Analysis of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special,
"The Day of the Doctor"

Steven Moffat

I've been a fan of Steven Moffat ever since I read his short story "Continuity Errors," in the anthology Decalog 3, fifteen years ago. There's a moment near the end of the story that makes me cry every time I read it. It's one of the most beautiful stories I've ever read. (Some elements of this story would show up in the episode "The Girl in the Fireplace.") Even then, the main theme of Steven's Doctor Who writing was evident: the Doctor protects children from monsters. The idea of protecting children from monsters is a basic, powerful concept which resonates with most people on the planet, and focusing on that aspect of Doctor Who is Steven's niche.

Steven is a fantastic writer and his imagination is incredibly rich. Many of my favorite Doctor Who episodes were written by him: "The Empty Child," "The Girl in the Fireplace," "The Eleventh Hour," and "Blink," which is one of the cleverest and most dazzling pieces of science fiction ever written.

Steven is also very good at phrasing words in a certain way in order to play with the audience's minds. He often has the Doctor answer a question in such a way that the audience thinks they're about to hear a major revelation, only to find in the next line of dialogue that the Doctor is actually talking about something else. Clever wordplay is a mark of a good writer.

And, of course, Steven is incredibly funny. He writes humor in Doctor Who as well as anyone ever has.

His writing is not perfect. No one's is. He has written some things which could have been better, and he has been known to go for the big gag even if it's a huge plot hole or creates a continuity error (the Statue of Liberty as a Weeping Angel being the most egregious). But his gags are usually so well done that I give him a pass on all of that. Doctor Who authors should always ignore past continuity if it gets in the way of a good story; otherwise, we would just shut down the entire Doctor Who franchise and go do something else, because no story would be possible any more as the continuity is too convoluted, anyway. Steven gets this.

Another thing that Steven gets, magnificently, is that it's okay for Doctor Who to change. Remember, before "The Deadly Assassin," we knew almost nothing about Time Lords, but suddenly we had a society and a regeneration limit. There was a time when the Daleks had never been created by Davros because we had never met him, until "Genesis of the Daleks" came along. It's okay to introduce new things. Over the years, many fans have bellyached at new things, only to consider those same new things to be pure and inviolable after a certain amount of time had passed, which is simply absurd. Steven doesn't want to do what's been done before. No one with any real intelligence about storytelling would. So he charts new ground. But he doesn't just chart new ground in little baby steps, he charts new ground in great heaping landscapes, and he's not afraid to do so because he knows he's a good writer and he trusts his instincts. And I adore that.

In short, Steven Moffat is my favorite Doctor Who writer. I think he's even better than the great Douglas Adams, whom I never thought anyone would surpass. So I will be forever ecstatic that he was the man in charge the day Doctor Who reached its 50th birthday. I knew he would write something wonderful, and he did. But wonderful as it was, "The Day of the Doctor" had some flaws.

General issues
The War Doctor

Steven creates a past Doctor out of nowhere. I would never in a million years have thought to do such a thing, nor even considered it, but this is one of those great heaping landscapes of change that Steven introduces. He creates a past Doctor which no one knew about, inserts him into the show's history between Doctors 8 and 9, and reveals him for the show's 50th anniversary. Pardon my French, but that takes some serious balls. But he pulls it off.

Steven has stated that if they had not hired an incredibly accomplished actor to play the War Doctor, it would not have worked, and he is absolutely correct. Some scripts are so tricky for an audience to accept that it's up to the actor to make it work. "The Day of the Doctor" was clearly one such script, and John Hurt was, without doubt, the actor for the role.

Fans will forever debate the Doctor numbering system now that we have a new past Doctor. Because we didn't have enough to debate already. Thanks, Steven. Thanks so very much.

Steven stated in interviews that the 11th Doctor never actually stated on screen that he was Doctor number eleven. This is not true. In "The Lodger," the Doctor pointed to himself and said, "Eleven," which I think is pretty explicit. (Steven has also stated that the Doctor never considered his John Hurt incarnation to be the Doctor, and therefore would have called himself the 11th Doctor, anyway.)

Creating the War Doctor also enabled Steven to address the regeneration limit. I do not pretend to know what ambitions Steven has, but I strongly suspect that he wanted to resolve the regeneration limit issue during his time as producer, probably because he had a nifty idea that he wanted to execute. The creation of the War Doctor used up a regeneration and thus gave him that opportunity.

Steven has stated that he really couldn't see the 8th Doctor destroying Gallifrey, and I agree. McGann's Doctor is too gentle and considerate for such an action. I had a very strong feeling that McGann would be back for the anniversary episode. I was wrong, and after watching the episode, I can see that the story really had no place for the 8th Doctor to be included (outside of the scene in which all the past Doctors come to Gallifrey). But the prequel "The Night of the Doctor" was a very nice touch, and a very classy thing for Steven to do, both for Paul and for the fans.

