Doctor Who celebrates 50 years of television history this week, though I only joined for the last eight or so (and I’ve probably only really understood about 60% of those eight seasons). Still, it was really exciting to see how The Day of the Doctor would continue the story of this Gallifreyan Time Lord while paying homage to the many stories and the fictional universe that has been created around the character. First off, it was a less-than-surprising mystery how they were going to bring together at least three Doctors: Matt Smith’s current one, David Tennant (the previous one) and John Hurt as a new/old one. No-duh, the answer is “time travel”; but how and when exactly? And how are they going to make a normal Doctor Who plot as the backbone to all the stunt-casting and story shenanigans?
Similar to the finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation, we work with three moments in the timeline. John Hurt’s character as the War Doctor exists at one of the biggest moments in The Doctor’s own history (one which has been mentioned before): when he decided to destroy Gallifrey in order to end the Time War with the Daleks (thus saving the universe). David Tennant comes into play as the version of The Doctor around when some shape-shifting aliens (all raspberry pink and ridiculously named “Zygons”) plant the seed of their future invasion in Elizabethan England. Matt Smith, as the current Doctor, happens to be there when that seed germinates and the big bad Zygons start to implement their plan by breaking into UNIT (the top secret British government task force established to take care of all things alien and Doctor-related) to get their hands on some really bad weapons.
Frankly, the aliens look silly and I can hardly believe that they pose any real threat to the planet (especially with The Doctor around), but I did enjoy how the three Doctors worked together to manipulate time and events in order to foil the Zygons. The interactions between the three was wonderful: hilarious, clever and fun — comparing the sizes of their sonic screwdrivers, the decorating style of their TARDISes, or even their own fashion senses. I wish that they could have spent another hour or more bickering/bantering amongst themselves. Another cool addition was not only Jenna-Louise Coleman returning as current Doctor-companion Clara, but they managed to bring back Billie Piper as some incarnation of previous companion Rose Tyler (I won’t say how — frankly because I don’t think I fully understand). (Also too bad they left out Freema Agyeman as the hottest companion, Martha Jones.) While not-unexpected, the return of these characters/actors (with a few more choice, surprise cameos thrown in), is a perfect way to stage an anniversary episode. (Plus, I’m sure that I missed all kinds of inside gags that a true Whovian would enjoy.)
All in all, I found the episode very satisfying and enjoyable. Rest assured if you (like me) have been a little bit confused along the way, it’s still loads of fun and a surprisingly intricate storyline with some emotional character beats as well. On top of that, the plot seems to make a potentially huge twist to the entire Doctor Who mythology, which I hope will continue to play out in the ongoing series when it returns. (4.5 out of 5)