtie, for instance—but knowing that Capaldi's Doctor was on the horizon, there were never any real stakes. It seems silly to be complaining about stakes on Doctor Who, but even when you know that everything will turn out all right in the end, viewers still want to feel those emotions as if they really might lose the Doctor forever. I still cry during "The End of Time" as if I'm watching it for the first time. When I look at "The Time of the Doctor," the sadness that usually accompanies the parting of a Doctor and his companion wasn't there. The pain I felt came from simply knowing this was the end, not from anything I was watching on the screen. 

I cannot speak for anyone else, but I can't be the only one who felt this way. Why else would Moffat write in an extremely emotional cameo for Karen Gillan's Amy if Jenna Coleman's Clara were enough? Is it not telling that even he realized Smith's success as the Doctor rested on his relationship with Amy Pond all along? When young Amelia showed up as a vision only the Doctor could see, I knew that an appearance by an adult Amy was coming, but it still didn't stop me from crying like a little girl when she said, "Raggedy man, good night," an echo of "Raggedy man, goodbye," which were her final words to him in "The Angels Take Manhattan."


Matt Smith's Doctor will forever be remembered for his eccentricities, for successfully filling the very large shoes of David Tennant, for his inability to talk without flapping his arms about, and for his love of fish fingers and custard, bowties and fezzes. But the most important aspect of his tenure was his relationship with Amy Pond, the first face Eleven ever encountered, and it's unfortunate that Smith's swan song was nearly devoid of any real emotion until the final few moments when she returned to say good night as he regenerated into Capaldi's Doctor. The second half of Season 7, and this special, will probably never live up to the rest of Smith's tenure, but aside from a few gripes about Moffat's convoluted storytelling, it's hard to say that Smith wasn't a great Doctor. He'll be fondly remembered by Whovians everywhere for years to come, especially in the United States, as he was many Americans' first experience with the Doctor. But his best episodes will always be those stories in which Amy and her raggedy Doctor traveled the universe and saved the day. It's nothing against Clara, and I hope she and Twelve (or Thirteen, WHATEVER) will mesh better as Doctor and companion, but you simply cannot have Eleven without Amy. It's just science.



NOTES

– There wasn't enough action for this to be Smith's final episode. Where was the tension? Where were the emotional stakes? This felt like any other episode that just happened to be his swan song. 

– Smith's regeneration into Capaldi happened awfully fast, no? It felt all wrong. I know the Doctor was fading as the regeneration was working during his final monologue, but I didn't care for the way that he was Smith one second and then Capaldi in the next cut. As for his confusion about not knowing how to fly the TARDIS, I worry that he will have forgotten Clara, especially as he was just going on about how he'd remember everything. He has new regenerations, but what does that mean? Will they change him? This is new territory and I'm really looking forward to it.

– I'm still very excited about Capaldi's Doctor. After two successful runs by Tennant and Smith, I do actually believe the people behind the series know what they're doing. I foresee a more subdued, yet still quirky version of the character. 

– I jumped on Tumblr right before posting this and I noticed that everyone is obsessed with the idea that Capaldi's Doctor is Scottish because Amy was the last thing Smith's Doctor saw. Interesting theory, but I doubt it's true. Many people are citing Tennant not using his native accent as evidence to support this, but I'm fairly certain I remember that was a decision made by the producers because they wanted a less distinct accent after Christopher Eccleston. But I love me that Scottish accent, so YAY.

– The explanations we received in this episode were great, including what the Doctor saw in "The God Complex" and an explanation for the Silence, but once again, I do hope Moffat puts these complicated narratives aside for a bit. It's too hard to keep everything straight, and I simply don't have time to keep up with the necessary flowcharts.

– R.I.P. Handles, thanks for reminding us about the phone.


Are you sad to see the end of the Smith era? Did you tear up when Amy returned? 


thekaitling:list:doctor-who-what-did-you-think-of-matt-smiths-goodbye/

 

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 12/5/2015

Season 9 : Episode 12

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This review needs a proof read and a little more editing. It reads like a Tumblr rant. By the end of it, I had completely lost interest in what you had to say.
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So, I just have one question for everybody who keeps complaining about the removal of the regeneration limit: do you want the show to have no more Doctors? Can you conceive of a solution that wouldn't be a Deus Ex Machina?
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No, the regeneration was not fast. It was (besides being weird) in two parts. The first part was when he used the regeneration as a weapon, then he, I don't know what the hell excuse you can give for it, sticks around for another minute until he changes.