In "The Night of the Doctor," the Doctor names several of that incarnation's companions, but none from the novels, which I thought was a terrible oversight. Even one would have been nice (Fitz would have been the obvious choice). The fact that the Doctor named no companions from the novels makes me, as a fan of the novels, feel like they were snubbed.

I thoroughly enjoy the War Doctor story. It's a tricky story, and could have failed in any number of ways, but it works, and it's delightful. I adore the Doctor, and I believe that he has core values no matter what name he chooses, and I am therefore pleased to find out that he didn't press the big red button.

I have heard at least one fan complain that she didn't like the Doctor's soul being healed by this revelation, because she enjoyed characters remaining dark. I thoroughly disagree. A little darkness is fine, but constant darkness is a drag. In my opinion, stories in which a character is healed of a very old pain are the most powerful stories of all.

The Moment

In "The End of Time," when a member of the High Council stated that the Doctor had the Moment, I immediately envisioned a long story arc in which the Doctor, the Time Lords, Daleks, treasure hunters, and anyone else with dreams of power were searching for an ancient, hidden artifact called the Moment, and after many escapades and adventures, the Doctor finally outwitted everyone else and took sole possession of it.

In "The Day of the Doctor," we find that it didn't happen that way. Ah, well.

Approach to Doctor Who's history

It probably would have been enough for the anniversary episode to be a self-indulgent romp through the show's past. That was the approach "The Five Doctors" took, and I thought it worked really well, plot holes and all. This approach would have been enough for most people, but it probably would not have been enough for Steven Moffat. As an author and producer of episodic television, Steven is constantly making sure that at least one storyline has been newly introduced or unresolved by the time the credits roll, and that every episode moves the story forward. This is good, but it also runs counter to the idea of enjoying a delightful romp through the show's history. This discrepancy can be boiled down to a simple question: do you use the anniversary episode to look backward, or to look forward?

Well, with Steven's rich imagination, we did both. Steven's answer was simply brilliant: tell the story of a past Doctor, but give that Doctor the Ghost-of-Christmas-Future treatment. Past Doctors look at their future with fresh eyes, and future Doctors look at their past with fresh eyes. In other words, the episode looks both towards the past and towards the future simultaneously, like mirrors into infinity in both directions. This, ladies and gentlemen, is excellent storytelling.

Osgood

Oh, what a brilliant move! Steven really wanted all of us fans to experience this episode as closely as possible, so we get to be a character in the story!

Osgood is us. She is every fan who ever put on a costume or dreamed of meeting the Doctor. She is each one of us, lifted out of our seats and placed directly into the action. She's nerdy, brilliant and starstruck. (The asthma is a cliche for a nerd character, but it sets up several cute inhaler scenes later, so I give Steven a pass on that.) She gets some nice moments when she figures out the Zygons' hiding method, then outsmarts one of them.

And there's the moment when Osgood looks through the hole in the painting where Queen Elizabeth's face used to be. Her own face replaces the Queen's, making it look like Osgood is in the painting with the Doctor.

In my opinion, the inclusion of Osgood in the story as the everyfan may just be the most ingenious element of this episode. It was very nicely done.

Osgood was also the name of a UNIT technician in "The Daemons," an episode from the Pertwee era. This Osgood might be a descendant of him.

Including the fans

The character of Osgood wasn't the only method by which the fans were included in this episode. Showing it in 3D helped.

The fans who gathered in Trafalgar Square, gawking and pointing and taking pictures while the cast and crew filmed the Doctor's arrival, become part of the story. This is another very nice way in which the fans are, literally, made a part of the anniversary episode.

When Clara drives the motorbike into the TARDIS, the Doctor briefly looks directly into camera, inviting the audience to come aboard the TARDIS, but then he goes back to his book. He bends the fourth wall but does not break it.

He does it again near the end. After the War Doctor says, "If I grow to be half the man that you are...Clara Oswald," the 10th and 11th Doctors look around in disappointment, and Matt Smith looks directly into camera for a fraction of a second, as if sharing his thoughts with the audience.

The episode

I watched "The Day of the Doctor" in 3D, in a theater packed with other fans, which is what I wanted. As I cover the episode, I'll point out all the moments to which the crowd reacted most strongly.

The 11th Doctor, Clara, UNIT, and the painting

I am in love with the opening five minutes.

Everyone in the theater said something like, "Ah, yes!" when the title sequence began.

Original title sequence in black and white, then a policeman walking a beat while in the distance a bell rings twice, all in homage to the first episode's opening moments. Fade from black and white to color as we go. Great opening. The Foreman's sign is a little shoehorned in, but entirely understandable and forgivable, and far better to have it than not. Very nice touch.

