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Who at 50: Day of the Doctor

So relieved, and so happy! So glad that I kept my hopes up, and kept the faith after all. I may have started watching the fiftieth anniversary episode feeling a little nervous about what exactly we were going to see, and I may have kept a sense of reservation about the main storyline for a good hour I think as I watched (in spite of all the squee fodder we got along the way). But once Clara worked her magic and turned it all around, it literally became the episode I have been waiting for ever since the reboot. I have always said that I want the Time Lords back. Always, always. And now that can happen - he just has to find them. As for the glorious, glorious Mr. Tom Baker there at the end as the Curator (oh, you know it has a capital letter, just like the Doctor)? That was honest-to-god the best thing I have seen on television this century.

OK, let's try to be a little more coherent.

Basically, and quite rightly, the name of the game for this episode was FUN. That's what you need to do anyway for the sort of story which thousands (millions?) of people who don't normally bother to watch Doctor Who are going to tune in to see. As it happens, I think it was also a very good thing for Moffat as a writer. It's almost like dropping his usual Big Serious Plot Arcs (That Inevitably Disappoint) actually liberated him enough to pull off something really format-redefining. Certainly, in the middle of all the quips and the knowing winks and the hat-tips, you can get away with an epic line-up of all thirteen Doctors hiding Gallifrey from the Daleks in a wibbly-wobbly technobabbly way that is never fully explained, in a way that you can't during a 'normal' episode. And Moffat deserves a lot of credit for pulling that off, and making it link right back to the full emotional weight of the First Doctor's desire to get home to his people, as well as pointing a new way forward into the future.

I can't quite resist the urge to write up a list of my favourite 'cool bits', even though I'm sure everyone on the internet is already doing that, and it is not analysis in any sense of the term - just geekish squee. I will at least try to keep it down to my five favourites (apart from the Tom Baker bit, which goes way beyond just sticking it on a list for me):
  • Obviously, the original opening credits at the beginning. My heart skipped a little anticipatory beat at that moment, in spite of my worries, and then jumped another one for Totter's Lane and Coal Hill School.
  • Clara riding a motorbike into the TARDIS, followed not much later by Ten riding a horse out. I liked that - it was neat, and also helped to tie together two story-threads which hadn't yet overlapped.
  • Kate Lethbridge-Stewart asking for the 'Cromer file' with a comment I didn't write down verbatim, but boiled down to something like "70s or 80s, depending on the dating protocol". Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is a reference to The Three Doctors AND the UNIT dating controversy coming hot on one another's heels. Moffat, for that alone I salute you.
  • Absolutely every single line of the multi-Doctor snark-fest. Marvellous in itself, and also a fine tribute to multi-Doctor stories of the past.
  • Also obviously, the dream-team planet-saving multi-Doctor line-up - and especially Peter Capaldi being in it.
On the down side, it needs to be acknowledged that the only non-white characters I spotted in the entire story were a security guard on the way into UNIT HQ, and possibly one of the be-robed Time Lords. It really isn't hard to do better than that, and it's shaming for such a high-profile story as the 50th Anniversary Special to fall down so badly on it. I could perhaps also have done with Queen Elizabeth being a bit more genuinely queenly, rather than like a simpering girl who happens to have a knife tucked in her garters (really not the same as her actually being a meaningful female character). But I can chuck that one more of a pass, given that a) she is essentially there as a comic character and to tie up an old plot-thread from The Shakespeare Code and b) there are plenty of other properly decent female characters about the place, including in particular Clara who genuinely saves the entire day with a few heart-felt words spoken at the right moment. Well done Clara.

Meanwhile, we have some continuity re-adjusting to do. You know, I have been busy tagging all my livejournal entries about Doctor Who all this time with cardinal numbers like 'nine', 'ten', 'eleven' and even 'twelve'. And we have had songs like Vale Decem, too. Have we really got to unpick all that numbering, and bump everyone after Eight along one? It'll take some getting used to, and will doubtless keep on causing confusion from now right up to the 100th anniversary. But you know, for the sake of this story I think I am prepared to do it. (Though maybe not yet - I'll see how well the new system catches on first.) And not least because it should mean that at Christmas, when what we must now call the Twelfth Doctor regenerates into the Thirteenth, we ought to get to see whatever it is that goes wrong there and gives rise to the Valeyard. Exciting eh - and no wonder he was name-checked so prominently by the Great Intelligence during The Name of the Doctor.

