TV Sigh. Unlike the Doctor and Clara right at the end there, I’m going to begin with some truth. I genuinely can’t be fussed with this tonight. I’ll probably find some way to fill the next six to eight paragraphs with something, but honestly if I could just go with my original plan of writing the sentence “Osgood. Really. Well, I hope you’re pleased with yourselves” hit post and shuffle on with my life I’d be quite happy. At which point I’m sure you’re at least thinking, well don’t let us stop you, but the quest is the quest and here I am, Saturday night, tapping away. Again. A friend’s just tweeted, “I'd have been disappointed if the last episode of this series hadn't been just as deeply unsatisfying as the rest of it.” Which pretty much does the business. Thanks Lis.
Which isn’t to say it didn’t start well, with, as we presumed Jenna Coleman revealing herself to be the Doctor, fulfilling a fair few fan theories and the opening credits gleefully going along with her plan, including her attack eyebrows. Certainly having Clara suddenly have the TARDIS Datacore in her head after giving every indication twelve episodes before that she’d forgotten watching The Ultimate Guide was a pretty convincing indication that we’d had the wool pulled over our eyes somehow. Imagine that episode or idea and ramifications for the rest of the run. But no, in a series were the really brilliant ideas have forever been replaced with the average instead we have a rerun of the Rory the Auton with a character which the show has gone out of its way to make us really dislike across its previous eleven instalments instead (despite the whole rotten PE business resurrected here (ho, bloody, ho) as dissected by GKW in DWM in his brilliant review of The Caretaker).
Similarly the mid-credits sequences had me hooting and gleefully looking forward to the Christmas special because even after the disappointment of The World’s End (Paul’s still a better film) you have to love Nick Frost and having Nick Frost play Father Christmas is funny. Oh and every now and then we had a ghost of the good Moffat of old offering his Blink era poetry with the likes of “Never trust hugging. It’s just a way of hiding your face” even if that only works if you don’t actually care about the person your hugging and don’t trust that the expression on their face is pleasure. Oh and the performances, especially Michelle Gomez who really does capture the post-Drums psychotic Missy who thanks to some ambiguity in relation to Cyber-Alistair’s laser blast clearly isn’t dead.
But apart from all of that? Yeah, no. From the death of Osgood which was entirely unearned, an insult to Ingrid Oliver, pretty much kills (ironically) stone dead part of our enjoyment of The Day of the Doctor and very epitome of how some series attempt to Whedon but fail miserably to the realisation that the whole absence of the Doctor arc we’ve had to endure this series has been leading up to him learning something he already had licked a dozen incarnations and a couple of millennia ago, Death in Heaven is a joyless experience, full of cynical emotional manipulation of the worst kind and unfunny banter which makes the critical error of offering us a flashback to when the show was none of those things. I miss the Matt Smith years, I really do. Now, I think you can see why I’m really not fussed with this tonight.
I promised you six to eight paragraphs and we’re already at the fifth but genuinely. After all the build up, Missy is wasted here. Gomez does her best with it, all boggling eyes and knuckle chewing but much of her contribution amounts to killing Osgood, revealing that she was the woman in the shop and that she brought him and Clara together for no particular reason unless I missed it then stand around in a graveyard essentially making the same offer Mr Finch did in School Reunion whilst making the same accusation as Davros in Journey’s End. And the problem is we can see it and we’re wondering, or at least I was, why isn’t this working? It isn’t working because it’s predictable. And obvious and we’re on to paragraph six.
The cyberfication of Alistair is tasteless isn’t it? Having given the much loved character a decent send off in The Wedding of River Song and respectfully resurrected his spirit in Kate, forgivably retconning No Future and The Shadows of Avalon, we now have his spirit encased in a flying Cyberman. On the one hand, it’s of course a continuation of the idea, from Battlefield, that the man will never die, and certainly worse crimes have been wrought on other companions in the spin-off universe (poor Dodo) but the whole idea of it, and the business of the salute is just horrendous and … it’s really interesting how having so perfectly judged this sort of thing was last year (barring some dodgy rotoscoping and stand-ins), we’re now in a position to suggest Adric got a better deal in the audios.
Plus, as Santa indicates, Clara’s not gone yet. Just as in The God Complex, Amy and Rory received a perfectly useful exit before being brought back ready for everything end in tragedy, there’s no way Oswald will be allowed to simply walk into the distance like that. Unless she is and we’re going to meet another alternative Clara in the Christmas special ready to die for the cause. One of my pet theories has been that Jenna Coleman isn’t going anywhere, but that yet another version of Clara perhaps from the future will be the “new” companion and that like Anna Torv in Fringe we’ll all be marvelling at her versatility. Failing that how about Kate Stewart? She was brilliant here for the precious few lines Moffat gave to her until she was blown out of the plane and literally dropped out of the rest of the story.
Phew, made it to paragraph eight so might as well find one other positive thing to say about the episode before I go and I can’t take credit for this either because it’s SFX Magazine which noticed. The Doctor’s four marriages. Liz 1, Marilyn Monroe and River Song are three. What about the fourth? Well, that would be Scarlette in the Lawrence Miles Eighth Doctor opus The Adventuress Of Henrietta Street, a novel as divisive as this series of Doctor Who's been. Dave Golder gives the potential alternative of the Tenth Doctor’s alternate future with Joan Redfern in The Family Of Blood but really, like his “conceptual space” homage in the Comic Relief spoof, Time/Space, it’s Moffat showing his love for Miles once again. Plus it makes the Eighth Doctor range canonical now too. Just the comics left to do.
Updated: 09/11/2014 Damn: