My Thoughts: “The Day of the Doctor”

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THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS ABOUT ‘The Day of the Doctor’

Hello once again and welcome to: ‘I’m Pretty Geeky, This is a Geeky Post – Get Over It!’

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These are my thoughts on the BBC’s Special 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who, an episode that I had high expectations for… and as a result, an episode which I woke up early in the morning (well, early compared to my usual awakening hour) to watch.

If you really liked the episode, and dislike others’ opinions… I suggest you stop reading this now.  My opinion doesn’t effect the video whatsoever, and it’s certainly not a concrete rating of any kind.  Whether something is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is a variable determined by whoever’s watching it and what they think about it.  Basically what I’m saying is: don’t take this post the wrong way.

First up, let me talk about what I liked.  Then I’ll tell you about the things that kept ripping me away from the story and stopping me from feeling immersed, and ultimately, enjoying the special event.

What I Liked

I’m probably going to miss stuff out – I might come back and add to this if I remember other things I enjoyed.

Production

As someone who’s produced a fair few videos myself – I am aware how much time and effort went into the production of the 50th Anniversary. It’s pretty impressive, especially given the time frame.

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  • Unlike the Doctor Who documentary ‘An Adventure In Space And Time’, where the Doctor glitches in-front of the TARDIS console between two shots, I didn’t notice any visual issues in ‘The Day of the Doctor’ at all… well… apart from at the end with the awkward looking 2D Doctors standing in unison.  But what do you expect?  Recreating the Doctors in 3D for that shot would have been too time consuming.  They’ve been editing for months as it is! For the length of the shot, and the fan glowing inside me, it was fine. =)
  • The other effects like the paralax action going on with the 3D paintings was pretty damn nice.
  • Costumes, sets – everything was to the high standard we’ve come to expect from the more recent era of Doctor Who – although the Time War did seem a bit too Star Warsy…  I almost wish they had kept it out – because my vision of the Time War was so much larger and complicated than what was shown to us on screen. Time Lords in control of space and time using lasers like Stormtroopers? What’s up with that?

References

There were some funny references, as well as nostalgic ones in the 50th Anniversary.

  • Although I thought that the scarf the UNIT woman was wearing was a bit corny, as well as a bit of an obvious hint that we’d probably see Tom Baker later in the episode – even so, it was a clever ploy to introduce the scene that lays a crucial foundation for the next series of Doctor Who.
  • Clara working at the school that Susan used to go to – with the scrapyard where the TARDIS used to be parked just around the corner, the moment I saw that sign at the start, I smiled.
  • Rose’s BAD WOLF ‘incarnation’ – I wanted to mention this here – even though I’m not drWho9particularly fond of the idea. (Rhyming… woo!)  It didn’t really make too much sense… Obviously the machine (“The Moment”) wanted to choose an appearance for the War Doctor to interact with – and in doing so, chose one a bit further along in his timeline than it had planned… but it seemed like a waste when it comes to involving her in the show.
  • The joke about covering up the TARDIS/Helicopter ordeal by blaming it on Darren Brown and sending him some flowers again, was brilliant.
  • In the black archive, pictures of Susan and companions on the board, as well as Cybermen gear and Captain Jack’s not-your-ordinary-wrist-watch.
  • The Tennant Doctor’s use of old lines. While this was interesting – it did also annoy me to a degree, more on why this annoyed me is later on in this post.
  • And of course, although I didn’t pick up on many of them – there are various references to Classic Doctor Who, like the Brigadier’s daughter – and her mention of ‘Cromer’, the drWho14location believed to be the location of the UNIT base, from ‘The Three Doctors’ special in the early 1970s.
  • PETER CAPAULDI’S EYES!
  • Seeing the 9th Doctor begin to regenerate into the 9th Doctor… well, 10th Doctor now…

Dialog

The acting of the cast was immensely good, apart from a few of the extras that seemed a bit unnatural… Queen Elizabeth I for example, though maybe she actually acted like that.  IN WHICH CASE, I’m an idiot.  I must add that David did seem a bit odd, obviously this could be partly to do with the fact he hasn’t played the role in a few years.  There are quite a few lines I enjoyed, especially when the Doctor was bickering with himself.

