Finally, we have made it to this point- marking a major milestone in “Doctor Who” history with the 50th Anniversary Special, and marking the end of the Matt Smith era with his very last outing, “The Time of the Doctor”. These events were both marked with the joy and wonder that this show has given to us viewers for the past fifty years, while celebrating the Eleventh Doctor; and the sadness over the fact that it is now the Eleventh’s final hour.
The 50th Anniversary Special, which was released on November 23, 2013, entitled “The Day of the Doctor”, was something that many fans did look forward to. Aside from that, the BBC took it upon themselves to have a week long “Doctor Who” celebration by posting clips on their official YouTube channel to promote the special, which was also aired in cinemas around the world.
Written by showrunner Steven Moffat and directed by Nick Hurran, the Anniversary Special was definitely a celebration of the past and present of the show, while looking forward to its future as well. It starred Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald, Jemma Redgrave as Kate Stewart, Ingrid Oliver as Osgood, Joanna Page as Queen Elizabeth I, and mainly featured three incarnations of the Doctor- the Tenth (David Tennant), the Eleventh (Matt Smith), and the newly minted incarnation of the War Doctor (John Hurt). It also saw the return of Billie Piper to the show, not as Rose Tyler, but as the entity known as The Moment. It also saw the return of the Daleks and the Zygons, and it was able to tackle the Time War, an event that the Doctor has been talking about ever since his Ninth (Christopher Eccleston) incarnation.
However, the surprises didn’t end there. One of the prequels leading up to “The Day of the Doctor” actually featured the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann), and there was a surprise cameo appearance by Tom Baker himself in the Anniversary Special.
The Anniversary Special was a huge success, as everything was top notch, from the acting, the special effects, all the way down to the script and direction of the special.
It is always interesting when two or more Doctors interact with each other, and this wasn’t an exception to the case. However, despite their differences, at the core, we all know that this is the same man through and through. Aside from this, they were able to truly solidify Clara’s role as a companion.
“The Time of the Doctor”, the second time around, was a special that I was surprisingly hesitant to watch. Even though the Eleventh Doctor isn’t *my* Doctor, he is very near and dear to my heart, and I had a surprisingly hard time letting go. The first time I watched it, I also was sad, especially as I had no idea as to what the next Doctor would bring to the table yet.
However, “The Time of the Doctor” allowed both Coleman and Smith to have great performances, the story itself was great, and it neatly tied up all the loose story threads that had to do with the Eleventh Doctor.
I know some people didn’t like the extended goodbye to the Eleventh Doctor, but I think it was still in character for this version of the Doctor, and at least fans were truly able to say goodbye to Smith as the Doctor.
“The Time of the Doctor” was written by Moffat and was directed by Jamie Payne.
And, of course, the incidental music was all created by the amazing Murray Gold.
Now, let’s delve into spoilers, so please be warned that there will be spoilers from this point onwards.
For any franchise or property, celebrating fifty years of existence, especially for a property that is still going strong until today is definitely a great honor. And, of course, there was no doubt that “Doctor Who” would celebrate their 50th with a bang, and in a way that celebrates not only the past, but the present as well, while looking forward to the future. And because of this, I really tip my hat to Moffat, who was able to write a script that encapsulated all of this.
And interestingly enough, he didn’t do this by writing a special that could really just serve as a stand-alone episode, but he wrote a story that dealt with a major part of the Nu Who mythos- the Last Great Time War. Aside from that, he also managed to bring back the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) in a prequel entitled “The Night of the Doctor”, which showed how he regenerated into the Ward Doctor (John Hurt), and created another prequel entitled “The Last Day” which showed viewers the beginning of the Fall of Arcadia.
I also loved how he managed to show how different these three Doctors are from each other, and yet, they also do show that they are actually one and the same person.
The subplot with the Zygons was really interesting, because not only did they reintroduce these villains back to the show, but it also tied up that loose thread of exactly when and how the Tenth Doctor married Queen Elizabeth I, and it was a good case study to present the War Doctor with before he made his choice.
Clara was also better written here, although not only did she serve as the current companion, but she was the voice of all the companions that the Doctor has had throughout the years.
Many people took issue with the timeline of events that happened here, because they felt that it could negate what happened during “The End of Time”. However, upon closer examination, it doesn’t.
Here’s the timeline for those who are still confused- the Fall of Arcadia began; the War Doctor stole the Moment from the Omega Arsenal; Rasillon and the High Council began the Final Sanction and tried to bring Gallifrey to Earth but was defeated by the Tenth Doctor and the Master (John Simm); the Three Doctors meet up and decide to put Gallifrey in a pocket universe. Also, take note that only Eleven would have a hazy memory of these events as usually, when these things happen, only the latest version would truly remember.
