Tag Archives: DayoftheDoctor

Thoughts on The Day of the Doctor

Thoughts on Day of the Doctor

Day of the Doctor delighted fans across the world.

The Classic Who opening on “The Day of The Doctor” was perfect as the original credits and scene of the junkyard panned over to see Clara teaching in Susan Foreman’s old school. With Ian Chesterton listed as Chairman and the clock showing the exact time the first episode “The Unearthly Child” was broadcast, there are plenty of in-nods in just the first few minutes.

In some ways this episode is meant to be a blessing from old Doctors to new. John Hurt represents the old style of Doctor—a grouchy curmudgeon like the first who’s repelled by the fresh-faced young Doctors kissing girls and showing off. “Am I having a mid-life crisis?” Hurt wonders. The banter is fun as eleven calls his “coconspirators” sand shoes and granddad and Ten calls Eleven “chinny.”

Ten: “Allons-y!”

Eleven: “Geronimo!”

War Doctor: “Oh for God’s sake! Gallifrey stands”

The duplicate mannerisms emphasizes how Ten and Eleven aren’t just both Doctors, they’re the popular young New Who Doctors who have much in common.

However, by the end, the War Doctor gives them his approval, using their age gap to escape from prison (or so he plans). They stride into battle side by side, blowing up daleks and finding the way to peace. At episode end, the Fourth likewise blesses the Eleventh as he embarks on a new stage of his quest.

As such, the 50th was sweet and charming. However, other aspects are more problematic.

The Zygons make an awkward villain. They’re new for New Who fans but they’re not terribly classic, appearing in a total of ONE classic episodes (fittingly, “Terror of the Zygons,” a Fourth Doctor episode). Their body takeovers are more laughable than threatening. Admittedly, the Doctor’s solution of confusing the humans and Zygons and forcing them to thus negotiate is clever (though similar to “The Almost People”). But this doesn’t feel like a true apocalypse from the sucker people. Likewise, Elizabeth manages to slay one all on her own with a small dagger.  The battle with one’s double and the game of who is real has appeared in many Who episodes already.

So the Elizabeth plot is pure fluff. The Zygon plot isn’t much threat. The Doctors exchange snark but basically trust each other. The Time War is barely seen.  

In fact, the Time War, a war through time and space, is shown more dramatically with the aftereffects in the Eighth Doctor prequel than in anything from this episode, with Gallifrey scenes that indicate a very conventional war, in fact. People are shooting and screaming, the Gallifreyan high command is giving orders, they have a cellar of doomsday devices. It’s a scene of “insert standard war” rather than the more unusual mythos and interesting Gallifreyans of “The End of Time,” for instance. The Doctor invades Gallifrey only to leave a desperate message, then walks off with the Moment with no trouble at all. Gallifrey felt like it should have been an entire episode in itself, not this shorthand.

Then comes the War Doctor’s conflict. For the John Hurt Doctor, this episode is a question of when he’ll press the button and what it will do to him. The Big Ideas, mostly about the Doctor’s guilt and responsibility for destroying his own race, are dealt with but briefly and somewhat shallowly.

The weapon as mass destruction that would stand in judgment of its user is a clever touch, forcing morality into even an attempt at genocide. Bad wolf tests the War Doctor to his core, forcing him to face what he’s planning and how it will affect him as well as the galaxy. As the Gallifreyans note, only the Doctor, who tries to be a good person and is quite self aware, could withstand such a challenge. The main arc of the plot thus is meant as a psychological study, as the War Doctor faces his future and the 11th Doctor faces the incident he has denied and forgotten. When Ten insists, “This is a decision you won’t be able to live with,” he makes it clear what destroying Gallifrey has done to him.

Most Who episodes don’t actually use time travel tricks after arriving at the destination in space and time. In this episode, Matt Smith and friends appear Time Lords, those who have mastered time and can use it to advantage, as in “The Pandorica Opens.” Granted, this might get convoluted and painful if used too often, but it’s nice to see the time travel tricks being used well.

This is meant to be an Eleventh Doctor episode, happening after the evens at Trenzalore when he was forced to confront the War Doctor in his memory. As such, he’s the one with a companion and his theme music plays. While the other two have their memories wiped, he is expected to grow and change from the encounter.

Clara doesn’t seem right as the episode’s only genuine companion (aside from Bad Wolf of course). Her immaturity on Who and in general are stressed as she has little to offer in this great conflict. With all the humor and ego bruising, someone like Donna Noble would have been the perfect snarky companion watching these scenes play out, yet filled with the maturity of “The Fires of Pompeii” to help the Doctors make the ethical choice. And for once, there was even a plot that would allow her to come back.