I think that the only thing I was disappointed in was how The Doctor's regeneration limit was written from out of the corner Moffat had somewhat put himself in. A "kiss" from Galifrey? Ehh, that was weird.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to a combination of Capaldi and Who. I never thought the two would come together in such a way.
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Why would you send one unarmed Silurian space ark to investigate an unknown signal that you fear, onto a shielded planet surrounded by warships?
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I am sooooo gonna miss Matt Smith....dont even feel like watchin this one
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I look forward to the new doctor and to see where it goes. I understand that Moffat's complicated stories can seem much, but i do not agree that it gets too confusing, I have watched since it rebooted and have no issues with the stories and the connections. While this episode was not near the best of Smith, it had me laughing several times and feeling a little sad his time was ending.
PS- While not necessary the biggest fan of clara, truthfully and some people may hate me for saying this, i never liked Donna, and i know she had her part to play and i liked that, but as a companion, least favorite since the reboot.
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Cannot wait for the next Doctor! Really looking forward ;)
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Way too hard on Clara.
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i didnt like how fast the regeneration was either...i thought my dvr skipped a few seconds. i know he did the main regeneration blasting all the baddies away, but it was still weird.
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This was a mess: ridiculously stuffed with far too many villains and far too complex and clever for its own good. The result was a story that had no weight or emotional resonance that was tedious. And I really wish it hadn't been a christmas episode because the town called christmas stuff was tacked on egregiously. My only hope is that by bringing virtually EVERY SINGLE plot of his tenure to a head in this story he is wiping the slate clean. He has brought many brilliant moments - I still think his era is easily the best since Troughton - but then he added more wrinkles and more complications and the show has spiralled out of control. He needs to remember that some of the best episodes are still and graceful.
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I loved it. Unlike many people I've met since joining Tumblr, I don't have any issues with Moffat. In fact, I actually rather like Moffat. Part of this is the way he writes, but it's also because of his complex and convoluted stories. I like the simple solutions because I feel like they parallel real life - you can have these problems that seem huge and impossible to solve, and sometimes even the simplest thing can be what makes it all better.

Anyway, I thought the regeneration was a little fast, but if it's a new cycle of regenerations and he's basically starting at 1, wouldn't it make sense? I haven't gotten to the first Classic Who regeneration yet, but from the clips I've seen I feel like it was a pretty quick change. Someone else brought this up (on Tumblr, I think) - that the Doctor's regeneration cycle starts with really quick regenerations and they take longer and longer as he gets deeper into his regenerations.

I can't wait to see more of Capaldi's Doctor. I think he's going to be great.
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SPOILERS! Duh! If the original post itself hadn't already ;P

I too didn't feel the emotional connection to the Doctor and the village called Christmas. If he wanted to protect the village, all he really needed to do was remove himself from it, thus also removing the possibility of himself opening the crack in the wall.

And...it didn't really give a reason for him staying at the village...'It's protected,' was he said. Well, in a truth field where all but the truth is said...its surprising he managed to keep himself from mentioning his name for 300 years, especially in his old age.

Clara. She had so many possible plays in the season in which she could've have been equal to Sparrow (the companion who never was), Amy Pond, Martha, and Donna. She had many possibilities but this was denied to her many times...by the Doctor himself, sending her away to protect her when its been proven Companions don't need protecting, its the Doctor.

I never could recover from David Tenant's role, he left a big legacy, one Matt Smith could've matched if...he had actually died sometime during Amy Pond as a companion. Amy/11th Doctor was overplayed far too often to the point I wondered if she was ever in love with Rory to begin with. Yes they got married and had a child....but, she seemed more emotional distraught when the Doctor was 'killed' then she was when she discovered Rory dying as an old man. Granted it was more sudden and right before her eyes...but there was more chemistry between her and the Doctor than her and Rory.
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I have to say the Matt Smith era of the Doctor has been a major let down for me as a Doctor Who fan and that certainly is not the fault of Matt Smith but of Moffatt and how he constantly tries to make the show deep, edgy and weird but than puts himself into a corner as far as story progression so he just creates an easy out every time and it has made almost every episode lackluster and dear God please stop doing angel episodes they have completely lost their appeal now, it worked amazingly for "Blink" and it should have been left at that.

As far as companions go I loved Donna Noble and Rose Tyler and was emotional when they left (Donna's exit was incredibly heartbreaking) and while I agree that Matt Smith and Karen Gillian worked well off each other she just could not hold up on her own, she came off so one dimensional when by herself and it was made more obvious when she was with Matt Smith because then she would shine (Rory is a dreamboat so I could watch him whenever). Clara is okay and that is the best that can be said for her really!
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This was a mixed bag for me.

The parts I liked: Answering the questions about the cracks in the universe and who blew up the Tardis. And I especially loved how Moffat kept to the show canon about the number of regenerations a Timelord can have. We know that the Timelords can reset regenerations, we learned that during the classic series (it's tricky, but possible). But at least Moffat made it so that it took the Timelords' intervention to do it.

What I didn't like: Introducing Tasha Lem as if she's a well-known character of old, she's not. I still have no idea what the Silence are, and what "Silence will fall" actually means, or if it actually means anything. The village confused me no end. Why didn't the Doctor demand that the populace be evacuated out of harm's way??! Why did he feel like he had to whittle toys for the kids. Why didn't he use the hundreds of years he was there to build some awesome defenses instead. That's what he usually does. And I thought his regeneration at the end was over too quickly.