Not only that, but it also means that at the end of Peter Capaldi's run we must finally be given an answer to the perpetual question of what will happen when the Doctor runs out of regenerations. The arc there is set, though, I think. His driving motivation will be finding Gallifrey again, and once he's done that (towards the end of his time in the role), it will be pretty easy for the (very grateful) Time Lords to fix him up with a few extra regenerations. Bingo, job done. The only difficulty to get round is reconciling what we've seen this evening with the events of The End of Time, when the Master brought the Time Lords back out of a frozen time-bubble (good, fits nicely with what we've seen this evening), but they were not at all pleased to see the Doctor, and were led by a Rassilon bent on killing him and ending time itself. I think that can be managed, though. We've certainly learnt this evening that there are many Time Lord cities, perhaps each with their own Councils, and not all need be loyal to Rassilon. Indeed, Clare Bloom's character in The End of Time was certainly working against him, and we can well imagine a change in the wider consensus once they all have a chance to realise what the Doctor has actually done. There's some good story-fodder right there, very much in line with Time Lord stories of the past, which more or less all were about most of them hating and distrusting the Doctor. Heck, that's why I like them so much - there is so much more scope for him to be properly Doctorish when he has them to rebel against.

First, though, it seems from the teaser trailer for the Christmas special that we must go back to Trenzalore and witness the battle there which led to the creation of that enormous graveyard - and perhaps even see the burial of the Doctor in his TARDIS at the end of it all. Whatever happens there, it is going to be epic.

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Comments

( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
thanatos_kalos
Nov. 24th, 2013 12:39 am (UTC)
I tend to agree with you on most points, though I had less of a problem with Elizabeth I-- I read her as being able to outwit the Zygons by using their cultural blindspot(s) against them, so that she and the Doctors and Clara combined could dispose of them. Of course, most of what I know comes from either Elizabeth or, what I suspect was at least partially the comic inspiration, Queenie from Blackadder 2. So I'm reading her early scenes as being an intertext and her later scenes as her showing off her brains/strategic skills. (One could also argue for her trying to marry the Doctor for his perceived skill at warfare, perhaps).

Also, if you haven't seen this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01m3kfy, do it-- Peter Davison's The Five (ish) Doctors Reboot is as brilliant a comedy as I've seen. :)
strange_complex
Nov. 24th, 2013 12:41 am (UTC)
Yeah, don't worry, I watched it on the red button. Absolutely awesome, and definitely something I'll be wanting to watch again! :-)
thanatos_kalos
Nov. 24th, 2013 12:44 am (UTC)
Same here! :) Wonder if red button material is eligible for a BAFTA?
livejournal
Nov. 24th, 2013 08:00 am (UTC)
Links I found interesting for 24-11-2013
User nwhyte referenced to your post from Links I found interesting for 24-11-2013 saying: [...] ) Reaction from strange_complex [...]
steepholm
Nov. 24th, 2013 08:40 am (UTC)
I watched a bit of the after party on BBC3, and there they had a quick montage of all the Dcotors. Interestingly, the kept the numbering as is, and simply labelled the Hurt the War Doctor. It seems that he doesn't get a number.
strange_complex
Nov. 24th, 2013 12:17 pm (UTC)
Aye, but in the special itself Peter Capaldi announced his involvement in the saving of Gallifrey with the words "No - all thirteen". I think there will be conflicting views about the numbering for a while, which is why I'm going to let it all settle out for a bit before I start changing all my LJ tags.
robling_t
Nov. 25th, 2013 04:49 am (UTC)
I've been leaning toward numbering Hurt!Doctor as Twelve, because it was Eleven who sort of gave him back the right to consider himself as the Doctor -- I mean, it's not as if that would make any less sense than any other theory, here... ;)
strange_complex
Nov. 25th, 2013 09:48 am (UTC)
Yeah, I see what you mean. Like he was the twelfth individual to come to consider himself the Doctor. It would certainly make things easier, numbering-wise - we just go straight on to Capaldi as Thirteen, and it's job done.
danieldwilliam
Nov. 25th, 2013 09:59 am (UTC)
I think the venerable case of MacCormick against the Lord Advocate may have the answer to the Doctor’s naming convention.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacCormick_v_Lord_Advocate
strange_complex
Nov. 25th, 2013 10:03 am (UTC)
Hehe, yes - the analogy holds up remarkably well. In essence, it's the Doctor's prerogative, but I note Moffat weighing in there in the last paragraph with a rule of his own which future Doctors (and indeed fans / subjects) will doubtless ignore. :-)
danieldwilliam
Nov. 25th, 2013 12:27 pm (UTC)
Decades from now, in my sixties I expect to be part of a silent conspiracy to basically ignore Moffat entirely.

