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The Day of the Doctor – Review

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The 9th Doctor…no, 8.5….no he’s definitely the 9th Doctor…the War Doctor…no, okay, John Hurt is the time-war Doctor and he is saying ‘no more’. No more time-war. He’s going to end it all. Meanwhile Clara is working at Coal Hill Secondary School, which Susan Foreman, the Doctor’s granddaughter, attended, for whatever reason that isn’t explained and the Doctor is doing whatever it is he does. Well, the War-Doctor aka the new 9th Doctor has taken ‘the moment’ and is going to end the time war, this means destroying his entire planet. Meanwhile the 10th Doctor, who is now the 11th Doctor, is groping Queen Elizabeth the 1st.

In central London, UNIT has a problem with some paintings; something has escaped from them and they want the Doctor to help them work it out. The ‘moment’, which takes the form of Rose Tyler, tells the War-Doctor she will show him what he becomes if he destroys Gallifray. While the original 10th Doctor is running from some Zygons and the 11th Doctor is dealing with the paintings the moment opens up a portal which brings the war-doctor, 10, and 11 together. Without over complicating things, the rest of the story plays out as such: the Zygons were hibernating inside paintings during Queen Elizabeth 1st time and broke out in present day to take over the world, which caused UNIT to seek the Doctor’s aid. The War-Doctor obverses and converses with his future selves before he has to make the choice to press the ‘moment’ which will destroy Gallifrey.

What I liked

I liked that Gallifray isn’t technically destroyed, but is still ‘time-locked’ and hidden somewhere that the Doctor cannot remember. Though the irony of the entire episode is that since the Doctors return in 2005 we were told it was time-locked and could not ever be reached. Could the Doctor have just time-locked the planet in the painting? Yes. John Hurt’s Doctor forgot about it because of the crossing time-stream/timey-wimey stuff. For once Moffat gives a plot is kind of clever in that respect.

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 It was great to see David Tennant back. He really stole the show. And after years of hints about 10 and Elizabeth 1st it was fun to see what happened between them.  I enjoyed the self-awareness regarding the Sonic Screwdriver and it’s ability to solve every problem. Let’s hope that convenient plot device is disposed of in series 8. The Zygons looked and sounded scary-ish, and I liked their suspended animation inside the paintings, that was fun.

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I liked the Tom Baker appearance. It was a bit ambiguous as to ‘who’ he was, but it seems that this was a future Doctor Who chose to look like the 4th Doctor again. Clearly they are setting up the story to explain why Doctor 13 (Capaldi) has the face of a man who has been in Doctor Who twice (fires of pompii & torchwood: Children of the Earth).

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 Despite all 13 Doctors appearing at the end, and not making much sense, I liked the quick flash of Capaldi.

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What I Didn’t Like

Clara – she was pointless in the episode. Her only role was that she told the Doctor of the hidden base where Kate Stewart and the Zygons were arguing. Other than that, what did she do? Nothing. But also, What was the point in having Clara work at Susan Foreman’s old school? That was nothing but a silly reference. Why go back to those stomping grounds and not pay better tribute to it?

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John Hurt wasn’t the villainous Doctor I thought he was going to be, and that’s not what I didn’t like. What I didn’t like was that he didn’t do anything that the 8th Doctor, Paul McGann, couldn’t have done. But as well I wasn’t entirely sold on Hurt as a Doctor. He seemed a bit lost. The Doctor has always been humorous, but Hurt’s Doctor seemed to be void of all humour. He just seemed like a grumpy old man.

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As appealing as they are, I didn’t see the point in the Zygons. The story was about the John Hurt’s Doctor coming to terms with his final act in the war. The Zygon threat was rapidly dropped and never concluded; a terrible habit of Moffat. It needed to feel more impending – rather than the Unit/Torchwood quick resolve of ‘oh we got a nuke and we’ll just kill us all’. They should have made the threat more impending to earth, or they should have made the entire episode all about the time-war. But the two stories didn’t work well running parallel.

I didn’t see the point in Osgood Stewart. Sure, she wore the 4th Doctor’s scarf, did Tom Baker give it to her maybe?. It’s a shame because her character appeared to have the potential to be an interesting character, but overall fell flat. Lastly – the length. Running at 1 hours and 16 minutes that just seemed like a bit of a disservice. That’s only 16minutes longer than the 11th Hour.

What Didn’t Make Sense:

 Why the other Doctors turned up….as cool as it was, where did that come from? And how terribly cheesy was the scene with all 12 of the Doctors? Looked like a bad photoshop you’d see on Deviantart!

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Summary

The Day of the Doctor was a decent story. Probably better than all of series 7. However, it didn’t wow or thrill me. I wasn’t expecting so much time to be spent on the actual time-war. Part of the story fell for me because we knew so much of what was going to happen anyway. There were some interesting ideas but like a lot of recent stories Doctor Who is falling victim to an overabundance of exposition and not enough action. It is people talking in rooms and nothing else happening. And when something does happen it is rushed. The writing team on Doctor Who need to learn to balance the standing and talking and the actual doing.

Characters like Kate and Osgood Stewart were relatively pointless to the episode. That being said I enjoy them far more than I do Vastra, Jenny, and Strax who should never return to Who. Queen Elizabeth was more central and proved useful to the episode. Though she was a bit busty – this is still a children’s show, not a vehicle for innuendo.

John Hurt, though decent, didn’t feel like a Doctor. Not even a War Doctor. He needed a bit more zest. In all 8 incarnations the Doctor was whimsical and funny, I’d imagine a war doctor wouldn’t have lost that whim.

‘The Moment’ was a fun way of bringing Billie Pipper back. Her return trumped the dull companion that is Clara Oswin Oswald. Though I would have liked to have seen the real Rose Tyler.

So what did you think?

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One response

  1. I thought John Hurt’s melancholy and grumpiness as the War Doctor made sense. He is meant to be different than the other doctors because he lived and fought during the time war. What I liked is it made it clear that even though the War Doctor had to do some dark things, he was still the Doctor and trying to find a way to save as many people as possible.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:07 am

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