The series leading up to the Doctor Who’s landmark 50th anniversary celebrations was always going to have a difficult job. The show said goodbye to beloved characters, set up the mystery of the new companion and dropped John Hurt-sized hints to the future. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster.
And of course, we now know that Series 7 is Matt Smith’s final full series. He deserved a good send off, and by and large he got one, with ambitious, blockbuster episodes crammed with plot and action. That said, the condensed plotting of many episodes and the splitting of the series has made the experience a bit jarring.
The first five episodes are bombastic mini standalone genre movies that serve as the Ponds’ protracted goodbye. Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) run the gamut of emotions from estranged married couple in ‘Asylum Of The Daleks’ to the heartbreaking ‘Angels In Manhattan’.
And then there’s Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman). The Ponds got the tearjerker, but the biggest shock was Coleman’s appearance and death in the opener. She got better, however, returning for Christmas special ‘The Snowmen’ and the final eight episodes, which got increasingly harder to invest in.
As for Clara, it’s hard to get a feel for her as a character. The writers haven’t quite got enough of a grip on who she is yet to write her well, or at least beyond a deus ex machina plot point.
The ambition of Series 7 is to be applauded. Real-life mother and daughter Diana Rigg and Rachel Stirling in ‘The Crimson Horror’? Great. Ice Warriors? Yes please, but the less said about the kids in ‘Nightmare In Silver’ or ‘The Rings Of Akhaten’ the better.
The Doctor’s 11th incarnation has been surprising and wonderful. Matt made this role his own, and his final series aims for greatness but doesn’t always hit the mark. Regardless, nothing can take away from the actor who brought nuance and passion to a well-established character.