On November 23 the world turned in to watch the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special. The episode was broadcast simultaneously to 94 countries and ended up breaking the Guinness World Record for the largest TV simulcast. I was lucky enough to snag a ticket for the 3D showing in Toronto and I loved it so much I ended up going to see it a second time in theatres the following Monday. I thought it was a perfect tribute to both the old and the new.
*Warning! This post contains spoilers for the Doctor Who episode The Day of the Doctor*
If I’m being totally honest I didn’t *love* Seasons 6+7. I enjoyed them a lot but they seemed to be missing something. Maybe it’s because I was never really an Amy fan. Maybe it was Steven Moffat’s overly complicated season finales. But whatever the problem the 50th Anniversary had me jumping up and down in my theatre seat with glee. So what was it about this episode that got me so giddy?
First of all the plot wasn’t overly complicated
There seems to have been a trend lately in Doctor Who episodes to throw a bunch of things in a blender, turn it on, and then throw up your hands and say “but it all makes sense because timey wimey stuff.” And don’t get me wrong. I don’t always need a perfectly explained ending. But repeated endings in this fashion just feel kind of lazy. The plot of The Day of the Doctor was fairly straight forward all things considered. Sure there was time travel and loop holes but it was fun to watch everything fall into place. And furthermore it felt like it was organically tying together some loose ends between Classic Who and New Who (versus trying to make the wrong puzzle pieces fit together).
David Tennant is my doctor. So it should be no surprise that I was excited to see him return for the anniversary special. But he and Matt Smith far exceeded my expectations. They were our Doctors. No Question. They worked really well together and were in perfect sync. I loved the way they played off one another and how David Tennant was able to be both cocky towards and respect of his future self. And then when you add in the additional element of John Hurt. They’re a dynamic trio with great chemistry. Perfect dialogue and perfect casting all around.
In addition to the gaggle of Doctors there are also some fabulous new characters that I grew very attached to in a very short period of time. Particularly Osgood. I felt like her character was a fabulous metaphor for the Doctor Who fandom. She was a total fangirl, super smart, overly excited and down right adorable. And she was wearing the Fourth Doctor’s scarf. Can we vote her next companion please?
Just like David Tennant was my Doctor, Rose was my companion. So I was also excited to see Billie Piper’s name in the cast. However, I was nervous about how they would be bringing her back. Don’t get me wrong – I would love nothing more than a beautiful and epic conclusion to the 10-Rose saga. But the 50th Anniversary special wouldn’t have been the right time for that. The anniversary is about celebrating ALL of Doctor Who and focusing on their romance would have taken away from that. So with that in mind I liked the way they incorporated Billie Piper into the show – that is as someone who was important to the Doctor symbolically, even if he didn’t know why/how quite yet.
Finally there were two small surprises that were just the cherry on top of this glorious Doctor Who sundae. The first was the unexpected, brief appearance of Peter Capaldi. His eyes only show up for a brief moment but I swear by heart leapt up into my throat. And I wasn’t the only one. Both times the entire theatre erupted into cheers at this moment. I loved that no matter how much we love the current Doctor or a former Doctor, Whovians are always excited about what’s to come next.
The second surprise, was also the final surprise of the episode. The return of Tom Baker, our beloved Fourth Doctor. Seeing him on-screen, his voice the same old voice, his mannerism the same old mannerisms, it made me tear up. This show has meant so many things to so many people around the world. Seeing Tom Baker there, the old talking to the new, it just reminded me of how it’s touched people, and how I hope it will continue to touch people for years to come.