On Saturday 23rd November, 2013, at 7.50 pm, after months of tantalising hints and teasers, the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who arrived, watched by around 10 million people world-wide. And it was fantastic.
The 75 minute episode, broadcast to 94 countries at the same time, began with the opening credits first seen in 1963, a great nod to where it all began. We catch-up with Clara (Jenna Coleman) and the current Doctor (Matt Smith) following the events of ‘The Name of The Doctor’ when they’re unceremoniously airlifted to Trafalgar Square by U.N.I.T.
In the National Gallery, a 3D oil painting of Gallifrey (the Doctor’s home world), serving as Elizabeth I credentials, is found. Cue timey wimey wibbley wobbly stuff. Our Doctor remembers being in the painted scene (and fans everywhere squeal as we finally see the Time War) and John Hurt’s Doctor is finally given some quality time on screen. Then things start to get a bit complicated. A time-portal brings Matt Smith (11th Doctor), David Tennant (10th Doctor) and John Hurt (It’s complicated… let’s call him ‘War Doctor’) together for a run around Elizabethan England. With Elizabeth I. And some Zygons.
Moffat described the episode as ‘a love letter to the fans’, and it certainly was that.
I won’t go any further with the plot because it’s a) complicated and b) In case you haven’t seen it yet (Seriously? GO WATCH IT NOW), but the episode was a delight. Seeing it in the cinema in glorious 3D did add to the immensity of the event, with introductions by the 10th and 11th Doctors as well as a fantastic piece by Strax the Sontaran on cinema etiquette.
Moffat described the episode as ‘a love letter to the fans’, and it certainly was that. Almost every scene had some reference to something that had gone before, from Susan’s school from the first ever episode all the way up to the present series. The climatic scenes brought together all 12 incarnations (and a cameo from the next Doctor, Peter Capaldi) which brought tears of joy to many fan’s eyes.
To the die-hard fan, the 50th was fantastic. To everyone else, the 50th, though enjoyable, the endless plot twists and far-fetched time meddling may seem confusing. The penultimate scene, in which a previous incarnation (I won’t say which one) returns as ‘The Curator’ is baffling fans and non-fans alike; and the internet is abuzz with theories, ranging from the feasible to the bizarre.
The Day of the Doctor was a joy to watch, and though Moffat surprised us with many aspects of the episode, the promise of a ‘narrative-changing’ finale certainly held true, taking the show off in a new, interesting direction. Roll on Christmas and Smith’s final episode as The Doctor.