(Note: Attempts at a spoiler-free review refers to not giving away any major reveals of the episode, and usually not more than what is found in the teaser given the week before. May contain spoilers of past weeks. Please avoid reading the retrospective and comments for spoilers. Last week's review of "Nightmare in Silver" is here.)
Series 7 is finally over and it leaves behind both good and bad, but it definitely has left us with one of the largest cliffhangers I've ever had to deal with. I won't spoil it for you (at least not until after the review), but know that I wholeheartedly recommend Series 7 part 2. You can watch the series finale here:
and you can purchase the DVD for Series 7 Part 2 here:
On to the review!
"The Name of the Doctor" is the series 7 finale of Doctor Who and features the reappearance of Vastra, Strax & Jenny along with River Song's first appearance in this half of the series. It starts with some mystic time travel performed by Vastra et al and escalates rapidly, forcing the Doctor & Clara to journey to the one place he must never go to, Trenzalore, which has been hinted at for what feels like forever by now.
The baddies in this one were reasonably scary in design and concept, and this is escalated by everyone seeming to be pretty helpless. There were some nice twists and turns that provided some good character drama, but the end was pretty obvious once they got to where they were going.
The very end featured a fantastic cliffhanger which I already hate because of how much it's built up the 50th Anniversary Special which WON'T AIR UNTIL NOVEMBER @#!!
("@#" is the capital versions of 23 in case you weren't sure).
Overall, I have nothing negative to say about the episode other than that it ended.
Final Rank: A 9.5/10
Series 7 Review (no spoilers beyond names of episodes):
First, let me say that I thought Series 7 "Part 1" was stupid. I say "Part 1" in quotes because it was a grand sum of about 5 episodes. Of those 5 episodes, 3 were crap, 1 was good and 1 was fantastic. If you look up Series 7, they also include the Christmas episode of the year before for some reason (phew! I just looked into this, and in order to own the Christmas special, you have to buy it separate! BBC has really been gouging the Whovians lately!)
The Christmas special for this year ("The Snowmen") was originally going to be included in the Part 2 DVD, but doesn't look to be any longer. You have to buy that separate as well! Even though Series 2-6 are high on my list to purchase, and I would consider last year's "The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe" if it was less than $5, I would not spend more than a dollar or two on "The Snowmen". I don't understand what the BBC is thinking! Are they just trying to capitalize on Doctor Who's current popularity? If so, I do not have high hopes for the future of Doctor Who.
Anyway, back to Series 7, which apparently "The Snowmen" is not a part of (even though it's integral to the story of Series 7!!!), by splitting Series 7 into two parts, BBC has made it easier for me to not ever purchase Series 7 Part 1 (unless I hit the lottery). I would genuinely enjoy watching "The Asylum of the Daleks" again and "A Town Called Mercy" was good, but I have no interest in watching any of the other episodes in Series 7 Part 1. The entire thing felt like watching the show on fast-forward where they were trying to get the Ponds to where they needed to be to get rid of them.
After Series 7 Part 1, the Christmas special, "The Snowmen" was good, but not fantastic, and the first episode of Series 7 Part 2 was good, but not fantastic. The second episode was incredibly underwhelming with a great first 40 minutes and a terrible ending 20 minutes (although in hindsight, it makes a LITTLE more sense, it's still cheap and not enjoyable). The second episode, "The Rings of Akhaten", was so bad it caused my fiancee to give up on watching Doctor Who until they've been vouched for by me.
Then it was back to the good, but not fantastic with "Cold War" and FINALLY back to the fantastic with "Hide", "The Crimson Horror" and "Nightmare in Silver" with a little dip to good with "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" (although admittedly my issue with that was mostly mathematical and others probably would enjoy it just fine so long as they don't think about it) and EVEN MORE FINALLY back to the AMAZING with "The Name of the Doctor".
Series 7 Part 1 Final Rank: C-, 7.0/10
Christmas Special "The Snowmen" Final Rank: B, 8.5/10
Series 7 Part 2 Final Rank: A-, 9.0/10
Series 7 Overall Final Rank: B, 8.5/10
Beginning of Spoilers: Retrospective of "The Name of the Doctor" and looking forward
If you're not like me, then were probably pretty surprised by the reveal of a never-before-seen Doctor in the form of John Hurt. The story goes that basically, this is the Doctor that had to do the dirty work and so was blocked from memory by the recent few Doctors. This means that Matt Smith is actually the TWELFTH DOCTOR, which means he is either at the end of his regenerations or only has one more.
I enjoyed seeing more of an ending with River Song, as ever since we discovered who she was I've been bothered by how David Tennant left it with her. Seeing that the Doctor considers her to be dead-dead instead of still going on adventures with him explains a lot more of his kissy-wissy behavior this year, and I enjoyed how they incorporated her, although I am newly bovvered by the spoiler she hinted at (don't know if that was just her being nostalgic or actually giving a hint that there was more of her to come).
As soon as they revealed the TARDIS's "open wound", we knew Clara was going in there, but I really liked how they showed her with the younger Doctors. I only wish I had more access to the old episodes so that I could be aware of some of those moments they referenced.
One of the things I love about Doctor Who is that it is so satisfying while at the same time leaving you craving the best of fiction and of the world around you. Doctor Who is fantastic and it has had more of an effect on me than any other television program, I can't wait for this year's specials and my only lament is the incredibly long amount of time between half series and specials and everything else and the incredibly limited number of episodes each season. 13 episodes is too few and, more than in any other year, in Series 7 has really hurt the Doctor's reputation.
Cheers to the 50th Anniversary and Christmas Special, and cheers to Series 8. I'll keep watching as long as the show keeps on keeping on, but please be fantastic like you have been for so long.