Hi guys, today we are reviewing Peter Capaldi’s swan song as the Twelfth Doctor, and Steven Moffat’s final episode as head writer, Twice Upon a Time. I saw this at a preview screening in Hartlepool, and then again on Christmas Day. And I’m just warning you, this will contain some spoilers. What did I think of Twice Upon a Time? It was good. Not fantastic, but certainly not bad. It was a different story than I was expecting, it was a fitting conclusion to Capaldi’s era as well as an enjoyable multi-Doctor story.
The opening where we saw ‘Previously on Doctor Who’ was really cool, seeing those old William Hartnell scenes, but the ‘709 episodes ago’ caption I felt was a bit cheesy and too self-referential. The transition between the old clip and the David Bradley recreation was awesome to see.
This started off the First Doctor’s story, and I have to admit, part of me enjoyed this more than the Twelfth Doctor’s story. David Bradley was smashing in the role and embodied both the charisma but slight abrasiveness of the First Doctor, and in a way, William Hartnell himself. Obviously, he portrayed William Hartnell in the brilliant docudrama, An Adventure in Space and Time, and now that he was so successful here, he’s getting his own Big Finish this series, which I am so buying, because he killed it in this role. Seeing how horrified he was as to what he becomes (the Doctor of war) was great and was pulled off excellently by David Bradley.
I know many people have not liked the sexist humour in this episode, and admittedly, there wasn’t much of that in his actual era, but I think that they weren’t too overboard, and the bit where Bill insults the Doctor, and he walks out and threatens to spank her got a hard laugh from me on the 4 different times I’ve watched it.
As with the Twelfth Doctor, I think Peter Capaldi has given one of his best performances as the character (well, what would you expect, it’s his last episode), and the dynamic he had with the First Doctor was fantastic. He had some great jokes and one-liners, but also some pieces that really embodied his character. When he speaks at the end to the aliens about memories and how life is a battlefield, that summed up the Peter Capaldi era as a whole.
The cameos in this episode are a very mixed bag. Moffat didn’t go overboard with them like Russell T. Davies did, shoving every single important character into the last 20 minutes of The End of Time, and to be honest, they weren’t as many cameos or Moffatisms in this episode as were expected, but there is a cameo halfway through that is like, ‘Really?’ There is no reason for this character to be in here or on this planet, and we did not need to learn what he’s been doing since his last appearance, it was not necessary.
Also, Murray Gold’s score seemed to reuse a lot of old music, and I only counted one or two new pieces in here. For what could potentially be his final episode on Doctor Who, his score was disappointing. He was using pieces such as Vale Decem and the Bad Wolf theme, which were used for the Ninth and Tenth Doctor’s era. They don’t fit. However, I thought the music for the Winter Armistice was really nice and the use of the Heaven Sent theme over the regeneration scene was a great, dramatic piece that I’m glad he used again in this context. It made his speech before the regeneration seems even more impactful, and I loved how there was no music during when he was actually regenerating, it made it seem almost scary.
But what about the other characters? Mark Gatiss was very good as a WW1 soldier, although I would have liked his character to have done a bit more. It almost felt like he was standing around, dazed and confused, for about half the episode, but the scene where he says goodbye was genuinely emotional, as well as, em… Very, very, VERY satisfying fan service wise. The inclusion of Bill Potts was something I approached with trepidation, and I’m still not sure if it entirely worked, having her in it, but Pearl Mackie was fantastic and the fractured dynamic that she had with the Doctor, as the Doctor did not believe it was her, was heartbreaking to see.
And the direction by Rachel Talalay was brilliant. Whenever she comes to direct, you know you are in for a great cinematic episode, and some of the shots and lighting here are genuinely spellbinding. I hope Chris Chibnall gets her to direct some more episodes in Jodie Whittaker’s reign. Speaking of that… The regeneration scene, in my opinion, was a bit disappointing. It was OK, but the speech I felt was very overlong, and it didn’t seem to flow as well as other speeches written by Moffat. As well as that, the Doctor’s sudden decision to keep on living felt very abrupt and unnecessary, as we knew what was going to happen, in fact, the final five minutes of the episode were pretty much spelled out from the first shot.
We knew the First Doctor would go off to regenerate, we know Peter Capaldi would regenerate into Jodie Whittaker, we knew Bill wouldn’t return, so basically, the episode just felt like it was getting to these points. But the last words by the Doctor were really nice, and the first moments for Jodie Whittaker were brilliant (see what I did there?). In keeping with the tradition of the revived series, in the regeneration, the TARDIS decides to burst into flames and begin hurtling to Earth. But I loved how this time the Doctor fell out of the TARDIS, as this has opened up the possibility that I hope they go with: For the entirety of Series 11, the Doctor is stuck on Earth and has no idea where the TARDIS is.
It would make a lot of sense, as I know some of the more unaccepting of the community will want more proof that this is the Doctor, and so if Jodie Whittaker gradually built up her own personality and finally received the TARDIS and the sonic at the end of the series, it would feel much more rewarding. But now I’m so excited for Chris Chibnall’s reign, as well as Jodie Whittaker’s stand as the Thirteenth Doctor. Oh, and the Northern accent, yeah, so excited for that!
Overall, Twice Upon a Time was a solid sendoff to Peter Capaldi as well as Steven Moffat. It may have felt a bit familiar and just a series of stepping stones to get us to the regeneration, but it was a well-plotted and funny as well as an emotional sendoff, filled with some great performances, fanservice and a good conclusion to the Twelfth Doctor’s character arc. For me, I give Twice Upon a Time a 7/10.
Well, there you go guys, hope you had a great Christmas and that for you, 2018 has got off to a great start. Reviews for Sixth Sense, Silent Running, Die Hard and a few more TV shows to come over the coming months, so see ya later guys!