Doctor Who: Corey’s Reactions to “The Day of the Doctor”
Warning: Spoilers for the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special Below
“Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.”
Coming off a week long bender of binge watching Doctor Who, I was finally caught up with just a few short hours to spare before the 50th anniversary special began. My mind was a bit buzzing and numb from all the timey wimeys, paradoxes, and swimming in time streams. Having finally been “upgraded” enough to comment with the rest of the local Whovians here at Snippets, it was an absolute blast watching three Doctors go at it to save Earth and Gallifrey all in one go. Good thing they had more than one Doctor (and even thirteen by the end!) on deck to #savetheday.
You’ve probably already watched the special and have your own opinions but you’re here to see what I have to say! For me, the 50th anniversary made use of a LOT of characters and juggled them well. Matt Smith remained at the center of attention for the most part, at times serving as the unspecified leader of the three-Doctor troupe, which is only fair considering this is still his show. Seeing Smith tease, bicker, and laugh with David Tennant was an absolute delight. John Hurt ironically acted like the grumpy uncle (despite being the “youngest”), poking fun at how the other two brandished their sonic screwdrivers like “water pistols”. Ten and Eleven were simultaneously the more childish yet weathered as the Doctors who “regret” and “forget” respectively. The interplay and dynamic between the three of them reminds us now more than ever that the Doctor is a heavy-hearted character running from his own remorse via manic behavior. Being ageless is a heavy burden, but part of that weight has been lifted now that Gallifrey Falls No More.
Clara, who I initially thought would get left behind in the narrative to save space, was central to the way it all came together. To have her be the actual impetus behind the Doctors choosing to rewrite their own timeline was brilliant. Now that her Doctor-given title, The Impossible Girl, has been resolved, it’s an exciting time for her character to take on a whole new journey. After all, Amy’s story was at its best when she realized she couldn’t be the Girl Who Waited for forever. I have high hopes that Clara’s time with Capaldi will work in a father-daughter-esque dynamic that we haven’t seen before with the Doctor. What a perfect time it would be to reintroduce Jenny (the Doctor’s flash clone / daughter) as her competition! Going down that road could put Clara amongst the upper echelon of modern companions like Rose and Amy.
Speaking of Rose, Billie Piper‘s appearance as the Moment taking the form of the Bad Wolf was a great way to pull the story together and still pay fan service to a favorite companion, despite being a bit convoluted. You want to see the real Rose but you know it wouldn’t work in any practical story. I actually toyed with the idea at one point that the Tennant and Piper that we saw today were going to be Meta-Crisis Doctor and Rose from the parallel universe somehow, but it’s clear at this point that those two are left alone to their happy ending forever more.
Despite what was undeniably a stellar 50th anniversary special, I have my mild complaints.
Doctor Who specials have the tendency to get a bit campier than the typical episode – which is silly to begin with – and this was no different. The opening scene with Smith hanging from the TARDIS was a bit much (but I loved it anyway!) and there was a lot of fan service throughout that was perfectly integrated with the rest of the tale…up until the very end when we got a cameo from Scarf-Doctor sans scarf as the elderly museum curator. Who was he exactly? Was he sort of the Doctor but not the Doctor? If it had been more explained, I’d prefer it, and I doubt they’ll ever reference it again. But the fact remains that it felt like he was just sort of tossed in there for the heck of it.
My biggest gripe: from what we knew of the Time War previously based on Tennant’s rant in “The End of Time“, it was Hell for everyone involved. When Rassilon is brought back, the Doctor says the following to the Master:
“You weren’t there. In the final days of the war. You never saw what was born. But if the time lock’s broken then everything is coming through. Not just the Daleks, but the Skaro Degradations. The Horde of Travesties. The Nightmare Child. The Could-Have-Been King with his army of Meanwhiles and Neverweres. The war turned into hell! And that’s what you’ve opened. Right above the Earth. Hell is descending.”
In the big picture chronology, “The End of Time” happens immediately after the events of “Day of the Doctor” for Tennant’s Doctor. He put the War in the Time Lock not just because of the Daleks. He did it because these things were going to destroy the universe. Did the War Doctor spend the time between “The Night of the Doctor” and “The Day of the Doctor” combating all of these evils, waging the war over decades before deciding it was time to take things to the next level? Is that why he is so much older? Why was the severity of the war largely absent, in “The Day of the Doctor” leaving Gallifrey to be full of simple refugees being assaulted by Daleks? It seems like an oversimplification that let us forget how crazy things supposedly were. All of a sudden the Skaro Degradations don’t seem very important. Nobody cares about a King that Could-Have-Been. What makes he Time War so special and devastating are these shapeless, dark mysteries. They are best left unsolved, but should never be left forgotten. I didn’t see a Time War. I saw Daleks destroying a helpless planet of humanoid aliens. Where was Rassilon’s powerful empire? Where was the power of the Time Lords?
PS. What happened to the bit with the Zygons? The closest thing we get to a resolution is the friendly sharing of an asthma pump between human and doppelgänger. Hmmm.
Favorite quote out of the whole thing:
“Lock me in the Tower of London with my co-conspirators: Sandshoes and Grandad!”