Two doctors refuse to regenerate, then get into some scraps, then regenerate after all. It’s pretty great.
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Shazam! We break from our normal programming to bring you our mildly belated review of the 2017 Doctor Who Christmas Special, Twice Upon A Time.
Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor, refusing to regenerate, goes to the South Pole for no particular reason. There, he encounters David Bradley’s William Hartnell’s First Doctor who, also refusing to regenerate, embarks with him on an adventure that Twelve really ought to remember, but doesn’t.
A not particularly eventful, but no less nostalgic or sentimental, journey ensues, as the two doctors are joined by the timeless glass memory receptacles of Bill and Nardole, as well as a moustachioed soldier with a conveniently coincidental lineage.
In short, we really liked this one.
WHOA! Did you know this was the first of two occasions on which we’ve reviewed this episode? Yep, that’s right! Several years after this ep dropped, Marie, Drew and Leon sat down for a hilarious and hilariously in-depth (re-)review of it. For the complete Twice Upon A Time experience, we highly recommend you listen to that episode as well: N144 Twice Upon A Time — The 2017 Christmas Special (re-review)
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A wild Thirteenth Doctor appears! Twice Upon a Time was quite an adventure. But was it as good as it was hyped to be? Let’s talk about it.
Peter Capaldi is on fire here. This is possibly his finest hour since Heaven Sent. I think BIll could’ve been interchangeable with any other companion, really. *cough* Susan *cough*. Still, Pearl Mackie puts on a stellar final performance. All the little easter eggs from throughout the Twelfth Doctor’s era were great to see (especially Rusty. That was awesome).
My one massive issue with this episode was the First Doctor. Now, I don’t mean that he was completely rubbish (he had a few great moments), he just felt like he was written by someone who had never seen a minute of his stories. The First Doctor wasn’t sexist or anything like that (though Bill Hartnell himself was a little racist IRL). I just facepalmed every time he said something that was a bit… wrong. Is that the right word? Wrong? Meh, I don’t mind it. Also, the Doctor getting his memory back of Clara just makes Hell Bent 1000x worse because all that drama is rendered pointless now.
I also appreciate that the scene recreations from The Tenth Planet were done really well, especially the “far from being all over” bit. I know they did more scene recreations, but I’m glad they were cut. I think all we needed were the scenes from the actual serial, the transition from Hartnell to Bradley, the reason why he’s caught up in the mess with Twelve and the moments before he regenerates.
The regeneration scene itself was wonderfully done. Peter’s final speech to the next Doctor was so well done and I almost cried. Steven Moffat does know how to write good speeches/regeneration scenes (Time of the Doctor comes to mind). And the direction by Rachel Talalay was pitch perfect. The build to the reveal of Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor was great. And then the TARDIS exploded. Of course, this means we’ll be getting a new console room at some point, which is exciting!
So overall, what do I think of this story? Well, I’d say it did its job well. Sure, the First Doctor was not done well (and Hell Bent being even more pointless now), but that’s just a negative in a sea of positives. Peter was great, the direction was great, and the story was good, too. It did what it needed to do, which was to give the Twelfth DOctor the send off he deserved. I’ll give this episode a 3.85/5.
Now comes the long wait for Series 11, hopefully flying to our screens in August, 2018.