reView: Day of the Doctor

Written by Joel Loynds

I’m not going to lie and say I was confident in the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. Headwriter, Steven Moffat’s plots had become as intricate as the interior of the TARDIS itself and required your own little man on the side to explain it all. Then the news came that 9th Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, wasn’t taking part and everything was incredibly underwraps. I’m going to be honest and say I was worried. The finale of series 7 left us all utterly confused and questioning everything about our beloved Time Lord.

Photo: BBC
Photo: BBC

So, sat quite comfortably amongst the other fans, Moffat displayed what might be one of the finest Doctor Who stories to date.

To be harsh, the plot isn’t anything special. The Doctor is called upon by UNIT to solve a mystery. It’s a fantastic call back to the 70’s Third Doctor and his stint with the fictional military group and it’s that thin crust of a plot that hides away a fantastically built episode.

Gone were the needless complexities. The overabundance of twists and plot, the struggles to wrap it all up. It’s just not there. Moffat could have thrown everything left, right and centre at this special, but he kept it plain and simple. It just works and that’s all I could ask for.

For maybe the first time in a while, the ‘saving the day’ thing isn’t the focus here. It’s about the Doctor and filling in that gap set up back in 2005 when the show arrived on our screen again. It makes for a refreshing change of pace, to only worry solely for the three Time Lords.

Oddly, the thing that comes through the most is Moffat’s ability to create a brand new character and have it feel like we’ve known him forever. John Hurt’s ‘War Doctor’ outright steals the show with this vastly darker character, who is still the same old Time Lord we’ve always known and loved. Coming equipped with a red sonic screwdriver and classic themed TARDIS, he plays deadpan to the two erratic Doctors, Making comments on how they wave their screwdrivers like water pistols or speak like children. He’s that type of grandparent archetype. The one that berates you for every stupid thing you’ve done, but deep down he’s proud of absolutely everything.

Now, Ten (Tennant) and Eleven (Smith) go together like a good bowl of fish fingers and custard. Constantly exchanging banter and at some point, Ten develops this very small inkling of a Doctor trying to understand what he becomes. But it’s squandered for the far more plot heavy Hurt taking this position just five minutes later.

But all three together? Well, it creates this bizarrely cheesy relationship surrounded by forgiving oneself. It never goes that far too cringeworthy, but as all three decide on a rather extravagant part of their plan towards the end, Moffat drags it back to what we want: The Doctor doing what he does best.

I don’t know where the BBC were hiding this sort of prowess, but old washing up bowls this isn’t. Daleks explode, Gallifrey is alight and what we see of the Time War is a spectacle with nothing held back. Nicely though, we’re in it for enough time for it to remain special and not become a tedious slow motion onslaught of Daleks, depression and screams.

The Day of the Doctor is a special designed, written and constructed around the fans. A woman in the cinema made a sound that shouldn’t have come from a human as a brief flash came upon the screen. It’s that sort of affair. It isn’t impenetrable for new Who fans, but it’s probably recommended they catch up.

For all the issues that I’ve had with Steven Moffat’s tenure as lead writer of the show, I’d say the 50th Anniversary is where he’s truly found his footing, pulled the curtain back and the true show is about to start. You know what? Let him dance.

One Response to reView: Day of the Doctor

  1. ChristinaRomana says:

    Great tribute to 50 years of The Doctor. Full of surprises!
    Talking of surprises, there’s a youtube clip going around of the apparent next ‘regeneration’ of The Master who will be facing off against Capaldi in the forthcoming series.
    According to several tweets The Master maybe returning for the Christmas episode and beyond.
    I don’t know who the actor is but maybe they’re going with an ‘unknown’ to play The Master after casting a ‘known’ actor in Peter Capaldi to play the 12th Doctor? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
    Happy 50th Doctor Who and here’s to the next 50!