Doctor Who originally ran from 1963 with The First Doctor played by William Hartnell (rest in peace). After an unsuccessful attempt to revive the series with a TV-Film starring Paul McGann as The Eight Doctor (who would later return for a brief role in "The Night Of The Doctor") in 1996, Russell T. Davies was tasked was making the show more popular with the revived series in 2005.
Since then, we've seen three (make that four) "Doctors" - Christopher Eccelston, David Tennant, and the most recent Matt Smith, who has just regenerated in his final performance in "The Time Of The Doctor."
Most people, including myself, thought that Smith deserved a better send-off, and argued that throughout this whole ordeal he never got into any real danger. Unlike David Tennant who was clever, emotionally damaged, and somewhat running from maturity (later revealed to be because of The Time War and his genocide of his own people was still fresh in his mind), Smith was happy-go-lucky, devil-may-care, reckless - funny - but overall, would swagger up to danger with a speech worthy of stage monologue about how there was nothing that could defeat him without any real plan.
For most people, this tended to annoy. No important characters actually died tragically (except for Handles. Poor, poor Handles), and ultimately The Time Of The Doctor, by movie standards, felt forced, horribly paced, and only slightly heartwarming as compared to any other regeneration to date in the revived series.
But is there more to it? Could it be that Steven Moffat was actually a genius (well, I guess I can't call him that while I'm in the room), who did the best he could and actually succeeded?
Everything looks better in hindsight, so let's find out.
Smith's character was repeatedly called reckless during his time, often playing off danger and emotions and again, swaggering away to his TARDIS with the snap of the fingers to open the door, but that may have been a choice of character for The 11th Doctor after all more than it was trying to direct the series into a pitfall nobody really wanted.
Obviously, Matt Smith couldn't simply be David Tennant. The regeneration changes personalities, and Smith was set up by Davies' last script to be eccentric, and fun.
In the biggest simulcast in history and cinema presentation, The Day Of The Doctor answered some serious questions on the 50th Anniversary Celebration, some of which may actually help to explain all the craziness and learn to love Matt Smith and Steven Moffat.
It's revealed that The 11th Doctor is "The One Who Forgets" (about the genocide) because he wants to have some direction of his new life. But the anger, frustration, and often oddly cold seriousness that slips through the cracks in his performance may be omnipresent upon second review.
But what about The Time Of The Doctor? Did Moffat actually do a great thing in Smith's sendoff? It took me a few views to figure this out, but I think, for the most part, while it was in no way a great special (it definitely should have been in two parts), and by that standard receives only 3 out of my 5 stars (because R.I.P. Handles, mostly).
Smith was a different character, who's entire tenure on the series was a story-arc in itself: How The 11th Doctor learned to accept his past, and in the end, death. (Which, if you think about it, he did technically die three times only to exploit some loophole or coincidental assistance...)
Moffat was given the difficult task of deciding how to keep The Doctor alive because of his 13 regenerations (including John Hurt as "The War Doctor") and the canonical nature of how the life of a Time Lord works, but I actually think we can learn to appreciate the way he did it.
In the end, Smith gave one last speech to Clara Oswald, (Jenna Coleman). Reading it, instead of watching on disappointed about how happy The 11th Doctor appeared at the end of his original cycle and the beginning of the new one (13 more Doctors can now exist thanks to Moffat's loophole), may help to appreciate the ending for what it is, and smile on for trying.
We all change, when you think about it, we're all different people all throughout our lives. And that's okay, that's good- you've got to keep moving. So long as you remember all the people you used to be. I will not forget one line of this. I will always remember when The Doctor was me."
The brilliance in Smith's final monologue is that it encompasses 50 years of metaphorical story telling. The Doctor was a representation of us. Everyone. How we all change, we're all different personalities, different faces, albeit not as dramatically, throughout our lives. In the end, The 11th Doctor realizes that trying to forget who you are, or were, even if that someone was a terrible person, who let some down, fills you with guilt, and breaks your heart so much that you scarcely can bring yourself to take on new companions, you've got to let go, and remember all the pieces of yourself or else it may drive you mad.
In the case of The 11th Doctor, this, in my opinion, is the perfect ending. Perhaps by film standards The Time Of The Doctor wasn't all that great, but Matt Smith and Steven Moffat certainly created something that, while at first glance was perfectly flawed on every facet, was a memorable time of The Doctor.
Here's to Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman filming now for the Spring Premiere of Doctor Who Series 8!