50 years ago, William Hartnell, Verity Lambert, Sydney Newman and others perhaps unknowingly unleashed so much more than just a television program. They let loose a cultural icon, a legend, a modern fairy tale that has spanned decades and captured the hearts and minds of many generations of fans.
Day of the Doctor is a piece of television that has been fifty years in the making, make no mistake. Possibly the most anticipated and hyped piece of television ever, the all important question is, did it deliver?
Thankfully, God yes. Day of the Doctor was thrilling, funny, heartbreaking, scary and exciting. It was nostalgic without dwelling on the past and forward thinking without alienating the long time fans. If anyone else could come up with a better story for the 50th, I’d genuinely like to see it.
The story was a fairly typical Steven Moffat timey wimey affair. The three Doctors all had their own separate adventures which tied in together beautifully.
Matt Smith’s started with a fantastic reference to Totters Lane and Coal Hill, two key locations in Who lore and quickly delved into an adventure with mysterious paintings and UNIT. It was only right to reference such an important group in the 50th and The Brigadiers daughter afforded the next best thing to the great Nick Courtney himself. She’s also a fantastic character in her own right, which helps.
David Tennant’s return was a thing of absolute joy as we finally saw what happened with Queen Liz and got a mini adventure with The Zygons (who looked fantastic). Seeing Ten interact with Eleven was hilarious, as The Tenth Doctor, with all his swagger looks disdainfully at the flappy awkward clumsiness of The Eleventh.
And then there’s John Hurt, who finishes off the trinity of Doctors for this episode. His war Doctor was played artfully, a vague menace lurking underneath those tired eyes and a weariness, yet still with that mad Doctor spark. Finally seeing The Time War playing out was a dream. Daleks killing and exploding all over the shop in such excess and on such scale was brilliant.
Throwing Hurt into the mix with Tennant and Smith made for some fantastic scenes. Hurt obviously representing the old guard as he questioned much of what the two young Doctors did. Hurt disgustedly asking, “Timey Wimey?” to Tennant’s sly “I don’t know where he got that from” was a particular highlight.
Then we had the game changing ending, a fanboy baiting sequence in which twelve (or was it thirteen?) TARDISes blitzed through a Dalek fleet to save Gallifrey. See? The classic Doctors were in there after all (kind of). And Gallifrey falls no more? A brilliant move. Seeing the Doctor finally find a way to move on with the whole Last of the Time lords schtick is refreshing and should make for an interesting ark in the next series.
Finally, it would be remiss of me to end this review without mentioning (but not in detail) two masterfully subtle cameo appearances. One of which looks firmly and excitingly to the future while the other was a beautifully done nod to the past.
After 50 years, The Doctor has finally stopped running and is genuinely out there to find something. Day of the Doctor was nothing short of a perfectly balanced, thrilling adventure that seamlessly sets up the future of the show while paying tribute to the past. Here’s to another 50.
SPOILERY SPOILERS OF A SPOILING NATURE.
Well the score may be suffering from a slight bias because Paul motherf**cking McGann is finally back playing The Doctor on our screens. A moment I have waited for since 1996 personally.
While five minutes isn’t nearly enough for McGann (a web series will do nicely, thank you) he still manages to exude a charm and exuberance, now topped off with a massive dollop of cool because he isn’t stuck with a ridiculous costume or stupid wig.
Clearly tired and changed by whatever’s happened with the Time War so far, we’re afforded a nice insight into how awful things are. The Doctor’s would be companion claiming there’s no difference between Daleks and Time Lords anymore sums it up and justifies why The Doctor would essentially give up being The Doctor (a very unsettling moment).
There’s also a handful of nice references to McGann’s Big Finish adventures (rightly so) as he namedrops Charlie and Lucy, among other companions.
And of course we finally have an official name for Hurt’s Doctor; The War Doctor. The glimpse of him here shows him to be a much younger man. I imagine the implication is that he’s been in that incarnation for a long old time.
Night of The Doctor sets up the 50th anniversary bash in an intriguing way, but most importantly, it let the 8th Doctor have another hard earned crack at the whip. About time.
Watch it here, baby.
We all saw it coming. it was at Comic Con when it was confirmed that The Daleks (those metal bastards) will be making an appearance in the much anticipated Doctor Who 50th anniversary bash.
One may express concern that with this on top of Zygons, the tenth Doctor, Rose, Queen Elizabeth and John Hurt as some super nasty prick Doctor, that the 50th may collapse under its own weight.
The Daleks need to be used smartly to avoid such crushing dissapointment. Here are five things those pepperpots could be up to. I’ll leave you to decide which ones are legit.
Because after 50 years of watching the Doctor do battle with the Daleks, it would be nice to see them finally use their plungers to unclog a toilet or something.
Because after all this hype, there would be nothing better than seeing the iconic villains sidelined or only shown for a few seconds. There’s nothing funnier (or easier) than annoying internet fanboys.
