Back From the Dead

It’s been a vernal Christmas here in telly-land, what with the appearance of an allegedly dead Sherlock Holmes and a regenerated Doctor.

First, the BBC aired a seven-minute Sherlock special that takes place between season 2 and 3. Don’t worry if you’re avoiding the spoilers and trailers of season 3: The most you’ll get out of this little clip is the uncut reel of Sherlock’s birthday message for Watson. The BCC was kind enough to post the mini-sode on their YouTube channel, since PBS decided not to run it here in the States.

Until the unlaced bowtie crumples to the floor of the TARDIS, you almost don’t believe that the era of Matt Smith is over. BBC America’s Farwell to Matt Smith special this Christmas did little to garner sentiments about Smith’s departure (presumably because much of the material had been shot out of context long ago). The special does peak when Smith recounts to Tennant when he met The Nerdist‘s Chris Hardwick for the first time: on the floor of ComicCon, Hardwick dressed as Tennant.

The Christmas episode of Doctor Who, “The Time of the Doctor,” does more to honor Smith’s three-year history with the show by homaging his very first, rooftop speech and concluding Eleven’s run with a bowl of fish fingers and custard. We even get a callback to Nine’s departure, when he sent Rose back home in the TARDIS so he could die alone.

If you can look beyond the usual flaws of the Christmas episodes–complicated plots made more confusing by abridging to make room for American commercials, too many bad guys, and a companion that brings little to the table beyond a barely cooked Christmas turkey–you have to give it credit for quickly tying up all the loose ends left dangling in the Moffatt era: the reason his TARDIS blew up and caused the split in the fabric of space-time in his first season, explaining away the 12 regenerations rule to shut up the die hards, overtly asking the first question (doctor who?), not to mention leaving the door open for the return of the Timelords, including the Master.

Every regeneration is unique, and Smith’s is explosive, the most dramatic one we’ve seen, blowing timey-wimey light sky-high, but then lingering in his Eleventh body for a while before clicking over to Peter Capaldi with no “goodbye” or “here I go,” just a startling jolt into an angry-looking Twelve who, in a long line of new body parts–ears, teeth, legs–is most surprised at the newness of his kidneys. Classically, kidneys symbolize both wisdom and a filtering of emotion, so perhaps a new brand of cleverness is on its way in.

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