Just before the picture turns from black and white to color, we hear the faint sound of children talking and laughing, and we hear the voice of a man, presumably a teacher in the school. From the tone and cadence of his voice, he sounds like he's lecturing students, but I can't make out what he says.

Then we see that we are at Coal Hill School, and that I. Chesterton is the Chairman of the Governors, and W. Coburn is the headmaster. Lovely, but why W. Coburn and not A. Coburn? His name was Anthony. Is the W for Waris Hussein? Also, the headmaster's name could easily have been Newman or Lambert, but since those people had already been mentioned in "Human Nature," perhaps Steven wanted to spread the love to others.

We learn that Clara has a new job. So the 50th anniversary episode echoes the first episode in another way: the TARDIS once more has a teacher from Coal Hill School on board.

We hear Clara quote Marcus Aurelius: "Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one." This quote provides some clever wordplay. First, it's symbolic of the Doctor's anguish over his decision to be, in his own eyes, essentially a bad person for an entire regeneration. Second, it contains the two words "no more," a recurring mantra throughout the episode. When we see Clara inside the classroom, she is wiping the quote off the board. The part of the quote which is on screen are the words "no more."

The quote about being a good man also echoes the theme from "A Good Man Goes to War."

When Clara is told that the Doctor has called, her theme song, which is light and sweet, begins playing. We see a montage of Clara riding her motorbike on a beautiful sunny day while the song continues. It's so nicely done. She rides past a clock which says 5:15, the time at which the first episode was broadcast.

I like scenes which show the sentience of the TARDIS, and we see it here when the TARDIS opens her doors to allow Clara inside.

Following Clara on her motorbike, we zoom straight through the TARDIS doors. Exciting!

Nice to see that the TARDIS likes Clara now. Did the TARDIS ever truly dislike her, or was that just Clara imagining things?

I like Clara closing the TARDIS doors with a snap, but I don't like that Clara looks at the doors first. If she did it without looking, the moment would have been much cooler.

We get a finger-snapping sound effect even though Clara is wearing gloves. I would toss that.

The TARDIS doors snap shut and the Doctor's book snaps shut. Nice symmetry.

The quick comments about ancient Mesopotamia, future Mars, and cocktails on the moon sum up Doctor Who's biggest strength in just a few words. Doctor Who is the only television show in history in which the characters can go anywhere in the universe at any point in time, and here we get a nod to that fact.

Would the Doctor really high-five the concept of not teaching anything good?

When the helicopter picks up the TARDIS, its pilot raidoes to Greyhound Leader. This is a nod to the Pertwee era.

The Doctor and Clara look at the ceiling because the TARDIS is moving, and in that scene, a normal actor would have just looked up. But Matt Smith doesn't just look up, he looks all around the ceiling in quick jerky movements, almost like a cat would. That's a nice touch of acting, one of many throughout his time as the Doctor.

We hear the TARDIS sound effect, then learn that it's not the TARDIS, it's a sound effect. Cute. (And I have had the TARDIS sound effect as a ring tone on my own phone for several years.)

The caption reads "U.N.I.T The Tower of London." Why is there no dot after the "T"?

As we hear Osgood answer the phone, we can see her running in the lower left corner of the screen and she's not talking on the phone. Her voice and her movement don't match.

Kate's comment about the ravens needing new batteries is funny.

Jemma Redgrave plays Kate so well.

Love Osgood's scarf.

The first time I saw this episode, I thought Osgood was Kate's daughter. First, since I sometimes have trouble with the British accent, I heard her say "mum" instead of "ma'am." Second, she had Kate's phone, and people don't usually hold other people's phones, but it would be something a bit more likely among relatives. Third, from the way Osgood ran up to Kate and behaved almost like an excited schoolgirl, and from the way Kate told her to use her inhaler, I picked up a very powerful mother-daughter vibe. Only after reading about the episode several days later did I learn that the characters were not related.

Wonderful Doctor Who lunacy and barely controlled chaos with the helicopter and the phone conversation.

When the Doctor falls out of the TARDIS doorway completely, what exactly is he holding onto? I think it's meant to be the door frame, but he is clearly holding onto handles which, apparently, the TARDIS magically grows.

Hanging out of the TARDIS while it flies over London is a nod to Matt Smith's opening moments in "The Eleventh Hour."

We get some easy guitar music with a nice beat, followed by "Next Stop Everywhere" as the opening credits are shown, all while the TARDIS soars over the London skyline. It's all very well done, and was obviously intended to make the episode feel more like a big budget movie, which it does.

