Go on, River Song – what does this blog contain?
Sorry, couldn’t resist it!
Well, who’d have thought it? 50 years of Doctor Who! I did have a really nice speech about how cool Doctor Who is – but let’s be honest, what can I say about this amazing show that hasn’t already been said a million times before? So why not just get straight into the review – because I’m sure you’re all itching to hear what I thought of it!
The Day of the Doctor has quite possibly been one of the most highly anticipated Doctor Who episodes ever – possible the most anticipated episode in ANY TV series ever! Not just because it’s a celebration of 50 years of the Doctor, or that it had both Matt Smith AND David Tenant share a screen together (it’s not the first time that more than one Doctor have appeared together, but this one was particularly interesting), but because many fans were left befuzzled by the ending of The Name of the Doctor, where we discovered there was a regeneration that we never knew about! All we knew at the time was that this was a reincarnation that “broke the promise” and did something that was “not in the name of the Doctor”. Later mini episodes of The Night of the Doctor (which featured Paul McGann’s Doctor) showed us that this reincarnation was the “War Doctor”. Someone who had seen the horrors of war and was determined to end it once and for all – no matter the cost. And who better to play this than John Hurt – a man who’s very expression looks like he has seen war and all its horrors – and it has damaged him ever since?
I was particularly excited by this episode as, whilst it was hinted at before, we never really knew the FULL details of how the Time War ended. All we knew was that the Doctor was responsible for it and it has haunted him ever since. But enough backstory – let’s get to the review.
The Doctor gets a call from U.N.I.T., who have a note from Elizabeth I (who in this is played by Gavin and Stacy’s Joanna Page – and she is wonderful!) and her “credentials”. The credentials are in the form of a 3D painting, painted using Gallifrey technology. The title is called either “No more” or “Gallifrey Falls” (no one really knows) and shows the Fall of Arcadia. The story then cuts to the past, during the Time War, where the War Doctor has gained control of a device called The Moment or Galaxy Eater. This will end the war – but destroy both races. However, the device is actually sentient and, before he can activate it, it appears to him in the form of Rose Tyler (once again played by Billie Piper) in her Bad Wolf incarnation. She questions him as to whether he really wants to do this and shows him the man he will become if he does.
Meanwhile, in Elizabethian England, the Doctor (David Tenant’s Doctor) is wooing Queen Elizabeth (as you do), only to find himself in the middle of a Zygon invasion. The Zygons are using special technology to time lock themselves inside the paintings of the National Gallery in London, so that they can invade the future from the past. All three Doctors must now band together to stop this – whilst at the same time they must decide if what they did (or will do in the case of the War Doctor) was the right thing.
So that’s the set up, but the big question was – was it any good?
The short answer is no.
It’s wasn’t good.
It was AWESOME!!! :D
No, correct that, it was AWESOMESAUCE!!! :D :D :D
In fact, it was AWESOMESAUCE spread over a WIXY BURGER! :D :D :D
Ok, I'll stop with the strange sayings now! :)
But seriously, I know I’m gonna sound like a mad fan boy Whovian – but this genuinely was one of the best Doctor Who’s ever! Normally I would have put on my Facebook or Twitter what I felt about it – but I had so much love for this episode that what I wanted to say could not be summed up in just a few characters. Hence this review.
In actual fact, the story was a lot more light hearted than I expected. The trailers for it built up that it would be a really dark story about how the Time War messed the Doctor up, but there was a lot of comedy moments in it. The trio of Doctors bounced off each other perfectly, their quips and timing spot on. It was almost like the Three Stooges in Doctor Who form. I think the funniest bit was when they all tried to work out how to escape from a dungeon – only to find that the door wasn’t locked!
But don’t get me wrong, for all the humour there WAS some really dark elements to this. Like I said, this story was about what the Doctor did to end the Time War and it was interesting to see how it affected each of the Doctor’s incarnations. You had the Doctor that tried to forget (Smith), the Doctor that couldn’t forget (Tenant) and the Doctor that was yet to do the thing he most hated (Hurt). Never before have I seen the choices of one person reflected so brilliantly and on so many emotional levels. One of the saddest points was when the Doctor was asked “did you count”, referring to the number of children that died because of his actions. It added a real moral dilemma and really questioned the value of “what losses are acceptable” in war.
I must give a special mention to Rose Tyler, who is like the guardian for the War Doctor in this story and his second chance. Now, I must admit – as controversial as this may sound – Rose Tyler (along with Donna Noble) is one of my LEAST favourite assistants, so I wasn’t really happy to hear that she was coming back. However, this incarnation was very well done and a nice twist to those expecting to see the same Rose. She was both prophetic and humorous at the same time and really acted like a guardian angel for ALL the Doctors.
If there was one negative I had about this show it was the Zygons. Don’t get me wrong, it was cool to see them again, but I never really felt that they fit into the story as well as they could have. It kinda felt like they were brought in to – well, just be brought into the story. And the resolution of them was a bit too simple for my tastes. It wasn’t bad, I just think that they were somewhat overshadowed by the Time War.
Speaking of the Time War, we actually got to see some of the Fall of Arcadia in all its CGI glory. Explosions, Daleks, laser guns and people running scared, it was almost like watching a Hollywood battlefield scene – and it was just epic to watch! Not only that, but there was an uber cool moment where the Doctor used his TARDIS to bulldoze through an army of Daleks and decapitate them. Now tell me that wasn’t awesome! :D
But the best moment of the whole episode has to be when the three Doctors go back in time to the moment where they end the Time War, deciding that what they do is out of choice. But then Clara reminds them of who they are – the Doctor – and the promise they made. It’s then than an alternative shows itself. Rather than destroy Gallifrey, they would use the same technology the Zygons used and send Gallifrey to a frozen space and time – so that they will live on, but the war would still end. But surely the calculations of this would take YEARS to get right, surely?
Well, the Doctor has been around a LONG time and so the Doctors put all their heads together to use their combined knowledge to work it out. But three Doctors aren’t enough – well how about 13? Yes, in a scene that will no doubt have every Whovian screaming for joy, all in the incarnations of the Doctor band together to save Gallifrey. But wait; didn’t I say 13 and not 12? Yup! For a few brief seconds, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor joins in the fight. It’s only a few seconds of a shot – but you should have heard the way me and my brother squealed in delight! :D
And as if THAT’S not enough, the Doctor gets to meet the curator of the museum afterwards – and he’s only played by Tom Baker! :D Seriously, I think I had more fangasims in this one episode than anything I’ve ever seen before in my life! But it’s here that the curator tells Doctor the real name of the picture... “Gallifrey Falls No More.” Does that mean his plan worked? Well, that’s heavily hinted to be the next storyline for the Doctor.
Steve Moffat described this episode as a “love letter to the fans” and it was certainly that! The past and present collided together in a beautiful way that never felt contrived or mashed together. The Three Doctors together worked a charm and once more they put in everything they had into this story. Some fans may fell it controversial to negate what has essentially been the Doctor’s main driving force the last few years (the death of his people), but I actually think this was wonderfully done. In many ways, this story wasn’t just celebrating 50 years of Doctor Who, but a redemption story for the Doctor. Through this, John Hurt becomes a true Doctor and counts as one of his regenerations for real.
This story had everything we needed from a special Doctor Who. Humour, gravitas, Daleks and Tom Baker! To quote from Christopher Eccelson’s Doctor – fantastic!
Thank you Steve Moffat for bringing us arguably one of the best Doctor Who episodes ever! :)
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