Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor
I’m willing to bet a large amount of money that Steven Moffat had many sleepless nights when writing the 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who. The lack of classic Doctors worried many fans when it was confirmed by the man himself, and not only that, the introduction of a brand new Doctor in the form of John Hurt. It could have all blown up in Moffat’s face; he could have had his head on a chopping block if this had gone wrong!
The episode brought together the 10th Doctor (David Tennant), 11th Doctor (Matt Smith), companion Clara (Jenna Coleman), and the ‘War Doctor’ (John Hurt) on the day that, according to the 11th Doctor himself, “it wasn’t possible to be The Doctor”, the day that The Doctor ended the Time War.
The episode itself was incredibly satisfying, revealing just what happened between the 10th Doctor and Elizabeth I (resolving a plot piece that’s been left hanging since 2007’s ‘The Shakespeare Code’!), the choice the Doctor faced in ending the time war, and exactly who helped him come to that decision (the Bad Wolf played by Billie Piper, previously companion Rose Tyler), as well as setting up an obviously major plot point for the next series or two with the saving of Gallifrey.
Of course, there were plot holes. Particularly, what happened between the Zygons and the humans negotiating at UNIT HQ under the Tower of London with them seemingly left there to their own devices at the 10th and 11th Doctors swan off to help the War Doctor. This seems to have been concluded with a Zygon duplicate and the real human Osgood sharing an asthma pump, a somewhat underwhelming ending to an apparently important plotline, if it was an ending at all.
There was always going to be a level of fan service in this episode, with the surprise appearances of the 12th (or is it 13th?) Doctor, Peter Capaldi and the cameo of 4th Doctor Tom Baker (who quite infamously refused to appear in the 20th anniversary special ‘The Five Doctors’). Not to mention seeing at least part of the time war itself, and the appearance of all 8 classic series Doctors via archive footage.
Overall, there were always going to be some fans inevitably disappointed that the 50th Anniversary was not “The Twelve Doctors”, but instead of getting a mashed up attempt at throwing in all the Doctors, we got a beautiful, poignant story and a massive piece of character development for The Doctor himself. But for this satisfied fan, this will go down as one of the best stories in Doctor Who history, with everything from classic Doctors, classic monsters in the form of the Zygons, to the time war, and the appearance of UNIT. It’s been a glorious 50 years for Doctor Who, so here’s to the next 50. Happy birthday Doctor.