In the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special, THIS IS A THING THAT HAPPENED. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to catch up on Doctor Who.
Happy holidays, friends! I wanted to surprise folks with an unscheduled review/video here on Mark Watches, and I thought it would be great to host another conversation about Doctor Who. It’s not lost on me that in trying to catch up, I will also be missing the Christmas special, which airs later today, but I will do my best to get some free time to cover it… I don’t know when? DRAT, I TRIED.
Anyway, for the most part, I felt really good about this special, so let’s break this up into two parts:
- This special was very liberal with the constant references to past canon, both of the revived show and the original run, and on the surface, I admit to being incredibly entertained by this. (The ding joke was my favorite.)
- I watched this off iTunes and in HD, and it was gorgeous, one of the prettiest and best-filmed episodes of this show. So many haunting sequences! That scene with the War Doctor (I’ve since learned he’s being referred to as the War Doctor) in the desert was UNREAL. I don’t have a problem with excessive use of CGI, and for the most part, I enjoyed how surreal and otherworldly most of this special seemed.
- For example: Clara riding her motorbike into the TARDIS. Breathtaking! I loved it!
- And I still maintain that I love the idea of Clara and Eleven. (Fuck, can I even call him that? Or is he Twelve? Moffat, you didn’t make this easy for any of us. More on that later.) Their chemistry is fun because it feels like they appreciate the same sort of silliness and shenaniganry that they provide for one another.
- There are SO MANY neat characters in this, too! Osgood and MORE KATE STEWART and I actually liked the Zygons as villains. I never saw their original appearance, though.
- I did like the idea of the dual storyline, where what’s happening in the present mirrors the decision the War Doctor had to make. Yes, I had problems with the ending of this, but y’all know that parallel storytelling is my jam.
- So, wizards have moving paintings, and Time Lords have 3-D paintings. Our paintings are awful.
- Favorite running joke of the special: Eleven having a job. God, what a goofball.
- I’m sticking half of my opinion here, but it was UNREAL to finally see the Time War. I honestly thought it would never happen on the show. But… well, see the second half, for more thoughts on this.
- As ridiculous and heavy-handed as it was, I kinda loved that the Doctor used a gun for something that wasn’t its intended purpose: to carve a message in stone.
- BILLIE PIPER AS THE MOMENT WAS E V E R Y T H I N G. Of course, I wanted Rose and Ten to be reunited, but I imagine that could have gotten weird and messy? But holy shit, Billie is such a fantastic actress. You know what she reminded me of here? When Donna Noble became part Time Lord. Anyway, even if she wasn’t Rose Tyler, I adore that the image of Rose was what guided the War Doctor through this moral quandary because I adore Rose Tyler.
- And I miss her. So, so much.
- I miss Ten SO MUCH as well, and it was surreal to me to watch David Tennant perfectly slip back into this role without any hesitation. This wasn’t just a little cameo or anything, either. HE WAS IN MOST OF THIS EPISODE! And it wasn’t a trick like “Rose” was; this was his timeline intersection with his past and future selves.
- I like Osgood not only because she’s awesome, but because I just imagined that I was her, and that is precisely how I would act around the Doctor.
- TEN. AND. ELEVEN. BICKERING. I could have watched that nonsense for HOURS.
- The War Doctor MISTAKING TEN AND ELEVEN FOR COMPANIONS.
- THE WAR DOCTOR CONSTANTLY INSULTING HIS FUTURE SELVES
- CLARA AS THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WELL.
- I LOVE THAT WHOLE SEQUENCE OF SCENES WITH ALL MY HEART.
- I do not apologize for the utter GLEE I felt during them.
- While I think the issue of three timelines often felt super muddled and confusing to me (given that I still don’t understand how none of the characters will forget everything), I did like the whole use of the timelines to compute complicated formulas and whatnot over hundreds of years. Very clever. Not so clever: NONE OF THE DOCTORS CHECKING TO SEE IF THE DOOR WAS UNLOCKED. Fucking goofballs, I swear.
- Kate, Osgood, and McGillop confront their copies: EXCELLENT SCENE. I loved it, I loved how creepy it felt, and I loved the unbelievable tension built into it. Of course, it’s a necessary parallel for the War Doctor, one he has to witness to understand what choice he’ll make in his own timeline.
