I review The Day of the Doctor, the 50th Anniversary Special episode of Doctor Who featuring David Tennant, Matt Smith and John Hurt – written by Steven Moffat, with possible spoilers inside.
And here we have it. The most memorable event of the new series of Doctor Who, with revelations uncovered that change the course of the show’s history and for the first time since the show’s resurrection in 2005 featuring more than one Doctor in the same place at the same time. As we now come to understand, David Tennant is no longer the tenth Doctor – he’s the eleventh. John Hurt is the ninth, and Christopher Eccleston is now the tenth, with Matt Smith being the twelfth – presumably leading up to Peter Capaldi as the thirteen – and final Doctor. It’s going to be a very interesting time when Capaldi starts to regenerate that’s for sure, but rather than look so far ahead – let’s look instead to the present, and last night. The Day of the Doctor outshone all my expectations for it and delivered an excellent masterpiece. I tweeted last night several times following the episode – and my reactions can probably be best summed up in three words. “It was awesome.” That’s why I was debating about actually writing a review for The Day of the Doctor in the first place – what more could I say other than praise?
But I decided to write a review regardless. I’ve been following Doctor Who ever since 2005 when I saw Rose for the first time. I’ve since recently begun embarking on a watch of an episode of Doctor Who for each and every Doctor. An Unearthly Child and The War Games have both been watched and I still need to watch all but the first part of Spearhead From Space before moving onto the Fourth Doctor. The build-up to this 50th Anniversary was so great (I’m still yet to watch An Adventure in Space and Time) that I was slightly, for the briefest of seconds – worrying that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. And did The Day of the Doctor live up to the hype? It most certainly did – because the special made all the build-up and anticipation worthwhile, delivering quite possibly the best episode of Doctor Who’s new series. It’s certainly in my Top 5, right up there with The Doctor’s Wife, Blink, Dalek and Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways. The Day of the Doctor is brilliant and awesome in every respect and I hope this sets the standard for all New Who episodes that follow this one.
Let’s start with the actors. There are so many good parts about this episode. Jenna Coleman was great as Clara – proving why she’s probably my second favourite New Who companion behind Martha, and of course, Tennant, Smith and Hurt all excel in their roles. The chemistry between Tennant and Smith was great – both of them had some brilliant scenes together. John Hurt does a wonderful performance as The War Doctor though – helped along by Billie Piper, who doesn’t return as Rose but plays a different character altogether. John Hurt has quickly risen to become my second favourite Doctor out of the entire lot (behind 9) based on The Day of the Doctor alone – his performance was just awesome, and I love that with Night of the Doctor we now have seen every single Doctor (bar Smith’s) regeneration on screen, thus completing the circle. Whilst we don’t quite get Eccleston appearing here in person – with some already used footage in a brief clip, it was still fantastic to watch unfold. Also, who didn’t love Capaldi’s brief appearance? I really, really can’t wait for him to take over reigns as the Doctor from now on. I think he’s going to do a brilliant job.
Outside of the main cast, the side actors do a mostly great job. We get Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart’s daughter – Kate Stewart, played by Jemma Redgrave giving a strong performance. In fact, the only weak link was the casting of Elizabeth I – and whilst it was a nice throwback to The Shakespeare Code and the first part of The End of Time didn’t really add everything to the episode. The Zygons didn’t fare much better – however it was refreshing to see them in the show for the first time since its return as opposed to making the Daleks the main enemy of the episode. Whilst yes, the Daleks were there – they featured only briefly, with the Zygons being the main enemy – although the Daleks did play an important role particularly with the connection to the Time War.
The plot for the most part, whilst confusing in places – was great. Whilst people may argue about the lack of Christopher Eccleston or a large number of other actors/companions it probably wasn’t the greatest idea to put them all in one episode and the end result manages to make sure they aren’t missed. The episode itself is one big, sprawling blockbuster that has met pretty much everyone’s expectations – with my Twitter feed at least pretty much being a 100% positive for the episode with hardly any negative reactions whatsoever. Now that is how you pull off a 50th Anniversary, Moffat. If only your future work could be more like this and Blink rather than the mess that was The Angels Take Manhattan.
Now I think I’m going to have to rewatch this at some point later today. I think I certainly will by the end of the week at least. It’s just incredible and certainly something that I’m sure will benefit from a repeat viewing. Highly recommended. This may well be the TV Event of the year.