TV Review: The Balancing Act of 50 Years of History


Note: as part of Throwback Thursday, I’m posting this piece I wrote December 30, 2013, for my LiveJournal blog. I am planning to slowly move over anything of substance from LiveJournal to this one, with plans on turning the LiveJournal into something else. {Additional: after reading other reviews, most notably Whovian Feminist’s, I have been contemplating giving this review another go.}

Doctor Who, series 7.5 (specials), “The Day of the Doctor”. Written by Steven Moffat; directed by Nick Hurran. Copyright 2013: seen November 23, 2013.

I don’t envy Steven Moffat. He needed to create a program that would celebrate 50 years of Doctor Who, admit that there were a good chunk of years in there where there WASN’T any Doctor Who, while still acknowledging the current plot line of the current series and bring the story into the next series (and the next regeneration) – and he had 75 minutes in which to do it with.

No matter what he did, some fan was going to be pissed.

I’ll admit: I’m a Doctor Who fan from way back. In fact, I wrote a love letter to the show for the 50th in which I stated, “I won’t go into a review of ‘The Day of the Doctor’. I went in wanting to like it, and so I was happy with it.”

The story deals with the consequences of what exactly the Doctor did during the Time War. Basically being the man responsible for killing his own people, he’s finally realized this moment may not have been his best course of action. In the end, he saves the planet for the sake of the children, meaning there’s some retconning of his own timeline to boot.

Was it perfect? No. Making John Hurt the regeneration between McGann and Eccleston seems shoehorned in, and just made me wonder what could’ve been had Eccleston participated in the 50th. But Hurt did a fabulous job with what he was given. In fact, in a way, I liked him more in his short one episode than Matt Smith in his entire four years (it took me a while to fall in love with Smith’s Doctor).

The scarf wearing assistant who seemed only capable of asking the Doctor to save her was a bit annoying, both Queen Elizabeth and Kate Stewart were woefully underused, and Clara still is being the perfect Mary Sue character, capable of being a deus ex machina at the snap of a finger, but I’ve come to expect that from Moffat, alas.

But the good: Smith and Tennant doing the standard Doctor sniping that seems to be required whenever there’s a multi-Doctor story, with Hurt fitting right in making snarky comments of his own. The little in-jokes that, yes, probably could be filed under fan pandering (the roundels and Tom Baker, primarily), but made me laugh and cry all the same. (Hey – sometimes I don’t mind being pandered to.)

In the end, the good outweighed the bad, and like I said, I went in wanting to like it. So, from this fan’s perspective, it was a good outing. I just hope the new series lives up to it, as I am eagerly awaiting to see what Peter Capaldi will be like as a Doctor.

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