Phil Sandifer's TARDIS Eruditorum
tackled "The Time of the Doctor" this week
. (Now that he's reached the Moffat era, he's taking the "arc" stories non-chronologically. I hope, when he publishes the book version, they're in order.)
Sandifer has a very positive read on "The Time of the Doctor." I can't decide if he's right about the episode or if he's talking about the episode he wishes Moffat had made. Because he writes very well about how the throwaway revelation that Smith is the final Doctor retcons the entire Smith era into the epic "Doctor avoiding his own death" storyline that fans have dreamed of and how the episode is a meditation on mortality. Those things aren't wrong
, but I don't know that Moffat intended
Something he takes as a positive about "The Time of the Doctor" -- "This entire episode is just a sequence of minisodes in which Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman do Doctor Whoish things, over which Matt Smith slowly evolves his character to a dying old man making his peace with the universe." -- I take as the episode's failing. Scenes in search of a plot. A narrative in search of logic.
I had this on the mind because I picked up the DVD this week, and upon rewatching it my immediate thought was that it wasn't improved by time and distance. I'm still baffled why the episode wasted time on the nudity-not-nudity; that was both pointless and creepy.
And, the standard read on the episode, that the Doctor does a noble thing by protecting the town for nine hundred years, is wrong. He's protecting the Crack
for nine hundred years. The town of Christmas is simply where the Crack happens to be. The town, effectively, is the Doctor's moat and walls that he uses as a proximity alarm. The citizens of Christmas are, whether they recognize it or not, pawns in his long game. Every life that the Doctor saves is a life endangered by the Doctor in the first place.
Matt Smith did wonders with this material, but even so it's still lousy material.