Smith, Tennant, Piper, and Hurt were great in this episode.
Hurt’s performance was mesmerizing and nuanced, and it was interesting how he made the Doctor seem so young as compared to Ten and Eleven, yet he is older in appearance.
The War Doctor is definitely an incarnation of the Doctor that I would get to know more of, and it was interesting how he looked up to Ten and Eleven, and decided that he should activate the moment so that he could still
Casting Piper as the Moment was a great idea, so you could bring her back, but not as Rose, as her story is truly done.
Tennant and Smith gave great performances as well, and I loved how different Ten and Eleven are from each other. Ten is definitely the “Man who Regrets”, and he looked with disgust at Eleven, “The Man Who Forgets”, when Eleven claimed he forgot how many children died on Gallifrey that day. Eleven is still the hyper active puppy, while Ten is the noble gentleman adventurer with a streak of melancholy in him.
And of course, saving Gallifrey gave me chills, and Ten saying “I don’t want to go” also gave me chills. However, nothing compared to seeing Tom Baker making a cameo appearance, and is it just me, or is it possible that the under gallery is indeed his TARDIS?
Oh, and least but not the least, I loved that they definitely looked forward to the future by having Twelve’s (Peter Capaldi) “attack eyebrows” be present when all the incarnations of the Doctor saved Gallifrey.
All in all, “The Day of the Doctor” is a great episode that works after repeat viewings, trust me, I’ve seen it around three times.
“The Time of the Doctor”, I believe, was definitely a fitting way for the Eleventh Doctor to bow out. Not only was this such an epic episode, but it also answered and tied up several loose threads that related directly to the Eleventh Doctor himself.
Aside from returning back to Trenzalore, which we had previously seen in “The Name of the Doctor”, we have a better explanation about the Silence, Madam Kovarian and why they were so keen on not letting the Doctor go to Trenzalore so that he could answer the “Oldest Question In the Universe- Doctor Who?”. It also saw the return of the cracks in time that were caused by his exploding TARDIS, and it was also revealed that that was what he saw in his room in “The God Complex”.
Apparently, the Silence, or rather, the Kovarian chapter, decided to actively stop the Doctor from going to Trenzalore by blowing up his TARDIS and trying to kill him over and over again, but failing all the time. This caused the cracks in time, and the one that was left is where Gallifrey is trying to get through to return back to the universe. However, they will only come (and in peace) if the Doctor speaks his name, which would mean that it was safe to come out. However, the Doctor couldn’t because every alien race, from the Sontarans to the Daleks would obliterate Gallifrey in an instant in fear that the Time Lords could kick start another Time War. Therefore, Tasha Lem’s (Orla Brady) Papal mainframe then dedicated themselves to Silence- so that the Doctor would keep silent so that the peace wouldn’t be broken. And this is the explanation of why “Silence Will Fall”.
So, the Eleventh Doctor stayed at the town called Christmas on Trenzalore for a very long time, protecting both the townsfolk and his own people. And while there, without Clara by his side (he basically tricked her to get into the TARDIS to transport her home, and he did this twice), he became manipulative again. After all, he was fighting a war. Then the Siege of Trenzalore began, and there was more and more fighting.
And this is why, I believe that the events on Trenzalore also made him into a second version of the War Doctor, in a way.
I love that Clara was the one who asked the Time Lords to help the Doctor, and they did so by giving him an entirely new cycle of regenerations, which, part of that energy, he used to wipe out his enemies to keep everyone safe.
I’m glad though that we were able to say goodbye to a younger version of the Eleventh, and not the older version of him, and his monologue about change was just beautiful. I loved how it was underscored by mixing “Trenzalore”, “I Am Information”, and “The Long Song”. I didn’t have any problems with Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) showing up to say good night to him, because not only was that the first face he saw, but she is his mother-in-law, and someone whom he had a really strong bond with. However, yes, it does seem a bit unfair to Clara, whose also crying her eyes out at this part. And I loved how he removed his bowtie before he regenerated into Twelve (Peter Capaldi).
He definitely took his time to say goodbye, was afraid, but was also quite accepting of the fact that his time was up. This also makes Clara the second Nu Who companion to go through a regeneration.
Coleman performed really well in this episode, and I think ever since “Day of the Doctor”, they were writing her better and better.
Smith was truly able to go out not just with a bang, but was able to showcase everything that he is capable of. From the nuanced performances to his amazing physicality and beyond.
All in all, “The Time of the Doctor” was a great way for the Eleventh Doctor to bow out, and it also definitely suited his character a lot.
What did you think of “The Day of the Doctor” and the “Time of the Doctor”? What were your favorite moments in these specials? Let me know what you think in the comments below!