Okay, okay wow, just wow. That was just, so freaking wow!
Okay, fanboying out of the way, lets get to this. Although to be honest, this is gonna be a hard review. I loved “Day of the Doctor, from start to finish. So many call backs to classic Who and new Who. In the humble opinion of this Goon, there is very little wrong with it.
Little background on me and Doctor Who. I have been watching since season 1 of the new series, and since then I have watched everything of the new stuff and as much of the classic stuff I have been able to find. So, I do know a bit of what I speak of. There, now that I’ve got my geek credentials out in the open lets move on.
I am just gonna open with this, I flat out loved “Day of the Doctor,” it was amazing from start to finish, and John Hurt was fantastic as the War Doctor. What was great about this was that we actually got to see the Time War, or at least a little of it. Up until this point, we have only ever gotten hints and bits of what the Time War was and its effects, which was great. It established the Time War as this horrible and unknown event that had such a dramatic effect on the Doctor. This was great set up for the anniversary special, even if that wasn’t intended at the time, but we will get back to that later.
So before I go any further, there is one thing I need to bring up about this special. When last we left the Doctor and Clara, they were stuck in the Doctor’s time stream, but when we catch up with them now, Clara is a teacher at the same school that Susan went to, and Ian and Barbara taught at, fantastic call back to the pilot episode here, and at the end of the day rides off to see the Doctor. To me this left me with questions, I want to know how they went from being in the Doctor’s timeline to here, while this doesn’t in anyway take away from how great this was, I strongly feel that this is something that should have been explained. There was some mentions to this as Eleven and Clara interacted with the past Doctors, asking about whether not she remembered any of his past, but was never actually explained. I question the reason for this, I am sure there was one, but I am not expecting an answer.
Clara and the Doctor were at their finest here, the scene of her riding the motorcycle into the Tardis, and closing the door with a snap of her fingers, was amazing. All their interactions throughout the special were fun to watch. Clara started out as a rather bland companion, nothing bad but not great either, but she was so great in this episode. She was clever, brave, empathetic, and just all around amazing. Her friendship with the Doctor is strong as ever, and extends to both his present and past lives. Her scenes talking to Hurt’s War Doctor, were a fantastic moment for her character. I would have liked to see a bit more of her interacting with Tennant’s Doctor, but you can only fit so much into a limited amount of time. Overall, Clara was fantastic in the role she played. Smith was in top form as well, he played his role perfectly and was the same Eleventh Doctor we know and love. His interactions with Clara, U.N.I.T, and past selves were played perfectly. His little joke about having a job and everything that went with it was a perfect little gag to run through the episode.
Moving on, John Hurt. Ever since he was introduced in that brief shot in the last season finale, I have been ever so eager to find out more about him, what his role in the events of the Time War was, and just what it was he did to end it. And I was not disappointed. The war scenes were amazing, they perfectly showed the devastation of the Time War, and just how crucial the Doctor’s role in it was, it seemed that even his own people were afraid of him when we saw the council. His scenes with Billie Piper were great, everything he showed while agonizing over the, how conflicted he was with what he had to do, Hurt showed this amazingly. Later, when another way is found to end the war, the relief and joy he shows, I can’t even express how fantastic that is. Hurt was amazing for this role, and he did everything perfectly.
Let us say we talk about the big thing for this, the one thing that everyone hasn’t shut up about, David Tennant is back! Like everyone else, I was thrilled to see this, while not my favorite Doctor (that is and always will be Eccelston) he was fantastic in the role. This was obviously a Tenth Doctor from between the specials, given his lack of a companion, which honestly I was a bit sad about. It was nice to see the conflict that was shown between him and Queen Elizabeth in the season 3 episode played out in front of us. I have always been wondering about that, and was upset to see that it wasn’t resolved before Tennant left the show, so it was nice to see that little plot point tied up. Overall, Tennant delivered a fantastic performance, as per usual. Even with being out of the chucks and suit for a few years, he played his role as if no time had passed. The only part I was upset about was that we didn’t get to see him and Billie Piper interacting, as I think its safe to say that is what most of us were looking forward to seeing, but his on screen time with Elizabeth was a joy to watch, and she played the companion roll very well in the place of on his actual companions.
