(Mild spoilers for both)
With all the celebrations of Doctor Who's 50th anniversary - and the media blitz surrounding November's Day of the Doctor, you might think that I'm a little burned out on Who....and actually, I am. So much so that I've been wallowing in pulp literature....but eager to watch the recent Christmas special, Time of the Doctor, which received numerous coverage as being "Matt Smith's swan song."
I will say this - the last 25 minutes are sheer heartbreak and drama, and are really gripping television. The sad thing is that you have to wade through the first 35 minutes. Time of the Doctor isn't that bad - it's just a little too mechanical. Choosing to "tie up" many long standing plot threads since The Eleventh Hour, Steven Moffatt's script comes off as more of a checklist of exposition, focusing on "oh, that's why that happened" style storytelling - so much so that when the last 25 minutes began, I felt an overwhelming urge to turn off the video.
I'm glad I didn't, because those 25 minutes provide the most heartfelt goodbye to a Doctor since The Parting of the Ways (for those of you who are classic fans, think Logopolis). Although it gets a bit over the top with a specific cameo....it never feels out of place, and dramatically appropriate. With Smith being the Doctor of choice for several new fans - despite the catch phrase nature of his Doctor - this is a sorely needed touch. At the end, we have the drama, and with Capaldi's first scene....well, it's going to be a heckuva long wait until August 2014.
Big Finish's 50th Anniversary story The Light At The End. I'm not really what you would call a Big Finish fan - mostly, I'm reeducating and relearning how to listen to audio dramas (having them on in the background while performing other tasks is never a good idea). But Nicholas Briggs (aka "The Voice of the Daleks") writes a really engaging story - one that uses all of the classic Doctors (including the first three with soundalikes of varying quality) in very clever and creative ways.
(Oh, and I loved the way he explains a slightly out-of-continuity Master portrayed by Geoffrey Beevers. I know I said "mild spoilers", but you really need to hear how that line is said with that delivery).
Given the presence of the remaining classic Doctors (including Tom Baker and Paul McGann, who really deserve all of the accolades they're receiving for their new series appearances), this is definitely a must-listen....but also a great reminder as to why Who endures - beneath it all, there's both a sense of intelligence and a strong sense of fun.
Which is what I hope Moffatt remembers when writing episodes for next year.