Category: 50th Anniversary


Doctor Who has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  My dad recorded the classic Doctors when they aired on PBS and I was basically raised with Doctor Who as my main show.  With so much history doctor-who-rose-john-hurtsurrounding the show I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the “The Day of the Doctor.”  What I did know was the previews leading up to the event heavily focused on The Time War, which ever since the reboot in 2005 has only been talked about, and to a large extent has limited what could be done since Gallifrey was destroyed.  There also seemed to be a story involving the Zygons and a few different time periods.  All interesting and ambitious sounding stuff, but after series 7 and its questionable writing, I couldn’t get a feel for the episode prior to going into it.

SPOILER WARNING: FROM HERE ON THERE WILL BE SPOILERS ABOUT THE EPISODE

No matter, any concerns I had going in were soon thrown away.  To me, “The Day of the Doctor” further confirms how good Moffat is when he’s simply writing Doctor Who and not trying to be overly clever with his story arcs.  Perhaps the most concise story told in his time as lead writer, Moffat cleverly does what needed to be done since 2005: bring back Gallifrey.  The episode starts off simple, setting up John Hurt’s Doctor on Gallifrey on the last day of The Time War, which he then begins to end.  However, once he’s about to destroy Gallifrey and the war he is confronted by the living consciousness in the weapon to end the war.  It just so happens Billie Piper plays the device’s consciousness, which portrays itself as Rose (trust me, it does make sense, and is actually very clever).

So wait, if Rose isn’t really Rose then who is David Tennant’s Doctor with?  Well, nobody really, he is kind of hooking it up with Queen Elizabeth I, and kind of marries her.  Don’t worry, she fits into the Zygon sub-plot, which really isn’t anything amazing, but is well utilized.

day-of-the-doctorIn case anyone forgot, Matt Smith is still the main guy, and as such he and Clara (Jenna Coleman, apparently no longer going by Jenna-Louise Coleman) start the episode.  Apparently Clara is a school teacher now, which is appropriate for her natural ability of interacting with children.  Soon enough they get carried off to help UNIT with a case, because as the Doctor fills Clara in, he has in fact worked for UNIT (note, the Third Doctor).  I find it a little annoying they can now use the phone in the front of the TARDIS to call, but whatever, I guess it’s a thing now.  There are a bunch of paintings that contain a snapshot of time, and are 3D, so keep that in mind, cool things can be done with it.  Something has broken out of one of the paintings but nobody knows what, they just know it’s bad.  At this point a time portal opens up and after a series of events, all three Doctors come together.

From here on, Ten and Eleven are forced to face Hurt’s Doctor, which isn’t the easiest of things since he killed everyone on Gallifrey.  After a while it is established it had to be done and it was the only way, except it isn’t but it was (time travel, keep up).  Bring back the Zygon sub-plot.  As usual for any Classic-Who villain their main goal is to take over the planet they happen to be on.  While it sounds simple it is kind of cool.  The Zygons are already in the past (where the Tenth Doctor is hooking up with the Queen), but they are not ready to take over the planet just yet.  Instead, they use some cool alien tech and lock themselves in one of the 3D paintings, and guess what, in the future they break out of the paintings.  This leads to an ultimate face-off between Zygons and humans.  Except the Doctors come in and stop them from blowing up London.  The main point of all this is to show how Ten and Eleven have matured and have become the Doctor again by forcing both Zygons and humans to establish a peace treaty.

The specific events and moment were devised by the consciousness of the weapon on Gallifrey to show Hurt’s Doctor the men he would become (note, Hurt’s Doctor also learns of the pain his future would have to deal with each day).  But he knows the only thing to do is use the weapon.  Except it was the only thing to do (remember, time travel).

Without giving away the ins and outs (though I’ve given away a lot already), the three Doctors are on Gallifrey, about to blow it up, when Clara reasons with the Doctor not to do so and then they come up with a plan: freeze Gallifrey, much like the Zygons froze themselves in the paintings and using the same technology).  Lead way to the awesome finale.

The Doctors know this is a massive task, requiring years and years of precise calculation, so they enlist all of their regenerations to help out.  There are some cool sound clips and even a surprise appearance by Peter

They are in fact both reversing the polarity of the neutron flow.  Being smart doesn't equal having common sense.

They are in fact both reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. Being smart doesn’t equal having common sense.