Save The Doctor
Celebrating half a century deserves a twist and if anyone could predict The Daleks cutting in to save the day, I’ll eat my hat. I’d have to buy one first mind. Of course, it’d never happen because it would just ruin what makes Daleks Daleks.
Imagine a Dalek with long, smooth lady legs. That image is worth tuning in alone, surely?
Probably what is going to happen. Going from the pictures we’ve seen, it looks like a flashback to the Time War. Something Whovians have been foaming at the mouth to see since the idea came up in 2005
This has been a pointless post borne of a lack of imagination or anything worthwhile to say. Cheers for reading
The fateful day has come. Matt Smith has announced he is leaving Doctor Who, giving Steven Moffat the chance to ruin Christmas for a nation. A task he will no doubt relish.
So here is a list, in no particular order, of ten actors who could replace him, or should play the part somewhere down the line for the show. If you disagree feel free to comment with your name and address so I can come over and slap you across the face for not seeing things my way (that was a joke, I’m a pussy).
Oh and just to clarify, if you’re the sort of person who expects to see Russel Brand or Noel Fielding on this list, you shouldn’t be watching Doctor Who. Seriously, just stop.
Ten: John Hurt (Harry Potter, Alien, Doctor Who, Much more)
I always wanted John Hurt to play The Doctor before the big reveal at the end of the recent series (honestly). As such, as soon as I heard he’d been cast for the 50th I kinda had the feeling there was only one part he could possibly be playing and I nailed it. Although, I nailed it at the expense of spoiling for myself what was meant to be a brilliant reveal during The Name of The Doctor.
In any case, since the show came back I’ve wanted to see an older man playing The Doctor again, if only because if they carry on the way they’re going the 13th Doctor will be a ten year old.
John Hurt just seems to look the part in a way few actors do. In Harry Potter he had the whole mysterious “I know more than you Harry lololol” thing going on which The Doctor should always have. He can also let deadly larval aliens burst out of his chest like no other actor on the planet, which is a bonus. On the other hand, if we can’t have an old Doctor…
Nine: Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider Man, The Social Network, Doctor Who… again)
This one has nothing to do with my worryingly powerful man crash on him, or the fact that his hair rivals David Tennant’s in the so good it must be alien category. From what I’ve seen of him, I just genuinely believe he has the potential to be a truly mad, eccentric Doctor full of energy.
On top of that, we know he can do the whole “acting” lark quite well and cleary has a good range. Something that is probably helpful when you’re playing a batshit crazy alien. Again, you may call me shallow, but it mostly boils down to me thinking he has the right “look” about him. I can’t put my finger on it. I guess I just fancy him a bit too much.
Eight: Thomas Sangster (Nowhere Boy, Doctor Who… sorry)
I will admit that in the case of this chap, we’re gonna need to give it a few more years, but I think he’s got the potential to make a cracking Doctor.
It’s mostly his appearance in Doctor Who (Human Nature/Family of Blood) that got me thinking about him for the role. It’s not that he does anything particularly Doctorish, but the way he delivers some of his lines remind me so much of third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) that I think he could play the role in a similar way. Stern yet stylish with a penchant for Velvet. Maybe not the velvet thing.
Seven: Paterson Joseph (Neverwhere, Doctor Who, oops)
I know what you’re thinking when you look at the picture. How could they cast the Doctor as… someone without hair? P J was actually strongly rumoured for the role after David Tennant announced he was leaving and I for one thought it would have been a brilliant call.
You only need to watch him as the smarmy and eccentric Marquis de Carabas in Neil Gaiman’s excellent Neverwhere TV series to see why he would make a fantastic Doctor.
Six: Martin Freeman (Sherlock, The Hobbit, Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy)
Hold onto your panties fan girls of Tumblr, but I don’t think that Benedict “Sherlock” Cumberpatch should ever play The Doctor. He is a terriffic actor, but I think for the most part his characters are just a little too graceful, cold and in control. If there’s one thing The Doctor should never be, it’s completely in control… and very rarely cold.
Freeman on the otherhand is immensely likeable and can play the bumbling adventurer very well. In Sherlock, The Hobbit and Hitch Hikers, he is a character who is unwillingly pulled into an adventure. Of course the Doctor is always looking for adventure, but never trouble. Freeman would make a cracking unwilling, bumbling and perhaps quite hapless Doctor.
Five: Alan Rickman (Harry Potter, Dogma)
Perhaps not these days, as most people would have a hard time getting Professor Snape out of their heads. However, in Kevin Smith’s Dogma he played a brilliantly smarmy, sarcastic dick that – if toned down a little -would have made quite a good Doctor.
Of course, we’d have to see a little more than smarminess or we’d get pretty bored of him before long.
Four: Richard E. Grant (Withnail & I Surprise… Doctor Who)
Annoyingly, this will never happen now as he recently played the big bad of Series 7 as the revived Great Intelligence. It’s a shame since on two occasions he played the Doctor during the Series’ state of flux. Once in a kind of forgettable animated format. The other occasion was for about thirty seconds but much more memorable…
Steven Moffat (whoever that guy is) wrote a spoof skit for Comic Relief in the 90s featuring Rowan Atkinson as the 9th Doctor. He regenerates into some well known actors several times in the spoof but by far the best performance was Grant’s. It was only a sketch and only a few seconds but he just nailed the part. A shame we’ll never see him do it again.
