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Published on December 30th, 2013 | by Christian Cawley

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PodKast Reviews The Time of the Doctor

Kasterborous Doctor Who podKastWell, it had to be done – the Kasterborous podKast team of Christian Cawley, Brian Terranova and James McLean got together at the weekend to discuss The Time of the Doctor and offer their thoughts on whether Matt Smith’s Doctor Who finale was a hit or a miss.

Our decision? Well, it’s not quite Time and the Rani, but it would seem that we weren’t as happy with it as we might have hoped to be…

Before the main event, however, there is plenty to get through, such as our Doctor Who-themed Christmas presents and editor Christian Cawley’s appearance on BBC radio documentary The TARDIS on Teesside.

Ready? Click play below, or download using your preferred podcast management system.

Kasterborous PodKast Series 3 Episode 47 Shownotes

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About the Author

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A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.




22 Responses to PodKast Reviews The Time of the Doctor

  1. avatar Lozzer says:

    Another interesting podcast guys. I agree and disagree with James on a couple of points – he was on the nail with Capaldi’s regeneration dialogue – less is more. As for regenerating in the Tardis, I understand why they keep doing that, it keeps the story moving for the new Doctor – it’s the end of the episode and it’s time to move in a new direction (literally). Anyway, it’s been a great year, and here’s to the nest one – happy new year.


    • Thanks Lozzer! All the best to you too

    • avatar Jim McLean says:

      I can see the logic in doing it, and I’m sure 90% of those who watched the episode didn’t mind – in fact, maybe for new fans its tradition and something to be expected. I guess for me Spearhead from Space, Castrovalva (albeit shortly) and even the McGann movie were examples where taking the Doctor away from the TARDIS, imo, gave the regeneration a different angle.

  2. avatar docwhom says:

    Oi, you rotters! If you’re going to spend 10 mins critiquing one small piece of CGI (the missing pillar), you might at least have given us a better idea of where it happened than “that bit where they’re looking out of the door”.

    Brian was on form there. And quite right – if such Dalek-smashing powers existed then why didn’t the Time Lords use them to win the Time War? Christian’s “Ancester Cell” point doesn’t work either way. If it’s not canon, then it can’t be used. If it is canon, then why didn’t the Time Lords use it to win the Time War?

    James was spot on about the weaknesses in New Who writing.


    • I think Brian kind of reacted to my Ancestor Cell point as if I was challenging him, when in actual fact I was simply adding an interesting fact to the mix that I thought was relevant. But don’t worry, I’ll be taking the pinstripe suit-obsessed hipster to task one day… ;)

      Re: the CGI, we had a HUGE discussion post podKast, some of which I edited in because it was pretty cool. I’ll leave Brian and James to fill in where PillarGate occurred, however.

      • avatar Jim McLean says:

        Pillar gate – strangely features on some of the BBC website’s video cue – is where the Doctor shows Clara the Mainframe from the doors of the TARDIS. On the second cut back to Smith and Coleman, looking at the camera, it appears the FX team missed the left pillar (I think both pillars were CG, given the TARDIS set doors don’t have the pillars).

        As for Ancestor Cell, there is no official canon to Doctor Who, it’s all technically canon if its outputted via the BBC. There’s no tier to canon as Star Wars has, only what some fans dictate.

        Where does that leave this issue? Well so much of Doctor Who’s canon contradicts, and always has – from Susan making up the term TARDIS (though Platt deals with that in Big Finish’s The Beginning) to McGann being half human. Ancestor Cell was once canon, still canon, or isn’t – up to you. Just like Timelash perhaps. I sometimes wonder if I should decanonise it. :)

        As for an answer – it’s fiction and as such is infinitely malleable. It happened, we don’t know how it happened (the Daleks being wiped out by regeneration energy) and it happened before/never happened before and will never happen again/will happen again, depending on writers. For me, as I think I said in the podkast, I see it as being energy enhanced by the time fissure, giving it one off extremely powerful properties. The downside to the Time Lord sending this, I think, is the crack collapsed afterwards.

