Television: Doctor Who and The Day of the Doctor

"The Day of the Doctor"

In 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion.

The Day of the Doctor has arrived–and I must say that while I am extremely impressed, I can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed as well. A contradiction, you say? Well, let me break it down.

I am impressed at the thought, love, care, and attention given to the 50th anniversary special. I love how showrunner Steven Moffat brought back Billie Piper in the iteration that no one expected. I applauded the choice of Tenth Doctor we saw, and seeing David Tennant in a new Doctor Who adventure–I never knew I missed him until I saw him again.

John Hurt is a great addition to the Doctor’s lineage. But having seen The Night of the Doctor, I am now curious as to where his adventures had taken him and how he aged that much from the time he induced regeneration to the time he contemplated using The Moment device.

I also love how Steven Moffat chose to put the big Time War to close with this story, and I understand now why he only approached the three most recent Doctors to appear. Had we gotten Christopher Ecclestion alongside Tennant and current Doctor Matt Smith, I think this special would’ve been even more astounding.

Of course, meaning no offense to John Hurt, I would’ve loved it if Christopher Ecclestion turned out to be the War Doctor. Can you just imagine the surprise and glee of people when in the last moments of The Name of the Doctor we see Christopher Ecclestion facing Matt Smith, instead of John Hurt? Minds would’ve exploded.

Admittedly, I still feel a little short-changed by the Ninth Doctor. I liked Ecclestion’s take on the alien Time Lord, and I feel as if we never really explored his potential because his time was so short. Maybe that’s where my fantasy of Ecclestion as the War Doctor is coming from.

But, what if? You know?

There’s so much to love about the 50th anniversary special. So why do I feel underwhelmed?

I sort of blame Series 7. I mean, the weekly movie-like features spoiled us. Something big was happening every week. Something catastrophic. And the finale with Clara going through all the Doctor’s lives to save him from the Great Intelligence’s interference? That felt more like a fiftieth anniversary special than this one.

Of course, The Day of the Doctor had better budget, a bigger cast, and so much more. But in terms of story, it didn’t stand out from the stories we were already given running up to it. We were just made to wait a longer time before we could see it.

I really don’t know what else Moffat could do to make it bigger. What can be bigger than the Time War, right? I don’t know. I really don’t know.

But I certainly do feel as if this Christmas’s The Time of the Doctor might feel bigger for me, if only for the fact that Eleven will fall when we go to Trenzelore.

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