There's not a single episode of Doctor Who I've not enjoyed. Of course there are some I've enjoyed a lot more than others, and some stories which I am not in a massive hurry to re-watch again, but I really believe every single episode has something good going for it. I'm not one of those people who go into a story waiting to be impressed, I still tune in with the wide eyed wonder I had as a child. Doctor Who is my escapism, the time I can suspend disbelief and go with the magic.
Excuse me whilst I get all soapbox-y on you but there seems to be a heck of a lot of people who call themselves Doctor Who fans yet do nothing but moan about every episode broadcast in recent years. They have a whole "Well I'll watch it, but it won't be as good as it used to be" mentality about them. If you go in thinking like that then of course it won't be, how can anything live up to a rose-tinted era that no longer exists?
Doctor Who needs to change and adapt, it's the most important aspect of the show and the one which has kept it alive for 51 years. Troughton's time in the TARDIS was not like Hartnell's - no doubt if social media existed in 1967 Whovians would be updating their status calling for the 'good old days' of "Grandfather" and 'Billy Fluffs'. Pertwee's time was nothing like Troughton's, it was one of the biggest changes in the show's history and I can imagine a legion of Black & White enthusiasts writing angry letters to an early fictional incarnation of DWM complaining the show had lost all its magic. If Twitter had existed in 1975 you can just picture an anti-scarf movement attempting to make the #BringBackPertwee hashtag trend. Relentlessly never giving up, even after 7 amazing years they are still tweeting #BringBackWorzel because some fans just can't accept the change. I could go on but simply put, as Doctor Who fans, true Doctor Who fans, we need to embrace the changes and stop wishing for an era which is not (NOT) coming back.
Of course the show is not above criticism, but I firmly believe that nothing which has been broadcast has been a total misstep. Every episode has been a well thought out calculation by the show-runner or executive producer intended to deliver the best possible story they can, specifically for the actor currently playing the Doctor. Sure there are occasions when the route from idea inception to screen has gone a little askew (type that word into google... go on I'll wait... awesome, right?) but every single story, yes every single one from The Twin Dilemma to Love And Monsters to The Web Planet to Fear Her to Time And The Rani to The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe has something good going for it.
In the form of the latter it was Matt Smith. The Eleventh Doctor's era saw the show hit the stratosphere. Conquering the world and cementing Doctor Who's future for many many years to come (all you ratings naysayers, mark my words - Doctor Who ain't going nowhere!). The pinnacle of this success came with the 50th Anniversary Special. An episode so triumphant that a small tribe in Papua New Guinea, who'd previously had no contact with the outside world, had a satellite dish installed just so they could be part of The Day Of The Doctor. Probably.
Then, at the height of the show's success... with millions upon millions of brand new viewers the globe over, many of whom that knew little about the show's history... then the lead actor leaves!
And the only way you can send him off is the exact same way which every other Doctor was sent off (minus Colin Baker. Poor Colin Baker), with an episode perfectly fitting to his era. The Time Of The Doctor is just that.
To a degree I understood the complaints surrounding the last 10 minutes of The End Of Time, but the extended goodbye sequence didn't bother me one bit because it felt very true to Tennant's Doctor... yes, this is exactly what he'd do. All the previous regenerations felt right to me, true to character, true to the actor. Troughton's forced regeneration is one of my favourites, especially considering his later love for the show and desire to return - if the Time Lords hadn't forced that change you could picture his Doctor sticking around for ever. Even with the very little we had seen of the Eighth, The Night Of The Doctor felt like a perfect ending, and exactly the one he would choose. Spending 900 years on Trenzalore, with a decapitated Cyberman head for a companion is exactly what Eleven would do.
Fitting that into 60 minutes would be a challenge for anyone, and yes the episode probably could've benefited from a slightly longer running time, but Moffat delivered an astounding finale, closing out Matt Smith's chapter in this book we call Doctor Who with an episode I believed to be an absolute triumph. It had me engrossed, it had me laughing, it had me close to tears, it had me punching the air with delight, it had me logging onto Facebook to discover a fandom declaring it "WORST... EPISODE... EVER!!!!" Really? Were we watching that same thing?
