“Gallifrey Falls No More.”
Written by Jeff Zyra
It is finally here! Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary special has finally aired and we finally get to see what John Hurt’s Doctor is all about. All the speculation and hypothesis that have been going on since “The Name of The Doctor” have been at a fever pitch, and the debates and discussions that have heated up on social media over the course of the summer and autumn can now end. We have our answers at last. “The Day of The Doctor” has happened and we have all seen it – but was it what we expected? Was it worthy of the hype? Will it go down in anniversary fame as “The Three Doctors” and “The Five Doctors” before it? Or did it crash and burn and disappoint like the 25th anniversary story “The Silver Nemesis?” And nothing for the 30th and 40th? Well it sure did not disappoint as “The Day of The Doctor” turned out to be my favorite anniversary story ever.
I usually write my reviews right after I watch the episode – except if it is a two part story – then I wait till the whole story airs and review it at one time. “The Day of The Doctor” was the exception as I’m writing this after I have watched it for a second time. After watching it there was a lot of discussion with my friends at a party and I knew that I would need some time to recover from the euphoria of watching it. I was pretty jazzed up and really excited for what I had just seen and my emotions were all over the place that I thought it would be better to write this later when I was thinking normally. Or in my case as normal as I think most of the time, well, some of the time I guess.
I really enjoyed the overall story for “The Day of The Doctor.” It was really good, interesting and kept me on the edge of my seat. What made it so enticing was trying to predict what would happen next. What would the three Doctors come up with to first stop the Zygons and then what would the two Doctors do to stop the War Doctor from destroying Gallifrey. The solutions Steven Moffat came up with was pretty good and it showed us a part of the story from The War Doctor’s eyes as he was learning who he becomes and what his actions do to his future incarnations.
Seeing Joanna Page as Queen Elizabeth wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. I deduced that they would be tying up the loose end that was mentioned in “The End of Time” and why she hated him in “The Shakespeare Code.” It was just funny to see what lead to all of that in the 10th Doctor’s era. Finding out that it was a mistake just made it pretty funny and at least now we know. Joanna Page was pretty good, even though I’m not familiar with her as I never watched Gavin and Stacy. But she did pretty well and was pretty funny as Elizabeth I.
I really liked the interaction between David Tennant and Matt Smith. The chemistry was really good and in typical Doctor action they tried to one-up the other. It was good seeing the two Doctors picking on each other and it was really good to see the tradition made famous by Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee continue on in the new series. That was always a highlight of past multi-Doctor stories and seeing the two compare sonic screwdrivers was funny and classic.
I enjoyed seeing the Zygons back; First time we have seen them on TV since the Tom Baker story “The Terror of the Zygons” back in 1975. At first when I heard they were going to be in “The Day of The Doctor” I thought they would only have a token appearance. Glad my theory was wrong as it was good to see them have a part in the story and their importance to the final solution in a small way. I really liked how they were used and seeing them again after so many years was itself a treat as they have been constantly nearing the top of favorite villains fan polls for a long time, and they do have a pretty good fan following, so it was good to see them return. Plus the Zygons are David Tennant’s favorite creatures so maybe that factored into it but I doubt it.
The Time War scenes were spectacular. For a long time I’ve been wondering and speculating about this period in the Doctor’s time-line and now we get to see a small part of it. Even though it was the end of the war it was good to see the Daleks who are also celebrating a 50th Anniversary this year. What we see is a Doctor who is tired and sick of the war who leaves a message for both participants. It is interesting to see The Doctor grab a weapon that would destroy his planet. It is very unlike The Doctor to resort to this type of solution. This is where the story really gets good as the Moment is a weapon that has a conscious, played perfectly by Billie Piper. The weapon acted like a ghost of Christmas future showing The Doctor what the consequences of his actions would do to him. I really liked this part of the story as it gave us a new dimension to watch when they were battling the Zygons.
All this led to the Three Doctor’s going back to the time where the War Doctor presses the button on the Moment which will result in the destruction of Gallifrey. This was a pretty powerful scene as we see Clara really coming into her own. She is the one who convinces The Doctor’s or more specifically the 11th Doctor. She was able to make them change their minds and come up with a new solution. It was a solution where The Doctor is not a mass murderer but a saviour. The Doctor saves Gallifrey instead of destroying it by putting it in a pocket universe. Now I don’t believe this is a reset switch as we have seen Gallifrey before trying to break free from that pocket dimension. If you remember, we see a Gallifrey with Time Lords still alive trying to come back and destroying Earth in the process back in “The End of Time.” Now if Gallifrey had been destroyed by the Doctor’s then that moment would not have happened. Steven Moffat gave a way for The Doctor to remember them and to search for the Time Lords to bring his planet back to the new series but in their proper space and time.
John Hurt was really good as The Doctor. He gave us a sense of experience and to a point was the straight guy to the comedic styles of David Tennant and Matt Smith’s Doctors. It kind of reminded me of William Hartnell a little bit from “The Three Doctor”, but just a little. John Hurt had really good chemistry with David Tennant and Matt Smith that you wish they’d had longer together. His performance was magnificent and it made me wish we had seen a series for his Doctor. I really ended up liking The War Doctor as he had a certain aspect to him that just made him likeable. Probably the hurt on his face and in his eyes of what he has seen during the war. Plus he did have that Doctor quirkiness and personality to go with all that and it was something different.
Now for the fanboy moments. There were a lot of them that just made me emotional and happy to be a Doctor Who fan. Now I have been a Doctor Who fan since 1981 and for most of my life I have watched the show and I love it. Now I had a feeling the classic Doctor’s would not be in the show. Realistically they are a lot older, and well that would be too much for one story. But what they did when they went to save Gallifrey by using old clips of the older Doctor’s was such a classy move and I totally loved it. All The Doctors uniting at the end to save Gallifrey including the new Doctor Peter Capaldi for a brief cameo. That sequence of events was really amazing and awesome and the fanboy in me screamed with delight. It made this older Doctor Who fan happy.
What really got me though was the inclusion of Tom Baker. Seeing him as the curator and talking to Matt Smith as the 4th Doctor really made the Anniversary Special for me. It was such a special moment seeing the oldest and longest serving Doctor, who at the time of the 20th declined to be in The Five Doctors, in the show again. It was a great moment and he sure has not lost any of that charm that has made him the best Doctor ever. I was grinning with delight and was extremely happy that Tom Baker was in it. To me it felt like a nod to the fans of both series and it was just a special moment that we will be able to watch forever.
Then there was the end when Matt Smith goes out of the TARDIS and stands with his former selves. That was truly spectacular even if the other Doctors faces were paintings. I just loved that moment and it was a great way to end a wonderful anniversary special. Steven Moffat delivered an amazing story that will go down as his masterpiece. “The Day of The Doctor” was a wonderful story for the 50th and one that was worth the wait of a year for.