        But as I said in the podkast, while I think we can explain it, if it took audiences “out of the moment”, it is questionable as to whether it was just a little too much, just like the Doctor’s return in the end of The Last of the Time Lord’s took a lot of people out of the moment then (didn’t for me, but I know a lot of people who it did).

  3. avatar mrpurry says:

    Valid criticisms in your review- I think James does not get how hard it would be to steer the giant ship that is Doctor Who. EVERYbody would hate you (if you were executive producer) for attempting new things. People would hate you for not being the same as the 70s show. People would hate you for not re-casting David Tennant. The BBC would ask you why you were doing radical things. I have a suspicion (not founded in any inside knowledge however), that his tendencies towards smaller changes is the only way he (and the production team. There IS a script editor) can effect any new directions to the show. The big stuff occurred in “The Day of the Doctor”.
    The next point I’d raise- you spent the vast majority of the show’s run-time, ragging on the bits you didn’t like… And one minute from the end – “I did enjoy watching it”. What exactly did you like? I tend towards the view that a review should be a representation of what you liked and what you didn’t like… and why. There was lots of the latter, very little of the former. I agree, with many of the criticisms raised in the review, but felt it one-sided.

    Having said all that- Kasterborous is a wonderful website, I appreciate your efforts, and am delighted to wish you guys a happy new year!


    • Thanks MrPurry. I think we do try to be more balanced than we were this time, and i can only put this down to a post-Christmas malaise. As noted elsewhere in these comments, there is a good 15 minutes of material that wasn’t originally intended for the podKast, which might have unbalanced things somewhat.

    • avatar Jim McLean says:

      I think it can be dangerous to knock back any suggestions of a different direction as being somewhat short sighted to the difficulties, otherwise nothing ever changes, nothing is ever risked. I agree however, that it is always easier to backseat drive suggestions when you aren’t in the drivers seat, there’s no doubt there will very strong counter arguments by the current team if you were fortunate to go head to head with them on any of the criticisms.

      That being said, I do think the issues we refer to in the podkast, putting aside the larger ideas of hiatus’ with different Doctor’s etc which probably would be a logistical nightmare, many of the criticisms weren’t ground breaking or dangerous avenues to take. The companion always being contemporary and always a back packer, the steerable TARDIS, doors that unlock at a whim, regenerations constantly TARDIS bound, similar beats for this regeneration as the last… these aren’t suggestions of format that risk the show or take it into very different waters, but they are aspects I would personally think need considering in terms of keeping the show fresh.

      As for the “what did we like?” well as I said, I enjoyed the general story, I thought the monsters were will implemented, I liked the cast, I thought they did a fine job. I felt the direction and story/script fell to pieces for the final act somewhat, but for me, rest before that was strong. What I liked, differed from what Cawley liked, so perhaps that’s why it felt like we were knocking it unduly as what I liked, he didn’t – and vise versa. :)

      But ultimately, as with all things in life, particular in review and commentary, saying what you like is never as interesting – or as challenging – as what you didn’t. It’s why English teachers would love to edit “nice” out of the dictionary. I thought a lot of Time of the Doctor was nice. A lot of it worked (for me), what interests me – and I think interests all of us is what we think didn’t work – and why. That’s where topics are forged!

      Happy New Year!

    • avatar docwhom says:

      If they spent 90% of the podcast bitching about its faults and 10% talking about its good points, that’s a fair indication of how much they liked it, isn’t it.

      There’s enjoying and then there’s enjoying. It’s Doctor Who so obviously we enjoy it at one level as a TV show. But there’s another level where enjoyment is a guage of how satisfied you were with it as a Doctor Who story. We apply different standards to Doctor Who stories than we do to TV stories in general. I might “enjoy” an episode of some pulpy soap opera, but I’d be disappointed if I only “enjoyed” the Doctor Who Xmas Special to the same degree.

