WARNING: SPOILERS, SWEETIE.
It seems that the entire world has gone crazy for Doctor Who, with the broadcast of the 50th anniversary episode, The Day of the Doctor, being simulcast to 94 different countries worldwide. Right across the globe, fans of young and old were sat in front of their TVs, their laptops, or munching on popcorn in cinemas to experience one of the biggest events in modern television history. There was an almost insurmountable amount of pressure the show to deliver. So did they?
The short answer is a very resounding yes. The entire special was brimming with sass, references to Classic Doctor Who and tonnes of moments that will leave audiences exhausted, until the next instalment hits screens in a months time.
The production values were superb from the very first scene, which finds Matt Smith’s eleventh regeneration of The Doctor dangling from the TARDIS high over the city of London – grand and sweeping, taking audiences to heights that television doesn’t often get to reach. Smith has always carried a goofy, giraffe-like air to his role as The Doctor, and this moment was no different. A fitting final grand entrance for Eleven, who will be passing on the sonic screwdriver in the Christmas Special airing next month.
John Hurt, aka the War Doctor, is introduced in the most badass way possible – and that’s saying something, when you consider everything that Whoniverse has played host to. He takes a soldier’s gun on the Time Lord home planet, Gallifrey, which is being destroyed by the Daleks, and shoots the wall, spelling out ‘NO MORE’ in big letters. He then gets into his TARDIS and flies it into some of the Daleks, causing a huge explosion on-screen.
Now pay close attention, because here’s where it gets complex. Hurt has been introduced to the Doctor’s timeline as a link between Paul McGann’s Eighth doctor and Christopher Eccleston as Nine. The timeline is kinda difficult to understand, but director Stephen Moffat explains that Hurt is a continuation of McGann as Eight, which keeps Eccleston as Nine, David Tennant as Ten and Matt Smith as Eleven.
One of the most anticipated appearances in the much-hyped special was the return of the Doctor’s beloved Rose Tyler. Only she’s not Rose. She’s the projected form of a weapon so powerful it became sentient. This is the weapon the War Doctor plans on using to destroy Gallifrey and the Daleks that are attacking it. Despite not being the real Rose, this weapon (taking the form of ‘Bad Wolf’) did provide us with laughs with her first interaction with the War Doctor.
She creates the event that brings together the three Doctors in a Ghosts of Christmas Past style reunion and in a fleeting moment, she looks at Ten in a way that definitely means that some of Rose is really there. Heartbreaking.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Doctor Who episode without some kind of quirk that viewers have come to love. The Eleventh (technically twelfth) Doctor’s fez became a pivotal prop in connecting the three points in time and space. So there was reason for Eleven’s obsession with fezzes after all – I guess they are pretty cool.
The story of this episode explores what happened during the Time War, which is only ever briefly touched on in the series. It was a given that this episode was going to be highly emotional and very intense, but some reveals came so fantastically out of left-field, that we were left on the edge of our seats, mouths agape and tea slowly going cold. If that wasn’t enough, audiences finally get their first look at Twelve – a brief glimpse of the determined, furrowed brow of Peter Capaldi. He is the one regeneration that has everything to lose, because, as far as we know, he is the last lifeblood of The Doctor. It’s safe to say there were screams throughout the entire globe during that moment.
The ending of the episode was equally as tragic as it was great. Include Tennant’s last words being “I don’t want to go” and Tom Baker making an appearance – you end up with an audience who were taken on an emotional rollercoaster for the entire 75-minute runtime. The result? Millions of viewers needing a giant group hug. Social media in meltdown. A stunning tribute to a series that spanned generations, cultures, hearts and minds. Our hats go off to the entire production staff – not just of yesterdays special, but to everyone that has ever been involved in the series at one point or another. There may be a dozen Doctors now, but he’s definitely one of a kind.
Now let’s all take a deep breath. Christmas is only a month away…