There is most assuredly a selection of Whovians out there who will have left The Day of the Doctor disappointed. Their reasoning, of course, will be completely personal to them. What did we find wrong with it? Perhaps there just wasn’t enough of everything? The pacing was its own creation, freely moving around like it held no purpose. The plot holes are so vast you could quite easily have flown a lifetime of Doctors directly through it with minimal fuss and the ‘how about no’ ending raised far to many questions than it answered.
If this was any other episode of Doctor Who, it would be crucified.
But this is The Day of the Doctor, the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. What we did get, for 76 delirious minutes, was something truly magical.
Whilst being surrounded by over-excitable Whovians in their bow ties, fez’s and clutched Sonic Screwdrivers, the 3D cinema broadcast was most assuredly a bewildering experience. It was a chance to share this once-in-a-lifetime moment with fellow fans of a show which falls into every single demographic. The cumulative wishlist of The Day of the Doctor between every fan in the cinema – nay, on the planet – must have been endless, and while nods to the past were in their droves, writer Steven Moffat counterbalances them with a story leading us into a brand new Who-era.
The story began Who-esquely enough. The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith on fire once again) is summoned to the National Art Gallery in London in quite magnificent style to investigate a series of paintings that have been broken out of by its subjects. Their subjects? Only the Zygons, returning after only one appearance in the show in 1975 resurrected for the 50th. No denying the Zygons are a beautiful creation and their shape-shifting abilities to bring a curious side to their intentions here, however their inclusion is still quite a mystery and there was an increasing concern if the episode could have functioned just as perfectly without them. But more on that shortly.
Whilst the Doctor and the ever wonderful Clara Oswald are investigating the paintings, a rift in time appears before them, leading Eleventh to jump through and end up in England 1562, landing before a certain Tenth Doctor. The returning Mr. David Tennant.
It’s difficult not to get overly gushy about the Tenth Doctor returning here but my word, you really have missed him. David Tennant returns with all the cocky, confident hilarious swagger reminding us instantly as to why we all loved him so much first time round. His dialogue is snappy, fun and absolutely Ten. Essentially, Tennant is spot on, like he’s never been away. His interaction with his feisty fiance Elizabeth I (played by a brilliant Joanna Page) is light and fun, one could argue, something Doctor Who has been missing for a while.
What about Smith and Tennant together? Well, they’re golden. Their interaction is the stuff of TV dreams, and it’s evident the two actors were having an absolute blast together. Even in darker moments, a regretful Smith and a wrathful Tennant knocking heads over the after-effect of the Time War was masterful to watch. Their work together was, at any rate, the absolute highlight of the episode and you have to wonder how great it would be to see them together more often. The petition for a Smith/Tennant series starts NOW. Just don’t tell Peter Capaldi…although he was in on the action too…
Another major highlight was of course, John Hurt. Guest starring as the War Doctor, his performance was a masterclass. When Tennant and Smith are jumping around the room, on top of tables and telling each other how great they are, you are drawn to Hurt – one movement of the eyes and the scene is his. Interestingly, he shared most of scenes with Billie Piper, who played ‘the interface’ of The Moment, the Great Big Red Button the War Doctor would have to push to end the Time War. Only Hurt could see her, so sadly there was no interaction with Piper and Tennant which was a huge shame, but when everything else is this good you can’t really argue.
The Day of the Doctor then was a triumph. 76 minutes of pure Who gold and a truly sensational way to mark 50 years of this remarkable television show. As mentioned at the top, it wasn’t perfect but alas, it wasn’t ever going to be. We never really discover what happened with the Zygons and UNIT – ‘the most perfect treaty of all time’, and that was it. Overshadowed by everything else going on -, the way the ending tied into the history of previous Doctors was a ‘timey-wimey’ excuse and the ‘narrative-altering’ decision may have been bold, brash, but it seemed like a bit of a middle finger up to Russell T Davies, who spent a long time crafting the intricacies of the Time War only for Moffat to go ‘he doesn’t actually do that at all’. Frustrating, but when it’s played out as well as this, it’s difficult to really complain all that much.
Purely for the fact that The Day of the Doctor was something so vast, so epic, so breathtaking in its execution – and a truly remarkable use of 3D, where it was actually integral to the plot – that by the end, all you wanted to do was watch it again. And again. And again.
The audience cheered and applauded at the end. If that isn’t a sign that Moffat go this absolutely correct, I simply don’t know what is.
Oh, and the Curator wanted to ask if you would like a jelly baby?