I think its cool that a new cycle of regenerations started with the Doctor looking as old as he did when the show first started. And I'm also sure that this new Doctor will do a great job in keeping Doctor Who the great series it has been for 50 years.
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I enjoyed the quick change because I didn't expect it. Tennant's change to Smith was soooo drawn out with all the goodbyes that I thought it was cool of them to go the other way. Really looking forward to seeing what Capaldi brings to the table next year (I thought he pretty much OWNED Torchwood Children of Earth)
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He did own Children of Earth. He was the man the PM could thrust all this garbage on; high enough to make these horrible calls, low enough to not matter.
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I just thought his character best portrayed the 'real time' aspect. Showing that he really was at breaking point from all the stress and lack of sleep. I think he's got the chops for the role but time will tell
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Well it did feel a little disconnected at times with all the time jumps and I said before that I didn't like the way the Doctor aged in this episode. So yeah as a story in itself it could have been better.

I did like how it came full circle with the crack in the universe and that Gallifrey was actually behind it and the reason for the crack to exist. Sad thing is that the whole "final regeneration" thing was so rushed. I would have prefered it if they had not counted 10's meta-regeneration or would have portraied the war doctor as an aged 8 and would have made "the final regeneration" an ongoing theme in Capaldi's run. Sure it was a topic amongst fans but it was never a real topic on the show, so in here it feels kind of like Moffat wanted to cross it off his list. Sad, because it would have made some nice things at stack for twelve in the next seasons.

I also don't agree to your criticism of the "complicated" story arcs. In fact one of the things I love about New-Who is the fact that it presents a nicely balanced mix of serialized and stand-alone storytelling. I like it when old stories come back up and see some solution to things that where laid out before. And they are all properly referenced so you don't need a flow chart, except maybe if you wanted to catch every little detail, which I don't need to - but I love every single part that I recognize again.

But like you, I loved the return of Amy to say goodbye, er, goodnight. But to me it felt more like a part of the whole thing being full circle. I do enjoy the chemistry between Smith and Coleman. It may not be the same as with Smith and Gillian but that is simply because it is not the same relationship and short of some not-so-good episodes in the first half of the second half of season 7 (lol!?) they did work very well together.

Last but not least: I do agree wholeheartedly that the regeneration itself was much to brief. Sure they did all the explosive energy before when his regeneration-reset destroyed the Daleks, but the simple throw your head back and replace the actor in a cut of the material didn't cut it for me. The generation from 9 to 10 was great, the one from 10 to 11 just as good. But after that they seemed to have lost interest in that simple morphing effect that made the regeneration look so much more like a real thing and less like a replaced actor. 8 to the war doctor? Meh. War-doctor to 9? Meh. I do get that they did not have Chris Eccleston to reprise his role for a regeneration scene, but some fans on youtube did an excellent extended scene with 9's face inserted. It also couldn't have been a legal issue, as 9 was there when they saved Gallifrey. And after those two bad regenerations they messed up the one from 11 to 12? Come on, a little morphing isn't that hard of an effect to do. And given the importance of the change... oh well. Let's wait and see what 12 brings next year. Too bad we have to wait so long this time...
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After a long delay was finally able to watch the Time of the Doctor. I have to say that the parts that resonated most with me were the callbacks to the early parts in Smith's tenure. While I have liked Clara as a character (by herself, not always in relation to the Doctor) Moffat's penchant for making her another one of his mysteries has kind of driven her personality all over the place at times. Jenna Coleman as Oswin Oswald in Asylum of the Daleks and Clara in Day of the Doctor have been successful while others not so much. I think Clara is best when she is the level headed and the one saving the day not crippled by emotion towards the doctor like she was this episode. Its hard to believe in that connection coming after the Amy years and the depth of their relationship, shown so obviously by having Amelia appear to say goodnight to 11's face, which made me bawl.

I hope now that Clara will be with Capaldi's Doctor there will be less of trying to force a best friend/flirtation type of relationship a la Amy and more of her personality shown in her interactions with the War Doctor and the times she is amused by the doctor and game for adventure. Let her build a stronger rapport with 12/13 so that any emotional moments are earned. Not an ideal send off for Matt Smith but I did enjoy it and am looking forward to seeing Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi bring Doctor Who into a new era.
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Dear Kaitlin,
Thank you for writing these, I feel my whole feeling represented by each bit of words you wrote here. I feel overwhelmed and I can't be more agree. Eleventh without Amy is not just the same. It could have a better ending for Eleventh. This swan song was not giving me enough of emotional stakes. I have nothing against Clara too, it just too bad the chemistry wasn't as great as previous companion. Clara is brilliant, yes she always save the day, cares about others, pretty, and et cetera, but I feel that the character wasn't utilized enough by the writers. Personally I prefer the story of Donna Noble saves the days. Anyway I love her in Snowmen, Asylum of the Daleks, or even Hide.

Thanks once again for writing, and let you know that I especially sign up for TV.com to post this comment *laugh*
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So, now can everyone just hang onto the outside of the Tardis and ride through the Time Vortex? I thought it was just Jack who could do this and survive...
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The Doctor said that the Tardis had to take the "long way" and use the force field to protect Clara. The Tardis was trying to shake Jack off of it, which is why it traveled to the end of the universe.
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Clara is the impossible girl and HAS to save the Doctor
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Tardis tried to throw Jack off which sent them to the end of time. Doctor mentions something about a forcefield earlier (which I assume is why he can lean out in orbit to answer the phone lol) which I think protected her.
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Even though you kept saying "it's nothing against Clara" it seemed to be something against Clara. The only part of this I really enjoyed was the parts with Clara who I think is the best Companion Since Rose. I didn't like that Amy came back "Nothing against" Amy but she is not Clara. I liked Amy until I saw Clara and after that Amy doesn't seem so great. I was never a huge fan of Matt Smith so my reaction to him leaving is OK time for the next one.
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I was glad this was not as sad when Tennant's Doctor "died" At least this Matt's Doctor was OK with the regeneration...I am still fuzzy on why the Tartus blew up or who Madam ??? was and why and blah blah.. I too hate the on going stories that need to keep track of only to find it is not that interesting ( ALL except the River Song and who is she debate - that one was pretty easy to watch and figure out ) I hope I like the new Doctor. I am afraid I am used to at least nicer looking English (Scottish) men.. BUT hmmm this Capaldi person is creepy looking.. Hope he grows on me. I also want to see Clara with new Doctor. ONE think I liked about Christopher turning into David is that they kept Rose. Anyways hope there are more episodes next year.
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She was part of a splinter faction of the church that tried to stop The Doctor reaching Tranzalore by killing him at an earlier point in his time line, by trying to destroy the TARDIS and then by creating River.

The odd thing is that his death on earth was supposedly a fixed point that was widely known about, so they should have assumed that it was actually later in his timeline that Trenzalore. Which is a bit odd.

The Silence just turned out to be genetically engineered priests? Really?! I Assume it was them that sabotaged the TARDIS.
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OK thanks. .. ya like I said sometimes writers dont keep track of things like fans do and they screw up..That is why stand alone shows with a bit of an arc are OK. River Song was cool. Moffat said he got the idea from " The Time Travelers Wife" Who met and fell in love in the wrong order. (LOVED that book) So I liked that story.
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The book was ace, and I did wonder if he had that book in mind, they even met in a library!

Cool avatar by the way, Excited for the film.
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YUP!! Hope it meets all the hype!!
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By the way, did anyone notice how the first few seconds was a tribute to the opening sequence of the first Doctor Who episodes? The asteroid belt resembled the graphics of the opening sequence for the classic Doctor Who series up until the end of the Fourth Doctor.
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I disagree with the review. I think the Doctor and Clara have fine chemistry, the writers just haven't done enough with her yet. Overall I just thought the episode was disappointing in terms of storyline and the Eleventh Doctor deserves better than the exit he got.
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Most of my friends hated it and I see that a lot of people agree with them.

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Matt Smith -A great actor, considering the trite scripts he's been given during his reign. The Christmas special was just another case in point, as the storyline could have been presented in 40 minutes and not the hour it took, it felt turgidly slow in places and I felt myself wishing the end to come.
In my opinion, the writer Steven Moffat has an annoying habit of producing unnecessary and overly convoluted plots, with boring and badly hung together back stories that paint him into a corner when it's further down the line and he has to try to remember how it all 'fits together' unsuccessfully. Essentially each episode should be able to stand alone... please someone tell Moffat
I love the Dr Who series, but I find myself wishing the BBC would recruit some professional writing talent, quite probably from the USA to give it the 'sparkle' the Doctors universe deserves.
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Oh no please, no US writers. Please go see the series "Episodes" that, amongst other things, deals with what happens to a British series if US people take over. The series is pretty funny.
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No way! Doctor Who is a British show and should therefor never be touched by Yankie writers. The flair of the show is it's British-ness and any colonial concepts of writing will instantly destroy it. Just think of how those colonial writers tend to do last minute writing and go on strike in the middle of a season... This happened once with Shada (a Tom Baker serial written by Douglas Adams), but it could just be dropped and the next serial came. Nevertheless, parts of Shada were reused for The Five Doctors and some of Adams' later stories.
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And US writers are not really capable of writing the subtle humour and emotions with one gesture.


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Very good review - I agree on the fact that this wasn't a fair farewell for Smith's doctor. I remember the one for Tennant, that I didn't like too much because it was a full series of goodbyes to every character that I WANTED TO SEE AGAIN. But here, there was not a lot of goodbyes, really, just the Gillan cameo at the end, like nothing else really happened in all the Smith's seasons. Did River showed up somewhere and I wasn't looking? At least a recorded/manipulated image of her should have been here. And Rory's. Plus, the Christmas village story wasn't all that compelling, I agree. I still enjoyed, but it was a bit of a let down.

About Clara, however, I cannot totally agree. She is indeed shadowed by Amelia Pond's stories and under-utilized. But I think she could be great and I have hopes that now that the doctor is much older than her, the lack of romance would give her a chance to bright. She is a very cool and funny actress.
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I really hope her relationship with Capaldi will be stronger and allow her to shine on her own. I like Jenna a lot, and Clara has a lot of potential.
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I think the main problem is that they brought Clara in more as a plot device than a companion. Now that they have finished the 'impossible girl' thing I too hope they can find more for her to do.
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Maybe it was not as good as other Christmas specials but I liked it, mainly because of Matt Smith. His acting is always exceptional. Big shoes to fill by the 'new' doctor/
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Suffice to say i was disappointed with the christmas episode and very sad to see Matt Smith go. It was his swan song but felt like another episode clumsily done by Moffat (urgh moffat!). So the one thing that annoyed me and circling back is the following, and i maybe wrong on this so i'll let the other posters correct me if i'm wrong.
In the earlier episodes when the silence was first introduced, the Silence mentioned they were there since the dawn of humanity (there was a line about humans finding fire and that they were there or something to that effect). Then in the papal Mainframe the Doctor explained them as created by the Papal Mainframe to be the perfect individuals to confess your sins as you forget them as soon as you see it. They did explain Madame Kavarian and her shenanigans but i just wanted some continuity.