  • “One of them is a Zygon.” “Eeeeh, I’m not judging you.” – David’s Doctor and Matt’s Doctor talking about the two Queen Elizabeths standing before them.
  • Then later after the Queen’s both kissed Tennant’s Doctor:
    “One of those was a Zygon.”
    “Yeap.”
    “Big red rubbery thing, covered in suckers…”
    “Yeap.” “Venom sacs in the tongue…”
    “Yeah, I’m getting the point thank you.”
    “Nice.”

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  • “Well, this has all the makings of your lucky day.” – John’s Doctor, When the English guards are talking about beheading the Doctor was hilarious. John Hurt had quite a few brilliant lines.

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  • “They’re screwdrivers! What are you going to do, assemble a cabinet at them?” – John’s Doctor when 10 and 11 (or 11 and 12) are standing waving their screwdrivers at the guards.drWho11
  • “We’re confusing the polarity” – David’s Doctor, this line was brilliant, loved it.
  • The entire segment where David’s Doctor rips into Matt’s Doctor about forgetting the body count.  It was such an intense moment that fitted the character of both Doctors – it’s exactly the way you’d expect them to act.  It was beautiful.

What I Didn’t Like

Yeah… here we go.

Plot

The plot, as it has with quite a few of Moffat’s Doctor Who episodes – has a few significant holes in it.  Obviously plot holes in Doctor Who, a show running for 50 years… is inevitable.  But some of the plot holes and unexplained altercations are recently ’caused’ – and they just remove me from the immersion of the story and leave me a bit unsatisfied.  Most of these are Moffat just refuting things that happened in the Russel T Davies series of Doctor Who – but he still included the Time Lock from ‘End of Time’? He’s cherry picking plot devices. Will I come back and add to this? Probably. *Evil Laugh*

  • The phone on the TARDIS doesn’t work – it’s not connected.  The one on the TARDIS console is the one that works.  We found this out with the 9th (10th) Doctor in ‘The Empty Child.’ So the TARDIS has changed to include a working phone now? Well, that’s one way of getting the Doctor to the door for that lovely dangling intro shot I guess…

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  • How the hell is the Doctor holding on to the TARDIS here?! How convenient… the TARDIS now also includes hand-grips on the base of the TARDIS.
  • I mentioned this earlier – I think Rose could have been involved more effectively in the episode.  But I think there are quite a few living Doctors and companions that could have been involved in the production as well. I found the other 50th Anniversary special video ‘The Five(ish) Doctors‘ far more of a comforting Doctor Who universe than the Doctor Who episode itself!  We see Peter Davison (5th Doctor), Sylvester McCoy (7th Doctor), Colin Baker (6th Doctor), Matt Smith (11th… 12th Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara), Paul McGann (8th Doctor), David Tennant (10th…11th Doctor), Georgia Moffett (The Doctor’s Daughter), John Barrowman (Captain Jack), Stefan Moffat (Current Doctor Who Writer), Russel T Davies (Previous Doctor Who Writer), Peter Jackson (Film Director, The Hobbit), Ian McKellen (Actor, Gandalf)… AND SO MANY MORE, there were family members of the original Doctors, Dalek operators – it was packed with people from the Doctor Who universe.  However in a fourth-wall-breaking ‘mocumentary’ styled sort of short film.

