Review: Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special – The Day of the Doctor

I wish I hadn’t seen Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor at Hoyts Te Awa, Hamilton, today.

Not because it was really bad, but because it was so good. So great, in fact, that it not only met my expectations but surpassed them.

The reason I wished I hadn’t seen it is simply that I have enjoyed mulling over all the possible ways the story could go based on the information show runner Steven Moffat had released.

Seeing it meant all that would stop.

And seeing it, also somehow, felt like getting my Christmas present early and I haven’t even had my birthday yet!

Day of the Doctor

Moffat said a long time ago The Day of the Doctor would feature current and 11th Doctor Matt Smith and 10th Doctor David Tennant while 9th Doctor Christopher Eccleston did not want to reprise his role.

We knew current assistant Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) would also put in an appearance, and the 9th and 10th Doctor’s companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) would also feature.

Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave), who featured in Series 7’s The Power of Three, was also always going to make an appearance too. As was Queen Elizabeth I, who Tennant’s Doctor had once boasted as knowing and indeed was chased by her in Series 3’s The Shakespeare Code.

The other big piece of the puzzle that’s been well know for a long time was the shape shifting Zygons, who only appeared once before in Terror of the Zygons. By revealing their appearance early Moffat made fans imagine all sorts of scenarios where any of the aforementioned characters might be copied. He did not disappoint in this matter – otherwise why bring them back?

Then there was the not so small matter of John Hurt, introduced in the closing seconds of the Season 7 finale, The Name of the Doctor, as a previous incarnation of the character.

I had surmised that Hurt must, indeed, be the version of the Doctor who had committed such an atrocity during the last great time war that he had been suppressed. He had pressed the big red button that had ridden the universe of the Daleks and his own people the Time Lords who were locked in mortal combat across all of creation.

I was proved right by Moffat just a few days ago when the online prequel, The Night of the Doctor, showed eighth Doctor Paul McGann regenerate into John Hurt uttering during the transformation “will it Hurt?”. Hurt, is, indeed the war Doctor and his weary portrayal of someone who has had enough of fighting was superb.

As were Smith and Tennant who consistently upstaged each other every time they appeared on screen together.

Multi Doctor stories, as done in the past, can sometimes get bogged down with bringing back old Doctors rather than focusing on the story. But not this special. I’d even venture to suggest that this might be the best multi Doctor story yet . . . it even included a cameo from Peter Capaldi who will take the key to the TARDIS from Smith this Christmas.

I’m so sorry to see Smith go, he could have captivated me for another three or four years and broken 4th Doctor Tom Baker’s record, but what a way to go.

There’s plenty in this story for the eagle eyed, too, with the opening titles taken from the very first episode An Unearthly Child as they morph into a modern creation of the opening scene of that show – a policeman walking down Totter’s Lane. The chairman of the governors at the school where Clara is finishing taking a lesson is none other than I. Chesterton who was one of first Doctor William Hartnell’s companions.

It just carries on from there, with plenty of wondrous surprises, that don’t get in the way of the story.


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