Thursday, November 28, 2013

Day of the Doctor (2013)

So it finally arrived. After months and years of waiting, I got to see a celebration of my favourite TV show. I knew very little about it and I deliberately avoided any magazines and websites that had rumours and pictures. This was a special celebration and it would be broadcast in over 90 countries and in cinemas and that was where I was watching it. The atmosphere in the cinema was fantastic. There was a wide range of ages and some people were wearing fez's and there were even one or two people dressed as Matt Smith and Tom Baker. We sat down an hour before it aired and it was fun to see the cinema slowly fill up. I must admit that I was slightly worried that I would be disappointed with this. Partly due to the fact that it's a special celebration, part because An Adventure is Time and Space was so wonderful and also partly because Night of the Doctor was amazing. The story sees David Tennant returns to the show for the first time since he regenerated into Matt Smith on New Year's Day 2010. John Hurt joins the show as the War Doctor and after the minisode we are left in no doubt that he is the 9th Doctor. So that makes Eccleston the 10th, Tennant the 11th, Smith the 12thand Capaldi the 13th.

Day of the Doctor was going to address the Time War in a way that it hadn't done until this episode. Instead of just talking about it we actually got to saw it and we learn that John Hurt's Doctor is the one who pressed the button and killed the Timelords and Daleks to end the War. This is what Matt Smith's Doctor meant in 'The Doctors Wife' when he said that he'd "killed all of them". We got more Gallifrey than we could shake a stick at and it looked it became apparent that Doctor Who fans were going to get pretty much everything they have wanted since the show returned in 2005.

The return of Tennant's Doctor meant that we were going to get more comedy than we've ever had in a Steven Moffat produced story. I thought that Tennant was on fine form and some of his best bits came when he was acting opposite Joanna Page's Elizabeth and against the rabbit. In a story that had quite a lot of dark tones it was good to have some light relief. He had a lot of fun scenes with Matt Smith's Doctor who worked well with everyone else but still managed to come across as the incumbent Doctor. John Hurt was a supremely brilliant piece of casting and must have been the voice of the older fan when he mocked Smith and Tennant's Doctor for waving of hands whilst talking and their silly catchphrases. But when he needed to he could be the brilliant actor that we all know he can be and has that gravelly voice which just adds to his greatness. I'm quite glad that Eccleston didn't want to do this story because he wouldn't have been as good as Hurt.

As the companion, Jenna Coleman is very good and does well from start to finish. She holds her own several times during this story and I liked how she was the one who showed that the cell door was unlocked and that three Timelords hadn't tried the lock. It's easy to see why Clara is such a good companion and whilst the argument continues as to whether she's the best of the new era, one thing is for sure and that is when you are one of the good things about a celebratory special with other incarnations of the Doctors then you know that she has to be in the top 2.

This story marks the return of the Zygons who have appeared in a couple of Big Finish plays in recent years but this marks their first TV appearance since their debut in the 1975 Tom Baker story 'Terror of the Zygons'. Not quite sure why they chose to bring this particular monster back but it was a good choice and they did well with it. The look of them was good and the advance in prosthetics since 1975 was good enough that it looked quite creepy and the moment when the copy of Kate Lethbridge-Stewart changed was quite graphic and I was surprised that this was given a PG by the BBFC. Hopefully it won't be 38 years before the Zygons return because they are a good monster.

One of the main worries that I had was that this was going to be one of those complicated stories that has more questions than answers which is something that Steven Moffat seems so fond of. However that wasn't the case as what we got was something that resolved the cliffhanger from Name of the Doctor and celebrated this epic milestone in satisfactory. I think that Moffat has had way too much flak from fans over the last couple of years which I think was largely un-necessary.

The moment when Tom Baker appeared was one of those moments that got a reaction from the crowd. There were cheers and there was a good reason for it. There was the Eighth Doctor minisode and there is a special featuring Doctors 5-7. He may be nearly 80 years old but he was able to match Matt Smith in the acting stakes and there were a few instances where it was like the Doctor from 1974 was back on screen. He's credited as The Curator but it's basically he's the Doctor and he's making up for the mistake he made when he wouldn't appear in 'The Five Doctors'. Hopefully in 30 years' time Christopher Eccleston will have the same change of heart and appear. Another surprise which got a reaction from the crowd was the brief appearance of Peter Capaldi's Doctor. All we got was his hand pulling a lever and him looking at us like he was Malcolm Tucker in the TARDIS.

There were things that didn't work in this story. Firstly the 3D was awful. I've not seen a 3D film since I saw Pirates of the Caribbean 4 and decided after that I would no longer waste money on this stupid technology. However I broke that rule for Doctor Who and whilst wearing the glasses didn't bother me as much as it use to in other films, I could easily have enjoyed this just as much in standard old fashioned 2D. Secondly was the use of Billie Piper. Her return was hyped up just as much as that of David Tennant's and despite whether you think she's a positive influence or not on the series, you would have expected her involvement to be a lot more than it was here. She is the one that makes John Hurt's Doctor think twice about pressing the red button. To be honest this could have been done by someone else and whilst I don't dislike Billie Piper's Rose as much as some people I know, I think that she could have been better used.

Day of the Doctor was everything that I would have wanted from the 50th Anniversary special. I thought that seeing it in the cinema was a wise choice because sitting in a room with probably 2,000 Doctor Who fans who all applauded what they had seen and that was worth the EUR12 on its own. As for the story I was so happy that it didn't disappoint me. I didn't know what I initially thought but I knew I wasn't disappointed. Apart from Billie Piper, everyone was well used and raised to the moment. It was the perfect way to celebrate the Doctor's birthday and effectively performed a reboot at the very end and started the ball rolling with the incoming 12th/13thDoctor.
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