Mini TV Reviews – Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor and Homeland: Season 3

time of the doctor-homeland s3

So I hope everyone had a great Christmas and what better way to end 2013 with a review – two in one to be precise!

Now I’ve taken a good couple of days to think about these reviews and I’ve stayed as much as possible off forums/TV blogs site so I can form my own opinion without being swayed one way or another.  To be truthful – both shows left me with mixed feelings.  One show certainly has a bright future.  The other show will be charting into the unknown.

Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor saw the end of Matt Smith’s tenure as the Doctor.  The episode is also meant to serve as a wrap up of all the key elements from Smith’s Doctor such as the crack on the wall, the silence and the Daleks.  Moffat wastes no time exploiting Smith’s extremity of madness with the Doctor appearing bald and naked during the first 20mins before the episode got into the serious part – the Doctor facing the end.  I guess the reason why the episode was a mix bag for me is that it tried to do so much in an hour.  You have the silliness from the Doctor, then the side story of Clara cooking Christmas dinner for her family, going to church, the Doctor growing old plus tying up the loose threads etc that I felt it needed more time to breathe.  An extra half an hour, maybe a two-part episode would have been better.  It felt like a rush and for the first time, I was disappointed.

When I say this, this is no reflection on Matt Smith as an actor.  I think he has been outstanding as the Doctor and I will miss his clumsiness, the essence of an old man trapped in a young body, his way of words (timey-wimey), his childlike wonder, his Stan Laurel stature and his love of bowties and a fez.  But the stories he has been in have been a little inconsistent.  Despite the brilliance of characters such as Amy and Rory and the awesome River Song, it hasn’t helped that series 6 and 7 were split during its original transmission, which probably for me, I kept losing the natural momentum the series was building upon.  His best work has come under Mark Gatiss or Neil Gaiman – The Doctor’s Wife being my favourite.

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This Christmas episode was either what Moffat planned all along (which makes him a total genius) or put together quickly to give it some kind of justified purpose.  I leave that decision up to you but I have a feeling the true intention of this episode and the 50th anniversary episode (which I enjoyed immensely and reviewed) were to act as reset buttons to ensure Doctor Who lasts for another fifty years.  Moffat changes the rules and while there are still unanswered questions regarding the changes (e.g. did the Doctor really die on Trenzalore? and how many regenerations has he got now?), somehow I don’t think we will see the full effect of those decisions until series 8 starts with Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor.  All we can do it sit, wait and speculate.

But I tell you something that was good about Time of the Doctor is Smith’s regeneration.  I’m not going to lie – I did have tears in my eyes.  I thought it was emotional and lost it when Amy appeared for a surprise cameo.  It was straight to the point unlike Tennant’s regeneration, which was milked for all it’s worth (sorry guys – that is the truth).  We don’t really reflect on Smith’s regeneration’s too much.  As he unties his bow tie for the last time, within a blink of an eye, he’s gone. It’s the perfect way to handle the change and why I’m looking forward to Capaldi as the Doctor.  Not only because he is a massive fan but I think Moffat and co. will give him every opportunity to make sure he is as memorable as the other actors who have played the Doctor – and I’m sure he will be fantastic.  Showing the upcoming new series uninterrupted next year will be a massive big bonus.

As mentioned before, I will miss Matt Smith – an unknown who proved everyone wrong…and I wish him all the best.

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For Homeland it’s hard to know where this show will go.  Let’s address the elephant in the room (and apologies for any actual elephants in the room) – but for those who don’t know, Brody was killed off – death by public hanging in Iran.  Whilst the series finale was moving, at the same time it was expected – and no I won’t accept the ‘Javadi faked Brody’s death’ rumour.  Unless you are David Blaine/Dynamo I don’t see how anyone can fake a public hanging.  Brody is dead – get over it.  If the writers brought him back with some Houdini style trick it would make the show a joke.

The truth of the matter is that Brody had been living on borrowed time from the get go.  End of series 1, he should have died with the suicide vest.  End of series 2, he should have died in the car bomb attack at the CIA headquarters (or when Quinn could have assassinated him).  Series 3 – time just ran out and he realised that.  There was no way out.  He was a broken, empty shell of a man and simply didn’t want to live.  The mission he embarked on was always a one-way ticket.  He wasn’t going to be accepted back in the US after being branded a terrorist and despite enjoying some fame, he’s not welcomed in Tehran either after murdering Akbari.  Not even Carrie telling him that she was pregnant with his child was enough for him to give him hope and redemption – two things he desperately wanted.  I guess what troubles me about the finale of Homeland is that after Brody died, we time jump and everyone seemed to have moved on.  Maybe I was expecting one more Carrie outburst, or Carrie breaking protocol to tell the Brody family the truth about everything. Instead what we get is Carrie being promoted (whilst at the same time requesting a star on the memorial wall for Brody and having a brief panic about her baby), Saul is moving to New York, “I play on whatever side I feel like” Dar Ardal is still hanging around and Lockhart is now head of the CIA.  It felt like everyone got what they wanted.

Carrie and Brody’s relationship came to a natural end.  Any longer and I think it would be treading on fanfic territory!  I guess in my head I always knew that their relationship was always doomed from the start and as much as Carrie was fighting for Brody’s innocence in the third season, Carrie ultimately played her part in the Brody end game, something she will have to acknowledge with herself.  The novelty of whether Brody was a terrorist or not had worn off and Brody, for the latter part of his life was just a pawn in somebody’s game.  He was used no matter what he did, hence the inner confliction of going through the mire and the brilliant acting from Damien Lewis.

The fact that Brody was absent for majority of the series, I don’t think his death will come as a shock for some people (unless people were still hoping for one last miracle of escape). However, it was the way it was played out during the series which probably could have been better.  When Brody appears again, the CIA quickly got him off the drugs he was hooked on and then time passes to him training like a marine again taking on the mission.  I felt like they could have stretched it out a bit more over the series and not dedicate a couple of episodes to characters who are now there simply as time fillers – case example, Dana Brody.  Now in defence of Dana Brody, I admired her speech about her wanting to live after her suicide attempt and seeing how in disarray the Brody family was, but to have her go out on a two episode joyride with a boy clearly not right for her, you knew it wasn’t going to end well.  It was pointless.  But at least she had something!  At least she made a decision to separate away from the family and go on her own way.  The fact that Brody’s son, Chris hasn’t had anything meaningful to say or do for three seasons now is just plain criminal.  Give him something to do or write him out.

Claire Danes as Carrie once again excels and but the characters that showed great growth this series was Saul and Quinn, in particular Saul who showed he wasn’t a weak leader.

The ending felt so definite that in some ways it doesn’t make sense to come back for a fourth series.  If the show ended there, it had three good seasons with the first season excelling the most.  Losing a major character is not something to cry about (especially if you are a Walking Dead fan like me where a main cast member dies every week!) but Homeland will be entering new territory and I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.  I don’t want Homeland falling into the trap of outstaying its welcome.  Carrie will still be around which is a major plus in my book, but I guess when the new series rolls around, I’ll be watching with intrigued curiosity rather than excitement.

Author: Kelechi Ehenulo

Creator and writer of Confessions From A Geek Mind. Loves sci-fi and LEGO - couldn't ask for a better combo!

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