So, here I was, minding my own business, celebrating Christmas with my family, watching A Muppet Christmas Carol on repeat because I freaking love that movie, and eating lots of cake, when I decide to sit down and watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special. It's tradition, right? And I love Doctor Who, right?
Consider my evening rather thoroughly dampened by the giant cloud of rage that hung over my head for the rest of the night. By which I mean that I didn't really like this special. Not so much. Or even a little bit.
In fact, it royally pissed me off. Why? Let me count the ways.
[Okay, you guys know the drill, or at least I hope you do. SPOILERS from this point out.]
Here's my best summary of what happened in this episode. If it's not super coherent, that's not my fault. Seriously. This episode was whack.
A really loud broadcast is suddenly heard from this random planet in the middle of nowhere. The broadcast is really scary, so all the bad guys of the universe decide to (for some reason) park their spaceships right outside the planet and hover there in a giant villain swarm. But a couple of good guys turned up too. Namely, the Doctor and the Church of the Papal Mainframe whatever whatever something.
The Doctor tries to figure out what's going on while Clara calls ceaselessly demanding that he come over for Christmas dinner because she invented a boyfriend who was coming over for dinner with her parents. Who are apparently not dead. When did that happen?
Anyway, the Doctor comes to save Clara from her little female problems, like family members, romantic woes, and apparently being a terrible cook, and whisks her off to the planet, where they find the source of the distress call. Well, first they get naked and chat with Tasha Lem (Orla Brady), the Mother Superious of the Church of the Papal Mainframe, and then they pop down to investigate.
Turns out that the place the signal came from was a quaint little town named Christmas, where everyone is very nice and tells the truth (for the first bit, until later in the episode when characters can lie apparently because of reasons shut up). They trace it back to a giant tower in the town, where the Doctor finds, dun dun DUN, a crack in the wall. So we're back to this all.
On the other side of the crack is Gallifrey, which is broadcasting a single question through all of space and time. You see, they're outside the universe and want to make sure they've got the right place before they come in. So they're asking a simple question: "Doctor who?"
If the Doctor says his name, Gallifrey will emerge from the crack and everything will be all better, except for the bit where it starts the Time War over again, and everyone dies and badness. The Doctor can't say his name. But he also can't let anyone else get at the crack. So he ships Clara off home because he needs her to be safe and out of the way, I guess, and plunks himself down in the town, to keep it safe forever.
Also the Church of the Papal Mainframe goes kind of nuts and turns into the Church of the Silence, wherein we get The Silence, and then they try to kill the Doctor and kidnap River and lots of other stuff that has already happened on the show, but which they think this explanation will make more clear (it really didn't). Clara, meanwhile, manages to come back about three hundred years later, and tries to get the Doctor to leave. He's much older now, and looks it, but even though he saves Tasha Lem from becoming kind of Dalek-y and fights off more invasions, it seems he's learned absolutely nothing, and sends Clara away again.
Then she comes back...sigh....and he's super old now, but the war is still raging and he's dying, so Clara takes a moment to whisper into the crack that if they love the Doctor (which is a weird thing to say to a planet), then they'll understand that he doesn't need a name, and also that they should piss off and leave him in peace.
So Gallifrey does just that, but not before whipping him some regeneration energy. The Doctor, who is now dying of old age, I guess, starts to regenerate and manages to regenerate so hard he blows up the Daleks. And then he whines for a bit, and turns into Peter Capaldi.
There are a lot of things I hate about this particular episode, and, honestly, very few things I loved. Actually, I'm not sure there's anything I loved here. Maybe Handles, the dismembered Cyberman head. He was fun. But everything else? Sucked.
The biggest problem is pretty simple though: this plot made absolutely no sense. It didn't make sense emotionally, thematically, logically, in the story, or even as a bit of comedic relief. Instead, this seems to be an attempt to wrap up every single Matt Smith Doctor storyline into one big bow right before he goes. So now The Silence and Trenzalore and the Name of the Doctor and Gallifrey's return and River and the cracks in the universe and also Clara's weirdness and holy crap everything, it's all tied up into one Gordian knot of weirdness. And I mean that honestly. None of this actually makes sense if you look at it for two seconds.
Why the hell were only bad guys gathered outside the planet? The Time Lords weren't the only reasonably good species with time travel in the whole universe, were they? And why do the Daleks keep using human-Dalek shells to hide in? Don't Daleks think everyone else is inferior for not being a Dalek? Why hide as humans?
Why the poop are the Weeping Angels there? HOW THE HELL DO WEEPING ANGELS WORK NONE OF THIS MAKES SENSE.
Also, aren't Clara's parents dead?
Basically, none of the story, not even a little bit, made sense. And it didn't make me feel sufficiently emotional for me to forgive that. Mostly it just pissed me off. Because I am a creature made of caffeine, rage, and library cards. (I'm sort of kidding, but sort of not. I have six library cards, all still valid.)
This, of course, isn't even counting my other big problem with this episode, and Moffat's whole tenure on the show in general. That is, simply put, the sexism. Oh the sexism. I hate it. And he is rife with it.
In this episode alone, there are about five female characters altogether. Total. At all. Which is actually pretty good for a Doctor Who episode, sadly. Of those characters, only two had significant amounts of screentime. The others were just in it for brief moments that served little to no purpose, that being Clara's disapproving mother who only wants her to find a nice boyfriend and settle down, and her alarmingly randy grandmother who keeps hitting on the Doctor.
The third female character of little screentime was Amy Pond, who showed back up again in a dream sequence of sorts right before the Doctor regenerated because I guess he really needed to see her again and isn't that sweet? Only it just serves to reinforce the whole, "Amy's life revolves around the Doctor to an alarming degree," thing, because even if it was just a dream, it still makes it so that Amy's entire run on the show is wrapped up in the Doctor and his needs, and her character development is completely secondary.
Of the two major characters, Tasha Lem and Clara, both of them had pretty much the same problem. They both fancied the Doctor, and he kissed both of them and let them down and ignored him until it was convenient for him to remember them and they strived and fought to help him and in the end he kind of did nothing to save the situation and all their striving was a bit pointless, but isn't it nice that they loved him so much?
Excuse me, I need to find a bucket in which to barf.
Look, I really hate that all the women of the Moffat era have been romantically obsessed with the Doctor, seem to have no lives outside of his orbit, and who are incapable of functioning without him. Women who sacrifice everything for this epic great man. Only this epic great man does jack shit in the whole episode.
Like, oh, it's nice that you're holding off all the bad guys, but you're not actually producing a proactive solution ever at all even a little bit. You're just going to fight until you die? Seriously? And when push comes to shove and the end comes you...magically get out of the scrape with almost no consequences because those are for meanies?
Anger. Rage. Fire.
I'm not saying that you can't like Doctor Who as it is right now, written by Steven Moffat and filled, as it is, with racism and sexism and bad bad terrible writing. You can like that. I like Teen Wolf, I really can't judge you. But I do demand that you recognize the flaws in the show. Because I refuse to believe that it's better not to notice these glaring problems. You can still love something cracked and broken. But to deny that's it's messed up in the first place? That's just blindness.