TV REVIEW: Doctor Who Series 7 Episode 13: The Name of the Doctor

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So it’s here. Episode thirteen. The finale. Of the fiftieth anniversary series of Doctor Who. It has a tantalising name, and the teaser is equally tantalising:

The Doctor has a secret he will take to his grave. And it is discovered…

Please read on to see what I thought of the story, it’s secrets (I’ll try to be non-spoilery where possible) and all that jazz.

First up, this episode gains marks for having what is possibly one of the best fan-videos in history as it’s opening sequence. The narration adds to the mystery, sure – but frankly, I was too busy enjoying the sight of previous Doctors so amazingly brought to life with an impossible girl. The entire season has led to this and yes, I’ve been one of the “do they have to make the companion special?” sort of people… but I’d say it was worth it for this episode.

Clara’s been great to watch over the past few weeks, even if she has been somewhat over-confident in new situations sometimes. She (along with the Doctor’s Name) have been the overriding mysteries that have been the hook since Assylum of the Daleks. Well, since the end of the last series really, what with Dorian’s final words. Stven Moffat manages to bring us to the one place the Doctor should never go with the usual mix of smiles and lumps in the throat. The episode brings back one Professor Song in a different way – and one I found somewhat more satisfying some how. Early in the episode, the Eleventh Doctor’s current friends (Vastra, Jenny, Strax, River and of course Clara) come together in a conference to see how they can assist the Time Lord – of course, this is a trap and they are taken away to lure the Doctor to his tomb at Trensalore.

Here, the Doctor’s name is required for plot reasons (and skilfully navigated) so that The Great Intelligence can have it’s final revenge on it’s greatest enemy. The contents of the Doctor’s tomb, I was very satisfied with. The revelation of Clara’s role in the Doctor’s life? I was satisfied with. In fact, I loved this story – especially in this special year for the program. I don’t know what the 50th anniversary episode will bring (I had to point out to my parents who rang me straight after the program that I do not know The Moff, that he is unaware of my existence and I am not psychic so do not know the answers), though I have my suspicions given hints in the episode and the last few minutes of the episode.

It’s always a joy to see Vastra, Jenny and Strax in an episode and it’s clear how much enjoyment Steven Moffat gets out of writing these characters. From Vastra’s deviousness in contacting Clara through Jenny’s heart-rending confession during the conference to Strax’s one-liners, the trio are a delight to behold. I wasn’t looking forward to River’s return as I think her story was complete and I’ve never been a fan of how the character developed over the previous series of the show. But actually, I enjoyed seeing her again. But I really, really enjoyed Richard E. Grant being back. The Great Intelligence has hovered over this half of the series since Christmas and it’s great to see the resolution to this side of the story. Also – when you think about it, the villain wins here. Maybe not for long. But the Intelligence gets exactly what it wants.

Oh, and the Whisper-men? Creepy as hell! But the stand out performance for me was the prisoner at the beginning of the episode. He was superb. In many way’s he’s the embodiment of Doctor Who actors in recent years. He may well have a teeny-tiny part, but the actor sells the part beautifully. Top marks that man.

I have one niggle and it’s a pretty harsh one. Clara. When the choice she had to make came about, I was genuinely gutted at how her story would end. It would be amazing, fitting and yet sad all at once. This sacrifice was slightly undermined by the Doctor and his subsequent decision. Considering the payoff we’re then treated to, however, I can easily forgive this. Also I quite like Clara, so I couldn’t hold it against them for long anyhow.

So. To conclude, I absolutely adored this episode both as a long-time Who fan and a general viewer of TV. While references to the past may well be above some viewers (though everyone should be familiar with the fact that there have been other Doctors by now and google is a wonderful tool for anyone else), I don’t think they will intrude on anyone’s understanding of the episode at all. Congratulations, Mr. Moffat – the episode far exceeded my expectations. Roll on November 23rd. Doctor’s Ten and Eleven. John Hurt. Returning monsters that I won’t mention incase reader’s aren’t aware…

Rating:  4.5 / 5
Reviewer: WedgeDoc

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