You can check him (and some other big names) out as The Doctor here:
Three: Paul Mgann (Withnail & I, Doctor Who)
GIVE ME BACK THE EIGHTH DOCTOR. GIVE MGANN MORE SCREEN TIME NOW. Sorry.
Two: Dylan Moran (Black Books, Shaun of the Dead)
I’m not really sure if this is because I think his eccentric bastard Bernard Black character would make a good Doctor, or if it’s just because I want to see him and Manny travelling together in the TARDIS. Either way I think I’d be sold on this one.
One: Andrew Gower: (Being Human)
Sadly, I’m only aware of Gower from Being Human, but it was one of those rare moments for a picky bastard like me where I just knew I wanted to see him as The Doctor.
He just has something of The Doctor about him. The Tennant/Baker wide eyes, the madness… just a general air of Doctorishness. Gower is my top choice for Doctor number 12.
But that’s the thing with a new Doctor at the end of the day. I can almost guarantee it won’t be anyone we’re expecting. You can ignore all the odds involving Rupert Grint and James Nesbitt and the names that come up everywhere. If any one person on the planet can tell me they were expecting Matt Smith to be the 11th Doctor, they’re a liar.
One thing’s for sure. Whoever they pick, they’re gonna have one hell of a job replacing the man who made me forget David Tennant in less than five minutes.
And there, on a Saturday evening on BBC One in 2013, was William Hartnell as… The Doctor. Excuse my language but fuck me that was enough to make me explode with joy. After fifty years, finally getting a glimpse of the moment The Doctor decides to run off with a type 40 TARDIS and see the universe was something truly special for me.
And it only went and got better. We saw Doctors one through seven, including that strange moment in Dragonfire where for some reason, Seven decides to crawl down a cliff. I think I’d already decided this was a perfect episode from that 50th montage and that was only the bloody pre credits sequence.
Of course, some of the meshing of archive clips worked better than others, but when you’re watching your childhood colliding with the present day of your favorite program, who really cares?
The Name of The Doctor managed to set up everything that needed to be set up for the 50th shenangins all while answering some questions that have been around for years and still managed to be an enjoyable, witty and in places quite chilling episode.
Did the big question, the Doctor’s name get revealed? No. Of course, it was never going to be answered in a straight forward “my name is…” way and frankly anyone with a fundemental understanding of Doctor Who would have known that from the off. Moffat is a fan and as such knows full well that is a question we never need to hear the answer to.
And if you were expecting an asnwer, it’s hard to have felt shortchanged from this gem of an episode. River’s final farewell was truly quite heartbreaking, seeing The Doctor’s assertion that he hates goodbyes is a deeper glimpse into who he is than his name could ever tell us.
Some might gripe at lack of explanation towards why The Doctor could see and touch River, I couldn’t care less when the payoff was such an emotional scene and that line “God knows how that must have looked”. It would be a shame if this was River’s last appearance but she couldn’t have gone out on a better note.
Matt Smith was firing on all clyinders once again, showing anger, heartbreak and at times, genuine fear. The scene where he found out he had to go to Trenzalore was quite unsettling. This is not how The Doctor is supposed to be and Matt Smith played it perfectly, not too much and not too little emotion.
Strax, Vastra and Jenny still need their own spin off series, that much will never change. I admit I was watching this episode in the fear that one of them would bite the dust and that horribly chilling scene where Jenny realised she had been murdered set the stakes very early on. Frankly, I don’t know what I’d do without my favorite Dinosaur/Victorian Maid Lesbian Crimefighting Couple. Although Strax is genuinely brilliant, his comedy did detract from the drama at times, which felt a little frustrating.
I think Jenna Louise Coleman’s character has come under a lot of unfair criticism this series. She’s constantly been brilliant in my eyes and to be honest I never could really stand Amy Pond. Sorry, world, but I just think Clara is miles ahead.
Some reviews have complained that since we haven’t known Clara that long, her sacrifice doesn’t mean as much. I would argue that surely it means that much more? If she hasn’t known The Doctor that long and is willing to tear her very existence apart to save him, I think that’s pretty big.
Incidentally, The Doc and Clara’s chemistry was great here. Maybe it’s because Clara finally saw a deeper side to The Doctor, but they really seem to care about each other much more in this one. Although I am glad River wasn’t sidelined so The Doctor could canoodle with Clara as I initially feared.
There isn’t too much to say about The Whispermen and Richard E Grant. Grant is always brilliant and hopefully we haven’t seen the last of him and while the Whispermen looked creepy as hell, they didn’t really do much besides… whisper. Not that cool.
Oh yeah, introducing John Hurt as The Doctor? Jesus Christ, November 23rd cannot come fast enough.