It’s been 50 years since the Doctor first warped onto television screens and straight into pop culture. 11, soon to be 12, incarnations of the time traveller have journeyed across time and space and since the shows reinvention in 2005 has grown from cult favourite to global sensation. With the 50th Anniversary, the BBC has pulled out all the stops with The Day of The Doctor, which is being beamed into homes across the world, but also in cinemas in 3d too.
A major part of Doctor Who’s mythology is the Time War – an intergalactic conflict involving the nigh-mythical Time Lords and the genocidal Daleks that threatens to consume the universe. To prevent this, the Doctor wipes out both races – an event that comes to shape his character during his next 3 regenerations. While the Time War has been hinted at and alluded to throughout the series, this is the first time it has been depicted on screen for any length of time.
The Day of The Doctor is a treat for hardcore fans, particularly of the latest series. The special sees current Doctor Matt Smith and his predecessor – and fan favourite – David Tennant team up in an adventure that encompasses the far future, Elizabethan England and the present day. John Hurt also appears as a mysterious Doctor – a warrior who fought in the Time War and the incarnation responsible for the burning of Galifrey (the Time Lords home world) in order to halt the fighting.
The main draw of The Day of The Doctor is seeing Smith and Tennant play off each other. Their different portrayals of the same character provide plenty of sparks and laughs, with enough differences between them that show off the diversity that multiple actors can bring to a role.
John Hurt is a stalwart presence throughout. He acts as a buffer between Smith and Tennant, and brings a much-needed touch of gravitas to the proceedings.
The time-travelling, space-faring nature of the show ensures that the pace never really slackens. This is certainly an improvement on the regular length show, as the 90 minute run time means that the reveals, twists and solutions feel natural and organic rather than rushed.
The low budget feel that usually permeates Doctor Who is thankfully avoided in this big-screen offering. It’s slickly shot and, even if the effects are still a bit shonky, still retains the shoddy charm that is the show’s calling card.
There are some disappointments though. A subplot involving shape-shifting Aliens seems to peter out into nothing, and The Time War segments are a let down. Of course, this is probably due to budgetary constraints, but the hints and tales of supernatural monsters and huge conflicts alluded too in the show are ignored in favour of standard Sci-fi laser shootouts, which smacks of missed opportunity.
However, almost all of this can be forgiven by a cameo towards the end that will have fans of the Classic Doctors punching the air in delight. A close up of soon-to-be-Doctor Peter Capaldi’s eyes is also seen – eyes that are full of rage-filled promise of darker direction for the Doctor after the Christmas special this year.
On the whole, The Day of the Doctor is a satisfying celebration of the show’s past for new and older fans alike. While it has it’s flaws, it’s still a Tardis full of fun and hints at great promise for Doctor Who’s future.