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Doctor Who Review

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  • Episode: Day of the Doctor (Anniversary Special)
  • Starring: Matt Smith, David Tennant, John Hurt, Billie Piper, Jenna Coleman, Tom Baker, Jemma Redgrave, Ingrid Oliver
  • Written By: Steven Moffat
  • Directed By: Nick Hurran
  • Network: BBC, BBC America
  • Studio: BBC
  • Series:

Doctor Who: Day of the Doctor Review

The BIG 50th Anniversary Special

By Kimberly McCall     November 25, 2013

The Big 50th Anniversary Special
I have decided I am way too much of a fan to properly review Doctor Who. I love every episode because, to me, I am seeing another true piece of a giant story I've been watching and loving since I was a little girl. It is for this reason that I have to actually search for technical things to criticize for your reading and fellow criticizing pleasure. I'd appreciate you, Maniacs, keeping that in mind as you read the following.  

In watching the long anticipated "Day of the Doctor", it is almost impossible to put into words all the different things it does to the head of a fan. First, let's get the obvious focal point out of the way.

Yes, John Hurt makes another, longer appearance as the...wait...what official number Doctor is he now? Anyway, the immeasurably talented actor opens a vastly important door into the world of Gallifrey and what happened to its people in the war.  The only thing that we, the audience, really knew about Time Lords is that the Doctor is (now) the only one left. 

We know that the Doctor has seen the ins and outs of the universe and its inhabitants. We know that he has, somehow, lost his home and his kind. We also know that, despite his lighthearted nature, he has suffered greatly. John Hurt brings a face to the “warrior” side of the Doctor that has dealt with that massive loss and pain. He is the Doctor who has burdened his future selves with the agony and regret we often forget he has. Hurt's time traveling trials are a welcome and fascinating addition to the story and a window into an alien race we, as Whovians, know so little about.

On the other side of things, going back to the old, it is lovely to see the Zygons return. Though not exactly the Doctor's greatest foe, it is nice to see them paid proper tribute with updated makeup that remains true to the original monsters. Fast camera cuts keep them from looking too ridiculous, and their whispering threats are as menacing as ever. There is plenty of “exterminating” action as well, including some geek satisfying combat with Matt Smith, David Tennant, John Hurt, and Daleks.

The three Doctors worked wonderfully off each other (something fans were worried about) as they strive to save both Gallifrey and the rest of the universe. With the help of  every regeneration (including a triumphant, but brief appearance by Peter Capaldi), the Doctor Who universe is given an explosion of much needed hope.  I suppose the same can be said for fans. For no matter how well we all think we know the stories of our beloved characters, there are scores of boundless adventures yet to be discovered. 

Oh, and Tom Baker might just have stolen the whole episode in only a brief moment of screen time, though I wish it was he who was wearing the scarf.


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mjc519 11/25/2013 12:29:56 AM

Such a fantastic episode.  Left me wanting more.    Seeing Tom Baker made me feel like a kid again, back watching on my local PBS after Saturday morning cartoons.

klaatu1701 11/25/2013 12:55:53 AM

Quite brilliant. Watched it 50 years to the day I first saw the Doc. Who would have guessed that it would have lasted this long. Stephen Moffet did a most excellent job in writing such a fun tribute to the history of this iconic tv series.

samson 11/25/2013 2:55:16 AM

 I've only just gotten into Dr. Who with the Matt Smith run. So, I don't know all the ins and outs of the character's adventures. That being said, I loved this episode. Great piece of science fiction television. Kind of reminded me of something I would have seen on Star Trek: TNG. 

This was just a great episode. Very well done.

SmokingFrog77 11/25/2013 4:17:02 AM

When I was a boy I had heroes, as most boys do. Superman and Optimus Prime were the indefatigueable defenders of Earth, bringing justice to badguys week after week on Transformers and Superfriends, and they both still hold important places in my nerdy heart. But there was also another hero, one who used his brain, one who had extraordinary and mysterious knowledge, one who always tried to make the right decision but who struggled with the moral greys that never bothered four-colour heroes. That man was Dr Who, and while as a child I loved John Pertwee's Batmanesque Dandy-fashioned Third Doctor, it was the Fourth - Tom Baker - who gave more gravitas, mystery, authority and reality to the Doctor than any actor before or since (although Sylvester McCoy came close). Seeing Tom Baker last night, just hearing his first line without even seeing his face, made my breath catch, my heart seem to stop and my eyes water. The greatest hero a boy could have, there again, as the Doctor. Truly a living legend and national treasure. I'm remembering Merlin's line to Arthur at the end of "Excalibur" - "You brought me back, your love brought me back". Thankyou Mr Moffat. This was only about the third "New Who" episode I have watched, but it was fantastic, and having John Hurt (probably the greatest living actor on the planet) as the Doctor was revelatory.

Tom Baker came back! He came back!!!!

Iridan 11/25/2013 5:02:13 AM

Personally, I was under whelmed, no that it was bad. I don't know, there is just something about Moffat's writing that doesn't catch with me. Plus I didn't really care for the change now in what happened to Gallifrey. I have watch Tennant's last episode in a while, but isn't this contrary to that continuity?

karas1 11/25/2013 6:14:58 AM

I wasn't impressed. 

Some of it was good.  I really liked the interaction between Matt Smith and David Tennant.  That was highly entertaining.  I liked the reappearance of the Zygons.  They were a fun classic who villian and deserved to be included in a new adventure.

I didn't like the creation of this War Doctor.  McGann's 8th Doctor should have regenerated into Eccleston's 9th Doctor as a result of injuries sustained in the Time War.  I realize that Eccleston's being a jerk and would never agree to do the episode but the creation of another incarnation was the wrong way to go.  If nothing else, it throws the count off.  And to be honest, I didn't care about this new incarnation I just met or how long he agonized over his decision (there was a point I actually shouted at the screen "stop TALKING and PUSH THE DAMN BUTTON.").  The episode shouldn't have been about him.  It should have been about the 10th and 11th Doctors we were familliar with.

I didn't like that the Doctor's genocide has been retconned away.  The whole emotional underpinning of the New Who is the emotional backlash, the guilt and grief that the Doctor felt for making that decision.  It was necessary and he'd do it again but he wallowed in his guilt and it was the basis for most of the decisiions he made.  Now all that pain was for nothing.  He DIDN'T kill all the Time Lords and he's not the last one left.  And he's not this bad guy who did bad things anymore.  He's now this clever guy who was able to solve the problem without any downside.  Yay for him.

And some parts were just plain embarassing.  All the incarnations uniting to destroy the Daleks felt like something from a bad fanfic.  And Queen Elizabeth throwing herself at Tennant's Doctor was cringeworthy.  I gritted my teeth every time she did it.

Also, what was Billie Piper doing there?  If Rose was going to be in the episode she should have been in it as the Doctor's companion.  She should have been hanging out with the Doctor and Elizabeth at the picnic.  Having her as a disembodied presence who was acting as companion to a Doctor who hadn't met her yet was just wierd.

I wouldn't have given it an A pluss.  I'd give it a C minus at most.

monkeyfoot 11/25/2013 6:36:52 AM

I enjoyed it but like Karas I also didn't think it was the greatest episode ever. I'm nowhere near as down on it as she is but for me that Eccleston wasn't in it really threw it off. The way the story was structured, it was the last 3 incarnations of the Doctor having to reconcile with what the War Doctor did. Having him not there felt awkward. They almost acted like he never existed. I know, I know it wasn't going to happened but no matter how they tried to write around it it still felt like a hole was there for me.

I didn't find Hurt's Doctor at all very interesting. Maybe it was the way it was written but I could imagine Ian McKellan or Patrick Stewart doing those same lines and it sounding great.

Despite all that I did enjoy it and I personally liked that as the Docotr has nearly always done for everyone else he's helped, he came up with an ingenious solution to help himself save the day for his own people.



No matter what I always love Doctor Who.

karas1 11/25/2013 7:01:23 AM

Instead of John Hurt they should have hired McGann.  They got him back for that webisode so he was available and amenable to playing the Doctor again.

monkeyfoot 11/25/2013 7:50:28 AM

Karas, that would have been fantastic! I know there is a campaign to get him to play the Doctor some more, either in some specials or movies or a web series.

Iridan 11/25/2013 11:13:56 AM

karas, I totally agree. You summed it up far better than I did.

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