There is a slightly longer pause between Matt Smith's name appearing on screen and everyone else's name appearing on screen, as befitting his role as the current Doctor.

As I mentioned, I am in love with the first five minutes of "The Day of the Doctor." Timing, pace and editing are so crucial to good storytelling, and the director and editor are magnificent here. The music as Clara rides her motorbike through London just makes me feel good. The music as the TARDIS flies over London makes me feel good. From the opening bars of the theme song to the moment the Doctor touches down in Trafalgar Square and salutes, the episode is almost perfect. I could watch these five minutes again and again, and have done so.

I have heard fans ask what was the point of picking the TARDIS up and moving it to Trafalgar Square. I enjoy the whole sequence so much that I don't need a reason, but I'll supply one, anyway. Since the Doctor feels the TARDIS's presence, and UNIT needs to contact the Doctor, Kate figures that if she brings the TARDIS to where she wants the Doctor to go, then he'll show up there very soon.

The Doctor tells Osgood, "Nice scarf."

I had to look up Derren Brown. I had never heard of him.

When the painting of the fall of Arcadia is revealed as a 3D oil painting, I could only smile. Steven had worked the 3D concept into the story, as a gift for those of us watching in 3D. Very nice.

During the moment in which the Doctor looks at the painting immediately after it is revealed, we see an instance of a trick used by the director, Nick Hurran. There's probably an official term to describe what I'm talking about, but I don't know what that term is, so I'll just call them mini-montages. Nick uses quick cuts to show a montage a few seconds long. The images in this montage evoke a feeling, but what the images show are things which don't actually happen.

The mini-montage we see at this point includes an image of the 11th Doctor screaming, and an image of the 11th Doctor standing alone in the room looking at the painting. Each individual image lasts for about a second, and a casual viewer probably only notices them subliminally. These images are simply emotions given visual form rather than depictions of actual events.

This technique doesn't bother me, but I can easily see other viewers finding it irritating.

Introducing the War Doctor

We're then treated to a long battle sequence, and since this is a Steven Moffat story, it's all about the children being in danger.

I've heard many fans over the years trying to concoct explanations and stories describing why there were never any children on Gallifrey. I always found this to be absurd. The Doctor returned to Gallifrey only occasionally, and when he did, the stories took place in small or sparsely populated settings which represented only the most miniscule fraction of the planet, and no one ever said that there were no children on Gallifrey. Concluding that there were no children on the entire planet just because we didn't see any in "The Deadly Assassin" and "Arc of Infinity" is the equivalent of concluding that there are no children on the planet Earth after failing to see any in a senate subcommittee hearing on C-SPAN.

Additionally, if there had been children in previous episodes set on Gallifrey, I believe that many of the same people who claimed that their absence proved they didn't exist would have been the first to complain of their presence as being unnecessary and a drag on the story (which they would have been).

So, even if nothing else, we now have children on Gallifrey, so that entire ridiculous theory created out of nothing can finally be put to an overdue rest.

I like the appearance of the TARDIS, John Hurt's shadow, and his appearance out of focus while we hear his voice.

After many lifetimes of eschewing weaponry, the War Doctor's first words are, "Soldier, I'm going to need your gun."

I like the fact that the Daleks have a significant role in the story, but that the entire story is not all about them.

When the War Doctor uses the gun to write his message in the wall, a piece of shrapnel flies right past the camera. That was neat to see in 3D.

The episode can't show us the High Council, because we already saw them making plans to escape the time lock in "The End of Time," so the focal point on Gallifrey becomes a general in the war room. The opening dialogue establishes that the events we see in the war room are almost certainly concurrent with the scene showing the High Council in "The End of Time." It's a nice way to merge the two stories without getting too sticky about it.

The other officer claims that the Doctor's message is for the Daleks, completely failing to understand that the message is meant for them all.

I like the fact that the Moment turns out to be a cube with intricate clockwork.

Billie Piper shows up, and she does an outstanding job of playing the Moment. As the conversation between her and the Doctor continues, she gets more quiet and more intense. She and the Doctor both talk in a whispery rasp which I find very endearing somehow, whereas I'd probably find it irritating in almost any other story or scene.

A few minutes after the Doctor says that the Moment is not a chair but the most powerful weapon in the universe, he sits on it, too.

The Doctor claims that he has no desire to survive after destroying Gallifrey, so the Moment says that his punishment is that he will live. This reinforces a moment in the episode "Dalek." The 9th Doctor told Van Stanton that his people were all destroyed in a war. When Van Stanton pointed out that the Doctor survived, the Doctor replied, "Not by choice."

And, of course, to appeal to the Doctor's conscience, what does the Moment mention? Children.

Then the Moment basically turns into the Ghost of Christmas Future, intent on showing the Doctor the error of his ways.

