The Day of The DoctorBookmark and Share

Thursday, 19 December 2013 - Reviewed by Dan Armitage

When I first started watching this little series at the age of seven and at the time, I was somewhat ambivalent. I suppose one would compare it to a child with a plate of untried vegetables in front of him, whom only wants desserts. You see, I was born during the hiatus. In fact, I was born right at the very beginning of the hiatus. So I missed out on watching anything from the first seven Doctors on original airing. It was only when my granddad took me to the local library and hired “The Five Doctors” that I got around to watching the series. I wanted another adventure with Laurel and Hardy – not some silly sci-fi show. And you know what; that little pepperpot (yes, I saw it as a pepperpot even then) racing through a maze of mirrors, is what brings me here today.

After spending nearly a quarter of a century catching up on fifty year’s worth of Doctor Who, I was ready to tackle the anniversary special. My wife and I had spent the past couple of years bringing our newbie friend up to date and here we were, sat in a cinema, 3D glasses on, ready to see the return of the Tenth Doctor.

With six months of speculation – the special didn’t let up. Opening up in wonderful monochrome, I think I might have had goosebumps all the way through the special. I think I must have turned to my wife over half a dozen times to whisper little things to her.

It is very difficult for me, however, because I could literally discuss in detail, every scene from the special. However, I’d much rather discuss the general spirit of the story and the general implications of the ending.

With returning elements including the Tenth Doctor, the Zygons, the Daleks, Kate Stewart, Billie Piper and the Time War – some potential viewers could be forgiven for thinking the special would fall apart under the weight of its individual elements. Far from it however, The Day of the Doctor felt like the culmination of fifty years build up. By excluding the various other Doctors from the special, Moffat allowed himself the opportunity for the two past returning Doctors to dominate, their interactions providing ample opportunity for comic interludes.

I doubt too many fans saw it coming however, when John Hurt proved to me the most amusing factor in the special, his gruff character spouting lines such as “What are you going to do, assemble a cabinet at them?” and “Oh, for God’s sake. Gallifrey stands!” The only unfortunate point being that it is unlikely we will ever see Hurt reprise the role – unless Big Finish acquire the much coveted license to produce NuWho material.

Which I suppose brings me to my next point; with the most recent two episodes being so ensconced in the classic series – is there a noticeable gap between the two sets of shows. With the recent McGann regeneration in The Night of the Doctor tying in well with the John Hurt regeneration in The Day of the Doctor; along with the many past Doctor cameos in the past two episodes, for the first time the two individual series seem to exist completely as one. Past occasions including the return of Sarah Jane Smith in School Reunion and the return of Peter Davison in Time Crash have felt like “one offs”, but to have all eleven (sorry all twelve) Doctors stood looking up at Gallifrey – I can’t help but feel that the fifty years of Doctor Who are now intrinsically bound together as one.

Which brings me to the ending. Receiving a very cryptic message from The Curator (and I’m not even going to get into how I felt seeing him!), the Doctor begins his search for Gallifrey. Now I know that when he does eventually find his home planet – he won’t even sit down for a cup of English tea before running off again and yet still, I hope that the series uses this new concept as the underlay for the next fifty years rather than confronting it directly as a new story arc – in the vein of Bad Wolf, Torchwood, and the Impossible Girl.

Did Moffat manage to encapsulate fifty (although a certain cameo may suggest 51 might be a more accurate number) years of history into one episode? Yes. And all due credit to the man. It was fun and it was heart-breaking. It was fact paced yet it had a sombre tone throughout. In my eyes, Doctor Who was truly never risen higher. Bring on the Time of the Doctor – I know that everyone in my house simply can’t wait!