Day of the Day of the Doctor

Well. So that was the 50th anniversary special.

This is the thread for people who have already seen it. Leave now if you haven’t. No, really, go watch it first. Nothing but spoilers within.


2 thoughts on “Day of the Day of the Doctor

  1. [reposting all my scattershot musings here for ease of reference… and because I will be pointing coworkers here after they see it in the theater tonight.]

    “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” – Marcus Aurelius

    And a nonspoilery tumblr link:

    Not only intro’d in Clara’s voiceover, it was written on her clear-erase board, though it was tricky to make out… you could see “no more time” in the reverse, which is Moffat-subtle, and, given the amount of stuff crammed into “The Day of The Doctor,” I can’t say I blame him for being so overt. Even with an extra 20 or 30 minutes to play with, there was a lot of ground to cover at a sprint, even with occasional breathers for silliness or introspection or the odd SFX fillip.

    It’s an absolutely *terrible* introducation to the show (which is not to say that the show’s intro was terrible; to the contrary, the homage to the very earliest episodes was the first of many hat-tippings to five decades’ and hundreds of episodes’ worth of heritage), less because of the plot itself being BEHOLD THE MCGUFFIN EX MACHINA, and more because there is so much being done with the show’s history to tie up and contextualize, both in the universe the story inhabits, as well as what took precedent here – the meta context of the backdrop of the show’s history itself and its fans and fandom, to which this was the third leg of a triumverate paean to the fans – the first two being the sentimental “The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot” (BBC watch link: ), which, for fans of Classic Who, should probably come with a “have a fresh box of Kleenex ready for ALL THE FEELS” and “The Night of The Doctor” (BBC’s Youtube link: ) which provides valuable but not absolutely necessary background to John Hurt’s “missing” Doctor, as well as, in the meta-context, says an unequivocal “Yes” to the question of whether the audio productions put out by Big Finish during the long hiatus the show itself went on, are part of the official show’s canon.

    As a cultural, fan-based phenomenon, it’s nearly impossible to extricate one from the other at the best of times unless you’re kicking off a watch/re-watch party with a very clear delineation – the very first episode of the show in 1963, or the big reboot in 2005 – and with “The Day of The Doctor,” it’s entirely impossible. It fails spectacularly to be any kind of standalone piece, and that’s the point. The story itself is mostly a framework from which huge swathes of worldbuilding history and franchise sentimentality are hung, like scaffolding for a coronoation or The Queen’s diamond jubilee. As well it should – fans have been through a lot with this show, and giving them a huge, satisfying pay-off was, hopefully, never anywhere but front and center, even for the rightfully-criticized Steven Moffatt.

    There were plot holes and stumbles, to be sure – leaving the TARDIS door open and unattended? breaking statues down into sand without any tools and limited time? a case of species amnesia conveniently elided for one character? (and, yes, a literal deus ex machina) – but those are birdshit on an Aston Martin today.

    You can’t casually address The Time War, or The Doctor Who Fought, even when it’s not freighted with the show’s anniversary as a backdrop; like when Weird Al finally covered “American Pie” when Episode I was released, some things have to be saved until you can save them for making the grand statement, the huge gesture.

    No further thoughts yet, maybe after a re-watch. If there are spoilers in the comments more pointed than what I put here… avert your eyes until you’ve had a chance to watch. It was a good show to me, as a casual/Newvian fan who knows most of the deep history by way of our hostess, who *is* a longtime, bordering on life-long, fan, so I have context that I wouldn’t otherwise have gotten unless I’d been compelled to search it out… and, knowing me, I probably wouldn’t.


    Because I am a horrible person and cannot be left unsupervised with The Doctor…

    I guess he let


    Zygons be Zygons.


  2. First comment and you’re already angling for the “Bad Puns Banhammer” to be created in your honor, I see.

    The “no more” actually reminds me more of Davies and his catch-phrase-of-the-season habits; cf “bad wolf”, “there’s something on your back”. Then again, I suppose Moffatt’s had “Silence will fall” and “a good man goes to war” in his own time.