The Doctor meets himself

At the words, "Godspeed, gentle husband," the audience erupted (in a good way), then reacted again with glee when we saw the 10th Doctor in the painting alongside Queen Elizabeth I.

We laughed at the Doctor's machine which went ding, his line "I'm going to be kinged!", and his dramatic declaration to a rabbit, which is almost the funniest thing I've ever seen in Doctor Who.

The Doctor says the horse is his. Is it Arthur, from "The Girl in the Fireplace?" It looks like it.

After telling Osgood to analyze the stone dust, the Doctor winks at her. This is fine, but along with the wink we get a nice, but subdued, ding sound effect. Just once, I would like to see a movie or television show in which a wink is not accompanied by a sound effect. Not even a little one.

Matt Smith and David Tennant make one of the best comedy duos I have ever seen. Their comic timing, expressions, and ability to react to each other is so incredible, and so spooky, that I feel someone should check to see if they were brothers separated at birth.

When Doctors 10 and 11 met, the audience was really into it. Not loud, but really excited.

Kate asks for an incident file, code named Cromer, 70s or 80s depending upon the dating protocol. Very clever writing.

When Kate returned, I knew she was a Zygon, because we had seen the menacing shadow and heard the growl when she walked out. I'm sure everyone else knew she was a Zygon, too, but I'm just making sure I get my claim in.

Clara tells Kate that there are three of them now, and she replies, "There's a precedent for that." I love multi-Doctor stories, and I have discovered that I love moments in which one multi-Doctor story references another multi-Doctor story.

When the War Doctor asked the other Doctors if they were the Doctor's companions, the audience just roared with laughter.

When the 10th and 11th Doctors raise their sonic screwdrivers to tell the War Doctor who they are, John Hurt shows realization simply by lowering his eyebrows a bit. It's a fabulous example of minimalist acting, and an example of why he's so good.

The entire conversation when the Doctors come face to face is incredibly funny. "I'm not judging you." The concept of two sonic screwdrivers canceling each other out – "We're confusing the polarity!" – is wonderful. And the way the War Doctor looks at the 10th Doctor, indicates the 11th Doctor, and asks, "Even that one?" – and the 10th Doctor's reaction – is just sublime.

But the best has probably got to be, "Oh, the pointing again! They're screwdrivers! What are you gonna do, assemble a cabinet at them?"

Immediately after Clara asks, "Why am I the witch?", the director shows Clara and Kate from the back, and pans down to show the glass on the floor. I find this distracting every time I see it, because I can't see what such a strange shot is doing in an otherwise marvelous sequence. The only thing I can think of is that it maybe it's meant to segue into the next shot, in which the camera is panning down from the sky. If that's the intended effect, it's lost on me.

Clara threatening to turn all the Queen's men into frogs is funny.

After the War Doctor exclaims, "Timey wimey?", the 10th Doctor says, "I've – I've no idea where he picks that stuff up." The audience just about fell out of our seats, we were laughing so hard.

I love Matt Smith's acting when John Hurt asks him, "Are you capable of speaking without flapping your hands about?" The way he says, "Yes," then "No" without skipping a beat is superb.

The banter among the three Doctors is just wonderful, due in large part to the fact that all three are played by such incredibly talented actors, and it evokes many fond memories of Pertwee and Troughton in "The Three Doctors."

In fact, with John Hurt playing the grumpy yet kindly old man who is actually younger, and the other two Doctors being relatively goofier, I see similarities between this set of three Doctors and the first three Doctors. I believe that one could place Hartnell, Troughton and Pertwee into these three roles, tweak the dialogue a bit, and the result would be just as enjoyable.

I've heard some fans complain that jokes about the 10th Doctor's shoes are weak, and maybe they are, but everything about this sequence is so fast and witty that I don't care. Additionally, I would cut Steven Moffat slack on the shoe jokes, because the intent is for the Doctors to find fault with one another, but the 10th Doctor is actually so well-dressed that there's not much there to make fun of, so the shoes are really all Steven's got to work with as far as writing friendly banter.

After being thrown into a cell, the 10th Doctor points out that he and the 11th Doctor were surprised at their group meeting, but that the War Doctor came looking for them. He demands to know what that's about. The scene ends there, on a dramatic note, so we never get to hear the War Doctor's reply, which is a shame. I wonder what he told them.

The Zygons unleash their plan

Back to the UNIT scientists. It's time for Osgood to shine.

Instead of taking the stone dust to a laboratory, Osgood and McGillop have moved heavy laboratory equipment into the room with the stone dust. And these people are supposed to be scientists. I know the plot requires them to be in the room so we can have the dramatic reveal of what's under the sheets, but it's still kind of silly.

