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Sunday, 24 November 2013

Doctor Who: The 50th doesn't disappoint.


I’m not going to write a long review. And if you haven’t already watched it, don’t cheat and read this first. Spoilers, sweetie....
 But let’s give this 50th anniversary episode marks out of 10.

No, let’s go for all 12...wait, I mean 13.

 Marks out of 13? Well, the Great Curator would give it a 4, would he not?

I worried that the Day of the Doctor would be crushed under the weight of its own hype. I thought Moffatt would try and be too clever. I guessed he’d do something to wind lifelong fans up. But as ever, at least in my opinion, he pulled it off.

Having all 13 Doctors collaborate on the big finale was a great idea. Subverting canon by having the Doctor(s) save Gallifrey but keeping true to the story by making the Doctors think they had burnt it was also very good.

The plot was all an excuse to celebrate the best bits of the past 50 years. So theBrigadier’s daughter Kate, now Head of UNIT, came back. There were numerous photos of past Doctors, old enemies to battle, and I’m sure a hundred and one little nods to past episodes that I missed. While it was sad that John Barrowman was telling the truth when he said he wasn’t coming back, it was lovely that he got a mention. Mind you, I don’t think we could have coped with Jack Harkness clowning around alongside Tennant, Smith and Hurt.


And so to our central trio. The success of the episode hinged on whether they dynamic between them would work, and oh it did! I thought at first Ten (Tennant) would be too humorous, but he got a couple of eye moistening moments. Likewise I thought 8.5 (Hurt) would be too dramatic, but he had some good lines. I was particularly fond of his big red button. Also the way he was used to echo critics of the programme: ‘Timey-wimey?...why do you speak like children?’ And so Eleven (Smith) became a sort of glue; boyish, attractive and funny like 10 but wise and thoughtful like 8.5. I wonder whether any of the other actors could have pulled off this performance. Doctor Who always seems like a big brash programme, but it’s capable of blink and you miss it subtlety that creates some of the best British television ever.


Then of course we had the return of Rose. Horribly confusing at first, I then worked out that this was in Ten’s timeline after Rose is trapped in the parallel universe, and that we were seeing the illusion of Rose, as Bad Wolf, because it was a figure with importance to the Dr. The illusion was created by the Galaxy Eater, which 8.5 was supposed to use to destroy Gallifrey. Question: Doctor Who employs some of the greatest writers in the world and no one could come up with a better name than the Galaxy Eater?

Anyway, Billie Piper was magnificent as ever. Jenna Coleman held things up her end, and Joanna Page gave a surprisingly good performance as Queen Elizabeth I. Surprising because while I like Page, I thought she’d get a bit lost between all the big names.

I’ll end with two quick grumbles. It is of course Christopher Eccleston’s prerogative as an actor not to appear in a former role, but wouldn’t it have been lovely to have seen 8.5’s full regeneration into 9? I believe actors have a duty to the characters they create, I feel the same annoyance when a former soap star doesn’t return for a funeral that the character definitely would have come back for.

My second grumble, which happily can be fixed in later episodes, is: what happened to Osgood? You’re not telling me that another girl pitches up with that name in Moffat-era Who and it’s just coincidence? Plus there was all that talk about a pretty sister...is that Clara?

Now Silence will Fall at Christmas and frankly it better because all these false starts to resolve that story are getting a bit much. Although it does mean we lose the wonderful Matt Smith and I’m not sure Peter Capaldi is compensation at the moment.

 Well I have now written far more than I meant to, so I’ll leave you with this: Watch The Day of the Doctor. Again, if you didn’t cheat and read this before you watched. Allons-y! Geronimo! Etc.

Contributed by Victoria Prior

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