(Note to self - attempts to not be snarky about Moffat, D-, must try harder.)
qatsi
Nov. 24th, 2013 11:12 am (UTC)
The definite article, so to speak
oh, you know it has a capital letter

Absolutely. In fact, in my mind, he was The Curator.
strange_complex
Nov. 24th, 2013 12:18 pm (UTC)
Re: The definite article, so to speak
He's basically THE CURATOR, isn't he? :-)
kernowgirl
Nov. 25th, 2013 01:50 am (UTC)
Just watched this and I also loved it--I really think he pulled off something very impressive considering all the expectations riding on it. This is the kind of thing that I usually assume will be a little anti-climactic as it tries to please too many people at once. Yet while I felt the Tom Baker cameo and Billie Piper role was fan service I could have done without (yes, where Tom Baker is concerned, I'm a complete heretic!), I acknowledge that their position in the fan hierarchy is such that they were the best choices for the role.

I quite liked Queen Elizabeth, just because it's fun to see a change from the austere and commanding woman she's normally seen as--a role covered by Kate anyway! This was a more original take on the Queen, and she ultimately did prove herself to be perfectly capable of defending herself and her country.

Biggest disappointment for me was that Christopher Eccleston couldn't have given a few hours of his time to complete the regeneration moment. But otherwise, utterly brilliant!
kernowgirl
Nov. 25th, 2013 01:55 am (UTC)
Almost forgot! What's the fan-buzz on the scarf-wearing Osgood? Presumably Clara's sister...?
strange_complex
Nov. 25th, 2013 09:43 am (UTC)
Clara's surname is Oswald, not Osgood, so there's no particular reason to assume they're related. But I do think we're meant to see some kind of connection just from the similar structures. Mostly, fans are just seeing her as a meta-reference to the fan community itself - much, of course, like Malcolm Taylor in Planet of the Dead, who also wore a scarf (though not quite such a direct copy of Four's).
kernowgirl
Nov. 26th, 2013 01:28 am (UTC)
From her conversations with her doppelganger, I assumed this was the start of another plot arc. Her prettier sister was certainly mentioned, and the Os- prefix on her name seems a little too much to be coincidental.

Maybe it's wishful thinking. I liked the fact that we had a physically shapeless female character (there's precious little diversity of female silhouettes on the screen), and I liked the "The Doctor will save me!" mantra before stepping up to the task herself. I'd *like* to see more of her.
strange_complex
Nov. 26th, 2013 10:07 am (UTC)
Ah, just come across this list, which gives us another theory about the reason for Osgood's name. Check out number 33 for that (but also check out the whole list while you're there, as it's ace!). There's every chance we'll see her again, anyway, whoever she is.
danieldwilliam
Nov. 25th, 2013 10:01 am (UTC)
It’s the first episode where I haven’t hated Clara.

