“The sound of the TARDIS brings hope to anyone who hears it.” – Yes, yes it does.
The Doctor’s name is a promise. “Never cruel or cowardly. Never give up. Never give in.”
I’m A Whovian
This year was Doctor Who‘s 50th Anniversary. I have been a Doctor Who fan pretty much since Iowa Public Television started playing episodes, which they have been doing steadily
for almost 40 years. I wore a Whovian pin on my coat proudly during the 18 month hiatus between Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy’s run and again after the cancellation. (The photo is me in my admittedly not very good Jo Grant costume. I use it for my sci fi Twitter account.
Doctor Who Fandom
I didn’t get to watch “The Day of the Doctor” along with everybody else in the global simulcast because we don’t get BBC America where the rest of the world got to watch it to the very minute that the first episode aired 50 years ago. Instead my friend Ann and I drove over to the IMAX in Davenport (did you know they now have two IMAX theaters in town now?) to see the 50th Anniversary special in 3D. (Watching the DVD I’m pretty impressed with how much of the 3D they were able to maintain on the DVD without 3D glasses or a special 3D TV.) It was pretty amazing. There were a few #4 scarfs. Lots of suits and tennis shoes and bow ties and fezzes. (Plus a disturbing number of people dressed as various versions of a TARDIS, since when is that a thing?, especially because none of them are boxes.) I myself was wearing, courtesy of a long ago 4H project (I designed and created my own companion costume complete with a question mark collar and hand embroidered question mark suspenders), the only part that still fit, the shirt with the question marks, a vest (waistcoat to any Britfans) and pair of plaid trousers.
The beginning had a great bit with a Saltariun reminding people not to tweet or text, don’t record, and the consequences if they did. It was hilarious. They also did a little bit with Matt Smith announcing they were going to 3D, David Tennant interrupted to warn everyone to duck for Smith’s chin. It was really a great sequence. I would hope they would include it on the DVD, but I doubt they did. (And I can now tell you they didn’t. Why do they create so many one off things and then not make them available either for free or as a bonus on the sale copy?) Afterwards there is a making of special narrated by the 6th Doctor himself Colin Baker that also was shown on TV with the simulcast. (And that IS included on the DVD).
Day of the Doctor on IMAX
It was a one day event the Monday after the Saturday simulcast. I was very glad it was an option , but seriously a Monday night in November? If it had been on Saturday in the afternoon I’d have bought tickets for both showings. My Twitter timeline from that Saturday was absolutely right. IT WAS AWESOME! A true Valentine to fans, especially combined with the Fivish Doctor Reboot and Night of the Doctor. I truly appreciate the BBC allowing these extras to be filmed and to be released internationally which sadly is often not the case with Doctor Who extras. (Night of the Doctor and The Last Day made the DVD, the Fivish Doctor Reboot didn’t.)
The plot line for the episode was the ending of the Time War which was burning all the universe at all times (which I admit makes no sense but I figure that’s why they call it a Time War and something that would compel the Doctor to destroy his whole race). The War Doctor (John Hurt) who showed up in the end scene of Night of the Doctor has lost hope, the only way he has come up with to stop the death of the universe is to burn both the Daleks and the Time Lords using the last unusable weapon from the dark time that the Time Lords haven’t unleashed against the Daleks. It’s called the Moment, a weapon with a conscience. The conscience took the form of Rose Tyler in her guise as Bad Wolf. She tests the Doctor to see if he really wants to push the button by showing him who he will be if he pushes it (specifically Doctors 10 and 11, who just happen to be on two points of a Zygon invasion). The Zygons arrive on Earth in 1592, but decided the planet was not ready, so they decided to enter a stasis painting which they came out of in 2013 where number 11 was on hand thanks to Kate Lethbridge-Stewart to stop them. In the action we get some great 10 and 11 interaction as they were a double act and a dramatic confrontation of the third doctor in their life. Some fun and absolutely lovely stuff with Elizabeth I falling in the love with the Doctor (I guess he got over Rose more quickly than some people wanted to think) and with the queen both out thinking and out fighting the alien. I love when a human does that.
