Monday 2 December 2013

My review of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode ‘The Day of the Doctor’

    After months of speculation regarding the special 50th anniversary episode, it finally arrived. For 75 minutes I kept my phone on silent to avoid interruptions so I could concentrate on both emerging and concluding stories alike.
    As a long-term fan of ‘the Tennant’ I couldn’t wait for him to reappear in the famed pinstripe and Converse (or ‘sand shoe’) combo. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait too long. His Royal Tennantness presented as a companionless Doctor enjoying the fruits of the English monarchy. I tried to work out where in his timeline this was but, as an extremely lax Whovian, I didn’t waste too much energy on it. It was obviously post-Rose as the phrase ‘Bad Wolf’ resonated loudly in his ears under that artfully sculpted hairdo.
    But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before the guardian of my shed romped into the action in a scene that could have come from ‘Carry On Tudor Doctor’, Matt Smith started the episode with his usual surefooted ease.
    Although I may be a devoted fan of the Tennant, I’m also a fan of Smith, and was a little sad this was his penultimate episode. I had hoped the anniversary special would tie up some loose ends of Smith’s story arcs, but that didn’t seem to happen. Although I enjoyed the overall episode, I didn’t find the story particularly astounding. The final conclusion, although it was undoubtedly clever and probably greatly pleased many hardcore fans, left me a little  more than cold. 
May or may not be an actual scene from
 the 3D special effect packed anniversary episode
    Not that I’m complaining. As everyone (hyperbole?) knows, the Doctor can only supposedly regenerate 12 times, making Peter Capaldi’s 2014 Doctor the final incarnation. I can only assume this new search for Gallifrey will culminate in a scenario allowing the Doctor to continue regenerating at will. River Song passed on her regenerative abilities before to save the Doctor, so it seems a fluid concept.
    Back to the episode specifically, the Zygon storyline just didn’t seem fully functioning to me: did they reach a treaty with the humans? Did the inhaler exchange undermine what the Doctors were trying to achieve with anonymity between the species? Why did the Doctors just let the Zygons continue zapping themselves into pictures, and then seemingly leave before checking they weren’t going to cause any more havoc? To my mind, it was a bit of a laboured way of setting up the ‘save Gallifrey’ scenario, but I suppose it achieved its purpose.
     Of course, I have to mention John Hurt’s Doctor. Wedged between Paul McCann and Christopher Ecclestone’s regenerations, Hurt’s Doctor was resigned to his fate, and reconciled the torturous position the hero is often placed in. Like many fans I’d happily watch a series of Hurt’s Doctor, and although I doubt it’ll happen on TV, perhaps there’s room for a film in the future.
     And now the short wait until the Christmas episode begins, with Smith’s imminent departure and Capaldi’s arrival. The short trailer I’ve seen so far promises a particularly vicious bevy of enemies to gather for the Doctor’s demise. Smith has been more than a worthy successor to the Tennant, and Capaldi’s eyebrows were magnificent in the anniversary episode so the handover should be terrific. Ultimately, as enjoyable as ‘The Day of the Doctor’ was, I’m expecting a bolder belter of a festive special, and look forward to watching it in my Ferrero Rocher induced stupor on the 25th – roll on Christmas!


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