The hype around the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who has been intense. Made more so by the appearance of John Hurt as the unnamed Doctor at the end of this past season. How have we never heard of him? Is Moffat screwing with fans again? What are we, as loyal Whovians, supposed to make of it?
Expectations were high, and once again (as much as I hate to admit it), Moffat has knocked it out of the park.
Let’s start with the highlights- John Hurt is stunning as the War Doctor. We all know he’s a consummate actor, but the heart he brings to the character, and the sadness is amazing. Watching him chide 10 and 11 for their childishness is delightful to watch.
I have to admit, I cried a bit seeing Tennant again. I love Matt Smith, and seeing them together, finishing each other’s sentences and mirroring each other is great. But perhaps because of the storylines Tennant was given, he has always broken my heart a little. The exchange of Smith saying “timey-wimey” and Tennant responding he didn’t know where he gets it was priceless.
One of the things I liked best was the story’s explanation of paradox. We know both that the Doctor destroyed the Time Lords, and that the Time War is time locked. The 50th did a wonderful job of explaining why it is both. And BBC-America’s decision to show End of Time immediately after the 50th only shores this up.
Billie Piper’s turn as the Interface is perhaps not what fans were expecting, but as we saw in “Let’s Kill Hitler”, and “The Doctor’s Wife”, Gallifreyan artifacts don’t always behave as we think they will- they take the forms of people the Doctor has known, or bring whole Time and Relative Dimension in Space into human form. Therefore, I liked the twist that the Interface would take the form of Rose Tyler, liked even more the “clever boy” line coming from her. I wonder too if her decision to name herself Bad Wolf heralds storylines to come.
Clara was a character that annoyed me from her first appearance. She bugged me all last series, and part of me wished she’d go away. What she is. What her purpose is. It all bothers me, and the last series finale seemed like Moffat being too cute for him own good, and a little too cheesy. We still don’t know who/what she is or what her purpose is, but in the 50th, she didn’t bother me. Perhaps because she stayed out of the way of the three doctors, and served the simple narrative purpose of SEEING the Doctor for what and who is he (in all incarnations).
Tom Baker’s appearance at the end was a personal one for me, as he was my first Doctor. Four years old, too poor to afford cable, we did get PBS, and he was my first Doctor, the one I fell in love with. My mom even bought me a super long scarf that I wore to pieces pretending to be the Doctor (I would never stoop to being a companion, I had no doubt I could be the Doctor). Baker’s appearance also opens up a whole new line for Who- when he hints to Eleven that he can revisit regenerations. Given there is still much speculation about Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth (and perhaps final?) regeneration, Baker’s appearance (other than a great nod to fans) seems to hint too that there are ways around the rules of regeneration. Moffat says the series will go on (although without him at the helm) but fans wonder how they’ll get around the fact that the Doctor only has twelve regenerations (minus whatever funky math you want to do about River Song lending him regenerations).
I’m intriqued to see what Capaldi does with the Doctor, especially a Doctor that appears to be on his way to rediscover Gallifrey. Although I do wonder at this turn, since Who lore tells us the Time Lords were selfish, awful people, so I can’t help but wonder why they shouldn’t just stay in the timelock!
I didn’t know what to expect out of the 50th Anniversary. But I loved every second of it, teared up at quite a few points, laughed out loud at even more, and once again am on pins and needles for the Christmas episode. I’m happy it’s sitting on my DVR, because I know there are things I missed the first time around that I might catch on the second, third, three-hundreth viewing.
So what about you Whovians out there? What did you think? Favorite moments? Beefs? What do you think comes next?