The episode does a great job with foreshadowing several plot points. The opening line is a quote “waste no more time arguing what a good man should be” and then spends the entire time doing just that. The key to the ultimate answer is foreshadowed early on when they start a program on the War Doctor’s sonic screwdriver to quietly and constantly calculate in the background until it hits the answer in number 11’s. I absolutely loved the whole bit of the Brigader’s daughter Kate (a lot more of her in future episodes please) and Osgood aka whoever that was really wearing the 4th Doctor’s scarf (afraid they weren’t very clear there, either deliberately so or they should release a statement on her). The next foreshadow is Kate basically making the same choice to destroy millions of innocent people to save billions, she made the same decision the War Doctor did, but the Doctors stop her and imply they work out a deal with the Zygons, then the Doctors arrive at the spot where the War Doctor is about to push the button to activate the machine. They decide to share the blame and push it together, but instead they decide to basically use what the Doctor did in the first Angel episode to pull the innocents from the middle so the surrounding enemies take each other out (although they don’t mention this connection) and to move the planet it takes all 13 incarnations of the Doctor, mostly via previously used footage on view screens, surrounding the planet Gallifrey with calculations that they embedded back in the first Doctor and his TARDIS). The planet is sent with all inhabitants into a pocket galaxy and given hope for the future. Overlapping and bent timelines mean that the War Doctor, and Doctors 9 and 10 will truly believe they have burned Gallifrey and only 11 on will know the timeline changed which will give him hope moving forward.
The special’s major failure is in its almost nonexistent efforts to convince us that the slightly petty and bureaucratic, but not really bad race of Gallefrayans, especially their noble class the Time Lords, have become so evil that the Doctor thinks his only recourse is to destroy them all. Such has been implied on the series and said outright by Kass in Night of the Doctor. Instead we see a desperate, but not evil race. Where is the throwing of innocent third parties to the wolves? Where is the use of weapons that they know will wipe out entire races? Where are the burnt earth policies? In fact, where is ANYTHING to indicate why Kass would rather die than travel with one long enough to get off a crashing spaceship? They don’t seem to have done anything all that bad or honestly all that desperate. Also, despite having the best vehicles for running and hiding in all of time and space (including knowledge of pocket universes, HELLO ROMANA), they haven’t made arrangements to evacuate anyone, especially the children. While it didn’t show the Time Lords to be evil and worthy of Kass’ hatred, it did show them to be fairly stupid.
As a second layer (almost like a Simpsons episode) was the fun candy surprises. The opening shot was almost the same as “The Unearthly Child” opening shot from the opening titles to the policeman walking by the junkyard gate where the TARDIS was parked during that episode. For time consideration it is now right by Coal Hill School (where the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan attended and Ian and Barbara taught) or maybe the junkyard just spread. (A second watching reveals a very critical arrow. It’s not the gate at all, it’s a sign painted to look exactly like the gate.) The sign out front says Ian Chesterton, Governor (although he should be dead by now – OK the actor is still alive, so I guess I buried him too soon), but I smiled when I saw it. This is followed by a sequence where Clara rides a motorcycle into the TARDIS and Matt Smith makes one of several direct looks at the camera breaking the fourth wall, developing a relationship with the audience in this and following episode where he says “I will always remember when the Doctor was me.” Clara is now teaching at Coal Hill School, but the Doctor leaves a message and she comes running, just in time for UNIT to discover the TARDIS and not knowing he’s inside, send it by helicopter to the Tower of London, now UNIT headquarters. (Kate Lethbridge-Stewart: “The ravens are a bit slow. Tell Marcus they need new batteries.” One of the best lines in the whole thing.) Not sure where else to put this, but just want to applaud the brilliant bit of directing and shooting where they use David Tennant cutting away and cutting back to exchange the horse for a Zygon. Also, I really, really, REALLY love this Queen Elizabeth she deserves several episodes, if not an entire series of her own. There is also a top secret archive which according to Fivish 3 of which were Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker and Peter Davison as Zygons under sheets. Officially the BBC says you don’t put actors of that caliber under sheets, but could they really resist it? Really Osgood needs to learn that when you guess the big secret of evading aliens you don’t announce it to them. Great shot the Zygon approaching Osgood in the reflective surface of the switch plate cover. There is a fez, a shout to Jack Barowman (a time votex), a wall of companions in the Black Archive (reference to the Black Museum?) that they look at several times in addition to making reference to past companions including a nice little tribute to the Brigadier. They include some nice re-use of dialogue including “big red button,” “assemble a cabinet at them,” “timey wimey,” and “I don’t want to go” among others. (Quick plea here for BBC to release in America both a poster of the 13 Doctors like the final scene (see below) and some sort of interactive version of the companion wall, please?)