Although to be fair to her, I only hate in Plot Hole of the Daleks because I hate everything about that episode, including the fact that I hate it.
strange_complex
Nov. 25th, 2013 10:10 am (UTC)
I've never hated her (although I hated her line about bisexuality being just a phase in that episode) - just felt generally kinda neutral and nothingy about her. She's always been a bit too picture-perfect, although in fairness since The Name of the Doctor that has at least been given some kind of rationale. But you're right - the 50th Special gave her a weight she'd never really had before, especially when she got to be the one who made the Doctors change their collective minds. Good, because she looks set to be with us for a while, so it would be a pity to have to keep on being unthrilled by her.
danieldwilliam
Nov. 25th, 2013 10:23 am (UTC)
I don’t even mostly hate her for being her.

She’s the victim of being the latest in a seriest of Special Companions of Special Specialness which is a trope I’ve been finding progressively more tedious and less interesting and also removes the fantastic element. My children can’t watch Doctor Who and think to themselves “If the Tardis appeared opposite Dad’s flat I could be a Companion” because, they aren’t Special enough to To Have Their Trope-Role Nickname Be Capitalised. The Captain is already too old at nearly 4. He’s missed his opportunity.

To this massive credit balance with me Clara brings her own Special Blandness.

Grrrr.

I’m getting worked up about her just explaining what irritates me about her.

Maybe it’s me and not her.
strange_complex
Nov. 25th, 2013 11:07 am (UTC)
Yep - that is why, of all the New Who companions, my favourite by far is Donna, whose Special Power was simply being a good temp. (Though I hated how her story ended). And I think the results of the Radio Times best companion poll are very telling about how Special Specialness actually goes down with audiences. OK, Rose topped the poll, but that's probably as much about her being the first New Who Companion as anything, and besides for the whole of her first season she actually was pretty ordinary. After that, Sarah Jane and Donna are the top contenders, Amy is looking shaky and Clara barely gets a look-in - which, given that she is the current companion, is really damning. It's pretty obvious that ordinary people with a bit of real character to them strike the strongest chord. Anyway, I hope there'll be someone the Captain can really relate to along soon.

Edited at 2013-11-25 11:17 am (UTC)
danieldwilliam
Nov. 25th, 2013 12:41 pm (UTC)
I liked Donna. Although I have problems with Catherine Tate that are nothing to do with Donna but which slightly took the shine of her rather lovely ordinariness.

I never minded Rose being Special. It didn’t feel forced. Friendship turns to love, love turns to doomed love. Rose was Special because of the way her relationship with the Doctor evolved. I think my irritation with subsequent Special Companions is that their relationship has had to trump Rose’s in importance. It felt like they needed to be more EPIC than Rose but not to any great purpose.


I’d have liked to have seen more of Martha.


The Captain would probably quite like Captain Jack - and not just for the obvious reason.
ms_siobhan
Nov. 25th, 2013 03:45 pm (UTC)
I liked Donna because she didn't simper and was confident when she needed to be and didn't become pathetic.

Rose however really got on my nerves - though how much of that is due to my dislike of Billie Piper (childishly referred to as Billie Poopipe in our house) as opposed to the character I'm not sure.

Martha really got on my nerves too and don't get me started about Amy - her and Rory can both just feck off - which thankfully they have.
strange_complex
Nov. 25th, 2013 03:52 pm (UTC)
See, I never liked Pouting Amy very much, but I loved Rory because he did have that ordinary-but-up-for-it quality that I like in a companion (and which Donna also had). Plus, he became a Roman soldier! I never could understand what the hell he saw in Amy, though.
ms_siobhan
Nov. 25th, 2013 03:56 pm (UTC)
I couldn't understand what she saw in him either. I must be honest though and say I don't watch it with the regularity or in depth-ness that you do but all Amy seemed to be doing to me when I saw an episode with her in was swishing her hair about and screeching Doctor!!! so I know I could be wrong - there could be an episode in which she did neither the hair swishing nor the screeching.

Edited at 2013-11-25 03:56 pm (UTC)
kernowgirl
Nov. 26th, 2013 01:29 am (UTC)
I can't believe I never realised just what irked me about New Who companions before. No wonder I like Donna and Rory and Mickey so much.
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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