Here are a selection of excerpts from reviews published by the international press as The Time of The Doctor
made its way around the world yesterday.
The most powerful moments in The Time Of The Doctor didn't involve a stand-off against intergalactic bullies and mad despots - they involved the Doctor reflecting on his time, and slowly giving in to the ravages of age. In this vein, Smith managed to wring genuine emotion out of his final on-screen appearance, but also nailed the quieter moments: the shutdown of a disembodied cyber-head is also the loss of a trusted friend.(It)
is a celebration of the recent past, and a dedication to the Eleventh Doctor, and his time in the Tardis. Time marches on for everybody, even Doctor Who, and everything eventually ends. While there is comfort in the fact that the story goes on, the Eleventh Doctor's time is over. It might have been silly sometimes, and the time-travel shenanigans often got overly complicated, but it was another fine chapter in the lives and times of Doctor Who. The next one is about to begin, but there is plenty of fun and emotion in the Eleventh's chapter that is worth celebrating.
I shed a tear in the knowledge that possibly the best Doctor the show has seen in its half century is no more. Smith had the ability to persuade his audience that he was, indeed, a millennium old man in a very young man's body. Well, on Boxing Day night on Prime, he discarded that body like a favourite suit too worn and raggedy to patch anymore. RIP 11. We are already missing you.
Smith is at his glorious best in this special, with plenty of reminders of why he might just be the best Doctor yet. Scrub that, he is the best yet and I'm going to miss his portrayal terribly.
The episode is ripe with writer/producer Steven Moffat's leitmotifs: messages sent across space and time, gatherings of The Doctor's rivals, small towns and sheriff badges. And some of the show's classic tropes: broken technology, the TARDIS telephone and lots of lovely one-liners. The risk, of course, is that the episode is so laden with in-universe references and nods to past episodes, moments, characters and aliens than it becomes almost impossible to navigate for someone without even a cursory knowledge of Doctor Who lore.
This is a pensive finish, but not gut-wrenching in the way that Davies wrote previous Doctor David Tennant's farewell. This is gentler, with only a cameo from his beloved Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) who says goodbye to her "raggedy man". Even Smith's lovely scene with old-school Fourth Doctor Tim Baker in the anniversary special was richer, and more touching. (And tearful, for Baker-era fans anyway.)
But salvation comes in the form of a gift, once promised (but never delivered) by the Time Lords to The Master in the 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors: a new life cycle of twelve regenerations. Which means that Peter Capaldi's Doctor becomes not the Twelfth Doctor, as previously thought, but the First Doctor, beginning a new chapter of life for the universe's most beloved Time Lord. And the comfortable assurance that his hope, his strength and, best of all, his eccentric madness, remains a light which will never be extinguished.
Even though the date of Smith's leaving and the identity of his successor, Peter Capaldi, had been known for some time, watching the episode knowing it was Smith's last kept at least one American viewer anxious and sad, with a finger on the pause button for when things got too heavy. Possibly there are still viewers, avid viewers even, who have never quite cottoned to him — Tennant continues to cast a long shadow — but I have loved his work. Elegant and heartfelt, authoritative and playful, swashbuckling and intimate, alien and familiar, Smith's acting has accommodated and, as it were, humanized every oddball, paradoxical, high-concept, low-humor passage Moffat has thrown at him.
It was always going to be so when facing the long-standing question of regeneration limits. Precedent for more regenerations being granted had been established before, and Steven Moffat led just about enough crumbs to the key moment to deal with the issue, without dwelling too much on it. Job done, whether you like the way it was done or not.
The Time Of The Doctor, then, brought the curtain down on what has to be classed as a successful 50th anniversary year for Doctor Who, that's had its bumps, but also given us some absolute treats. The Time Of The Doctor in itself is unlikely to go down as one of the Who highlights of 2013 in truth. We quite enjoyed it, but it still felt a bit underwhelming. Still, Smith's performance as the Doctor is undoubtedly one of the year's highlights, and it's very clear that the show is going to miss him a lot. What's also clear is that there are further exciting times ahead.
Other reviews/comment: Orlando Sentinel
, The Mary Sue
, RTT News
, The Epoch Times
, Nerd Reactor
Additional UK reviews: SFX
, Digital Spy
, International Business Times
, Nottingham Post