Day of the Doctor team review
You rarely get a chance to celebrate 50 years of a television series that is STILL on our screens, so to mark this momentous occasion writers from across the whole TDF stable have got together to share their thoughts on Doctor Who: Day of the Doctor...
John White (TV Editor)No TV series does a climax like new Doctor Who. Daleks and a regeneration then Daleks and Cybermen, then The Master, then The Master and Time Lords. We are so far past the kitchen sink when Moffat or Davies decides to throw something at us in service of the televisual orgasm...
Yet, it still works. 50th anniversary audience - take 13 Doctors, take Zygons, take Elizabeth the first, more Daleks and a museum of Who artefacts. Heck even take the lovely idea that Tom Baker is still the doctor in some universe or other - with his joyful eccentricity and refusal to disappear, he is our very own William Shatner.
It was 75 minutes of momentous delight where Moffat doffed his cap to his predecessor and even used the original Delia Derbyshire score to sum up the whole historic beauty of it. In the midst of magic, Hurt was perfect as The Doctor redeemed and the boys clearly had fun with their good looks and cleverness.
I am still crow-barring the smile off me...
Colin Polonowski (Publisher)That was an exhilarating 75 minutes - maybe it wasn't the BEST episode we've seen, but it surely was a love letter by a fan for the fans. The first half varied wildly in sense and quality, but the three leads were strong enough to hold things together. The exposition-heavy dialogue weighed things down to start with and it's only thanks to the stark contrast of the effects laden fall of Gallifrey scenes that any the show kept any sort of pace.
However, by the time the three Doctors had met Day of the Doctor hit its stride and the sparring between Tennant and Smith shows them both to be brilliant actors. John Hurt's Doctor was the real revelation though - after being trailed as being such a dark character, the warmth and humour he brought took me off guard and now that he's part of the Who canon proper I kind of wish we had a chance to see more of him.
Much like the beginning, the end was a bit scrappy but the copious nods to the past and future (FUCK ME IT'S CAPALDI!) mean this could be forgiven and the closing coda that saw Tom Baker appear was beautifully written if not maybe a tiny bit nonsensical. In all, despite it's faults (and they're faults that can be attributed to any Who from the last few years), Day of the Doctor was a great experience and a fitting tribute to fifty years of the show. All I can say is it's a shame that final regeneration had to be cut short, presumably thanks to the refusal of Christopher Eccleston to take part.
Leigh Forgie (Game Reviewer)As the fiftieth anniversary celebration of everyone’s favourite time-traveller, Day of the Doctor was always going to play out as a Doctor Who greatest hits compilation. The perfect balance of space and time set the backdrop to a storyline that included Daleks, Queen Elizabeth I, UNIT, Bad Wolf, “Allons-y,” and the return of the shape-shifting Zygons. However, beneath the swash-buckling adventure and idiosyncratic humour, there was something much more powerful at work than simply an exciting extended episode.
We may have been treated to the return of Whovian fan favourite David Tenant, but it was arguably John Hurt’s “War Doctor” that made for the most compelling viewing. This forgotten incarnation not only filled in the blanks regarding the Doctor’s role in the Time War, but was the missing piece of the puzzle linking Paul McGann’s eighth doctor to Christopher Eccleston’s ninth (or is it now tenth?) doctor. The eccentricities of the character before the 2005 reboot seemed to have been omitted from the action ready Eccleston version of the time lord, and Hurt’s burdening actions are crucial in explaining this transition.
Inevitably, as far as greatest hits compilations go, there are always going to be a few glaring omissions. It would have been great to see Christopher Eccleston on board in a larger capacity as it would have time locked this celebration perfectly. However, it’s immediately forgivable thanks to the basket full of clever easter eggs that acknowledged the time lord’s past, present and even the future. Retconning has always been utilised in the expansive history of the show, but never before has an addition to the Doctor’s mythology felt so natural and indeed necessary. After all, what’s a Doctor Who episode without that clever timey-wimey plot twist that never feels too far out of this world?
Max Mazonowicz (TV/Music Reviewer)Acting was the main thing that won out in 'The Day Of The Doctor'. David Tennant reminded us how brilliant he is in the role, oh how he's missed. Actually that's unfair on Matt Smith who is excellent as The Doctor, he too will be missed. And we can't forget John Hurt, also fantastic, and not at all The Doctor that we were led to believe he was going to be. Nods go to Billie Piper and Jenna Coleman too for an episode that had everything a fan could want.