Anyhow, Hopefully Peter Capaldi can take it further without too much of Moffatt's interference.

ps. When Amy came back..definintely a touching moment between her and Matt Smith.
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The way the Silence arc fizzled out annoys me. On the one hand they've been around since the fire and the wheel manipulating mankind. I liked that. On the other hand the Kavarian faction of the Papal Mainframe broke away and went back along the Doctor's time stream to kill him. I suppose it doesn't stop them from being on earth since the dawn of time and being scary arsed dudes, but the fact that they were originally a bunch of confessional priests makes me laugh, in a bad way.
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I liked the Christmas special!That's it,keeping it simple.And after reading people's reactions,it's not about if you liked Smith or not,or if you liked the episode or not,or comparing this Doctor to that Doctor,it's that Dr.Who will continue,with new actors and explore new adventures for many,many more years to come and that this is the best time to be a Dr.Who fan!That's what I came away with after watching the special!Cheers and Happy New Year everyone!

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I cannot express how poorly written this Christmas special was. Not only was it the lamest Christmas special to-date, it makes me wonder how after the seeing the Day of the Doctor that this drek was allowed to not only be filmed but that all copies of the screenplay were not burned.

I was stoked for new stuff after Day of the Doctor. After this, well, I may just have to get off this train til someone slaps Moffat upside the head to jar whatever talent might still remain loose.
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I'm actually much more apprehensive about Capaldi as the Doctor after this. His accent was so strong I had to rewind it several times to see what he was saying. Plus, with the series just starting to break it big in America another concern I have is just how exactly new fans in the States will react to him.
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To be honest, I've never being a huge fan of Smith's Doctor, but I found him acceptable in the role, as for all of his companion's though, Amy, Rory, and Clara, I've disliked them all to varying degrees. So that being said, I really don't understand how you weren't moved by the Doctor and Clara's relationship by the end of the episode, @thekaitling, when I shed a tear or two (and definitely not because of Amy's presence!)

Like you said, I could have done with the Doctor sending her home/ leaving her behind several times, but when she clung to the TARDIS the first time to return to him I thought it was a very touching moment, as was her calling upon the Time Lords to help him. Maybe I just got sentimental because it was the end of Smith's era, but I'd never felt much of the pair of them, as in, their relationship, until this episode.
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While Moffatt's time as show runner has, yes, resulted in long-running convoluted plots, I felt that this episode gave me enough closure, or at least a decent enough explanation, for me to be satisfied with Moffatt's ingenuity. Information about the crack in time, The Silence, the TARDIS' explosion, Trenzalore and the Doctor's death provided enough answers for me to be entertained by Smith's final episode.

I can't say I particularly enjoyed the Doctor's lines after the Time Lord's started his regeneration though, it really felt like an aggressive mouthpiece for Moffatt to say to critics and fans alike that he's the show runner so he can make the rules and break them as he pleases, so get used it. It was very unnecessary, and obviously brings up worries about what he may be willing to do with the series as it progresses.
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Yes it was a long long boring explanation that made a wikipedia article on string theory sound like an action film. And as about as emotionally reaching/satisfying as wet noodles.

I agree with your concerns, but I couldn't even muster enough effort to enjoy this crap.
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This was more of a fond farewell than an epic showdown, and I think a swan song is okay in this instance, better than David Tennant's sad puppy dog "I don't wanna go" long goodbye... I never liked it. Showcasing this Doctor's strengths in his compassion and childlike devotion to one small town seems fitting.
Although I agree that I was scratching my head on what the stakes were and why he couldn't leave Christmas town; honestly it could've used a bit more exposition for those of us who haven't marathoned the last 3 seasons in preparation for this ep... so when did the Tardis blow up?
Anyway, hands down great acting from Matt Smith, he will be sorely missed. We all eagerly anticipate how his large lace boots shall be filled.
But just so I have this right, the Time Lords closed the rift and sent the Doctor some magic regeneration mist to help him out... soo, now since the Time Lords are not trying to come into this universe, all the evil villains will just leave Trenselore, and Xmas town is all hunkey dorey?
Moffat doesn't explain these things.
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I think the crack was there way of checking that this was the right universe to try to come back into. Much like the doctor has to go looking for them, I'm sure the time lords are trying to find a way in. All the evils were defeated over the centuries until only the dales remained and then the big burst of regeneration energy took care of them. I don't know if this is true or not, but it's what I gathered.
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Good bye Matt. You have been a great Doctor, I really enjoyed your play all along. I don't agree with this review at all: there was great chemistry between Amy and the Doctor and there was a different but also great chemistry between Clara and the Doctor. Jenna Coleman is an excellent actress, she owns her character as a companion perfectly and she is very beautiful.
I don"t like comparisons too much. I can read below that Tennant this, Smith that, Amy this and Clara that. Ecclestone is always forgotten: don't forget he played the Doctor for only one season because he left the serie, and not because people did not like him. He did a great job with Rose. All did, but with different ways of doing so.
I really hope Jenna will stay for a while.
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My over-simplified (it is because of you, Moffat, that simple seems good now for some reason) distinction between Tennant and Smith is that David Tennant's Doctor you could definitely picture as a 900 year old human, while Matt Smith's Doctor is more like a seven year old alien. There's a lot of emotion and gravitas involved with the tenth Doctor, but he really seems like a relatively ordinary person who understands the norms of life on Earth. Eleven, on the other hand, is completely alien (The Lodger and Closing Time are perfect examples), but is, after all, the One who Forgot, and as such is less emotional and more childlike than Ten.