Ingrid Oliver does a nice job of playing both Osgood and her Zygon duplicate.

The inhaler isn't just an inhaler, it's a plot device showing the audience what the Zygons can and can't do. That's kind of clever, and makes it much easier to forgive the cliche of giving a nerd character asthma.

We're introduced to the Black Archive, where they have memory machines to wipe the employees' brains at the end of every shift. So basically, every day is training day for them? Experience isn't a plus any more? How do they know where to go to work in the morning? How do they remember they're even employed when they go home? Don't their friends and families think it strange to constantly hear about the new job they're starting every day? It's an interesting concept which doesn't stand up to much scrutiny (like many things in Doctor Who over the years). Of course, the memory machines are a plot device, because they're part of the solution we'll see later.

The notion that the human race could make anything TARDIS-proof is simply absurd. The notion that the human race could make anything Doctor-proof is doubly absurd. They use a mechanical lock to keep the Doctor out? Really? Steven, you do know how locksmiths earn their living, right? If a sonic screwdriver can't move it, a hairpin can.

Inside the Black Archive, we get that nostalgic stroll down memory lane which we've all been expecting, including a photo showing Mike Yates and Sara Kingdom, which never happened in any story we saw. I'm not sure if that's meant to be a joke or not. Since they're both in costume but appeared in Doctor Who many years apart, someone had to go out of their way to make that photo; it's not an accident.

Kate tells Clara that she has top-level security clearance from her last visit, but Clara doesn't remember any last visit. This implies that Clara's mind has been wiped. But why would she have had her mind wiped if she has top-level clearance? Does top-level clearance not mean what it used to mean? Kate's mind isn't wiped after every visit, so does that mean Kate has even-higher-than-top-level clearance? Is there a super-duper-fragalicious clearance? (The fact that Clara does not remember her last visit might simply mean that it hasn't happened for her, yet. But if that's the case, why does Kate apologize?)

Someone on line said that the numbers the 11th Doctor scratches into the cell wall is the date of the first episode's broadcast. I've looked at those scratchings and they really don't look like anything to me.

We return to the prison cell. The Doctor's conversation here is just as dramatic as his earlier conversation is funny, and is very well done.

About fifteen seconds into the scene, the 10th Doctor walks past the Moment, who watches him go by and purses her lips. It's a very subtle moment in which the audience gets a nod to the time when the 10th Doctor and Rose were the TARDIS crew.

I really feel it in my heart when the War Doctor says, "I don't know who you are! Either of you! I haven't got the faintest idea!"

Again, I like to imagine what this scene would look like with the first three Doctors.

Throughout this scene, the War Doctor is constantly shown on the left side of the screen, looking to the left of the camera. This leaves the entire right side of the screen empty and unused. It's very distracting. I can only guess that the director was leaving himself the option of digitally including the Moment next to him if he needed to later.

I've never thought of the sonic screwdrivers as having the same software ported from one device to another, especially when the screwdriver bit the dust in "The Eleventh Hour," but it could happen. And using the sonic screwdriver to perform a 400-year calculation is not only clever, but it also helps the audience to understand a similar moment late in the story when there's no time to explain it (and using this situation to set up the later situation is absolutely brilliant writing).

When the Moment first says, "It's the same screwdriver," we get another fine example of minimalist acting from John Hurt. An eyebrow twitches and his head moves a fraction. He really is fascinating to watch.

The War Doctor's screwdriver glows red. This is no doubt symbolic of his character, being supposedly less of a good man than the other Doctors.

The Moment says, "Same software, different case." Then a few minutes later, she says, "Same software, different face." I like that.

The Doctor devises an outstandingly clever method of escaping from the cell, only to have the companion point out that the door was unlocked the whole time. That's brilliant.

I have problems with the revelation of the Zygons' plan, with Queen Elizabeth I pretending to be a Zygon pretending to be Queen Elizabeth I (and only for Doctor Who can one write a sentence like that). I don't have a problem with the Queen pulling the double bluff, but the real Queen would never have been able to say most of the dialogue she speaks when she's explaining the Zygons' plan and pretending to be their commander. All of those words, concepts, and the knowledge would have been far beyond her.

The 10th Doctor's diatribe, in which he accuses the Queen of being a bad fake, is funny, but doesn't fit the plot in the slightest. He begins with the words, "And you know why I know that you're a fake?" and then proceeds to list all the things which tipped him off. He acts as if all this is a major revelation that he figured out, even though the Queen has been telling them that she's the fake for the past hour or so! This makes absolutely no sense.

It got a laugh in the theater, though, including from me. It's another example of a scene, from the mind of Steven Moffat, that's an excellent gag but doesn't actually fit the story.

