The Day of The Doctor reignites time and relative dimensions in space
The Day of The Doctor, and the shorts The Night of The Doctor, and The Last Day wind so many loose ends into wibbly wobbly timey wimey balls it turns into a cup-o-soup (just add time).
If any of you reading this, have read anything I have written about this show, I would hope you understand that it has had a profound impact on my life. This show is, silly as it sounds, important to me. I am so very happy right now. Happy with what this special did it will be extraordinarily difficult to be the slightest bit objective. Therefore, I do not think I will try. This is not for general consumption. This 50th anniversary special is made by and for the fans of The Doctor, the show’s companions. It answered questions in a way only this show could, ridiculously, and brilliantly.
I’ll make you all a deal. I will watch this once again, maybe twice, and once more in a nice big theater, and I will collect myself. When I do, and I can string a few silly words into a sentence that makes sense of this spectacle, I will update this. There will be a big shiny review, just down there (I’m pointing at the screen, if that is any indication of my state of mind).
*Spoiler warning. I can not keep this spoiler free, I tried, but it simply isn’t possible to discuss this episode without spoilers. If you have not seen it, and are looking for assurances that it is worth viewing, or purchase, be assured that it is. Now stop reading.*
The Day of The Doctor recounts the last day of the Time War and the fall of Gallifrey. The Doctor (John Hurt) has decided to end the war to save the universe. With a cry of ‘no more’ he steals the last weapon in the Time Lord’s vault of forbidden weapons. The ultimate weapon simply called “The Moment” is a weapon that has a consciousness, and a conscience. This consciousness has taken the form of Bad Wolf, from The Doctors past, or future, it cannot seem confuse those. She decides that The Doctor’s punishment for using the weapon would be life. He would have to live with his regret. To help him make his decision she opens two windows in time to his future selves, so he can see the man he will become.
Meanwhile, the Tenth and Eleventh doctors (David Tennant and Matt Smith) are wrapped up in stopping an invasion of Zygons. Ten is working to save Queen Elizabeth the first from a Zygon imposter, while Eleven is called into Unit to address a summons from Queen Elizabeth the first. It was during these events in Ten and Eleven’s timelines that Bad Wolf opened a window in time, which Eleven leapt through to meet Ten and they both then met The Warrior Doctor, at which point they all were ensnared in the Zygon plot to conquer the earth. If you have seen this episode, you know what happens and we can just wink and nod knowingly, or flap our hands in an overly excited manner. If you have not seen it, don’t worry about the Zygons, they are fun, but not really why we are here. Well they are why we are here, but they are not the primary focus. It takes Clara to point that out to Ten and Eleven in the end.
The Zygons were nice to see, a fun old monster that never really took hold but has deep roots in the series. It was a similar resurrection to what we saw in Cold War when the Ice Warriors were brought back. The difference is the Zygons were an effective villain, but the threat in the end was sufficiently neutralized that as a monster with a chance of a repeat performance they were effectively neutered. That is really a shame because their renaissance was very well done. I hope that there will be some jiggery pokery and they will make a return.
Zygons aside I would have preferred for this special to be less a collection of inside references, and clever quips and more focused on the Time War. I understand the story itself it about the decision The Doctor has to make, not the events of the war, or even the events around the Zygon invasion. I feel like that primary focus was lost at times in order to be clever and amusing. While I absolutely and wholeheartedly loved every moment, I understand I was being pandered. In the moment, I lost my head. They passed off a story with minimal development and I didn’t even notice when they played the time game in the end. I did not notice because I was in full fan-boy frenzy. It’s only after the fact that I can look back and see what they pulled on us. The end of the story is barely satisfactory. The only satisfaction is, knowing that it will continue to develop and torment us and remind us that continuity when dealing with time travelers is a moving target. I won’t sweat the small stuff.
We all know David Tennant is a brilliant doctor, and Matt Smith has brought the character to life like none before him. Spending much time praising their performances would really be the equivalent of reversing an already reversed polarity. Instead I will spend some time talking about how marvelous newcomer John Hurt was. Not that we should be in any way surprised, it’s John Hurt, the surprise is how much I loved his character. He was gruff, war-hardened, and weary. He existed for a single purpose, and every action he took was with this goal in mind. His amusement at his future selves was the same amusement I felt when I first saw them. When he ridiculed their use of the sonic screwdriver as a weapon, I nearly choked laughing. Hurt will be the loveable curmudgeon Doctor, I hope he makes a return in future episodes, but I won’t hold my breath. As far as we know he only existed in the Time War, and I doubt we will see or hear much more of that.
The other notable performance was from Billie Piper. She did not quite revise her role of Rose/Bad Wolf, which is a good thing. I don’t have a problem with that character, but I do not think she would add anything to the story. Her portrayal of The Moment’s Conscience portraying Rose Tyler as Bad Wolf was exactly what the story needed to keep things moving forward. It was a fun caricature of her past character playing Jiminy Cricket and Ghost of Christmas future. Yes, it was as awesome as I just made it sound.
The fan in me, the one with a giant TARDIS tattoo on my leg, gives this 13 out of 13 Doctors. It made me very happy. The critic in me, the one that likes to poke good things with a stick, can only give this 10 out of 13 Doctors. There was too much meta for the sake of being meta. I think most outsiders could very well enjoy this episode, as long as no one points out how many jokes and references they are missing.