VINE VOICEon 30 December 2013
For Doctor Who to have achieved everything it has as a television programme will always be remarkable, but for it to have actually reached its status as a 50-year-old worldwide phenomenon is absolutely incredible.
Of course, the show hasn't been running ALL that time. After starting in 1963, the show ran until 1989 when it was cancelled and remained so until the 1996 Doctor Who Movie, faded back into limbo before successfully being revived in 2005 full-time. Still, the sheer longevity of Who, everything it represents in science-fiction and the massive fan-base it's garnered worldwide (generation-after-generation) is truly something to be proud of, and OF COURSE it should be celebrated.
Now throughout 2013, the Doctor Who franchise has been churning out all kinds of celebrations for this amazing spectacle, such as books and audiobooks/dramas (like The Destiny of the Doctor series and The Light at the End), but let's face it...the REAL celebration of Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary is THIS.
For those who may have missed the EPIC cliff-hanger to Series 7 (`The Name of the Doctor'), the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith)'s entire life/history was threatened to be undone by The Great Intelligence, which was thankfully thwarted by current companion Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman). During the whole calamity, the Doctor and Clara came across a mysterious incarnation of the Time Lord that he'd kept hidden from everyone. Including & especially himself...
And now that's come back to haunt the Doctor, as old faces will unite in an epic adventure that spans the ages and sheds more light on the infamous Time War...in what will be the most fateful moment in the Doctor's entire life.
So...DOES `The Day of the Doctor' live up to the hype? ABSOLUTELY. And then some. This is where current-showrunner Steven Moffat cements his legacy for all the right reasons. Even though I've strongly criticised Moffat's direction/vision at times throughout his tenure on Doctor Who, `The Day of the Doctor' is undeniable proof that Steven deserves to go down in history as one of the all-time great writers of television. Here, he produces an absolute epic which is more-than-worthy of a 50th Anniversary Special. His writing is at its absolute best for this special, resulting in a once-in-a-lifetime event that not only lives up to expectations but, also celebrates all that has gone before.
Just like in his best-ever episodes for Doctor Who, Steven has given us a wonderfully intricate, coherent masterpiece that reels you in right from the get-go and by the time it's finished, `The Day of the Doctor' will have affected you forever. Make no mistake, this is more than just a mere special. This is an EVENT, one that does indeed change the Doctor's world forever, but unlike that whole `Silence Will Fall' palaver, `The Day of the Doctor' promises an exciting new direction for the show, which Moffat will hopefully realize to tremendous acclaim.
It's not just groundwork for the future or an intelligent, epic script that Steven provides here, it's everything. The creative team pays tremendous tribute to the glorious history of Doctor Who through brilliant references. The eras of Russell T Davies, Verity Lambert & Barry Letts are celebrated, much-loved characters like Captain Jack Harkness & Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (among other previous companions) are honoured, and the whole episode is tremendously paced and sharp. Even aspects you may think are going to be rubbish (i.e. return of the Zygons and their plot in Elizabethan England) are executed just fine. Yet another (most welcome!) dive into events of the Time War further build-upon the Who mythos, and the obvious inclusion of the Daleks for this special simply showcases them at their frightening, malevolent & destructive best.
This special has a real, big-time movie-atmosphere to it (justifying its excellent screening at cinemas), and as such all the cast perform to expectations. The pairing of Matt Smith (Eleventh Doctor) & David Tennant (Tenth Doctor) is simply a dream come true, with their individual interpretations of the Doctor interacting supremely well. For Matt, this is simply his finest hour as the Time Lord. And as for David, he returns to his old role with typical flourish. His Doctor remains as golden as ever, arguably the greatest of all (still my favourite!).
And of course, big props to Jenna-Louise Coleman as Clara and the returning Billie Piper as Rose Tyler (sort of...), both of whom perform with such grace, emotion and humour that has made both actresses (and their characters) warm, wonderful & utterly endearing. Oh, don't forget the legendary John Hurt as well! Although initially unsure about the idea of this mysterious `War Doctor', all fears were immediately laid to rest by the concept's execution and Hurt himself.
There's no `red herring' here (like 2008's `The Next Doctor') or letdown of any kind. The War Doctor is an incarnation of the Time Lord that makes you sympathise the character like never before. You feel for him, and you fear what he's destined to do. John lives and breathes the part here with his unique portrayal, making him equal to not only Matt & David, but all other Time Lords before him. Make no mistake. John Hurt IS the Doctor, and it's such a shame this maybe the only time we get to see him in the role.
If I have any criticisms for `The Day of the Doctor', they're irrelevant and inconsequential. Both the special itself and this DVD release. There's a splendid wealth of extras here - trailers, documentaries and Mini-Episodes `The Last Day' and the awesome `Night of the Doctor' (featuring the return of Eighth Doctor Paul McGann, excellent as ever!) - all of which only justify this DVD's mandatory status. And there are several big surprises in store (I'm saying nothing!) that you simply MUST see to believe!
Long live Doctor Who!