I actually had to rewind the regeneration a few times to make sure it hadn't skipped or something. Are there no more drawn out yellow beams anymore? Personally I cherish the scene when David Tennant's hair just sprouted from Christopher Eccleston's buzz cut, so this was very sad.

I do have to admit that my excitement for Capaldi was thrown off by the fact that he's forgotten how to fly the TARDIS, which is completely unacceptable. Until you rewatch The Christmas Invasion and The Eleventh Hour (nice throwback to that in this episode, by the way, with all the approaching twelfth hour references) and realise that the Doctor crashes the TARDIS a lot when he's first regenerating.

Will someone please explain to me why Amy's appearance makes people think that Capaldi will turn Scottish? This doesn't seem very logical at the moment (though I'll probably get it as soon as I hit submit because the world hates me).

Amy is my Number One favorite companion (sorry Donna, but you were the best with Tennant for sure), and The Angels Take Manhattan is still not an open topic of discussion in my home. (People / inanimate objects / the raccoons in my basement avoid the subject around me, which is nice because otherwise I would have to go in the corner and cry for several hours which is a total pain.)
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The yellow beams already happened as he used the energy to blow up the Dalek ship, they happen as the energy is released from the packet it is stored in inside the body. Once it's released it get's to work and changes the body, but it took longer to take effect because he had been granted a whole new life cycle, and he was going through "a reset" before the change.
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It was still a bit quick though, wasn't it?
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There is a scene which was dropped from Tennant’s regeneration special. He explains that Rose was the last person for him to see before regenerating; hence, he took over her dialect.
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Seriously? That's ridiculous. But thanks for that.
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Yes, I totally agree on the regeneration - it was way too quick. Tennant's regeneration seemed like it lasted through a few episodes or something whereas Matt Smith's was such a quick deal. As much as I'll miss Smith, I am excited to see Capaldi's turn as the Doctor - should be interesting.
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i miss chris's doctor, he never gets enough credit for his role in the whole ordeal of rebooting this series
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Weird... I enjoy Amy and Rory as companions, but I totally disagree with this review and the stance on Clara. She is no Martha and is in fact, pretty much at the level of Donna Noble for me. Like Donna, she kept him on his toes and was able to verbally joust with him far bettter than any other companion. And considering that the "romance" that was discussed was only ever implied with one little blurt in this last episode... this is far far from the angsy unrequited love of Martha.

I really hope she is a constant for a few years to come, though it all depends on her chemistry with whoever the doctor is depending on how long Capaldi is here. Though, I have to wonder if he is a short stint as any actual Doctor and instead a build up to a new threat or an old one (valeyard anyone?).
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Wow, thats some optimism.
Im hoping everyone gets fired and we get a fresh start in a few years with someone like Davies and Eccleston or at least well, something that doesn't feel like it was a 5th grade writing project.
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I'm not a huge davies fan... the best work while he was in charge was specific writers and he is too in love with darkness to the point it was smothering the show by the end of his run. I was glad to see him exit.
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Kind of off-topic, but did BBC America censor a Doctor Who episode?

Turn Left had one of my most favorite scenes... where they talk about labor camps and Mott says that's what they called them last time. And how it's happening again Touching stuff since I had family hurt by those events long ago.

But... the version that aired in the last day or two didn't appear to have that scene.
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I didn't get emotional at the Amy cameo because I never believed that Amy truly loved The Doctor. Throughout her entire run, she always chose Rory over The Doctor. Time and time again. So it always seemed to me that her relationship with The Doctor was the opposite of Ten and Martha's. He loved her a lot but she didn't love him. Whenever Amy or Rory were in the least bit of danger, they would immediately start blaming The Doctor for not being able to save them or doing something to help. I hated that about them. The fact that they would just instantly turn on him when he did everything he could to keep them safe and together showed their lack of loyalty to him. I honestly don't understand why they're revered so much. During the fifth series, before they were officially together, I had no problem with them. I even liked Amy a lot but was mostly indifferent to Rory. But from the sixth series on, I found Amy and Rory intolerable. All they ever did was bitch and complain about The Doctor in every episode. It was infuriating.

