Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Day of the Doctor - "I'm the Oncoming Storm, The Bringer of Darkness ... and you're basically just a rabbit, aren't you?"

The Day of the Doctor (TV story) - Tardis Data Core, the Doctor Who Wiki

Season 7, Story 15 *50th Anniversary Special* (Overall Series Story #240) | Previous - Next | Index

Let's get the gushing out of the way first, because there is gushing to be done. That was so cool. Watched it live on the road back from vacation. Then again at home, still too noisy. And then again. Loved it. Best. Multi-Doctor Story. Ever.

OK, got it? I loved it. As I scan my twitter stream it seems we all loved it.

But we've got to admit some of it was just for show and didn't, strictly speaking, make sense. Even acknowledging that ... still, it's possible to love it nonetheless. As I argued with "The Five Doctors," when it's a celebration woven into a story, it helps to be able to take it all in all for what it is. You can choose to deride the celebratory aspects as dramatic failures, and that's certainly valid critical approach, or you can choose to revel in the celebration while you watch the show. The latter's a more difficult tack to take, because you've got to be of two minds in the process, but I think we can manage.

So, I choose to whoop it up that we saw, even if only in glimpses for most, all thirteen iterations of the Doctor in one story!

And yes, they said "all thirteen ..."

Look at 13. Look at him! He's going to be magnificent.
So let's start there before we go back to gushing about Tom Baker coming back! Because he did!

That "all thirteen" feels significant. It feels more significant than when we were told the Doctor died for realz in "The Impossible Astronaut," which never really felt all that significant because we knew that wasn't the end. This though, this could be setting us up for an ending. Moffat has said (though he may have been taking us for a ride) that he's sticking with the twelve regeneration limit so Capaldi's Doctor would seem to have to be the final incarnation. When the Time Lord High Command General remarks that all thirteen of the Doctor are present, he could have just said "thirteen," the "all" qualifier would seem to indicate he has knowledge that these are indeed all the possible Doctors -- as we would expect if the regeneration limit rule applies to him. Perhaps though we shouldn't assume anyone in the High Command would have that sort of knowledge about the Doctor.

Tom Baker as "The Curator"
Now this Curator. Played by Tom Baker (!!) here, the character's name should ring a bell. Or, it should if you've read Summer Falls, because the Doctor has gone by this name before, or will start too soon. Or, didn't at all because Summer Falls is an in-universe book that Clara Oswald and her young charges had read. It got released as a "real" book, sort of a tie-in to the story "The Bells of Saint John." So, what we are to make of a character called 'The Curator' who was a thinly-veiled version of Eleven (Matt Smith's Doctor, who I am still calling Eleven) in the fake book is not an easy thing to parse. But, it can't be coincidence that they bothered to put that book out, call the Doctor by another name in it, and then later bring back Tom Baker to play a character with the same name in the context of being a character who seems to be an iteration of the Doctor, although he can't be due to Capaldi being the last possible incarnation ...

Other things I missed, that simply didn't make sense, and/or stray observations:
  • The Doctor says the actions of the War Doctor on that day "silenced the universe." A hint as to where the Silence come from?
  • I don't mind gaps that leave room for novelists and Big Finish to fill in, but doesn't seem like a strange-shaped hole from the end of the "The Name of the Doctor" to the beginning of "The Day of the Doctor" where Clara's working as a teacher at the Coal Hill School, of all places?
  • What was the thing in the ceiling that made the humans and Zygons forget which they were? [Edit: Oooh, Kate explained it to Clara when they went into the Black Archive. Memory wipes for the workers at the end of every shift. In my defense the first two times I watched I had trouble hearing all the dialogue due to road noise and kids asking questions.]  But I love the idea of setting up the negotiations in this way. Calls to mind Rawls' Original Position -- they've got to hammer out an agreement both sides can live with, knowing they'll be one of the sides when it's done, but not which. We don't need to see the result because we know everyone will get their just desserts. Rawls. Gotta love him.
  • How does this version of Gallifrey's fate reconcile with what we saw in "The End of Time"? (I don't think it does.) Edit: Mr. Murphy helpfully points out internet theorists think the actions of the High Council in "End of Time" were concurrent with the fall of Arcadia. I'll watch "End of Time" again soon to see if that holds up, but it does seem to be what Moffat was hinting at here. 
  • Is the Doctor such a doofus he could really open the door and fall out of his own TARDIS while it's being skylifted across London. (Chuckled at the Derren Brown reference though.)
  • We didn't actually see the War Doctor regenerate into the Eccleston Doctor. Now, I know that Eccleston wasn't coming back to do it, but they could've CGIed it to make him start to look Ecclestonian. Will this be a significant gap? Edit: Again on a tip from Mr. Murphy I watched the eyes during the regeneration and, with the benefit of the big screen, I saw it. Those do look like Eccleston's under the glow.
  • Scarf-wearing daughter of Kate Lethbridge-Stewart has a prettier sister, eh? I guess we'll meet her one day ...
  • Ten (Tennant's Doctor) married Elizabeth I ... so does that make Eleven a bigamist? Or polygamist if we count the Marilyn Monroe marriage? (Do you ever get the sense they are just piling on River Song?)
  • Where was Ten in his timeline? He was travelling alone, but not on his farewell tour? Or was he? Edit: Thanks to Mr. Murphy for pointing out in the comments that folks are honing in on this lining up with the time just before "End of Time" when Ten was travelling alone. He also mentioned at the beginning of "End of Time" that he married Queen Bess -- and that it was a mistake. How he remembers that when he doesn't remember the rest of this story may not make sense though.
  • I'm glad to see that the Silence Will Fall thing will be addressed again, that dangling thread has a been a nuisance. Could this mean we'll also get resolution to the mystery of the woman from "The End of Time"?
  • We saw Capaldi's eyes, know he's the 13th Doctor (including the War Doctor) but didn't get any intimation that the Valeyard will be accounted for. 
  • Billie Piper was fabulous as The Moment as Rose Tyler/Bad Wolf. The way she comes across in interviews it's easy to believe the Rubberbandits were on to something when they goofed on her in passing as a cokehead in their classic track, "Horse Outside," but she's like the second coming of Meryl Streep when it's time to be the Doctor's conscience. Not that John Hurt was a slouch either. Smith and Tennant get most of the headlines and fan love, but Piper, Hurt, and Baker managed to steal the show from the two stars, who did pretty fine jobs themselves. (As an aside, did Tennant look like he was recovering from the flu to anyone else? Maybe his looking a bit green around the gills was meant to suggest this was part of his "End of Time" reward to himself tour?)
  • All this way and I've still not got around to even mentioning the Zygons. So let me get this straight: shapeshifters defeated the security at UNIT's top secret pseudo-Torchwood repository by ... smashing a bunch of statues and throwing sheets over themselves?! Uhhhh ... 
  • Watching in the theater was so worth it. Not only for being able to pay closer attention to detail. Being amongst all the ageing nerds (my people), little kids in fezzes and blazers with their parents, young ladies in TARDIS dresses ... it felt like an event, even though I'm pretty sure we'd all already watched it at least once beforehand. 

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