      If we put all TV on a scale of 1 to 10, all Doctor Who might always be in the range of 7 to 10. And, while a 7 might be brilliant for, say, “Bergerac”, it could still be disappointing for Doctor Who when we know that it can be so much better.

      I don’t see your point about how hard it is to steer the Doctor Who ship. If we don’t enjoy an episode, are we supposed to pretend we did out of sympathy for what a hard job they have?

      • avatar mrpurry says:

        Y’know that’s ok- re-reading my comment shows me that it is a little unfocussed and gut-reaction-ey.

        Your last comment on my comment about the with the Doctor Who “ship” -that’s not what I was saying (a crappy episode/movie/book is still just crappy, no matter the circumstances). My point was more to radical change. How can someone at the head of a big venture best please people. James was expressing dissatisfaction with decisions that Moffatt had made. I agree with him on certain points, but bold changes are really difficult to make.
        But they must be made.
        Again- my original comment is poorly formed.

      • avatar Jim McLean says:

        Yes, but it’s all to do with context: if 90% of the “bitching” is about 10% of the episode, while 10% of the podkast compliments 90% of the story, I don’t think it totally tallies. :)
        That being said, I think it’s fair to say if you felt we were bitching about the whole thing, then that’s clearly how it seems to the audience. It certainly didn’t feel like that from a recording pov – the end was a main topic of debate, the fact we quite liked the rest I thought was a fair enough appraisal and a good reason to focus on the piece we found contentious (and didn’t actually all agree on, while I didn’t really feel the end part worked, and Capaldi’s entrance was weak, Christian and Brian weren’t quite in the same camp – so I’d like to think we offered a variety of voices).

        The enjoying point is an interesting one – but do we sometimes do the other way round? Frontier in Space is a charming story for a Doctor Who fan who loves Pertwee and Delgado, but if you actually stand back, it’s horrendously childish, quite pantomime in delivery with a shoestring budget – do we not sometimes give Doctor Who bonus points because we like it while we might not for say, Bergerac?

        I’d like to think I keep Doctor Who fairly objective. I love the legacy of Doctor Who, I think Smith is a brilliant Doctor, I think there are some very smart and deft ideas and dialogue in the show and I’ve very proud that this British show has endured. That being said, I’ve been more excited about Ripper Street than Doctor Who of late. That’s not to mark Doctor Who down, but simply Ripper Street up.While it’s tales tend to be a mite pedestrian, the world dialogue and casting were for me, really exciting and new.

        I think Doctor Who is in good waters. I don’t think its going downhill/nearing Who apocalypse. As a long term supporter, I do feel it needs a little more spark of something, as by and large its felt quite “same old” – enjoyable same old, but same old nonetheless. I’m hoping Capaldi will -re-engage my enthusiasm by offering a spark of something new, and something quite unexpected.

        As for the ship steering, my point was to agree with you: That it’s easy to damn a production when you’re not working on it. Easy to say “you should be doing something new and bold, when you’re not experiencing the pressures and eddies of being a series helm. Yes I agree, we should say what we do and don’t like. I think that’s always fine, as long as we have the courtesy to explain why. I think bold gushers or haters bring nothing to a piece of art. Art should to some degree be about how it affects the audience as it is about the design, and our response I think should be measured with consideration but not bound by the notion that film making is hard and often a turbulent craft.

  4. avatar docwhom says:

    I didn’t see anything in Time of the Doctor which was trying to be radical or new or ground-breaking. There were some good ideas and concepts but there was little cohesion to the story or to its resolution. And while what James says about back seat driving is true to some extent, it’s also misleading. You can say you didn’t think an episode was well written without saying that you yourself could do it better. If a surgeon botches an operation, I’m allowed to object despite not being a surgeon myself. So it’s not necessarily back seat driving. That’s the line that RTD threw around a little too often during his era when faced with criticism – that he was the professional writer, he understood what made good TV and so anyone in the audience who didn’t like it didn’t understand what great TV they were watching. In other words, they were under a misapprehension that they didn’t enjoy it.