The whole 'Moffat Must Go' brigade were out in force at 8.30pm Christmas Day 2013. A lot of their ammunition seemed to revolve around the complaint that he'd clearly "lost it" as it wasn't as good as The Day Of The Doctor! Really really?? Surprise surprise, it's not quite as good as a big budget multi-Doctor 3D adventure. Did you honestly think it was going to be???? But complaining about it is kinda like berating a cricketer for only hitting a 4 when he previously hit a 6.
The Time Of The Doctor is triumphant in so many ways. They might not be the answers everyone wanted them to be but we got some closure on a variety of the plot threads from Smith's era. From the cracks in the wall, to the exploding TARDIS, from the oldest question to why silence must fall. We got
The greatest hits of Doctor Who enemies sprinkled throughout the episode was a Christmas treat like no other. Daleks, Weeping Angels, Silence and not forgetting The Sontarans waist deep in the snow. But as The Doctor's enemies got more and more creative and found new ways to attack 'Christmas' a wooden Cyberman appeared. A wooden Cyberman?? Come on? Who comes up with that? Brilliant Moffat madness.
Just like the second half of the season 7 where every single episode was full of references to classic Doctor Who episodes, The Time Of The Doctor continued the trend. The appearance of the Seal of the High Council of Gallifrey, nicked off the Master in the Death Zone during The Five Doctors was a fantastic inclusion, and makes me wonder just what else he's got lying around from past adventures, waiting to pop up in a future episode. Then because we were witnessing a swansong, there were many references to Matt Smith's past adventures; fish fingers and custard, the Doctor dancing the drunk giraffe and a nice nod to River Song. None of them touched the beautiful, perfectly timed appearance of Karen Gillian. Nicely done, just enough, "Raggedy man", perfect.
Plus, I've always loved the fact that they were both wearing wigs in that scene. Talking of which...
We all knew Matt Smith had shaved his head for that Ryan Gosling movie and he'd have to be wearing a wig for this episode, it had been discussed in great length across the internet, but the way Steven Moffat chose to deal with it was superb. Why not make it part of the story? I tip my hat to another moment of genius.
There's so much more to love; Handles (I freaking love Handles), Tasha Lem, nudity... and talking of which, Clara. The Time Of The Doctor gave Jenna Coleman her best material up to that date. Clara got to encounter a job lot of Doctor Who characters in just one hour, has a companion ever been exposed to so many in a single show before? I think not. She went back and forth and delivered a huge range of emotion. It also set her up to be the pivotal character she became in series 8. Never let it be said that Moffat doesn't plan in advance.
Good King Moffat-las was quoted as saying he thought this was Matt Smith's best performance in Doctor Who, and I really couldn't argue against that. It was his show, perfectly portraying the Doctor across hundreds of years, protecting the small town of Christmas. His exceptional speech at the tower after accepting a new regeneration cycle was phenomenal. From the Pandorica to Akhatan, Smith always gave good speech - just one aspect of his era that I knew I'd miss whilst he was delivering his final monologue. Somehow he was more Doctor-ish than any Who have gone before him... but then I say that about all of them. Splendid chaps.
The removal of that bow-tie got me good. It was the sucker punch delivered after the "well done mate" left hook, a moment that already had me on the ropes. As Matt Smith dropped the fabric to the ground, it was time for time to change.
We are all different people throughout our lives, at times we can look back and not recognise ourselves - how would the you of today get on with the you of 20 years ago? Possibly not well. We all have a golden era, a time we think of fondly but does it make today any less important? No. Our existence changes, we evolve and we need to live for the now. Nobody (except for maybe Status Quo) can be exactly the same as they were 50 years ago. So as much as I will never forget when the Doctor was Matt Smith, the true time of the Doctor is now. Relish every single moment, enjoy every single adventure, because it will all be over too soon and it will change. Not necessarily for the better, not necessarily for the worse, but it will be different, that's a guarantee and one which is absolutely essential to Doctor Who. It ensures that we will still be here in 50 years time celebrating Christmas with the 25th Doctor.
Geek. Lover. Fighter. Dwarf. Follow Wil on Twitter.