Saturday, November 23, 2013

"The Day of the Doctor" Review

This first part is going to be spoiler-free. I know some people are waiting to see it in theaters on Monday or streaming it whenever it's available, so if you didn't watch it live, no worries. Read on! Spoilers will be after the giant picture of River Song.

The Internet is abuzz with Doctor Who-related stuff. The Google game is fantastic (Jason says it's easier to navigate by clicking rather than with the arrow keys). Cake Wrecks has their Sunday Sweets feature up a day early, with a baker's dozen of AMAZING Doctor Who cakes

Jason and I have been re-watching key episodes to get ready for the 50th anniversary. Our normal Friday tradition is to order pizza and watch Doctor Who online, so last night we watched Remembrance of the Daleks, with the 7th Doctor and Ace, which ran at the beginning of season 25 of the original series. Then this morning we decided to do a crash-course review of the Time War, so we re-watched The End of Time with David Tennant (sob!) and this season's The Name of the Doctor. 

We got to the sports bar hosting the meetup around 12:15, with the special starting at 1:50. More than half of the place was taken up by fellow Whovians. Jason and I sat down at a table of complete strangers wearing Doctor Who t-shirts and struck up a conversation. There was a college football game playing on some of the screens, with the sound on, and BBC America on the rest, with the sound off. We were assured that all of the screens would turn to BBC America after the game or at 1:50, whichever came first. The game was still going on as the countdown started, and they must have changed the sound exactly at 1:50. Our side of the restaurant was full of cheers.

I had very high expectations of this episode, and I have to say it was even better than I expected. Seriously, The Day of the Doctor can only be described as epic. I loved the way everyone interacted, all of the stories within the episode meshed very well, and I'm looking forward to the new direction the show is headed in.

10/10. If you haven't seen it, DO. Then come back and read the rest. xD

Mmmmkay. As Professor Song would say, "SPOILERS!"

Here are some of my favorite moments from the special:

I loved that they opened the show with the original 1963 opening. The original theme song is one of my favorite versions and it was a great way to tie it in to the beginning of everything, especially since the episode begins in the same place as the beginning of An Unearthly Child. 

I'm so glad they didn't give away all of the jokes in the trailers and clips. My favorite bit was when John Hurt meets Ten and Eleven for the first time. "Are you his companions?...My God, did I have a mid-life crisis?" And when Ten denied any knowledge of the phrase "timey-wimey." Their character arc--initially uncertain and sharp with each other, then deciding to work together, then coming to respect each other--was reminiscent (in a good way) of The Three Doctors. One of the things I love about Doctor Who in general is that, with all of their problems with keeping continuity straight, it's very self-referential. And even the continuity problems can be chalked up to that wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff.

And the biggie: 

My initial thought when they were getting ready to press the button was that it reminded me of Ten and Donna from Fires of Pompeii--they're stuck in a bad situation, and there's no way around it, but they can get through it together. I was actually kind of annoyed when I realized they were going to Take A Third Option, because pressing the Reset Button on the Time War undoes a major part of the Ninth and Tenth Doctor eras. Not to mention that the Doctor did it to stop them from wiping out all of time itself. And, as John Hurt pointed out, his guilt over the Time War serves as a motivator. 

Still, they managed to pull it off very well. Doctor Who has always been set in a universe that is inherently optimistic: bad things happen, but the universe overall contains more good than bad. And really, to celebrate half a century of Doctor Who, there was no other way this could have gone. Everybody wants the Doctor to win and find a way to end the Time War without wiping out his entire race. It just took three of him to do it. As for the Time Lords wiping out all of time, the Doctors used their Third Option on that problem too. They wanted to end the Time War no matter the cost, and they've got an ending that costs significantly less than their original projections. An eternity in a pocket universe should give cooler heads a chance to prevail.

As I said, I'm very excited about what this means for the future of the show. I would love to see Romana return, for example, or the Master, or even some new Time Lord characters who weren't in the classic series. It gives the Doctor something new to search for. He's found his redemption; now he needs to go and find his people.

And now we are only one month and a couple days away from the Christmas special! They had already turned the sound off by the time the promo aired, but from what I could see it looks like the whole rogue's gallery of monsters will be there. It will also be time to say goodbye to Matt Smith and hello to Peter Capaldi. All in all, I would say 2013 was a great year to be a Doctor Who fan. Now I'm off to make pasta for dinner--bow tie noodles, naturally.


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