Also, if it was the real Queen Elizabeth I the entire time, why did she lock the Doctor in the Tower in the first place? The answer is probably that she needed to convince the other Zygons that she was one of them, but wouldn't having the Doctor free and at her side be the much more logical course of action? It's all necessary to have certain things happen, but the plot here is extremely weak.

Dealing with the Zygons

The wedding was funny. That got a laugh in the theater as well.

"Back to the future." A shout-out to my other favorite time travel franchise! Oh, this episode just gets better and better.

"The round things are back!" And better and better.

"Oh, you've redecorated! I don't like it." "Oh, you never do!" And better and better! And how surreal is that phrase, "You never do?" The Doctor could just as easily have said, "I never do," and it would have meant the same thing.

After the 10th Doctor tells the 11th that he doesn't like the redecorated console room, Clara is all smiles.

I love the way Clara announces that the Zygons are in the Black Archive, and all three Doctors turn and stare at her.

Immediately after this line, we're back in the Black Archive, and the camera pans past the UNIT logo. There's still no dot after the "T".

I got the impression that the Zygons have to make an effort to retrieve a memory from the person they're copying. The one who copied Osgood seemed to think for a moment before coming up with the knowledge about her sister; they didn't seem to know about the nuclear bomb beneath the Black Archive; and the one who copied Kate seemed shocked when she mentioned that she was the daughter of Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart.

And yes, it wouldn't be the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special without mentioning the Brigadier. But couldn't they find something better than a 5 x 7 tacked to a bulletin board? At least have a formal portrait as a framed 10 x 14. I mean, really. It's the Brigadier. Come on.

I've said it before, but it's worth saying again: Jemma Redgrave does a wonderful job of playing Kate. It's the little things she does with her face. She really shows it here, playing both Kate and the Zygon arguing with Kate.

The space-time telegraph! Nifty.

After the 10th Doctor says, "This is not a decision you will ever be able to live with!", he and the 11th Doctor share a look, and in that moment, they connect. From that moment on, their movements and sentences are synchronized.

I realize the 10th Doctor is using an idiom, but telling Kate that she wouldn't be able to live with herself if she did something which killed herself is kind of redundant.

The Doctor can't get the TARDIS into the Black Archive, but this problem is solved by another clever solution.

I can only surmise that the 3D paintings have some kind of alarm clock to wake up the people frozen inside and allow them to begin moving. Maybe it also allows them to know how to get out of the painting, since the outside world isn't visible from the inside.

What in the world do the Doctors do to the Dalek with their screwdrivers? Now it can shoot energy beams? Is this a side effect of being inside the painting? A side effect of having three Doctors in one time and place? We get no explanation. It's just some convenient and mysterious power we'll probably never see again.

We get the dramatic moment of the three Doctors walking out of the painting in slow motion. Nice.

And here we reach the scene which is the heart of the story. The entire purpose of this story is to reach this moment, when the War Doctor sees the moral lesson laid out before him, explicitly. The 10th Doctor says, "What I did that day was wrong," and the War Doctor turns to look at the Moment.

I've read complaints from other fans that the Zygon story was not resolved to their satisfaction, because we never got to see what happened later. It was resolved to my satisfaction. Anything which happens after the Doctors save the day in the Black Archive is superfluous. Also, people who lodge that complaint have missed the point entirely.

Don't get me wrong. The Zygon invasion of Earth was a nice thing to have; so much of Doctor Who's history is about saving the Earth from alien invasion that not having another invasion for the 50th anniversary would practically have been a crime. But the entire point of the Zygon storyline is this moment. The Zygon invasion is nothing more than a parable, a plot device to hold a mirror up to the War Doctor and demand that he look. Once that function is accomplished, the Zygon storyline has no more reason to take up any of this episode's time. I'm perfectly happy with where it ended, and it was all very nicely done.

(As a philosophical discussion, is it, in fact, wrong to kill a few people when you know you're saving many more? The Doctor says so, and that philosophy is true to his character. But what logical argument could a person make against it? I'm not saying it would be right, I'm just pointing out that for people who don't have sonic screwdrivers, technobabble and super-genius alien intellects, there might be situations in which there truly is no other way.)

Anyhoo, back to the episode.

The 10th and 11th Doctors have now become synchronized to the point at which they are moving identically and finishing each other's sentences. Cute.

We get another very clever solution, made possible by the unrealistic memory wipers in the ceiling and the fact that the invaders are shapechangers and mindreaders. Love or hate his writing, Steven certainly knows how to create ingenious answers to situations.

The directing here is very good. The music builds, the Doctors smile and point their screwdrivers at the memory machines, both Kates stop the countdown, we see the planet Earth, and the 11th Doctor finishes with, "Peace in our time!"

