The Time of the Doctor – Nostalgia and the 12th Doctor

It’s that time of the year again when the Doctor tries to save the world on Christmas Day, and for once it’s not in England! However, this year we are much more excited about Peter Capaldi’s entry as the anticipated 12th Doctor, which means another regeneration scene and a farewell to Matt Smith.

“And now it’s time for one last bow, like all your other selves. Eleven’s hour is over now, the clock is striking Twelve’s.”

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Image via www.radiotimes.com.

In a nutshell, the Christmas episode brings back elements from the 11th Doctor’s adventures, reintroducing us to the crack in the wall (Series 5), the Silence (Series 6) and Trenzalore (Series 7) where the story is set – also known as the planet where the Doctor is to die and be buried. He meets an old acquaintance – Mother Superior Tasha Lem (Orla Brady), head of the Church of the Papal Mainframe – defends a town called Christmas for over 300 years, and sends Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) home twice to protect her, only to have her save him in the end thanks to Tasha Lem’s retrieval. However, to understand how Eleven was able to regenerate into Twelve despite constantly telling Clara how it was the end of the line for him, we need to remind ourselves of Steven Moffat’s big, friendly reset button, seen almost exclusively in his reign as head editor of the show.

Basically, Matt Smith’s Doctor was given a free regeneration. Clara begged in front of the crack in the wall to help the now very old, stumbling Doctor, who just happens to be climbing a staircase to face his oldest enemy in the entire universe – guess who? Psst, it begins with a ‘D’. He gives them the opportunity to kill him until he is disrupted by the emergence of a giant crack in the night sky which gracefully spewed out residual energy, entering the Doctor to spark another regeneration. We had all the special effects that suggested a proper regeneration – bright, orange flares bursting from his head and outstretched arms, and of course, the shouting with the dramatic monologue – but as much as we anticipated Capaldi’s appearance, we were in fact taken to a young Matt Smith near the end of the episode. Clara walks into the TARDIS after all the Daleks have been killed, hoping to find an old Doctor but faced with the young one. And then, nostalgia strikes once more, stabbing the hearts of Matt Smith lovers.

The Doctor begins to hallucinate. He sees a TARDIS covered with children’s drawings. A little girl scurries around the interior.

“Amelia.”

“Who’s Amelia?” asks Clara.

“The first face this face saw.”

And then comes the final monologue. As if coming from Matt Smith himself he says:

“Times change and so must I. We all change. When you think about it, we’re all different people all through our lives, and that’s OK. That’s good. Gotta keep it moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day, I swear. I will always remember when the Doctor was me.”

Finally she approaches him, no longer tiny, cute and adorable, but as an adult. Amelia “Amy” Pond (Karen Gillan) strides boldly down the steps of the TARDIS, staring intensely into the Doctor’s eyes. She smiles. He smiles. Both filled with joy as if seeing each other for the first time once again. Lightly touching his chin, she speaks the words:

“Raggedy man…goodnight.”

And in that moment, every fan of the show reacted to those three heart-breaking words. Suddenly we are brought back 3 years ago to “The Eleventh Hour”, to his first meeting with 7-year old Amelia Pond, to the crack in the wall, to the fish fingers and custard – they make an appearance in the episode too – and to the adult Amy Pond in a policewoman’s outfit…to the girl who waited.

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“Raggedy man…goodnight.” Image via www.thegeekiary.com.

Filled with sentiment, the Doctor loosens his bow tie and drops it on the floor. Clara, knowing he is about to change, rushes to him – “Please don’t change” – their hands almost touching like Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam (1512). And in an instant, with one flick of his head back towards the TARDIS console, Peter Capaldi appears for his first full appearance as the 12th Doctor. He and the frozen Clara stare at each other for several seconds before speaking his first words:

“Kidneys! I’ve got new kidneys…I don’t like the colour.”

And then, just like every other post-regeneration scene, comedy strikes with:

“Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?”

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Image via www.mtv.co.uk.

This is an episode filled with nostalgia that recognises and celebrates Smith’s achievements throughout his 3 years as one of British television’s most iconic characters. He added heightened humour, flailing arms and bow ties to the role, adding a unique, much-loved touch to the many sides of the Doctor. Matt Smith’s Doctor was the “raggedy man”, a joker, a madman in a box. But he was also the one who tried to forget and deny his own fate, sometimes attempting to change it. He proved to the masses that he could continue the legacy of this much-loved Time Lord, against the doubting fans when he was announced to play the part, and he did it well. Now, just as Matt Smith had to continue on from David Tennant, Peter Capaldi will have to find his style to make his mark in the show’s history. I wonder what surprises he will bring?

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“And now it’s time for one last bow…” Image via technoanimefreak.blogspot.com.

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