Warning: Contains Spoilers!
Last week the epic 50th anniversary special broke the simulcast world record, with it being broadcasted in a total of 94 countries in 6 continents, simultaneously it was shown in over 1500 cinemas worldwide. I’m a huge fan of Doctor Who since I discovered it with the relaunched series in 2005. Of course the entire show was first created in 1963, over 50 years ago. I’ve watched bits and pieces of the classic Doctor Who series and despite less impressive special effects and somewhat underwhelming costumes and “monsters”, I was still impressed by the fact that the overall “feel” of the show was exactly the same.
The Day of the Doctor was a very special episode indeed. The episode is set in the present day on Earth (2013) with the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith), Earth in 1562 with the 10th Doctor (David Tennant), and various places on Gallifrey during the time war including Arcadia and The Citadel, and an unknown building / planet where John Hurt’s character the War Doctor or what is / was the true 9th Doctor is hiding in.
I thought the storyline was truly amazing, with us pretty much instantly being plunged into the action. It didn’t take long either to start thinking of what certain things at the start of the episode meant, like the painting of Arcadia titled No More / Gallifrey Falls, which was repeated several times throughout the episode like a mini story arc. Being a hardcore whovian, I have wanted to see this illusive time war on screen since the series relaunched in 2005. It’s always interesting learning more about the even more illusive Time Lords too, who even in the classic series were really not in it that much (with the likes of “Trial of a Time Lord” being an exception). The Gallifreyan weapon known as “The Moment” or “The Galaxy Eater” was also an interesting piece of Time Lord tech (first mentioned of in the 2009 episode The End of Time Part 2) and answered the question as to exactly just how the Doctor did it.
Also a bit off topic of The Day of the Doctor . There was a mini episode on the BBC website a few days before the episode aired called “The Night of the Doctor” which is still currently available to watch here. The mini episode also gave further explanation as to how the War Doctor came into being and how the 8th Doctor (Paul McGann) acted throughout the Time War. So this mini episode coupled with The Day of the Doctor really did bridge the gap between the 9th Doctor we know (Christopher Eccleston) and the 8th Doctor.
The Zygons were a good choice of monster for the 50th Anniversary Special and added a bit of classic Doctor Who monster action to the episode. They were also clever plot devices as they had the ability to shape shift so you sometimes didn’t definitely know if certain characters were indeed who they seemed to be.
The humor throughout the episode was fantastic! (in the words of the 9th doctor) The constant banter between the three Doctors (that’s the 11th Doctor, Sandshoes and Grandad) when they were all on screen was simply hilarious. The fez made an appearance again and the 10th Doctor also breifly got to wear it this time. It was great seeing the 10th Doctor again too (my favourite Doctor) seeing as David Tennant hasn’t changed at all since leaving Doctor Who, when watching it, it was like he had never left, although his iconic wild hairstyle could have been a little more wild. John Hurt was a great choice for the War Doctor, he’s one of those guys who sound inherently wise. He looked the part too, dressed in a worn leather jacket and semi-8th doctor style garments he really looked like he’d been through a war, but still looked like he was somewhat a continuation of the 8th Doctor. Even down to the sonic screwdriver which looked like a hybrid of the classic sonic and the 10th / 9th Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. The War Doctor’s TARDIS was also interesting being a hybrid of the classic series TARDIS with the iconic “round things” (of which the Doctor’s do not know what they are or what function they serve) and the 9th / 10th Doctor’s “grunge phase” TARDIS interior, although the 10th Doctor had acknowledged that he did not like the newly redecorated TARDIS interior. The exterior of the war Doctor’s TARDIS was effectively the same as the 9th / 10th Doctor’s TARDIS but was riddled with all kinds of battle scars and burns.
Interestingly Billie Piper didn’t play Rose directly in The Day of the Doctor. She did a great job of playing the interface of the Time Lord weapon “The Moment” which was using a face the Doctor liked, but seeing as it’s a sentient Time Lord invention it got it a little wrong and used a face from the Doctor’s future instead. The face the Moment chose also happened to be of Rose when she was the Bad Wolf, further adding a more alien and a more powerful element to the Time Lord’s most dangerous weapon.
Further light was also given to the mystery of why The Doctor was the sworn enemy of Queen Elizabeth I. Queen Elizabeth I was a great character but unfortunately didn’t have more of a part to play beyond the first part of the episode. Jemma Redgrave was also back in Doctor Who playing the head of UNIT.
The episode also had an unexpected turn towards the climax of the episode. As we were all getting sad at the prospect of all three Doctors having to destroy Gallifrey (again) Clara managed to change the 11th Doctor’s mind and with the help of all the other 12 Doctors, Gallifrey was saved and the Daleks shot themselves to bits. They made it seem as if Gallifrey had dissapeared by hiding it in a “pocket” of time. Oh the joy from my inner geek seeing 13 TARDISes flying towards Gallifrey and John Hurt subsequently shouting “Gallifrey Stands”. We also managed to get a quick glimpse of the 12th (technically 13th Doctor) Peter Capaldi.
After all of the flying aroung in TARDISes the 3 Doctors finally have a chance to have a cup of tea and a chat. The War Doctor goes away and subsequently regenerates, and the 10th Doctor then departs for a second time. Both Doctor’s won’t remember what they just did so to them Gallifrey is still destroyed / time locked (poor Mr Who). There was also one last surprise which was the unexpected appearance of Tom Baker (4th Doctor) as “The Curator” his role was unclear but many whovians (including me) are wondering if it has something to do with the UNIT worker Osgood with the 4th Doctor’s scarf throughout the episode. The Curator tells the 11th Doctor of the true meaning of the No More / Gallifrey Falls painting, indicating that it’s true title is “Gallifrey Falls No More” meaning that the Doctor’s plan to save his planet had indeed been successful.
The episode ended with all 12 Doctors together looking up at a large burnt orange planet (perhaps Gallifrey) with the 11th Doctor stating that his next adventure is to find his home (implying that Gallifrey is hidden somewhere in the Doctor Who universe). I believe this will be Steven Moffat’s plan to bring back the Time Lords to grant the Doctor more regenerations, afterall it would seem that currently Peter Capaldi is the last regeneration (12 regenerations for a total of 13 total Time Lord incarnations)
Overall I thought the episode was brilliant and very fitting for the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who and I’d hope that this great show continues for more many more years to come.