Despite being a little over complicated, things got tough to follow in the middle, Stephen Moffat is such a good writer that you kind of forget that by the end. It's the little things you remember, Tom Baker, "Dick Van Dyke", the sonic screwdrivers, the old theme tune, Coal Hill School, lots of Gallifrey. With Matt Smith's final episode on over Christmas, Peter Capaldi has a hell of a lot to live up to.
Matthew Charlton (Geek:Life Reviewer)Having become thoroughly disenchanted with the path Doctor Who has been travelling down over the last 18 months or so, The Day of the Doctor came with low expectations from me, but ended up relighting my flame for the series. With a logical and seemingly thought out story (something I never imagined writing about Moffat’s scripts), TDotD acts only not as a celebration of all that had come before, but importantly realigns the central premise of the show in such a beautiful way that ensures its longevity going into the next 50 years - and proves to be a sensible time to do so with viewers in 94 countries watching.
Stylistically, Day of the Doctor feels like a romp in the style of previous anniversary stories - and that's attitude to watch it with. With an opening scene straight out of James Bond, Moffat has resisted the temptation to deploy Doctor Who’s Greatest Hits, instead giving the audience a chapter from the Doctor’s extensive back-story that rewards viewers old and new. John Hurt adds a gravitas that has been lacking to the role of the Doctor since the classic series and proves to be an witty foil to the current Doctors. And maybe it’s the party mood, but it was even nice to have David Tennant back briefly.
In an age of spoilers, DotD also proves that Doctor Who still has the capacity to surprise. Whether it is a certain pair of eyebrows appearing from the future, or one of the oldest faces from the past, Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary special cements the series as one that can entertain, unite and still shine as one of Britain’s oldest and brightest cultural icons.
Gary K (Music reviewer)Who knows..?" Who. Knows. Or was it "nose"? I reserve the right to read perhaps too much into Tom Baker's handful of lines. Everyone has their Doctor and Tom Baker, handed the role when I was a mere 6, was mine. Perhaps that knowing tapping of conk meant nothing at all. Hey, um, who knows? Let's leave it for others to debate. And while they're at it, let them compute the mind-boggling logistics of this 50 year special. Deconstructing the dizzying plot no doubt requires a knowledge of pure mathematics beyond your average Oxbridge don but we'll leave that to the hand-wringing fanboys, too - once they've worked out, with the introduction of John Hurt's 'Doctor', just many regenerations are left, of course. Doctors here, doctors there, doctor's every... No, to be drawn into the show's maddening internal logic is ill-advised at the best of times. The Day of the Doctor was a blast and a joy for more human reasons, exemplifying as it did the dialogue-driven, character-focused playfulness that is new Who at its best; Smith, Tennant and Hurt trading spiked bon-mots for fun. Plus, it referenced the past with sensitivity and wit. I'm still not entirely sure what Rose was doing in there but, hey! It's Rose! Come on! What else matters? But it was Baker's artfully managed return in that hushed final scene that put your eyes on stalks. Older now, but, oddly, not looking that much older, the voice still rumbles and those eyes stare right into you. And with the Doctor seemingly about to embark on a (series long?) quest that recalls the ambition of the Baker years, The Day of the Doctor managed the past and the future with ease.
Amy Jones (Ex-TV Editor)I fell out of love with Doctor Who sometime during series six. The key elements were all there – great Doctor, scary bad guys, funny bits, sad bits etc etc – but they didn’t fit together in the same way. The show went from being something I loved to just something I watched. And then to something I sat in front of whilst playing on my phone, just in case…
The 50th Anniversary was my “just in case”. I laughed (“Am I having a midlife crisis?”) and I cried ("You were the Doctor on the day it wasn’t possible to get it right"). I squealed in delight when Tom Baker turned up, and I was so excited I accidentally punched my boyfriend in the face when Peter Capaldi’s eyes flashed onto the screen.
The Day of the Doctor had enough nods to the fans to satisfy us on a big anniversary episode and was enough of a game changer to merit the months of suspense. It had echoes of the first ever episode with the school at the start and nods to the modern fans with Osgood. More than anything else, though, it was a jolly good adventure with a very good man (or three) at its heart. It didn’t just celebrate the past 50 years of Doctor Who – it reminded me why I love them.
The only thing that was a black note for me was the War Doctor. I love John Hurt with all my heart and he did a marvelous job — but it’s obvious that his role was written for Christopher Eccleston, for Nine, and thinking about how wonderful it would have been to have that angry dark storm of a man standing up against Ten and Eleven is almost painful.
But that’s not the fault of anyone involved in the anniversary episode and, for the first time in a long time, I’m actually looking forward to the next episode of Doctor Who.
So, now you know what we thought! Let us know what you thought of the special in the comments below...