Day of the Doctor was the feature length fiftieth anniversary episode of Doctor Who. I have to say that I really, really enjoyed it. I wouldn’t say that it was a television masterpiece, but I really enjoyed and it and watching it at the cinema with hundreds of other like minded people was a real treat as well. A few people even dressed up and there were Eleventh Doctor’s as far as the eye could see! There was even one lad dressed up as a Dalek!
In fact it didn’t feel like an episode of a television series at all, it felt like a proper feature film, and it definitely lacked something when I watched on the small screen the following day, especially the scenes set during the time war itself, which were very epic, and just didn’t really work on the small screen in the same way.
I thought that it was a really nice, and very apt and fitting, way to start the episode with the original title sequence, and then a scene quite similar to the opening of the very first episode with the police man and a sign saying I.M. Foreman scrap merchants, which was also a very nice touch by Moffatt.
I did, at first, think why is the junkyard right next to the school? But, when I thought about it again, what we actually saw was a sign pointing towards the junkyard. It does beg the question why on earth did Ian and Barbara need to drive to the junkyard in question when it obviously isn’t that far? Perhaps Ian was just a bit lazy, or wanted to get Barbara in his car for other reasons!
It also seemed that Ian was now the chair of governors at Coal Hill School, which was also a nice touch, as it would have been a bit odd to have a headmaster who was in his nineties. Clara also seems to have a job as a teacher at Coal Hill School as well in this episode which was never explained in this episode and was just probably a general nod towards the companions in the first episode as it was never specified why she was there, but then again am I over thinking things, and it doesn’t really matter, probably. Going off on another tangent I like to think that the teacher (well I assume he is a teacher as he is very young) who comes in see Clara at the end of the class might be Ian and Barbara’s grandson.
I don’t know why they didn’t go the whole hog and have the TARDIS parked in I.M. Foreman’s junkyard as it was obviously still there, unless the local council had forgotten to remove the sign pointing towards the junkyard.
The subplot involving the Zygons was pretty good as far as it went, and I felt that they were a lot more spooky and menacing than they seemed to be from Terror of the Zygons in this episode, although that might be more to do with the camera angles employed by the director of the episode and the slightly better design than the originals.
It also sort of petered out by the end and it just seemed to be left after the Zygons and the humans had actually talked to each other but, perhaps it will be addressed in another episode about what actually happened after the events in the episode, as that plot thread did end rather abruptly.
The main thread of the plot was the fact that there is now an incarnation of the Doctor that he doesn’t ever talk about and has never been mentioned before and, best of all, looks exactly like John Hurt. Now The Name of the Doctor left us with the Doctor rescuing Clara from somewhere within his own timeline which was never really explained and then all of a sudden the pair of them are back in our own universe and we don’t get to find out how they got out but suffice to say that they did.
Is it important? Not really, but it would have been nice to know how they did get out or maybe the Doctor just popped in and out and all that was just to introduce this new incarnation of the Doctor, who isn’t referred to as the Doctor, but probably is a Doctor and will forever annoys fans by his mere existence.
I know that it would have probably have made much more sense if they had used either Christopher Eccleston or Paul McGann substituted for Hurt in this episode, but I actually think that using someone else actually works much better for the story and for the character of the Doctor, as I think that neither the eighth or the ninth doctor’s would have suited that role at all, and I still believe that in Rose he was newly regenerated and now the end of this episode supports that.
Also, what would have been the point of Eccleston’s Doctor realising that he could have done it all differently, and then promptly forgetting that he had done when the timelines readjusted themselves.
I for one am glad that we got this different version of the Doctor in John Hurt and thought that he was superb in the role in this episode some of my favourite bits being his barbs at his successors and their silly little catchphrases and fripperies much like the Doctor’s from the original series would had been, he was a much more old style Doctor than any of the post 2005 Doctor’s have been, and that came to the fore in this episode and bought some of the more laugh out loud moments for me.
I am glad that Billie Piper didn’t play Rose in this episode and was a good choice for the role of the physical consciousness of the moment. You could argue that it could have been any companion of the Doctor, but it made sense that it was a future companion, as if it had of been Eccleston, then it just wouldn’t have worked in the same way as he would know who she represented, whereas, as it appeared as someone from the Doctor’s future, he didn’t know who was meant to represent, but, more importantly I think, the audience did.
I guess that it could have worked with a lot of other previous companions; I guess that Sarah Jane Smith would have been an interesting choice as well, but the majority of the others (say for example Mathew Waterhouse) would only be recognisable to fans, and just wouldn’t have had the same impact, I would say.
The best bit of the special though had to be the final climatic scenes on Gallifrey featuring all of the Doctors including a fleeting cameo by a very pissed off looking Peter Capaldi, which was a lovely surprise for the audience.
Just after though there was an even bigger shock as Tom Baker made an appearance as the Curator and proved that he can still hold an audience enthralled after all these years.
The final shot was also nice containing all twelve Doctors. Yes, twelve, making Capaldi the thirteenth as far as I am concerned, and that was further cemented in my opinion as Hurt’s face appeared in the end titles with all of the others, between McGann and Eccleston.
The closing titles were also nice, with a credit, at last, for Delia Derbyshire, as Ron Grainer had always intended, for her realisation of the opening theme fifty years after the event.
This wasn’t a perfect episode, but it was very entertaining and worked really well on the big screen and had a number of memorable moments that made me smile, which is really all that matters in the end.