- Which I liked a lot. Up until a point. Then it just got weird. So………
- TOM BAKER CAMEO C R Y I N G
The Not-So-Good and the Awkward
- I feel like a chump just complaining about this because I never really like the idea of stating that something didn’t meet my imagination, but… wasn’t the Time War supposed to be unfathomable? Wasn’t it supposed to be such a heinous fight through time and space that we literally couldn’t wrap our minds around it? For the most part, it looked like… like a Star Wars fight scene? Which had its appeal, certainly, and it made it a lot easier to deal with in the narrative itself. But… I DON’T KNOW, I FEEL SILLY EVEN BRINGING THIS UP.
- Okay, while I loved the idea of the Doctor counting the actual children’s lives ended by his actions (thereby making them feel even more real for him), I thought it was really odd only to focus on them. Because ostensibly, that means like 5 billion other people died but the memory and honor of them doesn’t matter???
- I just feel all kinds of weird about the Elizabeth I plot because… she did trick the Zygons, but she’s largely here to be comedic relief in the form of LOL THE DOCTOR IS MARRIED TO ELIZABETH I. I don’t know SOMEONE HELP ME FORMULATE THIS THOUGHT. It’s half-assed, I admit, but that’s because I couldn’t figure out why it felt off to me.
- So, I think that often times, Eleven’s characterization is all over the place. He initially seemed a lot sillier (and a lot more willing to forget the pain of what he’d done as Ten) when we first met him in series five, and then he was ~*sort of dark*~ but ~*very silly most of the time*~ and then he did a bunch of REALLY FUCKED-UP THINGS that were LARGELY UNADDRESSED BY THE NARRATIVE, and so I sort of felt like rolling my eyes at the whole “HE IS THE DOCTOR WHO FORGETS” thing because… no, I think Moffat forgot half the stuff Eleven did while he was writing Eleven.
- And ultimately, that’s what frustrates me about how this special ends. God, up until the big epiphany, I was so on board with this. There was no way out of this horrible decision: the Doctor either had to kill everyone or risk all of existence being burned away. And his future selves come to his assistance so that he was not alone when he made the decision. Which is really sad and upsetting and such a neat writing choice, because it doesn’t undo all the characterization that came after it, particularly everything that Nine’s era gave us.
- AND THEN THEY UNDO IT
- SORT OF
- I DON’T KNOW
- IT’S REALLY CONFUSING. They come up with a solution to hide Gallifrey in a way that will force the Daleks to destroy themselves and make it look like the Time Lords all died, too, except… what about the Daleks who were on Gallifrey at the time? That isn’t explained, and the whole thing is left ambiguous up until that weird-ass ending with all the Time Lords looking upon Gallifrey and all I could think was DID MOFFAT JUST UNDO THE TIME WAR? DID YOU LITERALLY JUST OVERWRITE EVERYTHING RUSSELL T. DAVIES GAVE TO THIS UNIVERSE’S CANON? DID YOU JUST….
- IT SEEMS REALLY EGREGIOUS, ESPECIALLY GIVEN THAT NINE/ECCLESTON IS NOWHERE IN THIS EPISODE. And I know it’s silly to complain about casting, particularly when Eccleston has said that he didn’t want to come back to Doctor Who, but good god, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE. I admit that the idea of there now being Time Lords is pretty cool, but I don’t like the way this was made possible.
- WHAT A WEIRD ENDING.
The video commission for “The Day of the Doctor” can be downloaded right here for just $0.99. If you haven’t been following along with Mark Watches recently, bandwidth issues for Mark Watches videos has gotten so expensive that I now have to charge for episodes; here is a full explanation of the new policy as well as info on how you can still download the videos for free if you cannot afford them. You are welcome to make a single thread for this purpose in the comments below!
Additionally, if you check out the Mark Watches Doctor Who video page, I did include the files for “The Crimson Horror” and “The Name of the Doctor” as well!
Mark Links Stuff
- You can now purchase a personalized Holiday Card from Mark for just $20!
- If you would like to support this website and keep Mark Does Stuff running, I’ve put up a detailed post explaining how you can!
- Please check out the MarkDoesStuff.com. All Mark Watches videos for past shows/season are now archived there!
- My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. The schedule for Double Features is also updated through the end of the year!