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  • The Doctors ran the calculation on their screwdriver to figure out how to disintegrate the door… but how could the Doctor’s screwdriver calculate something over centuries if it’s been broken, burnt out and replaced multiple times…  It’s not the same screwdriver that’s been upgraded… In ‘Smith and Jones’ the Doctor sacrifices his screwdriver to take out a ‘slab’… the screwdriver is toasted to a crisp, and then the Doctor throws the screwdriver over his shoulder.  Then he loses his screwdriver again at the start of Matt drWho15Smith’s era, in ‘Eleventh Hour’ which results in him getting the new green sonic screwdriver. Is there some telepathic screwdriver calculation field we haven’t heard about?  Because that’s one durable calculation… maybe the Doctor has ‘iCloud for Sonic Screwdrivers.’
  • Somehow all the Doctors were involved in the Gallifrey Time-Lock plan… Wait… so the first Doctor knew that he would have to Time-Lock Gallifrey and started doing the necessary calculations to perform this incredible maneuver – taking into account that in the future he would have 12 other Doctors and their TARDIS’s helping him?  Then after that, somehow, every Doctor proceeding the first remembered to continue on with the calculations leading up until the recent Doctors… then they forget about Time-Locking Gallifrey, toil with the idea of destroying it… and then come up with the idea to Time-Lock Gallifrey? What? Even if I haven’t followed that right, Hurt’s Doctor loses his memory of the whole ordeal because of the ‘Time-Sync’ issue, SO does Tennant’s Doctor – so if that’s the case, he wouldn’t remember about the Time-Lock, or doing the calculations… IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. I really like the last scene, and it sent chills up my spine… but that drWho13detracted from it substantially.
  • And speaking of ‘Heroic’… Clara described John’s Doctor as the Warrior, David’s as the Hero… and before saying that Matt’s Doctor is the Doctor… she said that ‘any old idiot can be a hero’. Uh… okay. Ouch.  I know, I know I’m sounding like one of those argumentative Facebook pillocks playing the ‘he said, she said’ game… They probably didn’t even think about it that way when they wrote the script… but it’s not the only time this episode David’s Doctor is knocked down to ensure that Matt’s Doctor remains the most important Doctor on the scene.  It’s the 50th Special guys, surely we can forget about trying to make our Doctor look better than the previous writers’ Doctors.’

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  • At the end, the Zygons and humans are in the Black Archive… any negotiations
    they made in there would be meaningless by the time they walk out because they would forget everything that happened.
  • Not only that, but there were 6 Zygons hiding downstairs… and only 3 went into the Black Archive. What were the other Zygons doing then?
  • Although somewhat out-of-place, the 10th (I guess 11th now?) Doctor giving his serious speech to that rabbit was funny, however, I do feel he was acting a bit too idiotically for his character.
    David Tennant’s Doctor had some incredibly powerful moments… which were seemingly defecated on in this 50th Special.  His heroic line in ‘Voyage of the Damned’ has gone from a serious Doctor-taking-charge moment into something he just says to everyone.  Including rabbits.  I could have probably sailed with that, one line… no problem. BUT THEN at the end, he says when talking about Trenzalore, “I don’t want to go.” Matt’s Doctor then says to Clara, “He always says that.”  No he doesn’t… At this point in time he’s NEVER said it.  He will only ever say it ONCE.  After giving his life for Wilfred, and saying farewell to all of his companions. I guess Matt Smith’s Doctor is saying this ironically as a private joke with Clara, who’s seen the entire timeline of the Doctor and would know what he’s talking about… But all I see is Moffat jumping into the Davies timeline before the Tennant Doctor dies, and making his final-words-to-be just a ‘meaningless thing that he says all the time.’
  • ^ Does Clara still remember everything she saw in the Doctor’s timeline?  I think she must because she recognized Tennant in ‘locked’ prison cell.

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  • David Tennant’s Doctor is kissing like crazy – and the proposal thing? I get why they did it… but he isn’t supposed to remember the events that occur with the other Doctors… but then he mentions that he got married to the Ood in ‘End of Time.’

Other things of note:

I don’t want to come across as too picky… haha, who am I kidding. Well done… that’s exactly what I’ve done.  But these are other things I wanted to make note of – they wouldn’t have ruined the 50th Anniversary for me, but they were minor things that I thought about.