The working together with each other, but constantly squabbling is systematic of the multi-Doctor story. “Same software different case….Same software different face.” When they first walk into the TARDIS she becomes unstable which doesn’t make much sense, but it does provide an excuse to show the classic TARDIS “round things” which I love as much as they do. Then it showed the 10th and then the 11th Doctors version of the TARDIS. Those big round things over the time router were actually in the original design of the TARDIS, but they only used them for a couple of episodes because they were too unwieldy. Clara realizes the War Doctor still hasn’t pushed the button and “saved the Doctor” as was her purpose in life in a different way by bringing 10 and 11 to where the War Doctor was preparing to push the button. Finally at the end the 10th Doctor re-said his last line “I don’t want to go,” probably his most iconic line, and 11 responded he always says that. Then the curator of the museum shows up and it’s Tom Baker (not answering the question, but suggesting he now has the ability to change his face) and back in full Doctor mode in a drama series since he last left Doctor Who. I especially loved him tapping his nose, “WHO knows.” Then the 11th walked through TARDIS door down through the magic of special effects all 13 Doctors stand together facing the future. I sure hope that is made into a poster – I want one! Also all the Doctors including the one coming in number 12 is included, even in previous footage through viewer windows, they all got to be part of the salvation of Gallifrey as all their TARDISes were needed as part of the containment.
Behind the Scenes
Offered both after the program in the theater and on the DVD is the “Behind the Scenes” special, in the mode of Doctor Who Confidential. It does a great job taking you behind what’s going on. My favorite part? The narrator is Colin Baker. My second favorite part is that people were all so excited to be in this Doctor Who 50th Anniversary. That is why the new Who is so great is that it is made by fans who understand why people loved it. Most remake projects fail because they don’t have that. Also included on the DVD is the additional 45 minute special “Doctor Who Explained” which uses clips of many cast members and a few behind the scenes people over the years to give quotes as they give facts and analysis over every important part of the series.
“Day of the Doctor” has lots of stuff for both the modern and classic fans and both could appreciate and enjoy. They said their goal was setting up the 100th Anniversary special and I think they did.
Links for More
IPTV approaches 40 Years Airing Doctor Who
Lastest Recovered Episodes
Count Down With All Build Up Videos
Doctor Who Mini Episodes Playlist
Funniest Bits in Doctor Who Through the Years
The Time Crash Video replacing a bad link in the above article. The article is right this is really, REALLY amazing.
Great Summary of Doctor Who
Fivish Doctors Reboot
Night Mini Episode Series
50 Things You Didn’t Know About Doctor Who
15th Anniversary Interview
30th Anniversary Special- The Doctor constant change up sort of makes sense the companions less so, and the East Enders cast appearances are just odd. However, it does give them a sort of reason to show an incredible number of old friends in a couple of minutes.
Outtakes from the 30th Anniversary Special
All Regenerations of the Doctor
Timeline of River Song
Doctor Who Cast and Crew “500 Miles”
P.S. And sand shoes is British slang for tennis shoes, trainers, or sneakers. They aren’t a special thing.
P.P.S. Doctor 11’s final speech reflects River’s final speech. Doctor 10: “Time can be rewritten.” River: “Not those times, not one line, don’t you dare.”
P.P.P.S. The man in the opening sequence of The Fivish Doctors Reboot is Sean Pertwee who is the real life son of Jon Pertwee the third Doctor and my constant choice of a Doctor in the new series. He blew me away as Hugh on Cadfael before I even knew he was Jon’s son. He’d do a fantastic job and what could be more fitting? The woman’s name is Olivia Colman and I know absolutely nothing about her.
UPDATE: Lego Tribute
UPDATED November 26 2017: I reread it as I sent the link out to a friend on Twitter and realized there were a couple of typos and things needing rephrased to be clearer. I fixed them, but did NOT double check the links.
Sarah S. Uthoff is main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.