Wasn’t this episode fabulous?? I still find myself squee-ing.
Here are my observations about the latest story in the Doctor’s world. So excited for the Christmas episode now.
Eight reasons the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Episode was Epic
1) The chemistry
This was my biggest concern walking into the theater. Matt Smith and David Tennant are both fantastic actors. They have both carved their version of the Doctor into television history. But how on earth would that chemistry work together?
The answer was – brilliantly!
From the moment the fez flew out of the time vortex and between the feet of a bewildered tenth Doctor, the connection between these two Doctors was phenomenal. No one competed, no one tried to one-up the other, and there was never a you-suck-no-you-suck-I’m-not-speaking-to-you moment. And in the tower of London when all three of them worked together to figure out how to open a wood door – fabulous. It was a great foreshadowing to them working together later standing in front of the big red button.
2) Billie Piper
When the words “Rose Tyler” appeared on Billie Piper’s lips, she threw them out in an unfamiliar canter, and then stumbled around a minute over whether she was in the Doctor’s future or the past. As her eyes glowed and she settled on the words “Bad Wolf” I heard sharp inhalations and tiny squees all over the theater.
Billie Piper as The Moment got to encompass the mannerisms of Rose and Bad Wolf, but she tangled those two personas around a third personality and created the character of The Moment. It was brilliant. We got to see the playful side of Rose (LOVED how she danced around John Hurt chanting “No more” in a gravel voice), the flirty side (“Well I do my best”), the goofy side (“Hello!” with a giggle and a wave), and the bad-ass side (“No – Bad Wolf”), all within MINUTES of one another. In that time frame, Piper created a brand new character that was all of Rose yet wasn’t her at all.
3) The flickers of tribute to past Doctor Who Moments
Now I must admit, as a new generation Whovian, I didn’t catch every reference. But it was fantastic they were in there. River’s shoes, Jack’s vortex manipulator, “reverse the polarity,” “spoilers,” the 10th Doctor’s TARDIS console, Osgood’s scarf . . . You’ll have to read another blog if you’d like a list of them all, because there was a freaking ton. And it seemed emotionally satisfying to the theater-goers to have a nod to their particular favorite character or catch-phrase.
And all of the Doctors at the end? The clips of them all – even Peter Capaldi? Brilliance. Sheer brilliance. And a standing ovation to Moffat. I might even forgive him for all the tears he’s put me through over the years.
4) New Whovians and Classic Whovians in one theater
I drove to Atlanta for the simulcast, and was thrilled to see bow ties and striped scarves patiently waiting for the movie to start. There were kids, and teenagers, and senior citizens, and all of us could exchange a glance and a smile because we knew we were part of a fandom that crossed countries and generations.
And anyone else catch the War Doctor, 10, and 11 bickering and insulting each other like new Whovians and Classic Whovians and even 10 fans and 11 fans bicker and insult each other? Loved it.
A good friend of mine, who’s been a Who fan from the Nightmare of Eden with Tom Baker, mentioned to me that he wondered how different of an experience it was for long-time fans vs. fans who discovered it after the restart. I fall in the latter category, so I can only relate my experience. But I can say that every person I know that started watching Who after the 9th Doctor stepped onto the screen, proclaiming, “RUN!” has not only recognized the long-running storyline, but embraced it. Honored it. Respected it. I can say with a definitive amount of certainty that no recent Whovians saw that striped scarf on Osgood and rolled their eyes with an “Oh, that’s one of the OLD SCHOOL references” snort. I cried when I saw Tom Baker at the end. And I’ve never seen an episode with the man in it.
5) A nod to the future
The new overtone to the direction of the Doctor’s future is one of my favorite moments. I’m a fan of positive psychology. The 9th Doctor talked of a time war, and his people were destroyed. The look of absolute rage on his face when he saw a Dalek in the aptly-titled episode “Dalek,” was a shock to those of us new to this storyline. It was strange to see the spirited 9th Doctor ENRAGED. Now, finally, we know why. It was less an anger towards a species, and more an internal anger towards himself. At that time, he never knew he saved the Time Lords.
But now he knows the truth – the 11th Doctor will carry the memories of those events forward. The torment he’s suffered for 400 years he will suffer No More. *giggle*
Now the Doctor can look forward. He doesn’t have to live in the past anymore. Sure, there are events that will haunt him – losing River, losing Amy and Rory, holding the Master while he died and begging him to stay – but the Doctor won’t be tormented with the genocide of his own people anymore. Because it didn’t happen. And now he knows that.
Also the two other nods to the future were fabulous. The 12th Doctor helping his previous counterparts in an event he already knows was successful. And the Tom Baker moment. THE TOM BAKER MOMENT. The whole theater gasped in succession. Young and old alike. The second time I saw the film, I caught the fact that a TARDIS wall pattern was on the wall behind them.
A very 10th Doctor TARDIS pattern – or maybe the hexagon shape is a nod to past TARDISes (Tardi?) as well. All in all, a beautiful moment, a nod to the future, and the knowledge that not all regenerations are going to be painful and sad. (A girl burst into tears behind me when the 10th Doctor said “I don’t want to go.”)
