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‘Doctor Who: The Day Of The Doctor’ Thoughts and Theories
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Doctor Who - Day of the Doctor - Header

Random Timey Wimey Thoughts…
One Whovian Relives ‘Doctor Who: The Day Of The Doctor’

After so long a wait, the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who is here – The Day of the Doctor has come and gone, but will never be forgotten by Whovians in a long time. The big episode, written by Steven Moffat, has sent ripples through the fan community – with hugely positive reviews floating around the place.

Positive reviews for an anniversary episode of Doctor Who – now THAT must be a first. The previous anniversary specials – The Three Doctors, The Five Doctors, Silver Nemesis – are great in retrospect, from a nostalgic point of view; though all seemed to suffer from some unenthusiastic initial reactions from fans and critics alike – as well as cast and crew, too.

Not so for The Day of the Doctor, which aired globally on November 23, 2013. Mind you, this is not really a review, more a collection of random timey wimey thoughts in reaction to the new episode and its significance in the history of Doctor Who.

And bear in mind, in the words of River Song: Spoilers! They ARE below, so consider yourself alerted.

River Song Spoilers

Moffat had many surprises in store for fans with this out-of-the-ordinary episode – and while the more obvious ones that fans are reacting to were already floating around the web, the best surprise was in the writing efforts that tied up countless loose ends in the Doctor Who chronicle. We see the Time War for the first time ever – although alluded to heavily in the form of the High Council’s nefarious plans in The End Of Time… In The Day Of The Doctor, we finally see a major battle: The Fall of Arcadia.

The Queen Elizabeth I arc was first brought to light in the Shakespeare episode of Series 3, The Shakespeare Code, when the monarch’s appearance highlighted she already met the Doctor, though he hadn’t met her. It’s referenced again in The End of Time, which for the David Tennant Doctor, is his next adventure after the events of The Day of the Doctor.

In spite of this, Moffat also made some other revelations that were more implied than anything else – leading to a lot of speculation by fans. The interface of The Moment taking the form of the Bad Wolf (aka Rose Tyler played by Billie Piper) implies much about Rose Tyler.

While the Doctors will only have some memories of The Day of the Doctor (as it is in principle before their timeline, except for Matt Smith, who is living this moment at the correct point in his timeline), it’s possible that the Christopher Eccleston Doctor remembers the name Rose Tyler, and the image of the Bad Wolf, so he tracks her down… very much in the same way Matt Smith’s Doctor tracks down the impossible girl known as Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman).

Doctor Who - The Bells of Saint John - Stills Composite

There’s also an aesthetic element to The Day of the Doctor that is pleasing to fans – it serves to bridge a gap between Classic Doctor Who and modern Doctor Who. The imagery of the exterior and interior of the John Hurt Doctor’s TARDIS serves as a visual reminder of this, taking elements from the classic era (“the round things!”) and the modern era (the coral columns from 10’s TARDIS).

In many ways, Steven Moffat is closing the book on the Time War era of Doctor Who, also but inaugurating the new crusade for the Time Lord at the same time. The ongoing Time War arc has dominated Doctor Who since 2005 (indeed, some may say earlier – it was the Time Lords who sent Tom Baker’s Doctor to Skaro in Genesis of the Daleks to destroy them before their creation) and it does feel time to advance and progress forward into a new era.

The new adventure: to search for the vanished Gallifrey, and bring back the return of the Time Lords also may hint to elements of Series 8. During the 1970s, an entire season of Doctor Who was dedicated to The Key To Time – a series of adventures that stood well alone, but were connected by an ongoing McGuffin chase, making the Tom Baker Doctor and the Lalla Ward Romana search for the parts of the Key to Time.

This may be where Moffat is going for Series 8. The new goal is for the Peter Capaldi Doctor to search for Gallifrey and bring back the return of the Time Lords. This could be the overarching quest of the next season, very much in the same flavor as The Key To Time. It would be a new flavor for the Doctor Who series, but also a nice change of pace to the standalone adventure approach to Series 7 – an effort that many fans weren’t too happy with.

Doctor Who - The Day of the Doctor - TV Still - BBC

But I’m getting away from myself. Let’s talk about those spoilers.

First of all: the first appearance of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. This was a surprise to many, but something I’d predicted on the TARDISblend a long while back. And though it was only a cameo, it was absolutely superb.

Second of all: the appearance of Tom Baker as (ostensibly the final incarnation of) the Doctor – now renamed as the Curator. After all, Queen Elizabeth I charged the Doctor as the curator of the undergallery in the episode, right? Presumably, this means that the Doctor one day retires and actually has a little more control over his regenerations than previously hinted at. It also implies that the Doctor does not die at Trenzalore after all. Or does he?