    In the wake of my speculations this morning about Moffatt’s comments on trying to discuss the 50th with Davies and how their former “no spoilers” interactions as scriptwriter and arc-plotter contributed to the general atmosphere of restraint and respect for the fans Moffatt’s episodes under Davies evince that his episodes without that leash are completely devoid of, it might make consummate sense that his worries about the plot twist undermining Davies’ run narratively — and not being able to squeeze feedback out of Davies on that — might have left him acting out of respect for Davies’ feelings in a way that translated to a Moffatt-under-Davies-ish self-imposed restraint. Maybe it left him subconsciously imitating Davies’ tendencies in an effort to make something Davies wouldn’t feel undermined by. If Moffatt could just hang on to that, along with his realizations that the first two seasons were actually about Rose (in the same way Star Wars was about Artoo and Threepio, and the way Hidden Fortress was about Tahei and Matashichi, yes, but also in that Rose was the one who got real character development, with the Doctor acting as a spur in her Journey of the Hero), I feel almost like I could like Moffatt’s version of the show again someday. But there’s plenty of time for my criticisms of Moffatt later.

    “The story itself is mostly a framework from which huge swathes of worldbuilding history and franchise sentimentality are hung, like scaffolding for a coronoation or The Queen’s diamond jubilee.” So very much this, and yet… not. By itself, it’s still missing much of what the classic fans needed, though I have yet to talk to a classic fan who didn’t swing to a personal extreme of emotion on hearing the Curator’s first line and his subsequent appearance on-screen as part of the official show again. Whether that extreme was my own “loud sobbing”, a friend’s “ugly cry”, or another friend’s poignant, teary-eyed flashback to watching with his grandfather, we fans whose childhoods were woven with the Doctor as a recurring thread got most of our intense gratification as bookends. The original opening sequence and shot of Totter’s Lane and the Coal Hill School and the final sequence with the Curator are the supports between which the rest of the story is stretched, sagging slightly in the middle. But even without a consistent level of classic-fan-squee, and with the overlooking of certain canonical stumbling blocks (what happened to the fabric of time and space ripping if the Doctor meets/touches/spends too much time with his other selves?) it’s a good balance between saluting the past, solidifying the current fan base, and setting up the next arc. I’m grateful to Moffatt for not making the 50th all about the last 8 years, or about his personal reign, which I frankly expected him to do.

    To me, though, the real 50th celebrations took place in the shorts. “Night of the Doctor” gave us much-needed TV closure on McGann and canonized his Big Finish material in a surprisingly healing salute to his work during the Interregnum to keep the fandom alive after the show’s only previous chance of resurrection had passed us by. “The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot” gave me everything I wanted from the surviving Classic Doctors, and gave both classic- and Davies-era cast and crew a chance to make their own contributions. Moffatt was entirely responsible for the former, and while the latter was conceived by Davison, proposed by Davison, written by Davison, and directed by Davison, Moffatt’s good-natured particpation in it — down to the potentially-unflattering scene showing his fantasies about former companions turning into henpecking and a jarring note — makes me think a little more positively of him. Which is to say it makes me think a little less negatively of him; that has a long way to go before the scale tips in his favor again, but it’s a start. There’s plenty of nostalgia in the 50th anniversary episode proper, but it’s mostly in the trappings.

    To a die-hard classic-series fan, the first 26 years mostly got a nod and a (very moving) participation ribbon, with the plot focused more on the present and future of the show — but what a die-hard classic fan might want from a celebration of the show’s entire history would be opaque to the people who just stepped in a “moment” ago in 2005. Too much focus on the present and future would have been an insult to the past. I’m honestly not sure how Moffatt could have satisfied both groups; I would personally not have minded it if he’d said “GTFO Newvians, this one’s for the elderfans,” but that would have been damaging to the show in the long-term. There’s a fine line to walk between “Newvians don’t understand how Hiatus and the Interregnum were blunt traumas straight to our childhoods” and gatekeeping, and those most wounded by the show’s cancellation would be well-advised to remember that it’s the hordes of Newvians, the sheer number and fresh wonder of them, that buffer the show against a repeat of that sad history. It’s a little unsatisfying to have to dig that hard and drag in the extra material to find the real gift to the people who have been fans for the majority of their lives (and the majority of the show’s life as well, in many cases). Ultimately, though, I think that was the real gift to us: more than acknowledgement of the people who kept it going during the dark days, more than closure on Eight, more than canonization of some brilliant off-screen companions, more even than the appearance of the most universally-proclaimed “my Doctor!” of the classic era, the potential here for conscription of millions of New-Who viewers worldwide to lend their attention (and incomes) to exploration and support of the show’s past material, the invitation to understand that “50 years of Doctor Who” is more than just a nice round number to put on banners, might be the thing that ends up meaning the most in the long term.

    Well, that and the obvious how-can-you-not-see-it-it’s-right-there-in-big-bold-letters reintroduction of the Cartmel Master Plan. But I’ve been seeing signs of that since 2005 and it’s taken 8 years to get it this far back on track, so maybe take that part with a small moon made entirely of salt.

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