Capaldi, or at least his eyes (kind of odd, but I guess they don’t have an outfit for him yet).  So it is, Gallifrey is maybe saved, the Doctors don’t know, but at least they tried something right rather than the easy, bad choice.  At this point I loved it.  It was grand and epic and provided a really nice insight into the mind of the Doctor.  Hurt’s Doctor was perfectly played, which I was a bit worried about since he was never on the show.  Tennant and Smith, well, when aren’t they a joy to watch?  Together they’re fantastic, with plenty of fun and clever lines.  Really, a spin-off should be made with the two of them traveling together.

Then, in the last five minutes I was overcome with complete joy.  My childhood came rushing back.  The reason I love Doctor Who appeared on television screens around the world.  Tom Baker, perhaps the greatest Doctor in all of the show’s 50 years, walked into the art museum (as the curator but also as the Doctor) to talk to the Eleventh Doctor.  This moment is incredibly special because it shows the respect Moffat has for the show and the respect he has for the fans.  More importantly, it shows how special the show is.  It doesn’t matter that he has aged, Tom Baker is still the Doctor.  His presence filled the entire room during the scene.  And what he said, oh my what he said.  It seems they really did save Gallifrey.  Now it has to be found again.  Something about this ending was just full of joy, as if the show has just been rebooted again.

The setup for series 8 is absolutely fantastic.  Imagine, finding Gallifrey for the finale or Romana coming back.  The possibilities are endless.

I don’t really do the whole grading thing, but if I were to grade this episode it really would be a 5/5.  Way to go Moffat, Smith, Tennant, Hurt, Coleman, Piper, and of course, Baker!

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It’s finally almost here, the Doctor Who 50th anniversary, “The Day of the Doctor.”  However, before we get there we get “The Night of the Doctor,” a prequel coming in at just under seven minutes.  Here we see Paul McGann come back as the eighth Doctor.  It’s nice to see him back, even if only for a very short amount of time.

Due to the short amount of time there will be some spoilers, so I advise watching the prequel at the bottom of the page then reading the review.

Though, it’s not all fun and games.  After pretty much being killed in the first four minutes he has to figure out how to come back.  No big deal when the Sisterhood of Karn are there to mix up a drink to allow him to

Hey, look who's back, and now without that ridiculous hair!

Hey, look who’s back, and now without that ridiculous hair!

regenerate.

This is where things get a bit tricky.  The Sisterhood seem to imply they are bringing him back from death.  He can’t regenerate, so whatever they give him may in fact grant him a new regeneration cycle.  I don’t know, that’s not very clear.  I believe it may be the case because the Doctor is told he can be a man or a woman, and while I can’t stand this whole thing about the show being sexist and all that, at least this would imply with each regeneration cycle they could change gender.  Still odd but at least it would kind of make sense, well not really, but whatever, they’ll probably eventually cave in and have a female Doctor.

So, the little episode does a good job of establishing John Hurt’s “War Doctor” (yeah, seriously, that’s the best they could come up with).  But the episode is simply too short to care about.  It’s made clear everyone knows about the Time War, but it’s never clear why they’re so against it.  Yes, as viewers we know the power and corruption that can come from time travel, but when a seemingly unimportant “red shirt” tries to convey the impact of the Time War it just comes off as severely rushed (also, when does the Time War become time locked, wasn’t that a thing at some point?).

I understand the point of this prequel and it makes sense while bringing in a nice throwback to the Sisterhood of Karn.  There’s a surprisingly dark tone, which for some reason unknown gets ruined with an overly happy tune when McGann sadly goes and turns into John Hurt (who, by the way, is shown as being a lot younger here than we’ve previously seen him).  If Hurt is a new regeneration cycle then it actually makes it interesting how the ninth Doctor still calls himself the ninth rather than the second.

This is not a bad prequel, just a rushed one, which has been the disappointingly common theme of Doctor Who since the end of series 6 and made even more prominent in the entirety of series 7.  Should you watch it?  Of course, especially if you’re a McGann fan, and in which case you’ll also want him to have more time as he has a few good lines thrown in.  However, with the ambition of the Time War and how it impacts those all over the universe, it is a shame it has been condensed into an episode shorter than a normal two part episode.  It’s clear they want this to be on a massive scale, which is awesome, but in that case they should have dedicated part two of series 7 as a giant setup for “The Day of the Doctor.”

So many questions and only a few days now until they’re hopefully all answered, I for one am excited the anniversary.

Here’s the prequel episode: