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Doctor Who Review

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  • Episode: The Name of the Doctor (Series 7, Episode 14)
  • Starring: Matt Smith, Jenna-Louise Coleman, Alex Kingston, Richard E. Grant, Neve McIntosh, Catrin Stewart, Dan Starkey
  • Written By: Steven Moffat, Malcolm Hulke (character Silurians)
  • Directed By: Saul Metzstein
  • Network: BBC, BBC America
  • Studio: BBC
  • Series:

Doctor Who: The Name of the Doctor Review

A finale by any other name

By Kimberly McCall     May 24, 2013



The only thing that upset me about this week’s Doctor Who finale, “The Name of the Doctor” is the fan base being upset that they weren’t delivered the Doctor’s actual name, like the title suggested. Clearly, such people have no idea what it really means to be a Doctor Who fan. After all, we have a character who has been around for 50 years and still remains a complete mystery. Doctor Who is a journey. Those who love it will stick around and continue to play with the puzzle pieces.

All right, back to the episode at hand. Steven Moffat returns to take us out with a winning series finale. In a fast and mystical prologue by Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman), we learn that she has been scattered through the Doctor’s (Matt Smith) history and is destined to save him at every turn. And just like that, the mystery of the "Impossible Girl" is solved. We are treated right up front to a series of colorful flashbacks with the beloved faces of the previous doctors, all affected in some way by Clara’s presence. 

Meanwhile, in victorian London, Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh) summons the sci-fi Scooby Gang consisting of Jenny (Catrin Stewart), Strax (Dan Starkey), and the “back up” of the deceased River Song (Alex Kingston) to a kind of psychic conference call, giving these well loved supporting characters more chance to shine. Enter the Whispermen, genuinely creepy undertaker-like footmen to the Great Intelligence (Richard E. Grant). The silent monsters whisk away the Doctor’s friends and beckon him to the one place in all space and time he must never go, his own tomb on Trenzalore.

Filled with satisfying suspense, emotion, and chills, “The Name of the Doctor” catapults us through a delightful treat of joyful sadness as the Doctor says a final goodbye to River Song and Clara establishes her significance to the universe by sacrificing herself, this time with full knowledge of her destiny, to save the Doctor and his effect on history.

Oh, and consider our collective minds blown as we are all surprised by the face of John Hurt (Alien, 1984), who has just made an official appearance as a future face of the Doctor. So, no, fans, you were not given the name of the Doctor. Some things are better off not known. In this case, I’d say the treasure trove of other perks make up for the little title tease entirely. When, if ever, will John Hurt appear again? November can’t come soon enough.


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wrrlykam 5/24/2013 12:43:24 AM

I wonder if anything from the newly discovered Anthony Coburn documents was used?

karas1 5/24/2013 4:10:05 AM

Exactly when was it established that the Doctor had passed the point in River's personal history that she had died?  This is time travel.  Will River turn up again alive?

goldeneyez 5/24/2013 6:05:07 AM

karas1, I thought it was established that the Doctor had passed the point in River's personal history that she died pretty much the first time she is introduced to the audience.  Technically the second episode she was in, the Forest of the Dead.  The Vashta Nerada ate her.  Ever since then, the Doctor was moving forward in his personal time stream while she was moving backwards.  That's they way they made it seem at least.  I thought River pretty much said that too in some episode with the Ponds.

lusiphur 5/24/2013 6:13:52 AM

 There was one thing that bugged me in this episode.  When Clara told Doctor #1 to steal this TARDIS and not that one, it invalidated what the TARDIS herself told the Doctor in "The Doctor's Wife" when she said "I wanted to see the universe, so I stole a Time Lord and I ran away. And you were the only one mad enough."

karas - He passed that when he first met her, didn't he? 

As for the "they didn't reveal his name" crowd, I think they (intentionally?) left off the first word of the title ... "In The Name Of The Doctor" would have been more appropriate, but not as suspenseful.  Who is John Hurt's Doctor?  Is he #12?  #13?  With the interplay between the two, I believe he is an aged version of #8 who ended the Last Great Time War on his terms, much to his own chagrin.  Of course, Paul McGann is appropriately aged to have filled this role, so I don't know why they didn't use him other than the fact they could get John frakkin' Hurt.

Ryodin 5/24/2013 6:34:53 AM

I see John Hurt being a villain, not a new "Doctor," in the upcoming season. Kinda like a Prof. Moriarty. At least, that's the vibe I got from the end of this episode. I hated Matt Smith we he replaced Tenant. But I must admit he's grown on me quite a lot over the years, epsecially when the whole Ponds storyline was seriously getting old. His energy was the only thing that saved some of those later Pond episodes. Ugh! I would hate to see him leave now, as is being rumored.

TheSilentKiller 5/24/2013 6:38:34 AM




 It leaked in the media in the UK that he's the real 9th Doctor, between McGann and Eccleston, and the one who took action during the Time War. The others are so disgusted by what he's done that they repressed the memory. If the paper is to be believed.

This adds some urgency, because that's one less regeneration available to the doctor.

Nobodeyx 5/24/2013 7:08:10 AM

 In the article you say "...we are all surprised by the face of John Hurt (Alien, 1984), who has just made an official appearance as a future face of the Doctor.", which could lead one to understand that John Hurt is playing a future incarnation of The Doctor. 

I assume you don't think he is a future incarnation, but that's how it reads. I mention in case you want to clarify.

HomestarRunner 5/24/2013 8:09:48 AM

I'm taking most "leaks" (apart from my own) with a grain of salt. Hurt will definitely be in the anniversary special so we know we'll find out more then. As for Who he's playing (past or future Doctor), it's all speculation as far as I'm concerned. I like the idea of him being an older Eight, but I could see him being "Eight Point Five" as well.

River could always turn up again, but given that this is the only post-death River we've seen, I'm thinking we are done with her. Any thoughts about the scene where she asks him to think about how it's possible River is still around when she was linked to Clara, to which he asks River how that's possible and she responds "spoilers!"? 

And lastly, was this really THE moment the prophecy spoke of? "On the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the eleventh, when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a Question will be asked, a question that must never, ever be answered." The question was asked, yes, but I didn't get a sense of "no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer".

Perhaps that moment is yet to come? Perhaps I need a drink? Yes, that seems more likely.


redhairs99 5/24/2013 9:16:40 AM

I like the idea of John Hurt being an older version of #8.  Wasn't there a reference in this episode from Clara that Matt Smith was the 11th Doctor?  I thought I remembered that but could be mistaken.

I didn't realize there was a fan uproar that they didn't reveal The Doctor's name.  I thought the uproar started when they announced this episode and everyone was pissed and didn't want to know his name.  I'm glad they didn't reveal it.

I must've miss something on the River Song storyline.  I didn't pick up on that being the dead version of River Song in this episode.  I just assumed she was knocked out at some point in her timeline to be a part of the dream call like the others were.  Of course, the whole storyline with The Ponds bored me to tears, so if I've forgotten soemthing I blame it totally on that.

HomestarRunner 5/24/2013 9:56:21 AM

Clara outright calls him the Eleventh Doctor in this episode, but he basically responds, "Yes, there have been eleven Doctors...and then this yutz who, by virtue of his actions, does not deserve to be called Doctor."

Also in this episode, River states that she's dead and exists within The Library. This is not something he would share with her so it's not presented as future knowledge but as a statement of her present situation.

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