Saw it.

I am… underwhelmed. Since it’s still close to air time, spoilers after the link.

There’s a finite number of times Moff can play the “this is destiny and there’s no avoiding it” card and then cheat his way into avoiding it anyway. Granted, cheating impossible situations is the Doctor’s stock in trade, but it would be nice to see him carefully plot his way through one again and win one like a chess grandmaster rather than magically pull one out of his ass (again).

So officially, Capaldi is the 14th Doctor, Smith is the 13th, Tennant is the 11th *and* 12th, Eccleston is the 10th, and Hurt is the 9th, and everyone else is going to refer to them by their incorrect cardinals (Capaldi will wrongly be called “Twelve”) rather than their correct ordinals (Capaldi should correctly be called “The Fourteenth Doctor”), just like the Beeb insists on calling this Series 7 (apparently, they don’t want to count that appalling year of four “specials” at the end of Tennant’s tenure either) rather than Series 35.

Still, Smith made a surprisingly believable elderly Doctor; they were deliberately trying to make him look a bit like William Hartnell toward the end, I think — similar hairstyle anyway, swept back longish white hair. Clara was an afterthought, which is unfortunate. She has the potential to be an effective Companion, and maybe once she’s travelling with Capaldi that will happen.

What I can’t decide was whether this was more story than should have been crammed into one hour, or not enough story. Even though a little legwork had been done in the run-up to this, it still felt like it dropped in without proper preparation. The Crack was the Time Lords all along? Or was it just exploited by them later on (relatively speaking)?

The Doctor, of course, has absolute script immunity. There was never any question that Smith, by whatever counting system, would be the last Doctor, and that something was going to have to happen to either reset his regenerations, or grant a new sequence of them, or whatever. Clara’s plea to the Time Lords on the other side of the Crack certainly played truer than the treacly “if you all believe real hard” Peter Pan ending in “The Last of the Time Lords”, but it came dangerously close to being just as saccharine and just as much a deus ex machina.

I think the worst of it was that the actual regeneration seemed to be an afterthought tacked on at the end of the story. Smith reverts to his younger self, hallucinates a while (and where were Rory and River alongside Amy, huh?) and then *paf*. While I appreciate that it was at least different from the ‘fountain of fire’ regenerations of McGann, Hurt, Eccleston and Tennant (although of course Smith had his special effects extravaganza too, getting to use it as a weapon this time), I really preferred the quieter regenerations of the classic era.

Looking forward, I have always had a strict policy of not pre-judging a Doctor’s tenure, although I’m cautiously optimistic — particularly since the Doctor has finally stopped getting younger with each regeneration. Capaldi’s arrival is a reset switch for Moff in more ways than one.

I only hope he takes advantage of it.


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