Speaking of “The Fires of Pompeii,” the end of this episode felt like a colossal cheat. The Doctor can destroy millions to save billions, in a decision much like his at Pompeii, or others he’s faced, in “Genesis of the Daleks” and “The Parting of the Ways,” for instance. He’s been suffering from his choice for seven years (that we’ve seen) or over 400 (that we haven’t). The Pompeii story, with the horrors of letting people die, or the other two, where the Doctor chooses to find another solution because he can’t bear to save through killing, all have the emotional ring of truth. But how seriously could anyone take a movie about the people who can go back in time, save Hiroshima, and find a no-consequences method of ending WWII? It just feels wrong.

Of course, this does spin off Eleven and Twelve’s next story arc (one presumes): the search for Gallifrey. It’s likely no coincidence that by Christmas the Doctor will be on his last life (For Nitpickers, that assumes the John Hurt Doctor’s odd regeneration with help from the Sisterhood of Karn DOES count, whether he calls himself “the Doctor” or not, and his metacrisis mess in which the Tenth Doctor did APPARENTLY die and regenerate DOESN’T count). As shown in the series, the High Council can award people with an entire new set of regenerations, among other rewards. It promises to be a fun storyline…despite the dramatic feel of “undestroying” the tragically lost Gallifrey.  

Unraveling the science in science fiction tends to never end well, but I must ask: Nine said Gallifrey is time-locked, so he can’t interfere. Is that so different than “locked in an alternate dimension”? While they may be quite different, the concepts feel the same. Either way, it’s mostly impossible to get to and a fitting quest for the Doctor. Is it worth mentioning that all the Daleks being under Time Lock and destroyed from all of time, space, and history really isn’t working out?

Certainly everyone loved the hoard of Doctors rushing in to help, and the Fourth giving his bit of advice to a purposeless Eleven. The fangirl in the Fourth’s scarf was also a lovely touch, as we, the asthmatic, gushing viewers, got to be in the episode too.

If anyone’s aiming for a final count this episode offered…Three TARDISes. Two companions (counting Bad Wolf but not Queen Elizabeth). One companion’s descendent (the Brigadier’s daughter). One crazed fangirl, times two. Two 4th Doctor scarves. One fez (that bounces between many timestreams). The second wedding a Doctor has had onscreen.  More of the Time War than ever seen. Zygons, Daleks, a Cyberman head. Two giant rooms of doomsday devices. Several time loop paradoxes. 13 Doctors (with some as old footage) 5 Doctors with new footage for the show (and an additional one in Night of the Doctor). And the count can go much higher if one includes the lovely scenes from The Five(ish) Doctors (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01m3kfy ) (with John Barrowman getting a bonus for the driving). If 5, 6, and 7 are indeed hiding in the episode, the count can go up to a whopping NINE Doctors, from 4 through the one who doesn’t yet exist, with John Hurt as a bonus in the count. And Doctor #9 is present in spirit as John Hurt regenerates into him.

So happy 50th to all and to all a good night. It was fun, it was delightful, but it was more of a giggle than the great confrontation with the Time War.  All in all, it felt a bit like the Stargate 200th, more fan nods than great epic plot for the ages.