And finally, the appearance not only of Matt Smith, David Tennant, John Hurt, and Tom Baker as the Doctor – but the appearance of ALL the Doctors, with the assistance of a little jiggery-pokery known as CGI and voiceovers during the final battle of the Time War was AMAZING. This was epic as well as it was a pleasant surprise.

Doctor Who - The Day of the Doctor - TV Still - BBC

There is so much more one could say about The Day of the Doctor – and they will in the next TARDISblend – but more importantly, this episode of Doctor Who is imaginably the most memorable for many fans, and will be debated for years to come.

To close, I offer two statements:

Thank you, Steven Moffat

And Happy Birthday, Doctor Who!

  • Daniel Clement

    The ‘Key to Time’ season featured Mary Tamm’s Romana with Lalla Ward as Princess Astra in the final story. Cheers!

  • Michael White

    Not to mention though that in The End of Time, Rassilon and the other Time Lords wanted to destroy all of creation. They never sorted this out in this episode. Something I was hoping would happen. So I guess when the Doctor does find Gallifrey once more, that they will patch that up.

  • Olaf2

    About the Interface. Rose Tyler could very well have programmed the interface to look like her and fix the time line. In addition Clara was also there to fix the time line. Rose Tyler could have made Clara to save all doctors and help them in not destroying Gallifray..

  • Dave Rudin

    Yes, it was Mary Tamm as Romana(dvoratrelundar) in the Key to Time season. She is sadly gone now, but should not be so easily forgotten.

    Regarding the Time Lords, first we were told that they were destroyed at the end of the war. Then, with Timothy Dalton, we learned that they weren’t really destroyed, but trapped in some kind of alternate dimension.

    Now they act like all of them were really and truly destroyed. And now they’re somehow lost again! What’s the skinny here? What about their plan for the end of time???

    I really thought that we would see John Hurt regenerate into Eccleston – that Moffat convinced him to do a cameo – but then the scene got cut off. That really upset me – especially the way that they set it up to make us think that it would happen. If you’re not going to show the regeneration, why do it at all? I mean, the War Doctor wasn’t so old, tired and ill that he would regenerate just like that.

    Still, it was more than made up for (well, partially) by seeing Tom Baker as the “Curator,” whoever he was supposed to be. It was a nice surprise to see Peter Capaldi’s eyebrows, too….LOL

  • Debra Hopkins

    I
    just don’t get the excitement over this episode. The appeal of Dr. Who
    is that he is the last Time Lord, unique in the universe. Now there are
    millions of them, and all of them, I suppose, can have Tardises if they
    want them. Indeed, there can now be Time Lords everywhere. His
    personality has always been a result of his past actions, and especially
    his part in the destruction of Gallifrey. Since
    he changed history in this episode, it would stand to reason that
    nothing in his past actually happened, changing the whole show. John
    Hurt would be the first Doctor, right? Because he is the original
    doctor. The fact that this episode can leave so many questions
    unanswered and make past episodes unlikely to have happened is
    disappointing. And most of all, I am 57 years old. When I was 30, if
    you told me I had to wake up tomorrow and be 60, I would be a little on
    the disturbed side. And that is what Moffatt is doing to the doctor.

  • mcgroovitude

    Have you ever watched the classic series? The Doctor wasn’t the only Time Lord back then. The time war didn’t happen before the series started, it happened 33 years after it started, sometime between Paul Mcgann as the 8th doctor in the 1996 movie, and the 2005 reboot. Prior to that there were Time Lords everywhere, and the show was just as popular back then. Also, since they specifically mention that neither Tennant or Hurts doctors would remember anything, it could be inferred that Ecclestons Doctor, when the show started again in 2005, did actually save Gallifrey, but only remembers destroying it, meaning none of his future actions would change. I’m not entirely sure how he got all of his past incarnations to help him, but then again, this is a show about time travel. Also, John Hurt isn’t the original Doctor, William Hartnell was, back in 1963.

  • ericlklein

    How is it that there 12 Doctors working together to move Gallifrey, but if you count the number at the end (and in the end credits) there were 12 Doctors plus Capaldi around Gallifrey?

  • If you listen, they said “iall thirteen” or something like that, I don’t remember the exact line.

  • Technically, not a reboot, a reboot is a complete restart, the new series is a continuation.

  • totz the plaid

    The story had a good concept with only decent execution. Much more could have been done with the Zygons in a far more interesting way without altering the basic plot structure. The final section after the Zygon plot has been solved could also have been done better, with more dramatic power, all within a solid 100 minute block of time.

