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TV REVIEWS: FTN Reviews The 2017 Doctor Who Christmas Special: Twice Upon A Time

December 26th, 2017 by Todd Black Comments

Saying “goodbye” is always hard, especially when it’s to someone you have known for a while. I came into Doctor Who in several different places. I knew of Tennant’s run, my first episode was “The Time Of Angels”, but then I never got to continue. Later, when I found out The Day Of The Doctor, I learned my TV had BBC America, so I got to binge watch all of Eccelston’s, Tennant’s and Smith’s run. Then obvious I watched the final season of Smith before he became Capaldi. Despite all of that though, Capaldi is my Doctor.

There’s always been something about him I found intriguing. Granted, his first season was up and down in my mind. But, it wasn’t all bad, and by the time the second and third seasons in his run came, he was a magnificent Doctor. Yet, with “Twice Upon A Christmas”, it was time to say “goodbye”.

This was an episode that could only have come from the mind of Steven Moffat, as he literally tied the beginning of the series to the end of the current series (as in Capaldi’s run). He even went so far as to re-enact some of the scenes from Hartnell’s run with Dee Bradley and recasts of the first Doctor’s companions. It was all very brilliant.

The story of the episode revolved around a soldier who was “out of time”…boy, that sounds familiar…anyway, the Doctors find themselves in a bit of quandary, as a group called “Testimony” were desperate to get the soldier back to his time in order for him to die as time has allowed it. But, with two Doctors both in a mindset that death isn’t fair, they weren’t going to allow that to happen.

Easily the best part about this episode was the banter between the 12th Doctor and the 1st Doctor. Not the least of which is because we’ve gotten to see how time in our world has changed the character known as the Doctor. The 1st Doctor is a bit out of date in his thought process. Including saying that women like Bill (and Polly) are reserved for cleaning the Tardis. And that women are “made of glass”. I loved Bill saying that she too had experience with women, making the 1st doctor and the Captain’s jaws drop.

Oh, did I mention Bill was back? Yeah, and they do it in a way that is both taste, and perfect for the story. But again, the real story here was between the two Doctors, as they try and understand why regeneration is necessary. Both Dee Bradley and Peter Capaldi were amazing in their roles, both in the humorous ways, and the serious ones.

And then, just when you think you knew what was coming, twists were had. The return of Rusty the Dalek was a big one. As was the reveal of the Captain’s lineage. Even the reveal of the “Testimony’s” intent was a surprise.

The ending scene on the battlefield, with the birth of the Christmas Armistice (which was a real thing, look it up!), was absolutely beautiful, and a perfect symbol for what The Doctor means to time and the universe.  But, the moment after that, where the 12th Doctor revealed that his life was a literal battlefield was just as poignant. You could feel the pain and sadness that he was feeling as he recited that speech.

His chats with the Tardis were also touching. The Tardis has often been referred to as sentient, and this proved it in many ways, urging the Doctor to live on…even if only for one more lifetime.

My problems with “Twice Upon A Time” were twofold. First…nothing really happened. The bad guys weren’t the bad guys at all. And even though the Doctor’s did break the Testimony’s hold on time, in the large scale, it didn’t feel like it mattered as much. Compared to the last regeneration via “The Time Of The Doctor”, it just felt much less grand.

Which brings me to the regeneration. I LOVED his final speech, it felt perfectly Capaldi, and I am totally on board with Jodie Whitman as the 13th Doctor. But…the Tardis breaking again? Flinging her out into the world? It feels a little familiar. Granted, what happens now that she doesn’t have the Tardis at all is intriguing, but this would’ve been a perfect moment for a more subtle regeneration, as a new kind of Doctor has been born.

Oh, and for the record, they never revealed when Capaldi’s Doctor went to do “The Day Of The Doctor” moment. That kind of bums me out as a fan.

Regardless of those however, this was a touching tribute to Capaldi’s time as the Doctor. He got to see all his old companions (including a certain fan-favorite for a spell), and got to go out in a way that perfectly fit him. As a wise Marvel writer said after the episode aired. Goodbye Doctor. Hello Doctor.

4 out of 5 nerds

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Todd Black is reader of comics, a watch of TV (a LOT of TV), and a writer of many different mediums. He's written teleplays, fan-fictions, and currently writes a comic book called Guardians (guardians-comic.com). He dreams of working at Nintendo, writing a SHAZAM! TV series, and working on Guardians for a very long time!

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