I also don't understand why everyone hates it when a companion is in love, flirts with, or is just consistently nice to The Doctor. Everyone always cites Donna and Amy as being the best companions because they're combative and less dependant on him. Why is that a good thing? Why do they need to be antagonistic towards him to be considered a good companion? Personally, I like it better when the companion is in love with The Doctor. Because those are the people I care about the most when watching the show. Not the guest star of the week, not recurring pseudo-companions like Craig, and definitely not the companion's family. I hated The Tyler family. I hated The Jones family. And I definitely hated the Noble family (I still blame Wilfred for Ten's death). That's why I love the fact that there's been less emphasis on them during Moffatt's era. And it's one of the many reasons I love Clara.

Clara was given the unenviable task of having to be the companion during an emotional regeneration even though she's only had eleven stories under her belt. Do you know how hard it is to get people invested in someone after only eleven stories? And yet, she's done a wonderful job at making me believe how much she loves The Doctor. Not just romantically, but pure, unconditional love. She went through his entire timeline and met every face he had. But she still considered The Eleventh Doctor her Doctor. I'm talking about that kind of love. Which goes hand-in-hand with her loyalty to him. She's loyal to The Doctor. Now that he's changed, she probably won't be going the romantic route with Peter Capaldi's Doctor, but I'll bet she'll still be loyal to him. She won't immediately blame him every time something bad happens and someone she cares about is in danger. And that's because The Doctor is also someone that she cares about. Not just when it suits her.

In fact, she didn't even get mad at him for tricking her into going home. TWICE! And that's because she cares about him. And she knows he cares about her. If anything, Clara's story as The Doctor's companion is the saddest out of all of them because she went through his entire timeline to save him over and over again. She brought him out of the depressive funk he was in after Amy and Rory. She saved The Doctor and she loved him. But in his last moment, The Doctor was still thinking about Amy instead of her. That's what made me emotional. She's so under appreciated by everybody. Within the context of the show and by the fans. I don't know where they're gonna go with The New Doctor, but I truly hope that Clara gets the happy ending she truly deserves. If they just have her wind up marrying Porridge, I'm gonna be really pissed.
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“I don't know where they're gonna go [...], but I truly hope that Clara gets the happy ending she truly deserves. If they just have her wind up marrying Porridge, [...].”

She has fulfilled her task as “The impossible girl,” and I doubt The 12/14th Doctor will keep her arround just for her soufflés. However, somewhere I read that Peter Capaldi’s run will be very short (one or seasons?), so Moffat would be wise to keep Clara as a constant part of the equation. On the other hand, considering that Moffat wants to relate to the original series more, he would have to exchange either The Doctor or the companion(s) once every season.
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I didn't like Matt Smith's doctor; I only watched this episode to see him regenerate because I'm a Peter Capaldi fan.
After two years avoiding Doctor Who, I was really disappointed with this Doctor's end : it wasn't dramatic, it was too quick, it didn't do justice to Smith's work as the Doctor. Also, nothing happened in this episode : I found it quite boring.
I can't wait to see Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor : the. Doctor is dead, long live the Doctor !
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Regarding the accent, I think it was a decision by RTD for David Tennant to assume the estuary accent.

There was a deleted scene written in the Christmas Invasion, the reason why the Tenth Doctor has an estuary accent was because Rose was the first thing he saw when he regenerated from Nine to Ten, and he was 'imprinted' with Rose's accent. That scene was deleted or cut from the shooting script due to lack of time.

Hence it does make sense that if Amy was the last person that Eleven saw, Twelve might end up imprinted by her accent.
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Okay. So:

- There were a lot of good moments in this episode, mostly due to Matt Smith's performance. He may not have been given the best material, but he did an excellent job with what he had, in my humble opinion. I will miss him so much. I will say, though, it was interesting to see The Doctor age - for me, it really showed that despite 11th's (or 13th's, depending on who you ask) youthful appearance and energy, he is an old man. A lively one, yes, but old just the same.

- I can't help but wonder if the gravestone on Trenzalore was honorary, because the people of Christmas were under the impression that the Doctor had died.

- The 'everything ends' theme was a bit sad for Christmas, but I suppose even Christmas has to end every year after 24 hours, just like the Doctor has to regenerate when his time in a body is through. But they both keep coming back - they both begin again. Even if they're not quite the same as their past selves.

- On Souffle Girl: I think Clara started with a lot of potential, which we saw in Oswin and Victorian Clara, but her character has been neglected and that has done its damage. She had rare moments to shine and make a difference but was otherwise cast aside. I think it's a shame and a misuse of a lovely actress and character, but hey! Can't have it all, I guess. Hopefully, the writers will be able to bring back some of her … I dunno … Oswald-for-the-win-ness. I wonder what the dynamic between her and Capaldi will be.

- Speaking of Capaldi, liked the regeneration - all of it, from the Tower to the vision of Amy to the surprisingly instant switch to Clara's shocked expression, and finally, to the new kidneys and confusion. I have high hopes for Twelve.

- Okay, that's enough rambling. Final thoughts:

- Goodbye, Eleven - you will be sorely missed.
- Bravo, Matt Smith. Geronimo!
- Welcome, Twelve (14?) and Peter Capaldi.
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“I think it's a shame and a misuse of a lovely actress and character, but hey!”

