Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor (2013)
By: J.R. McNamara on January 25, 2015 | Comments
BBC | Region 4, PAL | 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 5.1 | 147 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Nick Hurran
Stars: Matt Smith, David Tennant, John Hurt, Jenna Coleman, Billie Piper
Writer: Steven Moffat
Country: UK
2013 was a special year for me. It was the year my hero, Doctor Who, celebrated his 50th anniversary, not of being on TV though, as the show had several suspensions and cancellations, but certainly of it's existence in the pop culture lexicon.

Doctor Who is a show about a time travelling, face changing scoundrel who takes it upon himself to help people who he believes need helping. The show started in 1963 and ran until 1985 when the BBC suspended it for 18 months under the tenure of the 6th Doctor. It returned, and quickly the actor playing the role was changed, but only lasted for a few seasons before being dumped in 1989.

The 8th Doctor appeared for one TV special in the nineties, but quickly disappeared back to TV obscurity (but was still alive in books and comics) until 2005 when Christopher Eccleston ushered in a new millennium of Who as the 9th Doctor, but the Doctor had changed, in more than just his face and personality. Here was a man scarred by a war he didn't want to talk about… and now, for his 50th Anniversary special, and two regenerations later, we get to find out exactly what the Doctor did during the so-called Time War, a catastrophic invasion of Gallifrey, the Doctor's home planet, by the Daleks, the Doctor's greatest enemy.

Our story starts with Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (Jemma Redgrave), of the alien hunting task force U.N.I.T., bringing the Doctor (Matt Smith) to the Tower of London to show him and his companion Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) a 3D oil painting of the last day of the Time War on Gallifrey, and a letter from Queen Elizabeth I, but these are the beginnings of a bigger mystery.

Our story flashbacks to the Time War, where we see one of the Doctor's previously briefly revealed incarnations, the War Doctor (John Hurt), forced to decide whether he should use a horrible weapon to cease the war that has been ravaging the Galaxy. The devices interface, adopting the form of one of the Doctor's companions (Billie Piper), challenges him with a look into his future, and a meeting with the current, and one past Doctor (David Tennant). However, with an invasion of Earth by a popular alien from the past imminent, they have a lot on their plates before the War Doctor can make his horrible decision.

Sounds confusing? Well, yes, but in the context of the episode it makes perfect sense.

Honestly, I dreaded this episode like it was going to be a bad head cold. I have not yet been particularly excited by Matt Smith's tenure as the Doctor (well, except for after the introduction of Clara) and I doubted if writer, and head of writing for Who, Steven Moffat, would be able to successfully portray the David Tennant Doctor, fearing that his flippant attitude and need for humour would make any gravitas required for the end of a war redundant. Thankfully, I was wrong.

Moffatt, for the first time since the episode 'Blink' absolutely NAILED it! I sat watching this episode with awe as it used the ideas of time travel to change the Doctor's past without contradicting much of what we know of the new Doctors. It took a story started with the first episode starring Eccleston nine years ago, and not only drew it to a wonderful close, but ENHANCED it!! Honestly, I was a 12 year old sci-fi nut again, with tears in his eyes wondering why the Doctor wouldn't land outside my house and take me away.

Not only is this episode well written, it features piles of fan service for old and new fans of the series. Daleks, Gallifrey, the aforementioned aliens (whom I won't reveal for spoiler's sake), U.N.I.T. and every Doctor from the entire series to date… including the NEXT one, Peter Capaldi!!!!

A special mention has to go to John Hurt in his portrayal of the 'missing' Doctor. His character emulates the 'classic Who characters perfectly, and bridges them to the current, more cartoony, perhaps less 'scientific' Doctors. His reactions to their descriptions of things is priceless, and classic John Hurt as well!!!
The Disc
This disc is presented in a pristine 16:9 aspect ratio and features a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, along with the following special features:

The Last Day is an interstitial which shows how it feels to become a member of the Gallifreyan army. It is told from a first person point of view, and shows the initial invasion of the Daleks onto Arcadia.

The Night of the Doctor sees the return of the 8th Doctor (Paul McGann) in a mid Time War interstitial where we find out that from a universal point of view, the Time Lord's name is as dirty as the Dalek's. It features the return of the Sisterhood of Khan from the 4th Doctor adventure The Brain of Morbius and shows the Doctor regenerate into the War Doctor, a very young War Doctor!!

Behind the Lens is a usual making-of thing but seeing as how it's for the 50th anniversary, it is all rather special.

Doctor Who Explained has many members of the cast and crew of Doctor Who, both past and present, talk about what Who is and how! It covers all aspects of the show, from the lead actor(s), to the machines and his cavalcade of companions.

Early Trailer and 50 Year Trailer are obviously two trailers for the episode, but I have to admit, as a lifelong Who-nut, the 50 Year one gave me shivers.
The Verdict
Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor is a wonderful way to celebrate 50 years of my favourite TV show, which over the past 9 years, has been quite hit and miss for this ol' Whovian. I have only three words to describe this episode though: perfect Doctor Who.
Movie Score
Disc Score
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