And here we see the implantation of the Doctor becoming an art lover. I believe this is a character development that will tie in Peter Capaldi’s appearance in Fires of Pompeii. The character he played in that episode was a lover of art, and as far as we knew, stole the TARDIS because he saw it as art. Now, I’m not so sure. Moffat has stated that Russell T. Davies had a plan to tie in Capaldi’s appearances in both that episode of Doctor Who and an episode of Torchwood. Moffat asked Davies what the plan was, and if it fit in with the 12th Doctor casting. It does! Capaldi’s character in the Pompeii episode was an art lover, Smith’s Doctor stated out loud he’d like to be the curator of that museum, and then in walks a future version of himself – much older – and states that he was the curator of the museum! This shows a content, happy, relaxed, version of the Doctor – something we’ve never ever seen. Love it.
And I’m calling this now – Billie Piper’s outfit as The Moment is what a future companion will be wearing when the Doctor meets her.
6) Character development
Clara, Clara, Clara, Clara. I have loved Clara from the moment Soufflé Girl stepped onto the screen in a gorgeous red dress. I cheered for her in the Christmas episode. And then she . . . well . . . got a bit stagnant. There was nowhere for her to develop, because she was catching up to the part that had already developed. I was a bit disappointed in the episodes in the last half of series 7 (they call the collection of episodes a “series” instead of a “season” over in the UK) because the character of Clara went nowhere. When the mystery of the Impossible Girl was finally solved (excuse me . . . need a moment here remembering the River/Doctor goodbye scene in that episode . . . where the hell’s the kleenex?!??!) it was like, “YEA!!! Now we can move forwar . . . oh. We have to wait again. GRRRRRRRRRR.”
It was lovely to see the character of Clara at her shining best – and especially as the girl who knows the Doctor the best.
It shows what makes the Doctor’s companions fantastic for him. As Donna said, “Find someone. . . Because sometimes I think you need someone to stop you.”
Another character development that ruled in this episode was John Hurt’s character. The War Doctor’s character arc was amazing. Just brilliantly done. I gasped out loud as everyone did when the words “John Hurt as the Doctor” appeared on our screens at the end of series 7.
Back up in #1 I discussed my biggest concern going into the movie theater. My second concern was how on earth there could be any character development for the War Doctor? John Hurt is amazing – we all know that. But how do you take a character who (we believe) is responsible for the genocide of his own race and do ANYTHING with them that the audience is going to connect with, much less like? A main character has to have a character arc – has to develop – and how do you do that with the War Doctor? I was even more skeptical when early in the story we see the War Doctor steal the weapon and he’s about to detonate it. (Love how we never actually saw him doing it – we just took for granted he would have the shrewdness and ability to pull off the heist.) But Moffat constructed a story and an arc for this Doctor that was brilliant, and John Hurt plays it perfectly. He cheers and leaps with joy when he realizes he doesn’t have to press the big red button, and we cheer with him. What a great character.
Also, the supporting characters in this episode were awesome. Queen Elizabeth, Kate Stewart, Osgood, the other lab assistant, The Time Lord Council, – fabulous, interesting characters that contribute to the story. I see Osgood as a possible future companion.
Oh my god, the comedy. . .
(10th and 11th Doctor frantically wave their sonic screwdrivers at the enemy)
War Doctor: They’re screwdrivers! What are you going to do? Assemble a cabinet at them?
11th Doctor: Look… the round things!
10th Doctor: Love the round things.
11th Doctor: What are the round things?
10th Doctor: No idea.
(Queen Elizabeth enthusiastically kisses the 10th Doctor.)
War Doctor: Is there a lot of this in the future?
11th Doctor: It does start to happen, yeah.
11th Doctor: It’s a… uh… timey wimey… thing.
War Doctor: “Timey” what? “Timey wimey”?
10th Doctor: I have no idea where he picks that stuff up.
War Doctor: Are you capable of speaking without flapping your hands about?
11th Doctor: Yes. (Claps hands together.) No.
10th Doctor: It’s a machine that goes… ding! Made it myself. Lights up in the presence of shapeshifting DNA. Also, it can microwave frozen dinners from up to 20 feet and download comics from the future. I never know when to stop.
11th Doctor: I demand to be incarcerated in the tower immediately with my co-conspirators, Sand Shoes and Granddad.
This episode made the Guiness Book of World Records for the world’s largest simulcast of a TV drama. It was shown in 94 countries at the exact same time, both on television and in select theaters. Over three days, Doctor Who Day of the Doctor grossed over $10 million in theaters worldwide. When I sat down in a theater seat in Atlanta, GA, I knew there were millions of Whovians perched on the edge of theater seats and living room couches eagerly waiting the episode at the exact same time. It was the first time anything like that had been done. And I’m delighted I was a part of it.
Happy Anniversary, Doctor Who. Thank you for 50 years of fantastic stories and brilliant characters, and thank you for allowing the world to this experience this celebration together.