27th Dec2017

‘Doctor Who Xmas Special: Twice Upon a Time’ Review

by Paul Metcalf


The Christmas episode of Doctor Who is one that we look forward to every year, but many of them don’t live up to anticipation. Twice Upon a Time though comes with two Doctors, and a regeneration to the latest incarnation. With the end of Peter Capaldi’s reign as the Time Lord, does the episode end his time on a high?

Fighting his regeneration, The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) finds himself visited by a past version of himself, the very first Doctor (David Bradley). While discussing the strange meeting they are also joined by a Captain (Mark Gatiss) from World War 1 who should have died on the battlefield.

While Peter Capaldi is a very good Doctor, this episode is stolen by David Bradley in his excellent performance. Those of us who watched An Adventure in Space and Time will have already known how well he played the role of William Hartnell, but in Twice Upon a Time he just confirms what a good Doctor he is. I’m sure many want to see more of his adventures.

Twice Upon a Time is an episode about death. Be it The Doctors and their refusal to regenerate, the Captain who should have died on the battlefield, or the return of Pearl Mackie as Bill, there is no escaping the fact that they are facing or have faced the end of their lives. This is of course all about showing the Doctor that he has to move on, but whether he decides to end his regeneration and to finally die is about him.

What is nice about this episode of Doctor Who is that it is about hope. I won’t spoil the ending, but for an episode about death, it is typical of the Doctor that he manages to make everything work for the better. In a way this is what gives him the belief that regenerating isn’t a bad thing. Capaldi plays him as a man who is tired of the hurt he has been through, but in the episode, we also see the good that he has done. It is interesting though that we also see the evil, which is something that David Bradley’s Doctor isn’t too impressed with.

This is the interesting point of the Doctor though, he is always there for the bad as well as the good. To his enemies he is the great destroyer, but to those he saves he is almost God like. People may be annoyed with the fact that there is going to be a female Doctor now, but in truth, whatever shape or form the Doctor comes in, we need him just as we need super heroes. These characters create hope, and who better than a Doctor who time travels and fights to save the best in us?

There are many nice surprises in Twice Upon a Time, and I’ll leave you to discover them for yourself. What the episode proves though is that Doctor Who is still on top form, and will continue to be. Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor is a brave move in a time when the show is going through a big upheaval. I for one am looking forward to seeing what she brings to the role, and have a lot of faith that Chris Chibnall can provide us with the quality we expect.

Looking at Twice Upon a Time, I would say that this has been one of the best Doctor Who Christmas episodes so far. Seeing Pearl Mackie’s return was nice, Capaldi was as good as ever, but the episode was stolen by David Bradley. With a regeneration that was beautifully done, now we can look forward to seeing what the future holds for the show.

***** 5/5

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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