Watching Day Of The Doctor

It was Doctor Who day on Thursday (this was meant to go up on Friday but is a little late) but I was somewhat busy all day and had to put off the festivities until Friday evening. Well okay, “festivities” is overselling it and “watching something and then blogging” is far more appropriate. Day Of The Doctor was the story I chose, it was originally broadcast to mark the show’s fiftieth anniversary in 2013 and is a personal favourite to the point I can quote bits of it!

The plot deals with the Doctor’s actions during the Time War; this war to end all wars between the Time Lords and Daleks is something that’s often been alluded to since the show’s return in 2005 but never actually seen on screen. But there are two other stories starting alongside all of that doom and gloom revolving around the twelfth Doctor and Clara being literally picked up to aid UNIT to help with an issue and Queen Elizabeth the first having a romantic picnic with the eleventh. Some people complain about Moffat’s stories being caught up in their own cleverness – I’m paraphrasing various arguments seen online over the last few years – but personally I’ve always enjoyed how that tends to work, starting with those seemingly unconnected and watching them come together.

Quite early in the story there’s a scene where the sonic screwdrivers are used to carry out a complex calculation over the four hundred years between the War and twelfth Doctors and, because Clara bursts in during their bout of self congratulation, that sort of gets “forgotten” until later on where the same trick is used to both find another solution which doesn’t involve destroying Gallifrey and performing the calculations needed to actually carry that plan out.

A metric tonne of fan service is included throughout too with references buried in there to the show’s history; some were obvious like the photo wall or props around the Black Archive, whilst others are more subtle such as the activation code to Captain Jack’s vortex manipulator – 1716231163 for those who missed it, or 17:16 on the 23rd of November 1963 – but this is a multi-Doctor anniversary story and wouldn’t be the same without touches like those. And the scene where all thirteen incarnations of the Doctor rock up to save their home planet is wonderfully done considering it’s mostly existing footage and dialogue; it gets all of the previous incarnations into the story without having to worry about the age of the actors or indeed keeping all of those characters busy for the duration of the story.

Day Of The Doctor has comedic touches and a surprisingly light tone considering the Time War being a major part of the overall story and, although there are few things that I feel could’ve been done differently, its all little details like making all the TARDISes different in the shots where they’re milling around to match how the physical prop changed over the years. Of course that doesn’t stop it being great fun to watch and I still cheer when the “camera” zooms through the Dalek fleet to show first Doctor’s TARDIS arriving.

7 thoughts on “Watching Day Of The Doctor

  1. While it wasn’t perfect, ‘Day of the Doctor’ was one of those episodes that was better than I’d dared hoped and a hell of a lot more. I really enjoyed it! But it wasn’t just that episode, it was all the other materials that went with it that made it for me. ‘The Night of the Doctor’ was beautifully done (and bless McGann for doing it), ‘The Five(ish) Doctors’ was a riot and ‘An Adventure in Time and Space’ was wonderful.

    In Arkanix Labs, we did plan to do a little 50th anniversary demo of our own, but it never got completed. One day, maybe I’ll ‘show’ you the almost completed SID tune I did for the demo, which was a bit of a mash up of the themes over the years.

  2. i think people have been too harsh on most of Moffat’s tenure, but that’s the norm in Doctor Who fandom; five or ten years down the line people will look at the current show and moan that it’s not as good as what Moffat did! =-)

  3. Oh, for sure. I’ve often thought that Moffat is a little too great an idea/story person for the causal BBC audience. The Moffat/Capaldi combination, in my humble opinion, has been brilliant, with really intelligent stories that have been supremely acted. But, like I said, maybe a bit too ‘good’ for a casual audience.

  4. When you say “good” I’m assuming you mean “complicated”…? =-)

    In that vein, one of Capaldi’s finest moments for me was glaring straight down the camera at the audience whilst explaining the bootstrap paradox before the story itself started and gave a practical demonstration, that was fantastic stuff.

  5. Your instance above is an example of what I mean by ‘good’, yes. Actual, theoretical science being used, written and acted really well.

    Having said that, I suppose Doctor Who has always used some some kind of scientific principles, or explored moral issues. One that always sticks in my mind to this day is Tom Bakers story, “Genesis of the Daleks’ where the Doctor questions the morality of him destroying the Dalek incubation room, thus destroying the Daleks.

    But I would imagine that most of this passed over the heads of the casual audience. As good as David Tennant was, I suspect my daughters watched Doctor Who during this period more for the ‘eye candy’ than the story writing and acting. I pointed this out to them recently, referencing ‘Rise of the Cybermen’ where people wore ‘earpods’ which fed information direct to their brains. And how different is it today where younger adults are constantly glued to their phones and Facebook and being ‘controlled’ by this information?

  6. The Cybermen alone are a good example of classic ‘Who taking inspiration from science, the worry at the time being what would happen if humanity continued to augment itself and where the line between being human and becoming something else sat.

    Some contingent of the audience have always watched it for the “eye candy” (I may have had something of a childhood crush on Tegan) or the faster-paced action stories, but ‘Who has always been a clever show that can be enjoyed at different levels.

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