docs

1 Comment

Filed under Doctor Who

Day of the Doctor Easter Eggs and In-Joke References

docs

  • The original credits, then 76 Totter’s Lane and the Coal Hill School begin the episode as they began the series.
  • The school sign reads “Headmaster: W. Coburn” and “Chairman of the Governors: I. Chesterton” … Anthony Coburn wrote that episode, “The Unearthly Child.” Ian Chesterton was a teacher at the school and the Doctor’s companion…he might even still work there.
  • The clock Clara motorcycles past shows the exact time the Unearthly Child was broadcast. And she writes No More on the whiteboard. Hmm….
  • They don’t dwell on the bit where Clara has met Hurt and Ten before during her splintering into souffle girl adventure, but that could just be confusing and awkward.
  • Smith hanging from the TARDIS mirrors his own first episode The Eleventh Hour. Both times dramatic and fun.
  • 11 wears Amy’s reading glasses. 10 wears his own “cool” glasses.
  • “Reverse the polarity” is the Third Doctor’s line.
  • The fangirl is wearing 4’s scarf of course. She also uses it as a weapon, as he frequently does.
  • Zygons hail from the 4th Doctor and Sarah adventure “Terror of the Zygons” (in which people dramatically back up when menaced by them, as in this one). This is their first New Who appearance.
  • Clara uses Jack Harkness’s vortex manipulator. River Song presumably has a different one.
  • Elizabeth the First and 10’s courtship and wedding (teased in several episodes) are finally shown.
  • Even the War Doctor uses a gun to shoot the wall, not the enemy.
  • The sealed message from the past, paintings as messages, etc, are seen in “The Pandorica Opens,” among others.
  • The escape from a dungeon scene nods to many moments, especially 3 and Jo scenes.
  • The oft-mentioned Time War described by 9 and 10 is shown.
  • Gallifrey and the Time Lords’ terrible collars. Also their vault of doomsday devices.
  • The fez of “The Pandorica Opens,” itself a nod to the fez 7 wears, returns (many times over!). Even 10 wears it.
  • In “Night of the Doctor,” 8 meets the sisterhood of Karn from “The Brain of Morbius,” toasts his audio adventures companions, and transforms.
  • Earth is doomed to fall to alien invasions, a nod to many many episodes.
  • The Moment comes to life with a personality very similar to the TARDIS of “The Doctor’s Wife.” They’re both even wooden boxes.
  • Bad Wolf played by Billie Piper
  • 11’s signature high-energy theme music
  • In UNIT, Clara sees a cyberman head and a wall of old companion photos, starting with Susan’s. River’s red sparkly high heels are also there and Amy’s “Angels Take Manhattan” pinwheel.
  • Hurt: “Timey wimey?” 10 “I don’t know where he gets it from.” 10 first said this in “Blink.”
  • The concept of the Doctor protecting children is emphasized in “The Beast Below” and “The Doctor the Widow and the Wardrobe” among others
  • John Hurt regenerates, noting he’s “Wearing a bit thin,” the words 1 used on changing to 2.
  • This show uses several of Moffat’s signature loops and paradoxes.
  • The concept that the Daleks will be terrified of three Doctors. Also, the plan to move Gallifrey so the Daleks all shoot each other is similar to the solution in “Blink.”
  • Rewriting and preserving timelines
  • Obviously, “The Three Doctors,” “The Five Doctors” and “The Two Doctors” all dealt with the same sort of paradox and snarky comments towards the other Doctors’ dress, mannerisms, etc. It’s no wonder 10 isn’t shocked to see 11 after all that.
  • This one particularly mirrors The Three Doctors, with the old crochety one complaining about the ridiculous clown and the “cool” charmer. In fact, that was a Brigadier episode, as this is a Brigadier’s daughter one.
  • 11 mentions Trenzalore and their fate there
  • The need for a Big Red Button
  • Daleks daleks daleks
  • 10: “I don’t want to go.” 11: “He always says that.” 10’s last words on the show are…still his last words.
  • 11 warns 10 about SPOILERS! for the future…by this point in Ten’s life, he’s met River and heard her catchphrase in the Library.
  • On the Doctor getting kissed: Hurt: “Is there a lot of this in the future?” 11: “It does start to happen, yes.” A reference to the asexual attitude of the first seven Doctors in contrast with New Who.
  • “They’re getting younger all the time,” Hurt notes (though he thinks 10 and 11 are companions).
  • Eleven has the same phone number as Ten had in “The Stolen Earth.” Seems he still has Martha’s phone.
  • The Tardis is switched to its original white circles décor. The museum had a similar wall pattern.
  • “Is it important?” “In twelve hundred years I’ve never stepped in anything that wasn’t.” This actually seems a parody of Eleven’s Christmas Carol line that he never met a person who wasn’t important. While the latter was sweet, the former just seems silly.

  • Kate wants a file from the seventies or eighties. It’s murky when UNIT events of the Third Doctor era happened as they were meant to be in the near future (80s), not the present (70s). Hence the date. 
  • The end credits, with the Doctors’ faces, is reminiscent of the old style.

  • The motorcycle ridden into TARDIS echoes similar stunt riding in “The Bells of Saint John.”
  • Kate Stewart, daughter of the Brigadier from 3’s era (also seen in “The Power of Three”) and UNIT. Their Tower of London base was also in “The Power of Three” There’s a picture of her father and the Doctor sends a “space-time telegraph” for him.
  • The code 11 scratches into the wall is the time and date Unearthly Child aired. 17-16-23-11-63, and the first Doctor Who episode aired at 5:16 p.m. on November 23, 1963.
  • Kate is horrified by “Americans with the ability to rewrite history”…this could be a dig at the American Doctor Who movie or Torchwood season four among other things.
  • 11 mentions he lies about his age. This nods to a few inconsistent counts through the series.
  • Finally all the Doctors unite to save Gallifrey (which is described by 9 and 10 as “time-locked” so this may actually have already worked. They’re seen on screens along with a glimpse of Capaldi, Doctor #12, the first time a Doctor is seen on screen before his regeneration.
  • “Hopefully the ears aren’t as prominent this time.” This nods to the fat that he will soon be Eccleston.
  • The Moment is mentioned in “The End of Time” and several comic books, modified from the De-Mat gun of 4’s “The Invasion of Time.”
  • And of course, number 4…

river-song-shoes-650x364  1466303_10202765631531867_2078523940_n

I wrote an entire book of these sort of references….available free today through Monday at    http://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Who-The-What-Where-ebook/dp/B00GMWKBUE/ Doctor Who: The What Where and How.

WhoCompressed

9 Comments

Filed under Doctor Who