Guest Post: Doctor Who 50th Day of The Doctor Review

day-of-the-doctor-reelgoodI am sorry that this review has been so long coming, but I needed some time to gather my thoughts, and in the wake of the Christmas special and Matt’s farewell, maybe it is best reviewing back to back. And this anniversary story was a strange beast. For the first 45 minutes I thought I was in Let’s Kill Hitler Moffat territory and I started to panic. Where the hell was everything going? Was everything just big sounds and colours? But then it hit me. Roughly a quarter of the way through. The adventure of the week Zygon story was both a clever front and a deliberate parallel to Moff’s real beef; dealing with The War Doctor, genocide and bringing back Gallifrey. By the time Matt’s voiceover sounded telling me that Eleven was going where he was always going, I was a mess of happy tears because YES MOFFAT. THIS IS IT. THIS IS DOCTOR WHO’S ESSENCE. YES.

Starting off as a deceptively silly tale about UNIT summoning The Doctor and Clara because of an odd message from Queen Elizabeth, and a Zygon invasion stretching from the 16th century to the present, it soon became a bitter walk down memory lane as the sight of a 3D painting called ‘Gallifrey Falls’ tunnelled us back into The Doctor’s darkest hours. The War Doctor steals the Time Lord’s most lethal weapon; a self destruct with a consciousness. The button gets confused and settles on Rose Tyler as Bad Wolf as the face of morality in a surprise move which works. She taps Hurt into Ten’s time stream as well as Eleven’s and the three band together to stop the Zygons even as War Doctor must make a terrible choice, knowing exactly the kind of man that he will become and the deaths that he will cause.

There is so much to say that I will break off into sub headings.

The Opening Credits:

The first time I saw this at the cinema, I thought the credits were ridiculous and far too RTD bombastic for my liking. But you know what, the second time round on TV when Matt clung to the base of the TARDIS, Clara looking out, the brilliant “I Am The Doctor” playing and those wonderful credits flowing across the screen, I didn’t give a damn anymore. Because you know what? They all deserved their bombastic moment. Matt and Jenna and David and Billie and John and Moffat. Especially Santa Moff. Haters to the left. Without his direction and some truly brilliant performers, Doctor Who wouldn’t HAVE its 50th.

The Doctor/s:

I have always loved Matt Smith’s Doctor. His ability to play an aged man in a young body still astounds. His ease at comedy is wonderful and his natural chemistry with everyone sweet and bubbly. He has truly become MY Doctor. The script gave him loads to work with, given that two others Doctors showed up (well three if you count the end scene) but I especially loved the scene where he had to explain the Gallifrey Falls painting to Clara and his face crumples with pain and grief.

To my surprise, I also loved Ten. I was quite sick of him by The End of Time but I liked the way that Moff downplayed the angst and only used it for comedic effect. Ten and Eleven bounced well off each other with such different personalities and I was very pleased that Ten never saw the Rose interface. And bonus points are added for managing to tie up the Elizabeth marriage plot point and connecting Day of The Doctor into the opening of The End of Time. Moff. You are an audacious bastard. Right down to the way that you played on that whiny final Ten line, “I don’t want to go.”

Do I really need to mention John Hurt as The Doctor? He was utter perfection as an aged and broken Doctor, bowed and beaten down by endless war. His ascerbic wit and wry acknowledgement of two very young doctor’s was also a nice nod to fans who have long noted this recent demographic pandering. If only he could do some Big Finish audios.

The Companion:

Oh Clara. She has worked for me on and off all of s7. I loved her in The Snowmen (why couldn’t we have 19th century Clara as a companion then?), Asylum of the Daleks, Hide and The Name of The Doctor, but most of the time, and despite Jenna’s excellent acting chops, she really suffers alongside comparisons to the very strong Pond era. Rory and Amy both had a long back story that developed eons each season. It felt to me that Clara only served purpose as an Impossible Girl. She never felt particularly real to me. However, I loved her in this special. I like that she is The Doctor’s friend. I like that her bossy personality lends her to being around The Doctor as well as teaching at Susan’s old school, where Ian is now headmaster. I like that she senses The War Doctor’s sadness and tried to comfort him. I like that she helps all three Doctors change their minds. Which brings me to…

Bad Wolf Big Red Button:

When Billie was first announced as having a part in the 50th, I was pretty pissed off. I love Billie. Don’t get me wrong. I think she is a phenonemal actress. But I was darn sick of Rose. She just kept coming back. All of the damn time. So it was pretty neat of Moff to bring her back as a not!Rose AND as a moral arbitrater. Billie knocked this role out of the park. She was truly chilling in her first few scenes and her repetition of, “No more, no more,” was both terrifying and genuinely funny. Her sad eyes almost out-sad-eyed the master of sad eyes himself. The Doctor.

And then of course, she got some of the best lines of the entire episode. When she elucidated for The Doctor just why the TARDIS noise is so important, my heart leapt and tears prickled. Because it was so true. That noise brings hope to so many. Yes, and even to The Doctor.

Rose: You know the sound the TARDIS makes? That wheezing, groaning. That sound brings hope, wherever it goes.
War Doctor: Yes. Yes, I like to think it does.
Rose: To anyone who hears it, Doctor. Anyone, however lost. Even you.


Which led to The Doctors changing their minds. All thirteen of them in a truly thrilling moment. As all of those TARDIS’ flung around I was grinning from ear to ear. Because how incredibly clever Moff. Gallifrey had to come back. The show would stagnate without that change. And because, there’s only so much angst you can take before viewers get bored. So Moffat dealt with that problem head on by dealing with the meta of just what The Doctor represents. The name you choose- it’s like a promise you keep.

“Never cruel. Never unkind. Never give up. Never give in.”

And blowing up Gallifrey was never something The Doctor could ever do. It just wasn’t him. So he rewrote history but in a way that meant he never can remember it. At least not those earlier incarnations. His character developement from Nine to now is intact, and so is Gallifrey. Bravo, Moff.

Tom Baker:

Maybe the Baker scarf on the Doctor’s UNIT fan girl and the return of Zygons should have given it away. But this little Whovian was very surprised. I cried tears of fannish joy. When Clara first mentioned a caretaker, I thought it would be a Capaldi cameo or maybe even Mcgann.

“Gallifrey falls. No more.”

Baker’s majestic delivery sent shivers down my spine. As did his assertion that;

“I am you. Or is it you are me? Perhaps it doesn’t really matter either way. Who knows. WHO knows.”

Even if the rest of this special had been pants, this moment would have salvaged all.

But there was one last perfect moment to make sure fans everywhere rejoiced as Moffat kicked the ball out of the park and proved to me one more time just why he is one of the best writers on the show because he truly understands the character of The Doctor.


Clara sometimes asks me if I dream. “Of course I dream”. I tell her. ”Everybody dreams”. ”But what do you dream about?” she’ll ask. “The same thing everybody dreams about.” I tell her. “I dream about where I’m going.” She always laughs at that. “But you’re not going anywhere – you’re just wandering about.” That’s not true. Not any more. I have a new destination. My journey is the same as yours, the same as anyone’s. It’s taken me so many years, so many lifetimes, but at last I know where I’m going, where I’ve always been going. Home. The long way around.

The Day of The Doctor: 11/10 inky stars of perfection!


About InkAshlings

Maureen, Australian, young aspiring writer.
This entry was posted in A Madman With A Box, Doctor Who, Doctor Who Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Guest Post: Doctor Who 50th Day of The Doctor Review

  1. Susanne says:

    Oh I loved “The Day of the Doctor!!!” I didn’t mind the Zygon story because I thought in the beginning that the 50th anniversary wouldn’t be about them, especially since the episode (and the whole of Matt Smith’s tenure as the doctor) hinted at the darkest days of the doctor’s life.

    I actually liked the tenth doctor but like you I was sick of him by the end, as I said on facebook I remember watching that final goodbye scene and thinking oh god would you just die already?!?! But I do love how he and Matt Smith bounced off one another. And the jokes about him being “busy” was something that made me smile – innuendo has always been one of the Moff’s strong suits.

    I absolutely LOVED John Hurt, he fitted the “war doctor” perfectly, he looked like a battle scared warrior right from the start. Him telling off the younger two made me crack up laughing and I did like how he questioned the trend of the doctor getting kissed all the time (even though the trend started with McGann’s doctor while the “accidently” getting married bit started with the first doctor in “The Aztecs”). A lot of people were bashing Moffit because of the fact that he used John Hurt instead of Paul McGann but like the Moff I just can’t see the 8th doctor doing what John Hurt’s doctor did. It just goes against his whole personality as seen and heard in the movie, the mini-episode and all of his radio dramas. He is too much of a romantic and a pacifist to do what the war doctor did. In the movie he would rather shoot himself than use brute force. So I think the Moff made the right call here. I hope there will be a multi-doctor ep in series 8 with Peter’s doctor interacting with at least one of the older doctors – predictably I would like McGann to reappear since he is one of the older doctors who look like they haven’t aged a day. It would be a nice contrast – Paul’s romantic doctor vs Peter’s more aggressive and beast like doctor (if the eyes are anything to go by). Plus there is the fact that both McGann and Capaldi have worked together in the past.

    I liked Clara’s role in this, I have been on and off with her like you mainly because I don’t think they have done enough with her character. I do acknowledge that it was always going to be difficult for her due to the Ponds and how well developed they were. I have a feeling that while Clara is the doctor’s best friend I don’t think she is well suited to Matt Smith’s doctor.I think that Amy and Rory’s time with the doctor defined who Matt Smith’s doctor was – someone out of a fairy tale story whom is trying to achieve a little girl’s impossible dream (which kind of showed in “The Time of the Doctor”). I could be proven wrong but I suspect that Capaldi’s doctor will bring out more depth to Clara’s character. At least I hope he will. I hope that the writers including the Moff will start to go deeper into her back story, they have started to do the job in this episode but I am hoping that they will do more in the next series.

    I loved the whole Gallifrey sequences, it made me smile when we saw images of all the doctors coming together. I actually do think that the Moff had this all planned out since the Eleventh hour (even if they were quite vague at the time), The Moff’s style of writing always invoked the mythology of Doctor Who and the legend of the doctor. I re-watched the “Eleventh hour” and a few other episodes of Matt Smith’s tenure as the doctor and I have noticed that there has been more mentions and flash-backs to past incarnations of the doctor than in any other actor’s tenure as the doctor since the new series began. So as far as I am concerned this wasn’t all accidental which was proven to me in “The Time of the Doctor” but that is another story.

    A great experience….and so worth spending all my money on junk food for.

  2. Pingback: Guest Post: Doctor Who 50th Day of The Doctor Review | InkAshlings

  3. paulaacton says:

    I have to type like because the button is not loading for me but like like like 😀 P.S Am thinking of suing Moffat for the number of tissues he has caused me to use over the last couple of years

    • InkAshlings says:

      So glad you like the review- hopefully you enjoy my Christmas one too 🙂

      I have really loved Eleven’s era, especially The Pond era. What a golden age of scripts and great acting!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s