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The Time of the Doctor

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Fans of British television show Doctor Who (called Whovians) celebrated a very bittersweet Christmas as they bid farewell to the eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith. The show, which recently marked its fiftieth anniversary, has remained fresh and exciting by repeatedly killing off and replacing the main actor.

On June 1st, 2013, Matt Smith announced that he would be retiring the role at Christmas. Smith left the show after three seasons, following the precedent of the tenth doctor David Tennant. On August 4, 2013, BBC announced that actor Peter Capaldi would take over as the twelfth Doctor when the show returns in the autumn of 2014.

This Christmas regeneration was very significant because the Timelords are known to have only twelve regenerations. This would have made Matt Smith the last incarnation of the Doctor, since the eleventh Doctor regenerated twice and actor John Hurt was revealed as a regeneration between the eighth and ninth Doctors. The Christmas Special, “The Time of the Doctor,” explains the mystery of the Doctor’s regenerations as well as much more.

Short story: the Timelords saved the Doctor.

Explanation: Amelia Pond’s crack in the wall appeared on a planet that the Doctor’s navigational system (a Cyberman head named Handles) identified as Gallifray, the Doctor’s long lost home planet. However, Gallifray is what was on the other side of the tear in the reality of time and space, the planet that the Doctor actually lands on is Trenzalore. There, many of the Doctor’s enemies gathered to destroy him, much like the scene from “The Pandorica Opens” in season five. Weeping Angles, Cybermen, Daleks, the Silence, and other monsters from Matt Smith’s era fought. The Doctor would have died, but his current companion, Clara (Jenna Coleman) convinced the Timelords to heal him by repeating his speech to her from the season 7 finale.

There were many other callbacks to previous episodes or Easter eggs of sorts. For one thing, Clara’s apartment building is the same building where Rose Tyler’s apartment was located. Clara is also paralleled to Rose Tyler when the Doctor sends her home in the Tardis before it rematerializes on Trenzalore, leaving Clara stuck away from danger similar to the scene in “The Parting of the Ways” from the first season of the reboot. Clara also hitches a ride through the time vortex on the outside of the Tardis much like Captain Jack Harkness did in “Utopia” from season three.  Clara also sees the Doctor naked and reacts with disgust similarly to Donna in the fourth season episode “Journey’s End.”

References were also made to Matt Smith’s era in celebration of his run on Doctor Who. The Silence were revealed to be priests from the Papal Mainframe who would completely forget and erase all memory of confessed sins. The Doctor’s dance, coined the ‘drunk giraffe,’ that was once displayed at Amy and Rory’s wedding made another reappearance, as did the Doctor’s favorite snack, fish fingers and custard. Karen Gillan, who played Amy Pond, guest starred in the episode as a memory that comforted the Doctor in his last few minutes before completing regeneration.

However, one of the most striking images of the episode is Matt Smith’s last words. The eleventh Doctor departed saying “I will always remember when the Doctor was me,” and dropping his bow tie, a signature piece of his costume, on the floor of the Tardis.

Whovians join with Amy Pond in saying “Goodbye Raggedy Man” and extending a warm welcome to Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor. As Clara’s fortune cookie cleverly states, “Eleven’s hour is over now, the clock is striking Twelve’s.”