Getting to big thing, seeing the three Doctors interacting with each other. This was of course the best part of the episode. Smith, Tennant, and Hurt played off each other so well. Watching them jump from being uncomfortable with each other, to joking and comparing similarities, to flat out hatred and rage was all amazing. Eleven and Ten’s reaction to the War Doctor was great, it was equal parts hatred and empathy. They hated him, and by extension themselves, for what he did during the war, and thus also felt pity for what he was going through, and what he would have to do. What was best about this was Hurt’s Doctor reacting to these “young” men around him, while at the same time, both of them being older than him and that being constantly reminded of that.
Okay, to sum that all up. All the actors played their roles amazingly. The dialogue was great between them all, they delivered their lines fantastically and were able to play off each other amazingly well, as if they had been working together for years.
Moving on to the story for this special. We see it split, we have the War Doctor in the final day of the Time War, ready to end it all. Seeing Billie Piper as the machines A.I. was great. While I was sad to not see her playing Rose, her character was great, and we got to see Piper doing something new in the series, and she did it well. The A.I. opens holes in time, allowing the Doctor to meet his past/future selves to fully understand the outcome of his choice while at the same time we see Eleven and Ten working to thwart an alien invasion. I am gonna be honest here, this was a part of the episode that was less than amazing. The War Doctor/fall of Gallifrey was great to watch, but the shapeshifting invaders just seemed blah. It was if that was there more to just bring in U.N.I.T and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart’s daughter, which was again a nice call back to a classic Who character, and admittedly did lead to an amusing opening scene of the Tardis being airlifted across London. But the entire thing amounted to nothing. The Doctor’s left with negotiations going on over the fate of the planet, and that was it. We never saw the resolution of that story. It seemed to solely act as device to introduce plot points that were later used for the Time War story and to wrap up the Ten/Elizabeth thing. While this plot was amusing to watch play out, it seemed unneeded, they could have easily expanded on the Time War half of the story to fill in any gaps.
Now the Time War story was amazing. We saw the Doctor realize what it was he actually did. He didn’t kill his species, he saved them. We saw the Doctor finally find some peace that has been eluding him for so long. The scene of the Doctor’s, all thirteen of them, flying in to save Gallifrey was amazing. Even if it was just stock footage used, seeing every incarnation of the Doctor, including the future one, working together was enough to give me chills. It changed everything we have known about the Doctor up until this point. A defining aspect of his character in this new series was that he was the last of the Time Lords, that he had killed his people, and now we discover he saved them. The final scene of all three of the Doctor’s looking at the painting, all of the at peace with themselves, even if only for a moment, brought a smile to my face. Hurt walking into this Tardis, which I loved the look of by the way, and regenerating into the Ninth Doctor we know and love was amazing and Tennant’s closing line “I don’t want to go,” was a heart wrenching call back to his last appearance in End of Time. I teared up, not gonna lie. Moffat’s a bastard like that. Perfect send of for these two characters.
The final moments, seeing the Doctor with the curator, played by Tom Baker, was a perfect way to end this. The not so subtle hints that this is the Doctor somewhere in the future was great. Obviously a shout out to fans of the classic series, who Baker was a fan favorite Doctor of, and a nice nod to the future of our favorite alien. In the end we finally see a character we have come to love no longer haunted by his demons, and with a brand new goal, to find his home. The closing scene, of Eleven standing in line with his past lives, staring up Gallifrey. Perfect way to end this. Fifty years of history shown in a single, perfect, moment.
Overall, I can’t even begin to describe how amazing this was. Everything you read up there, that was just a tip of the ice berg.