Doctor Who: Doctor, This Is Your Life
First off, I'm going to come right out and say it; Steven Moffat cannot write a regeneration story. It's understandable. He doesn't like endings, clearly. For all that fans moan about the characters he's killed, he's really killed not a single one. They go on, living another life. That should translate well to The Doctor himself, but it really doesn't.
Consider "The Night of the Doctor". It was an amazing episode, but only because of Paul McGann. The script was god awful, the direction pedestrian, and while it served to fill a plot hole long felt keenly by fans it did so only in the most perfunctory of fashion.
Likewise, "The Day of the Doctor" allowed the regeneration of The War Doctor to proceed with little emotional turmoil. He himself seemed to feel almost no regrets about it, leaving off on a joke about the size of Christopher Eccleston's ears.
Then we come to the last bow of Matt Smith's Doctor, the most divisive in the history of the modern show. He's arguably the most important of the Doctors to Americans, who embraced him in a way that has helped break viewing record for the series. Yet his take on the character under Steven Moffat's direction remains controversial for all the detours it has seemed to take from the Doctor we have known for a half century.
If there is a problem with "The Time of the Doctor" it's that the episode was clearly written to tie up the entirety of the Eleventh Doctor's run. Trenzalore, the cracks in the universe, the Weeping Angels, the first question, and the mystery of The Doctor's greatest fear are all addressed at blinding speed. In fact, it's probably one of the hardest episodes to follow as you're watching it simply because there is so much going on.
Not that it doesn't make sense in the long run, but it feels so rushed. Almost as if everyone was running out of time. As a Christmas special, it lacks either the self-contained magic of something like "The Doctor, The Widow, and The Wardrobe" or the epic storytelling power of "The End of Time". In fact, to remember Matt Smith's very first appearance on the program is to remember how Russell T. Davies was able to celebrate the television life of the Tenth Doctor in mere minutes than Moffat was able to in over an hour.
Part of the misstep was the way they attempted to age Matt Smith to indicate a passage of centuries as he defended a town called Christmas against a coalition army so deadly that he actually ends up allied with the Silence (That was something else... seeing The Doctor lead an attacking group of Silents into battle). It was all so very unnecessary. Matt Smith began his run as a sort of Patrick Troughton 2, but over the course of the second part of Series 8 it was impossible not to see the touch of William Hartnell's interpretation. Especially during his speech in "Rings of Akhaten".
Review continues on next page.