Saturday night, Whovians finally got what they’d been waiting for: the 50th Anniversary Special ‘Day of the Doctor’. And it did not disappoint.
Unique to this special, was its release in cinemas across the UK and being shown in 3D at those screenings. I got tickets to a screening at an ODEON near Leicester Square and it is a whole new experience watching Doctor Who in a theater full of other fans. It’s something you get to experience at midnight screenings of film franchises such as Hunger Games or Harry Potter, but Whovians lack those opportunities. So, stocked with some Pick-n-Mix, I settled in with my 3D glasses and eagerly waited for the show to start.
After some specially made, Doctor Who themed introductory videos telling us about theater etiquette and marking the transition from 2D into 3D, the episode finally began. As a relatively new fan of the show, considering its 50 year history, I didn’t catch all of the subtle references to the classic episodes and the first Doctors who are still loved by fans today. But they managed to create a perfect episode to celebrate 50 years, balancing the old and the new and getting us hyped up for the Christmas special in one month’s time.
Plot-wise, it finally showed what happened during the Time War, an event that has been central to the three Doctors in the modern reboot as the 9th Doctor was characterized as war-worn. In the special, John Hurt‘s ‘War Doctor’ is told, “You were the Doctor on the day it wasn’t possible to get it right.” He had to make an impossible decision and has spent his last three regenerations regretting that decision. This episode explores that decision and the circumstances surrounding it. Without giving away the ending, it excellently fills in the blanks of what happened and why, while bringing things around in the end to a feeling of hope (thanks to a certain Classic Doctor’s cameo appearance).
The chemistry between John Hurt, David Tennant and Matt Smith as their respective Doctors is perfect and they both show what is great about Doctor Who and also are able to poke fun at the more absurd aspects of the show – making fun of the fez, David Tennant’s hair, the use of the term “timey-wimey” and the general fact that the Doctors have gotten increasingly young since the show’s return in 2005. The first scene Tennant and Smith have together is one of the best in the whole episode for me. And we can’t forget how they managed to work Billie Piper, actress behind the much-beloved companion Rose Tyler, into the 50th Anniversary without messing up Rose’s character arc.
They also gave Clara a critical position in the plot. She was presented as the girl who is meant to save the Doctor over the last season of the show, and here she is shown to be central to the ending. Again, I don’t want to say what happens at the end, but she brings the Doctor back to who he is at heart:
“Look at you, the three of you: the warrior, the hero – and you.”
“And what am I?”
“Have you really forgotten?”
“Yes – maybe, yes.”
“We’ve got enough warriors, any old idiot can be a hero.”
“Then what do I do?”
“What you’ve always done – be a doctor.”
The end is excellent, and I walked out of the theater with high hopes for the Christmas special, but at the same time I know it is the last for the Eleventh Doctor. As a self-proclaimed BuzzFeed addict, I have to direct you to an article with several bits from throughout the episode, some of which I missed, but all of which deserve attention: The 35 Greatest Easter Eggs From the “Doctor Who” 50th Anniversary. But Whovians all over the internet were thrilled by the two-second cameo of the next Doctor played by Peter Capaldi, due to make his grand entrance on Christmas. So I leave you with the screenshot that took the internet by storm after The Day of the Doctor: