Thoughts On “The Day Of The Doctor”

STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01 ON WEDNESDAY 11 SEPTEMBER, 2013 GMT Doctor Who – 50th Anniversary Special - The Day of the DoctorIn this magnificent, historic episode of Doctor Who, Ten and Eleven spend time comparing suits. They also find an elderly past incarnation of themselves who is only six inches tall for some reason. (Maybe there’s a ‘shrink’ setting on the sonic?) Numerous escapades ensue, including one where they lose midget!Doctor and must be careful not to step on him.

Just kidding. But that’s what it looks like, doesn’t it?

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

I don’t feel like explaining the complicated, timey-wimey plot so here is an official summary for reference:

The Doctors embark on their greatest adventure in this 50th anniversary special. In 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion. All of reality is at stake as the Doctor’s own dangerous past comes back to haunt him.

“The Day of the Doctor” was one of the reasons I began watching the show (I wanted to be caught up so I’d understand the plot.) It was also the first episode I saw when it was new – I’d been spoiled for nearly every big plot twist in previous series because they’d been out for so long. As you might expect, these things made me very excited for the special.

And by and large, what I knew would happen (from watching trailers) was quite enjoyable.

The-Moment-Billie-Piper-and-the-War-Doctor-John-HurtBillie Piper played The Moment wonderfully. When it was announced that she’d be in the fiftieth people went, “Aaaaaah, Ten and Rose!!!” and while I would’ve been happy to see that, I also worried that Steven Moffat (the head writer) would mess her up. He has issues writing female characters – they’re all essentially the same person with different names – and I didn’t want to see Rose turned into Amy. Or River. Or Clara. We already had Clara in the episode, anyway.

Sorry about that. I meant to write about The Moment and instead started complaining about Moffat. (But it’s fun! Perhaps I will write a post about that!)

Anyway, I liked that Piper didn’t play Rose – it would’ve messed up the continuity, too. She plays the interface of a bomb instead and I know that sounds silly, but it worked. She showed that she can play someone besides Rose Tyler. She was smart, and cute, and wasn’t afraid to challenge the Doctor.

Speaking of the Doctor, I loved the interactions between war!Doctor, Ten, and Eleven. I giggled at their teasing, their indignation that [insert incarnation here] was so ridiculous and clearly not as awesome as [insert current incarnation here].

Basically, I adore war!Doctor and wish we could’ve seen more of him. He’s probably my favorite now after Nine, Ten, and Three.

And speaking of Nine, I couldn’t shake the feeling that war!Doctor wouldn’t be a thing if Christopher Eccleston had agreed to reprise the role of Ninth Doctor. The writers needed a Doctor who’d been very involved with the Time War. I don’t see why they didn’t use Eight (more than they did, I mean) but whatever. It seems like one of the weirder things the show has done, pulling a Doctor out of nowhere.

I’m not too bothered about Nine, though. It was Eccleston’s choice, and they showed archive footage of him anyway. Eeeee, that was one of my favorite parts, and not just because of Nine. They showed all the Doctors. All the Doctors worked together (although most of them didn’t know it) and they all appeared at the end and Tom Baker had a cameo! I do think the fiftieth could’ve had more from Classic Who but it did include more than pessimistic!Engie had hoped for.

But enough of that stuff. That’s all stuff I expected. I’m not sure I know any Whovians who didn’t know that Ten, Daleks, Billie Piper would be back. And we were all pretty sure that the Time War would play a part.

But what the writers did with it… I never expected that at all. They did A Thing and for me it overshadowed everything else. It makes me not sure what I think about “The Day of the Doctor.”

drwhoThey brought back Gallifrey.

Or rather, it’s been there all along.

But because meeting another incarnation of himself evidently causes amnesia, the Doctor doesn’t remember that until he lives those events as Eleven.

So, a quick recap: The Doctor’s home planet is Gallifrey. When the show was rebooted in 2005, Nine very quickly established that it was gone. He’d blown it up as Eight to end the Time War, then regenerated.

It’s kind of important to New Who, you see.

It was a huge change to make, a rather brave thing to do writing-wise, and I’ve hoped before that they never ever decided to go, “LOL JK ha ha ha ha no the Time Lords are back whee!” It would be frustrating.

And I am frustrated. Partially.

First of all, I dislike this trend of “LOL JK ha ha ha ha no not really! That never actually happened!” I’m not saying Davies and other writers never had problems with that, but it does seem to be a specialty of Moffat’s. He doesn’t like consequences, he’s not willing to follow through. (I have a lot of thoughts on this, so there’ll be a post on that quite soon.) He kills people only to immediately bring them back. This can happen in a number of ways – they come back to life but must go to another point in time, they die but live other lives with no memory of that one, they get saved. Literally. To a computer. Sometimes they’re merely revived, but that’s not very amusing for Moffat so he doesn’t do that often.

Bringing back Gallifrey is a huuuuge “LOL JK!”

Secondly, Moffat needs to watch “The End of Time Part Two.” You know. That one where Ten points out that in the Time War between Gallifrey and the Daleks, the Time Lords and Ladies were not innocent by any means. He talks of “…the Horde of Travesties, the Nightmare Child, The Could-Have-Been King and his army of Meanwhiles and Never Weres. The War turned into Hell…” Gallifreyans were not magical beings of glitter and happiness and kittens, oh no.

But all Moffat can say is, “Think of the chiiiiildren!”

Yes, the Doctor loathed himself for blowing up the planet and killing them all, but it ended the war and stopped more deaths from occurring.

Thirdly, I’m not totally happy with where this puts Nine, my favorite Doctor. Dad and I were talking about that the other day and he said he didn’t like Nine because he’s too snarky, but that is precisely why I love him. He’s deliciously snarky and sarcastic and angry and intense, all that stemming from what he did in the Time War. He’s furious with himself for destroying Gallifrey (and it makes his joyful moments that much sweeter because they’re rare). That defined his character, but now it makes him seem worked up over nothing.

Finally, I liked the Lonely God thing Doctor Who had going. I know some people disliked it, but the idea of the Doctor being so powerful and all alone because of that interested me. It said, “Even if you’re all alone, you’re gonna be OK. There’s still good in the world worth living for Mr. Frodo.” It said, “Even if you screwed up, you’re going to be alright.”

War_Doctor_turns_into_EcclestoneAnd yet… there is still good in this change. For every thing I don’t like about Gallifrey coming back, there is something that makes me love this new development immensely.

Maybe this actually doesn’t change Nine (or Ten or early!Eleven) that much. No, he didn’t blow up Gallifrey. He didn’t really have a reason to be so angry and regretful – but he thought he did. He beat himself up over that, never let himself forget. If that isn’t equally tragic, that he hated himself for what he’d misremembered, then I don’t know what is.

And maybe this fixes the narrative inconsistencies that have existed since the reboot. Actually, it totally fixes them. For example, all the Daleks were supposedly destroyed along with Gallifrey – but barely halfway through series one, they start to come back.

But they were never gone. Many were destroyed, yes, but not all of them and not with Gallifrey because that planet made it through.

And maybe this will mean the Time Lords will come back. (This could finally connect Classic Who to New Who!) I want Twelve to spend series eight trying to find Gallifrey. I want to see a happier Doctor; that hasn’t really been a thing in New Who. Mostly, I want two things: I want Romana back as companion (because she’s not really dead, whee!) and I want the Doctor to realize that having Gallifrey back is not magical and glittery. I want him to see that the Time Lords can still be a problem, still make him work hard to stop them fighting with anyone else. I want him to see that even if Gallifrey exists, maybe he doesn’t need/want it after all and maybe he should run away in that blue box like he did hundreds of years before.

Sorry for going from happy to sad. But sad is happy for deep people, as they said in “Blink.”

Finally and most importantly, “The Day of the Doctor” was unusual, especially for a finale. (OK, I realize it wasn’t technically a finale but it does build heavily off the ending of series seven.) Finales are sad. Finales are dark. People die, companions leave.

Not this time. Or to quote the painting, “no more.”

Last night I rewatched my favorite episode with Nine, “The Doctor Dances.” It’s lovely because it introduces Jack, and is creepy, and is a Moffat episode from when he was good, but really I love it because of one little thing the Doctor says near the very end.

Everybody lives, Rose! Just this once, everybody lives!

That scene does A Thing to me. I mentioned earlier that the angry Ninth Doctor’s rare happy moments are so sweet, remember? That’s what I was talking about. He is SO HAPPY there. He has the widest, cheekiest, most delighted grin you can imagine. He tells Rose, “I need more days like these.”

And he got them. Gallifrey falls no more, and everybody lives.

Yes, sad may be happy for deep people, but sometimes deep people want straight-up happy. “The Day of the Doctor” and the return of Gallifrey are not without their problems but overall I’m quite pleased. And happy.

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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20 Responses to Thoughts On “The Day Of The Doctor”

  1. PREACH

    (oh yes did you notice, I finally replied to the long long comment hint hint)

  2. Starronge says:

    I loved the comment. I also loved the episode/movie thing. I really liked Billie playing the Moment. ❤ And Clara was wonderful. As always.

    • nevillegirl says:

      What comment? The Meeping Koala’s? 🙂

      Mhhhhhhhh *makes sounds of indecision* I think I’m still disappointed that asylum!Clara or snowmen!Clara never became companions. I liked them. They were smart, and gutsy, and yeah.

  3. Starronge says:

    I really liked Asylum!Clara. She was actually my favorite, just because she was so funny and I felt so bad for her. Also, no, wait…blog post is what I mean to say. Huh. But okay, yeah. I meant blog post instead of comment.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Mhmmm. I can’t say I cared that much when snowmen!Clara died.
      And she was smart. That could have made for a very Martha/Doctor -ish relationship. Instead the final version is so ordinary – and not even interesting ordinary like Rose or Donna where they had something to overcome. She’s got everything worked it. It’s boring.
      Thank you. ^-^

  4. You shut your dirty mouth.
    no that wasn’t a quote from Adventure Time what are you talking about

  5. Miss Alexandrina says:

    I love Billie Piper as The Moment. Definitely the right thing for the writers to do. I don’t quite have closure on the whole Doctor-Rose pairing (a second Doctor, a parallel universe? As a massive Doctor-Rose shipper when series two was first out, I felt that the writers were rather cheating to end it that way), but bringing her back would have ruined things, I think. Instead, they used her more as a bit of humour or reference. I liked The Moment’s character, too, regardless of the actress; I feel that was good scripting on the tone and device of The Moment.

    YES – I am so dubious about the whole let’s-bring-back-Gallifrey. I felt the absence of The Doctor’s homeworld defined his actions in New Who – by having to rely on Earth as a place to have roots and such. I think a part of me dislikes the idea as a theatre/drama student: the pure logistics of it by introducing a whole new system. It would be nice to see Twelve hunting Gallifrey, but- I don’t know. It doesn’t sit right in the pit of my stomach.
    On the other hand, you’re right: Romana! *bounces up and down*

    • nevillegirl says:

      Indeed. Actually, that’s related to a post I hope to finish today – I’m not a fan of retconning things / bringing back dead or lost characters over and over again. So I liked that Piper was a totally new character.

      *nods* I rather liked the Lonely God thing the Doctor had going. The Gallifrey stuff doesn’t invalidate his feelings, but if someone started watching now? There’s seven series that won’t have an impact on them because they’ll know everyone on his planet is OK.
      I would love to see Twelve and Romana. Since Romana would likely look different, I want him to pick her up as companion for a few episodes and not realize who she is at first but then she makes some reference (maybe she tells someone else “Call me Fred”? :D) and then he’s like WHAT ROMANA. O_O ❤
      And that would be a perfect way to add a companion and have Clara leave! *is not a Clara fan*
      I do worry about Twelve, though. Nine is my Doctor and I thought an older(-looking) Doctor might be darker and more serious like Nine. But I don't know if that makes sense now.

      Also, nice River cosplay! 😀 I was squinting at your avatar thinking maybe I'm just too obsessed with the show, but then I saw your blog post on it. 😀

      • Miss Alexandrina says:

        Oh, yeah! Moffatt uses that plot-device a lot, and it becomes dull the second time.

        Haha, yes! They might not know each other, so humour ensues from that.
        Deadpan yes. *is also not a Clara fan* She just doesn’t *gestures words away* Hmm, work? Unengaging? Samey?
        Worry about him? I think I get what you mean: because he knows the world is alive, he won’t have as much gravity as Nine did. I agree, though I think a new face/personality alone might make him more serious. It will really come down to seeing in action, though.

        Haha, yes! I’m glad it’s that obvious. The hair was easy, but the dress was the hard part, as I something only vaguely like her Time of Angels party dress.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Clara is better than Amy, but there was nowhere to go but up for Amy. I don’t know. I just don’t think they had any depth. I don’t mean that Amy was shallow because she was pretty and liked to wear pretty things and loved Rory. That’s totally OK, in fact, that’s great! She just never seemed realistic. She’s like a Barbie doll, she changed drastically whenever the show required it. She’s a kissogram! Now she’s a model! Now she’s a writer! She isn’t affected by either her family coming back or her daughter being stolen!
      Exactly. I loved Nine’s intensity and moodiness. Twelve could easily turn into a happy clown because GALLIFREY’S BACK LET’S PARTY.

      I think the hair is probably the only part that really matters, though. If everything else is fairly close, that’s good, but it’s the HAIR everyone remembers. 😛

      • Miss Alexandrina says:

        Yeah, Amy kinda had all the romance and success, whereas Rose was on the other end of the social spectrum. Yeah, I agree – she didn’t feel like a companion should feel.
        I know what you mean, though I suppose that, if one gets into the business/the right contacts, that’s the way I just found that she/her story wasn’t very memorable. I can remember very little of the storylines of the first and second Eleven series. I didn’t like the whole River-Song-was-here-all-along bits, too. It just felt like Mofatt was trying to hard to tie everything together too well.
        Haha, yeah, exactly. 🙂

        Hehe, yay my hair, then!

  6. Pingback: Quarterly Rewind, Fall 2013 – Music, Maggie Stiefvater, And More | Musings From Neville's Navel

  7. It was ridiculous and fun to watch, but I felt Moffat messed up Ten completely. And I’m glad he didn’t bring back Nine because Moffat might have messed him up, too. It was essentially like watching two Elevens. Also, Ten’s hair was all wrong. This irked me. So much.
    I kind of felt cheated that Ten came back without a companion (where does that put it on his timeline? After Rose? After Martha? After Donna?). It would have been fun to see the companions interacting–I feel like Donna and Martha could have brought in a strong performance. And I think RTD should have just even supervised the production. I mean, come on. He symbolizes New Who more than anything. But it was a fun, quirky episode. And now please excuse me while my computer momentarily dies.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Yeah, now that you put it that way, it WAS like watching two Elevens. Ten felt off to me.
      IKR? His hair wasn’t as majestically fluffy as it used to be. xD

      I believe it takes place right before The End of Time… or was it right after? I think it’s before. Because he wears the same hat and flower necklace during that episode as he did right at the beginning of TEoT.

      *le sigh* I miss RTD.

      • His hair kept annoying me. It’s supposed to be fluffy. I swear, if I ever meet him, like in a parking lot or something like some randomly, AMAZINGLY LUCKY Whovians do, and I don’t pee my pants with excitement or like pass out or stutter forever, I’m going to ask if I can pet his hair. 😛

        Maybe right before, yeah… Doesn’t he regenerate in the End of Time, though? So it couldn’t have been after…

        I miss RTD, too. *cries a bit*

    • nevillegirl says:

      *fluffs Ten’s hair*

      Omg, you are now definitely one of my favorite bloggy people. 😀 Because A) we seem to have some cool stuff in common, and B) that comment made me laugh. I would probably pee my pants, pass out, and stutter all at the same time if I met Tennant (or any of the actors).

      • Aww ❤ You're one of my favorite bloggy people too (and blogs), but you probably already knew that. I think I'll screenshot your reply and hang it on my wall.
        And yes. If I met ANY person who's EVER acted with a speaking role in DW, I'd probably pass out and die. Several times. 😛

    • nevillegirl says:

      *giggles* Go ahead.
      I would love to meet John Barrowman. 😀

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