At no time there was any doubt about Jenna-Louise Coleman out-acting Matt Smith. Hence, the producers had to cut her screentime, otherwise Smith’s deficits would have been to obvious; the show is called “Doctor Who” and not “Companion.” Just compare Smith’s performance in “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” and Coleman’s in “Titanic.”
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"After two successful runs by Tennant and Smith, I do actually believe the people behind the series know what they're doing."

SIGH. When will Chris Eccleston finally earn a mention in articles like this? And when will people finally stop acting like his Doctor didn't even exist/was the worst ever? Don't get me wrong, David and Matt were great too but without Chris' performance there wouldn't be Doctor Who today, and I'm sick of people mistreating him, or just simply forgetting about him all the time.
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Yeh, it's odd that he doesn't even appear in any of the anniversary interviews or anything. He was important to the reboot. And personally, his depiction was my favorite.

Someone's floating a rumor that he was on bad terms with the producers or whatever... creative differences or whatever. So perhaps he's persona-non-grata or just doesn't want anything to do with it anymore.
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According to this article he was offered a part in the 50th anniversary but he declined. So he probably didn't want to do interviews either i suppose. It's a shame really.

http://screenrant.com/doctor-who-50th-anniversary-christopher-eccleston/
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He did the first season as a gift to his friend Davies with the condition it would end after that one season and never come back.
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I totally agree with you. I looked forward to this episode but it wasn't as good as I expected. It was confusing at times and not as emotional as it should have been.
Seriously, Handles' death almost made me cry but nothing else. As you said, I also only felt sad because I knew that this was the last we'll ever see of Eleven not because I felt it.
Eleven was my first doctor, Amy my first companion, and you're right - they were perfect together. I actually did not watch much of Season 7. Clara just wasn't Amy. And I feel sorry about that because I did like Clara.
I'm looking forward to Capaldi, though. It was only a few minutes but I really liked him. :)
Oh, and I really liked that old Eleven looked a bit like the first doctor.
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“Oh, and I really liked that old Eleven looked a bit like the first doctor.”

Over Smith’s entire run The Doctor aged 700 years or so. Isn’t it strange that he turned out to be this gramps-type of eldery man, whereas Tennant’t Doctor turned out to be an bird-like micro-Doctor after 800 years?
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Now, you've mentioned it...yeah, that's funny... Maybe they wanted to show that the Master really almost defeated him whereas Eleven 'chose' to age?
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Totally forgot that: What about River? As I said, I did not watch much of Season 7 but I always thought that they would meet again once before his 'death'?
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Have you seen the mini episodes, "Night and the Doctor"?
Some of them with River, including their last meeting.
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No, I haven't but I will search for that, thank you! :)
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They had a really nice goodbye scene in the Name of the Doctor in which the echo of River Song faded away. If they did it again in the Time of the Doctor, it might have been a bit overdone.
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In the end, Matt Smith may have been the best Doctor. His Doctor and the Ponds we're the best Doctor/Companion combo ever.
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Really? I mean, really? Have you been watching for more than a couple years?
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@pallidyne: chill. No, not everyone has been watching "for more than a couple years." Everyone has THEIR Doctor. Yours appears to be Eccleston, which puts you in a small, and apparently satisfied, minority. Good for you. But enough rain on everyone's parade. Lots of people - including those of us who watched all of the Davies years, and many episodes before that - enjoyed the Christmas special, and will look back on the Smith era with fondness, and some with admiration for Smith. He has a gift for being very inclusive of other actors, as did Patrick Troughton, who, by the way, both Tennant and Smith say was a great inspiration to their conception of the role. Other doctors have been more aloof, or self-confident, or otherworldly (take your pick), like Eccleston and Jon Pertwee, and if that's your cup of tea, then, as I said, good for you. Hopefully you'll have opportunity to do something other than hatewatching soon.
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I have also been watching more than "a couple of years" and Matt Smith is my favorite. As matheny says "stop raining on everyone's parade"
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In my earlier bashing of the episode, i forgot to say that despite everything, Smith is my favorite Doctor and i was sad to see him leave.But as The Doctor said "Everything ends".
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I absolutely loved this episode, although i must admit it took a repeat viewing to fully appreciate this episode and to get over the shock change to Capaldi. I have always been a fan of Moffat (since his Coupling and Sherlock days) and don't agree that his writing is overcomplicated. I love the way he has reversed the loss of Gallifrey and the limit of 12 incarnations.

I thought the episode was a great swansong for Smith, although he didn't quite get the same treatment of Tennant's dramatic departure with his revisitations of all his companions and slow regeneration scene. His final scenes with Clara, especially as an old man walking to his own death to the "Four Knocks" music, where Tennant's doctor went back to his own death into the radiated chamber to save Wilfred, was a stroke of genius and brought a tear to my eye.

Also, I love watching Clara. I think she has been given unfair treatment from haters and think she is brilliant. I think she worked well with Smith and speed of her speech can rival Smith's. My favourite quote of the episode? "Bubbly personality masking bossy control freak!"

Finally, I can't wait to see Capaldi's doctor. Although we only saw a brief glimpse of him (to be fair, Tennant's and Smith's first appearances were also super brief), I reckon he's going to be awesome!
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