    I wish the plot outline had been given to one of the surviving classic series writers like Terrance Dicks, and been tightened up, expanded, and overall improved without requiring much more broadcast time.

  • They did show Eccleston’s face. It was just rather quickly.

  • ACook

    in all fairness they did reference it when we get the first no more from Hurt

  • mcgroovitude

    That is correct, my mistake.

  • It’s ok I was being more literal.

  • acrossalloceans

    i sincerely hate admitting that I was disappointed. And surprisingly it isnt for all the obsessive fan boy reasons Id expected such as lacking cameos, etc. I was really just let down by the story. I love old & new who and felt overall it paid a nice tribute to the past 50 years, with a lot of it very good. Seeing 10 back was great as well as how he got on with 11, Baker’s incredible cameo topped it for me and John Hurt brought a nice take on the time war doctor. But overall, the decision on how to end the war essentially made the new who doctor. His pain and regret made him such an incredibly complex character and to erase all of that rubbed me the wrong way. True his past selves still deal with that having no memory of the truth, but still, we all know. Maybe Im too set in the status quo. One thing that bothered me quite a bit was Hurt’s regeneration. It really seemed to come out of nowhere without proper explanation or execution. In the end, I feel like a rewatch will make it better but first veiwing left me a little bummed. and i really hate saying that =/

  • snarkmaster_k

    There’s a bit where the Gallifreyans say that the High Council are in emergency session with “plans of their own” and the commander says “To hell with the High Council, their plans have already failed.” I’m thinking that this was referencing their plan in “The End of Time.”

  • Kieran McMullen

    It all made sense to me. Trenzalore was where “the old man” died. The ninth doctor will not remember Rose Tyler, or the Bad Wolf, he’ll have placeholder memories, that was the Moment’s price, that he carry the guilt of what he did with no knowledge of the chance he saved it. He might have managed to go back and save Gallifrey, but at the cost of it being lost to dimensions unknown and him believing it was destroyed.
    I disliked one thing though: the 11th doctor turned off the Moment. Now, the Moment allowed all this to happen, it planned all of this from the start, it LET all the doctors come together (THIS CANNOT AND SHOULD NOT USUALLY BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN AS IT IS TOO CONVENIENT)…
    …But the button was never pressed. Those daleks blew each other up, but the war was going on everywhere, it was happening all across history and all across the universe, not just one battle, but thousands of pasts shifting at once, resulting in the destruction and terrible creations that came from the war. The moment was never used, so all that hell is free and still existing. The doctor can’t believe he pressed the button if there was no sign that ANYONE pressed the button, can he?
    What should have happened, is that after Gallifrey disappeared, we should have seen John Hurt press the button and get basted back into his tardis to regenerate or Christopher eccleston pressing the button before stumbling into his Tardis and crying in shame. Or Bad Wolf pressing the button and then smiling. Someone SHOULD have pressed the button!

  • Sean Hunter Bricker

    I think they did the Hurt regeneration because it easily tied his story up without leaving it open. We can easily say that was Ecclestons face coming through, thus we can definitively say that Hurt is the Doctor between 8 and 9.

  • The Keeper of Souls

    Since it was Hurt’s plan to use “The Moment”, and Bad Wolf intervened causing a split in his time line, when he regenerated, all he would know is that Gallifrey was gone, along with the Daleks. He would, along with the universe, believe that they had destroyed each other. Remember too that the Dalek fleet had massed itself around Gallifrey to destroy the planet, this is why the “Cup-a-Soup” plan worked.

  • The Keeper of Souls

    All the pain would still be there remember, because from Hurt and Tennent’s point of view nothing changed. Only Smith and later Doctor’s will know the real events, since their timeline will not have been shifted by “Bad Wolf”, AKA “The Moment”. Also, based on what was said in “The End of Time”, The Dctor must still have “The Moment” somewhere in his TARDIS.

  • The Keeper of Souls

    The line was, “…No Sir, all Thirteen!”, and it was done in a Scottish accent. Most likely Capaldi.

  • Kieran McMullen

    It worked for that single battle, what about the rest of the war? The two sides destroying each other wasn’t what history recorded, it recorded the moment being used, so they changed a fixed point that they shouldn’t be able to do.
    And that wasn’t a timeline split, it was a timeline change. the other timeline no longer exists.

  • Connor

    That plan was quickly thwarted by the 10th Doctor, and clearly not all of Gallifrey was in on the plan. Either way, they were sent back into the war to die.

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