  5. avatar Scott says:

    I was rather disappointed listening to this podcast. I love the site and the articles but I think this was my last podcast download. I liked the Christmas Special and didn’t nitpick it to death. I usually find myself siding with Christian, as with the Name of the Doctor episode review, Christian loved it and James liked it and then Brian savaged it and I think James then changed his mind about it. I seem to side with Christian a lot as he seems to be more positive. Brian sounds more like he has ‘battered wife syndrome’ as he keeps coming back and watching in the hopes to actually like Nu Who at some point. I think Season 5 was the best of new run. Doctor Who has not outgrown you, possibly you guys have outgrown Doctor Who? Maybe it’s time to move on to other stuff? I don’t know. This one was a downer listening to on New Year’s Eve… Hahaha.

    I’d hate to be JJ Abrams when he releases the first shots or stills from the next Star Wars… he’ll get savaged by the Internet.

    Anyway, Happy New Year!


    • Happy New Year, Scott. Sorry to hear you’re jumping ship, especially as we’re now drawing thousands of listeners each time.

      Why don’t you at least listen to the next two, which are largely interviews, and then see how you feel?

      Thanks, dear listener!

    • avatar Jim McLean says:

      I’d like to think we’re fairly fair to be honest. If something works, it doesn’t need much discussion. I consider it like a marking an exam – you tick the right boxes, move on. The wrong bits you might put a note. Doesn’t mean that the stuff you’ve ticked is somehow less correct because you’ve been obliged to mark notes on what wasn’t. Ticked stuff doesn’t generate discussion. I think Smith was pretty flawless throughout, what’s more to say? It ticked the box intended. I think the last scene was a bit messy – now to make such a comment requires justification (I’m a strong believe if you’re negative about something you should explain why and perhaps offer examples as how you’d have done things differently, to limit the backseat driving approach somewhat).
      I don’t think any of this was nitpicky whatsoever, I think there were academic reasons given for why a scene didn’t work from everyone, and no one hated the episode, and I think we all got something from it.
      I’d like to think we’re fair. We will give you honest appraisals, we neither look to gush or damn and are very happy to admit when wrong (my previous concern – and Brian’s – that there would be too many monsters in this story and it would weaken it was proved – imo – quite wrong indeed).
      I think the one thing we didn’t highlight in the podkast which I had meant to was the use of the Silence which I thought was very neat. Quite like a retcon but a very neat retcon. The idea of their being confessional beasts was brilliant.

  6. avatar Andrew G. Dick says:

    Happy New Year folks. Or should I say Happy Who year!

    I know of several causal fans whom seem to really enjoy The Time of the Doctor and are interested in re-watching more of the Smith era as a result. Those who seem to be quite vocal in slating it seem to be the older fans like ourselves.

    I’ve watched it three times now and I like it. Underwhelming though it is in terms of plot, I think the performances of Matt Smith and Jenna Colman make up for it. I must have watched the regenerate scene at least 10 times. I agree with James’s view of Capaldi’s outro, less is more. His stare is powerful enough. Perhaps he shouldn’t have spoken at all? I’d say Colin Baker keeps the medal for best intro for any Doctor (controversially I’d say his best moment).

    Question I have you all is how many times will you watch an episode regardless of how you feel about it?

    I will typically watch it again either later on the evening of broadcast or the next day and watch a third time over the week. By the end of a series I will re-watch the whole run. Over the years I’ve found myself learning to love certain stories that I find cringeworthy yet at the same time would never show to a new fan. Whilst filling gaps in my DVD collection, watched all of season 24 and actually enjoyed them all!

    I disagree with Brian’s view that the Matt Smith era is the NuWho equivalent of the Colin Baker era. We’ve had many strong episodes over the last three years and I like how it’s being pitched in a darker tone. I re-watched the whole Matt Smith era in the week running up to Christmas Day, and found it very enjoyable. I do think the Moffat era is better on repeated viewing.

