Saturday, May 18, 2013

Doctor Who--"The Name of the Doctor"

“The Name of the Doctor” is the seventh seri4es finale of Doctor Who.  It is also the best series finale since 2006’s ’Doomsday.”  Although it does suffer from the usual too many revelations packed into too short a time, it is really not a uge problem.  I am going to spoil the finale completely, including the cliffhanger ending which leads directly into November’s 50th anniversary special, so if you do not want to know everything, stop reading now. 

The most interesting aspect of the episode, aside from the wild cliffhanger, is the emphasis on the supporting cast.   Clara, river, Vastra, Jenny, and Strax all have major roles to play and are highly entertaining in tem.  Alex Kingston in particular kills it as River.   I like how the character has become less catty as time goes on.  With each subsequent appearance--one figures this is the last--she is more battle scarred and weary.  But all the characters do their thing here. 

Vastra invites the others to a séance-lie meeting because she has discovered from a condemned prisoner in Glasgow the doctor has a dark secret on a planet calle Trenzalore, a place he must never go.  Before they can figure out the secret, the group is attacked by the enormously disturbing looking Whipsermen, who are faceless albinos.  Clara and river escape, but the others are captured.

Clara fins the doctor and informs him of Trenzalore.  He is visibly shaken at the name.  Rightfully so--it is his final resting place.  A time traveler should never visit his own grave, but to save his friens, he must travel to Trenzalore.  Trenzalore is visually stunning.  Ark, fiery, and full o brimstone and obsidian.  It looks like the literal hell.    It feels strangely appropriate considering the Doctor’s often dark past.  His actual tomb is the none dead, skyscraper size TARDIS.

Inside is the Great Intelligence monk eying around in Dr. Simeon’s body.  (*rimshot*)  He forces the TARDIs doors open by threatening the Doctor’s friends and enters.  His plan is to step into the time stream and erase the doctor from history, whih he does.  As the Doctor lay dying, the universe changes around him as his past incarnations are wiped from history. 

Enter Clara, who enters the time stream as well in order to save each incarnation of the doctor.  The glimpses we catch of the past Doctors is a special treat for old school Whovians like me.  I particularly like the scene in which Clara directs the First Doctor, though CGI and dubbing, to take the TARDIS with the screwy navigation because it will be more fun.  The multiple Claras explain why he has appeared throughout the Doctor’s travels and saved him multiple times.

Clara restores the universe proper, and the doctor goes in after her.  In the time stream, they discover the Doctor, played by John Hurt in an unbilled cameo.  This Doctor has committed an unspeakable act that he nonetheless justifies, but “our” Doctor is appalled.  What has he one/  We will have to wait until November to find out.  

I liked “The Name of the Doctor” quite a bit.  We never get to learn the doctor’s real name, but I did not want to do so.  There is a lot of stuff packed in the episode with a large part of it not featuring the Doctor at all.  But it does not feel rushed for the info dump or empty for the lack of Doctor action.  On the contrary, the guest cast is excellent.  The cliffhanger ending truly caps it all off.  I cannot wait until November. 

Rating: **** (out of 5)

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