This instalment is a departure from the normal run, as David and I give our thoughts on the just released 50th Anniversary episode, Day of the Doctor. I haven’t written this as a regular Who Review as I didn’t want to write a full synopsis and spoil the story for everybody, so it’s mainly just a review.
The Day of the Doctor
23 November 2013 (1 Episode)
RICHO – The much-anticipated 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who has finally aired! After the incredible cliffhanger ending to May’s The Name of the Doctor, the wait for Day of the Doctor has been frustrating and expectations high. The recent web-episode The Night of the Doctor, which serves as a teaser and prologue for Day, just added to the anticipation.
DAVID – I agree. While not a huge fan of New-Who the Name of the Doctor was great and the webisode The Night of the Doctor was magnificent. Even the thought of watching Day of the Doctor at 6:50am Australian time didn’t lessen my excitement J
RICHO – I can honestly say that Day of the Doctor lives up to all expectations. This was exactly the kind of episode I was hoping for, both a celebration of the Doctor’s legacy and a continuation of the storylines and character development that have been building since the show’s relaunch in 2005.
DAVID – Although I agree that Day of the Doctor was a joy to watch, especially as a fan of old school Doctor Who, I wouldn’t say it was without flaws, but we’ll cover that later in the article.
RICHO – The central focus of the episode lies in the Doctor’s decision to destroy both the Time Lords and the Daleks during the Time War. In this regard, Day gives fans one of the things we’ve been clamoring for; details about the war itself and the actions the Doctor took to end it. More importantly, it shows us just how heavily his actions during the war have weighed on him. The Doctor has committed an act of genocide, something that he has been living with ever since. Day offers the Doctor some closure and a chance at redemption while establishing the future direction of the series and the character.
DAVID – The Time War. This momentous event have been a driving force of New-Who since it’s return to our screens, especially during the Christopher Eccleston iteration, and the chance to finally see the culmination of this is very satisfying.
RICHO – Of course, the highlight of any Doctor Who team-up is the interaction between the Doctors themselves, and David Tennant and Matt Smith don’t disappoint. Day is full of the quips, bickering, wittiness, jokes and brilliant collaboration that have become a hallmark of a Doctor pairing. Writer Stephen Moffet’s script is tight, combining the right element of humour, gravitas and occasional in-jokes and references for long-time fans, and each line is perfectly delivered by both Smith and Tennant. Their interaction with one another is fantastic.
DAVID – Totally agree. “We’re confusing the polarity” & “Mr Chinny, over ‘ere” were classic moments, and the screwdrivers lecture was pure classic Who.
RICHO – John Hurt’s brilliant casting as the ninth Doctor (or War Doctor as he’s credited as in Night of the Doctor) adds an unknown element to both the story and the interaction between the Doctors. He is the Doctor at the worst, most pivotal moment in the character’s history, the moment that changes his life forever. Hurt brings just the right level of sorrow and solemnness to the character, while still retaining the overriding qualities that we see across all iterations of the character; he is charming, stubborn, witty and incredibly intelligent. It’s a shame that this will probably be the only time we’ll see him as the Doctor as I love to see him reprise the role at some point.
Credit should also be given to Jenna Coleman as Clara, who manages to hold her own and play off against all three Doctors. She’s a strong companion who is given several key moments to shine.
DAVID – I agree that this is probably our last chance to see John Hurt play the Doctor on-screen, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of opportunity to see his adventures in comic form, or even audio.
RICHO – There are several nods to long-time fans, including Clara teaching at Coal Hill School, the school seen in An Unearthly Child, the very first episode of Doctor Who, and later she is seen studying a wall in U.N.I.T. HQ that shows all of the previous Who companions. Several iterations of the TARDIS are shown, including a brief nod to the classic spherical design walls. There is an instantly classic moment involving all 13 Doctors working together. And there’s also a cameo towards the end of the episode that brought a smile to my face. I won’t spoil it for anybody who hasn’t seen the episode but it’s a charming and memorable moment.
DAVID – The 13 Doctors moment is absolutely magnificent, and even surpasses the ‘Clara saving the Doctor’ sequence from the start of The Name of the Doctor. We defentiely shouldn’t spoil the end cameo, and I agree, it is pure awesome.
RICHO – Fortunately, Stephen Moffett doesn’t let the episode get bogged down in too much nostalgia. The Moffet-era scripts generally move at a breakneck pace punctuated by the occasional moments for reflection and Day of the Doctor is no different. The action serves the story and still manages to progress the character develop of both the Doctors and Clara.
If there is a weakness in this episode, it lies in the subplot involving the Zygons. There’s really not much to that storyline as it serves merely as a subplot for the more important story of the Time War and its ramifications on the Doctor. I’ve always been a fan of the Zygons and hopefully we’ll see more of them soon as I feel they deserve a better showing than they get here.
DAVID – Agreed. It was cool to see the Zygons, one of my favourite Who villains (they are so creepy), but there use here was actually kinda pointless. And there plan was ridiculous. I actually think most of the Ye Olde England scenes were a bit of a drag, but the third act was so awesome that it made up for it.
RICHO – Other than this minor quip, Day of the Doctor is a fantastic episode that pays homage to the incredible 50-year legacy of Doctor Who and sets the tone for the future. Credit to all involved for making the Doctor’s anniversary so memorable.