    • avatar Jim McLean says:

      I’ve watched it all the way through once, and cherry picked my way through a second and third time. I watched Day of the Doctor over twice and cherry picked a few times. I have to say I’ve rewatched the regeneration scene again and my reaction – this is after we recorded – isn’t quite as damning, but I still stand by the fact my initial reaction was disappointment with the post-regeneration scene.

      I think in fairness to Brian, his comparison was on the composite of the era than content; that he feels that Colin and Matt are brilliant Doctors, but trapped on ships that didn’t steer as well as the casting. I have to agree, personally speaking, there are so few episodes of the Moffat era I’d call classics. Hide, Vincent and the Doctor, Bells of St John, The Girl Who Waited and possibly Day of the Doctor are the only true gems for me. Colin had Terror of the Vervoids and Resurrection of the Daleks (and a shorter tenure). Not to say others weren’t enjoyable in Smith’s era (as Time and the Doctor proved) but few that I think really stand out as pretty damn perfect episodes. So much to me has felt unpolished, missing its potential, and for me personally, River Song really did destroy so many stories for me, she just didn’t work in any shape or form. But that’s me. Sadly, appreciate to a show’s “quality” often depends on how well the cast and script charms us, and that can be quite an individual as to the success.

      So yes, Moffat’s Smith era has been a disappointment for me, which is a shame as his stories in Davies era were some of the best Doctor Who I’ve seen. Blink was smart and a powerful new direction, Girl in the Fireplace was poignant and again quite bold and Empty Child was the first flag as to where Doctor Who could take us in the 21st Century.

  7. avatar skinnyblackcladdink says:

    my biggest issue with the Weaponized Regeneration bit is the morality of it. remember when Four & Nine were in that position? it’s particularly jarring after Eleven’s character arc in Series 7A, & especially after the very recent naively optimistic revisionism of the Day of the Doctor, in w/c an act of omnicide is transformed into a redemptive act – i mean, after the whole ‘no war in my name’ thing, _THAT’S_ Eleven’s ‘Final Solution’? Kill ‘Em All (directly by his hand, i should add)?

    (on a related point, while i’ve come to terms w/ The Day of the Doctor’s as i just put it ‘naively optimistic revisionism’ as maybe a restatement of the general moral optimism of the show, i really think the Doctors should at the very least have issued a warning to the Daleks – not telling them what they were about to do, of course, but at least given them the chance to stop (& so not destroy themselves – regardless of the potential paradox that would cause if they didn’t end up shooting themselves). isn’t that supposed to be the ethos of the Doctor? to at the very least give his enemies that choice?)

  8. avatar skinnyblackcladdink says:

    re: The Weeping Angels – i didn’t like them in this ep, how they were used apparently just to have them in there (on that note: the way the Drunk Giraffe was shoehorned in there), but i do hope they turn out to be Timelords who leaked through the Crack.

  9. avatar skinnyblackcladdink says:

    re: regenerations, i know this is never going to happen given the current status of the show, but when Capaldi regenerates, i don’t want it to be a telegraphed event. i want it to happen unexpectedly, organically to the ongoing narrative, not something that’s planned. i.e., i want the regeneration to be the result of the story going there rather than the story being written around a planned regeneration. again, i know: it’s never going to happen that way. but it would be nice if it could.

  10. avatar jbd86es@gmail.com says:

    I agree that one person should not control the entire direction of the show, especially for such long periods of time. Davies overstayed his welcome, making the show stagnant. Moffat is now doing the same. Both were great writers / producers initially, but they both over-utilized the same ideas over and over.

    It is time for Moffat to move on. Matt Smith deserved better. We need a new producer, and a new head writer. Whoever that is (even if he/she is great) should stay on for two years maximum. Keep the show fresh. The actors portraying the Doctor change, companions change – producers need to change.

    I urge others that feel the same to sign the petition to remove Moffat from the show.

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