Liam’s Reactions to “The Day of the Doctor”
The Day of the Doctor appropriately celebrates 50 years of collected history while looking to the future, and it looks bright. My immediate reaction to the special episode is best summed up with one word:
Since I am one of the last of the Snippets staff to contribute my thoughts to this massive article I’m going to avoid covering the same ground, for my comrades handled that with aplomb.
What I will say is that The Day of the Doctor is now my personal favorite episode of Doctor Who ever. It was a superb concoction of wit and clever plotting that was driven by character. Seeing Matt Smith and David Tennant verbally spar-compliment-tease with each other was simply joyous. The use of Billie Piper as an echo of Bad Wolf was inspired and the best way to bring her back. However it was John Hurt who tied the whole thing together. He was stupendous as The War Doctor, bringing battle worn weariness to the role, while still being able to inject the youth and spunk that is necessary to play The Doctor. I was anxious to see three Doctors compete for screen time. My worries were unfounded. Paired with show runner Steven Moffat‘s exceptionally clever script, each Doctor was given his due. This is absolutely hyperbolic, but I would go as far to say that John Hurt’s arc in the episode is beautiful.
The Day of the Doctor is a masterclass of what is possible in the world of Doctor Who, which is to say: pretty much anything. Moffat introduces a slew of new concepts (stasis cubes, time locked paintings, and generational programming within sonic screwdrivers, to name a few) in a non-linear fashion that seamlessly cohere together into a very classic Who-esque finale. The Doctor, all of him, all thirteen of him (surprise pre-cameo from future Doctor Peter Capaldi!!!) build a big blue button that saves the day. Perfect. Silly. Simple. So Doctor Who.
What I found most fascinating about this special episode, and perhaps this past season, is how Moffat is handling the character of The Doctor. For as long as I’ve known him The Doctor has been a constant. Immutable, stoic, and noble. It is his companions who are transformed by the adventures we pay witness to. It is Rose, Mickey, Martha, Donna, Amy & Rory who grow and exhibit character development. Simply put The Doctor makes them better, stronger, and braver than they ever dreamed they could be. With the companion of Clara Oswald, it seems, Moffat is turning this dynamic on its head. Through Clara The Doctor has been changing. It is Clara who is helping him become his best self again after the devastating loss of Amy and Rory. She is helping him reclaim the title of Doctor, to make it mean ‘healer’ again (not ‘great warrior’ as the people of the Gamma Forests would have you believe). The Day of the Doctor is perhaps the culmination of this arc, for it is Clara who convinces Eleven, Ten, and the War Doctor to adhere to the promise they made a thousand years ago.
Never cruel or cowardly. Never give up. Never give in.
The Day of the Doctor dramatically changes the landscape of modern Doctor Who. For perhaps the first time ever in the revived series The Doctor has a clearly defined objective: Find Gallifrey. Go Home.
While Eleven may never make it, Twelve will bring us back to Gallifrey, and I am excited.