  • The Zygons… the seem like a bit of an odd addition, they could have done just fine in an episode of their own.
  • The War Doctor (9th?) told the (11th and 12th?) other two Doctors that they’re wasting their time waving their screwdrivers about at the English soldiers… yet they fight of a Dalek with them? I guess they’re just controlling the pace of time taking place inside the painting – but I don’t know. =/
  • Allons-y seemed like it was used a bit unnecessarily. It’s the first word you hear the 10th Doctor say, then he says it again at the end when flying the TARDIS.  I was pretty sure that he said it 3 times during the special, but after glancing back through the episode I think I must be wrong.  I think introducing Tennant with ‘Allons-y’ wasn’t needed…  They should have saved it to the end, made it truly special.
  • Clara, like many other recent companions, seems to be the sole decision making body in the Doctor’s mind.  We have three drWho12Doctors about to pull the plug – David’s doctor was so angry about it, and Matt’s Doctor regretted it every day. Yet, Clara is the one to tell him to come up with another plan.  (One that as I mentioned, he already supposedly had been figuring out for centuries.)
    However, obviously part of this companions being the ‘moral compass’ thing is to do with the Doctor forgetting about how to react.  He’s become a torn character that seems to need guidance – heck, that’s why he explores the universe with companions – because he’s gotten used to everything, so he needs someone to remind him how amazing it is.  Well at least, that’s how it was during Russel T Davies era… Who NOSE! Obviously not a total set back to the story, but something that did make me think.
  • So there we have it… for now… unless I decide to add something that I forgot. Obviously this episode was massive, there was a lot going on – and a lot of references everywhere you look.  But more importantly, everyone will experience it differently. I feel starved when it comes to Doctor Who… I haven’t had a satisfying feeling after watching a Doctor Who episode for some time now.  I still want to watch and I still want to follow what’s  going on – because I do love the concept and the universe surrounding it… but I’m not feeling content like I used to when watching Doctor Who. There are many other shows on television like Being Human, The Originals and Arrow, (Sherlock would be here too… but you need to get on the new series ASAP Mr Moffat) that I feel satisfied with after watching them.  My ‘story hunger’ is fed, it no longer hurts… but I still have the craving for new episodes… Doctor Who on the other hand… I’m getting breadcrumbs leading to an empty room…

Wow, so the Doctor wouldn’t remember this right? So perhaps the memory-wiping device on the wall of the Black Archive has something to do with that? Nah… It’s some time-sync issue, that didn’t exist when we had the Peter Davison and David Tennant mini-episode for Red Nose day…

Agh… Am I expecting too much?  Why am I expecting a believable plot solution to come out of adrWho10 SciFi show that involves travelling through time and space? A scientific impossibility, well, if you’re trying to travel backwards in time…

The way Moffat’s storylines work continue to leave me starving and

missing the satisfaction I used to get from watching Doctor Who as a child. His problem is that his plot solutions often come out of nowhere and can’t be figured out during the episode because it’s some insane thing that’s never even been referenced before… ever. AS a poorly written example:

PROBLEM: The lawn needs mowing.
SOLUTION: We saw a shed earlier on that potentially harbors a lawn mower.
MOFFAT SOLUTION: The grass begins to shrink… by growing in reverse.  The Doctor has upset the local flow of time because his TARDIS has parked in this same spot before – even though there isn’t an episode where he has parked here before, and the TARDIS has never modified time before by parking in the same spot, as exampled by the TARDIS’s visits to CARDIFF multiple times to recharge… but why would that matter? That’s a Russel T Davies issue, we’re in a new Moffat Universe Baby!

I shouldn’t have bothered writing that… Why did I choose mowing the lawn?  That’s the most mundane thing I could have picked to demonstrate a point.  Of course Moffat’s solution in this example would be more entertaining than actually… mowing the damn lawn…  But hopefully you sort-of get what I’m talking about.

There we go, I think I’ll end it here.  I think I’m being a bit over the top… which actually speaks more highly of Doctor Who in a sense – because I’m being as harsh about it as I am with my own work.  I question my own stories and films to the same extent – I guess it just shows how much I consider Doctor Who a part of my life if I feel like I have to critique it in the same manner.

Nonetheless, thanks so much for reading.

See you later,

Ben.

 

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