Back to the War Doctor's original problem

We now get to see the other reason Steven gave Osgood asthma, for without the inhaler, we wouldn't get that interesting moment between human and Zygon. I'm not really sure what to make of the sssh gesture which the real Osgood gives the fake Osgood when they share the inhaler. It's cute, but there isn't any deeper meaning that I can see (unless they're silently planning on having some hot self-self action later?). The Zygon attacked Osgood and wanted to murder the entire human race, so why doesn't Osgood feel any anger toward it? Why doesn't the Zygon say anything? Was it secretly not in favor of the invasion?

In addition to all their other gadgets, the Black Archive now has a busted Dalek from the Time War. For their sakes, I sure hope the Doctor dismantles it.

In fact, I fully expect that while the humans and Zygons were feeling the love, and while Clara was chatting with the War Doctor, the other Doctors were busy going through the Black Archive like a disapproving Santa Claus in a whirlwind, disarming things, stealing things, switching off the TARDIS-proofing, and generally getting their grubby Time Lord fingers on everything. I like to think that they also stopped to admire the photos and took their own walk down memory lane; it would have been good to see a few moments of them doing just that. We see Clara take a look at a photo of Susan, and that's nice.

We get to see a Cyberman head. The anniversary has to have a shout-out to the Cybermen. Very good.

I don't understand some of Clara's conversation with the War Doctor.

First, Clara says, "He's always talking about the day he did it." Really? I got the very strong impression that the Doctor didn't talk about it. At all. He has already stated (in this very episode) that he doesn't talk about his War Doctor incarnation, so I have a very hard time believing that he talks about what his War Doctor incarnation did.

Second, when Clara says, "He'd do anything to change it," the War Doctor replies, "Including saving all these people?" His reply doesn't make sense. Clara is basically saying that the Doctor would gladly endure something unpleasant if he could undo what he did to Gallifrey. "Saving all these people," as the War Doctor puts it, is not something unpleasant; it is, in fact, something extremely pleasant. If the War Doctor had replied, "Including letting all these people die?", that would have made complete sense based on their discussion, especially since his next words – "How many worlds has his regret saved?" – continue that very sentiment.

Third: immediately after that, the War Doctor says, "Look over there. Humans and Zygons working together in peace." Then he asks Clara, "How did you know?"

I have no clue why the War Doctor says, "Look over there. Humans and Zygons working together in peace." What point is he trying to make? Those sentences do not connect in any way with the sentence which comes before, nor do they connect in any way with the sentence which comes after. The only thing I can possibly think of is that the War Doctor is implying that if he hadn't used the Moment, then there wouldn't be any humans or Zygons at all. If that is what he's trying to say (and I don't think it is), then it was very poorly stated.

If we change the conversation to resolve the last two of these oddities, it now goes like this:

"You haven't done it yet. It's still in your future."

"You're very sure of yourself."

"He regrets it. I see it in his eyes every day. He'd do anything to change it."

"Including allowing all these people to die? How many worlds has his regret saved, do you think? How did you know?"

"Your eyes. You're so much younger."

This conversation makes much more sense.

The parts that do make sense are beautifully done. Sadly, it feels like this conversation was edited using takes from different versions of the script. I really have no clue what the writer and director were thinking when assembling this scene.

The War Doctor asks to be taken back, and now we come to the big red button which means destruction of a lot of innocent people, and destruction of the Doctor's moral center.

The Moment references the "wheezing, groaning" sound of the TARDIS. I hope this is an intentional reference to the longstanding running gag about the fact that Terrance Dicks used those two words in so many of his books.

"That sound brings hope wherever it goes...To anyone who hears it, Doctor. Anyone, however lost. Even you." The Moment says this as the TARDIS engines begin to sound, and it's beautiful. The concept of the TARDIS saving the Doctor's soul, and saving him from himself, is lovely. But what really makes this moment special is the look of pure, unconditional love on the face of Billie Piper. When I see the look on her face, I start to cry.

When the other Doctors tell the War Doctor how they buried him in their memory, and pretended he didn't exist, the look of anguish and abandonment on John Hurt's face is incredible.

I adore the scene which follows. I love the fact that the other two Doctors acknowledge the War Doctor, not as someone shameful, but as someone to forgive, understand, and honor, due to the fact that he faced an impossible choice – something which was not his fault. The Doctor decides to heal his pain, at least partially, the only way he knows how – by telling the rejected part of himself that he's no longer a pariah, no longer some kind of unworthy, unloved, damaged reject who has to be hidden away. And he doesn't just say it, he proves it, by showing that he is willing to go through the hell of pressing that button all over again. He's willing to endure the pain a second time if it means reclaiming part of his self, his history, and his soul, and saving his former self from exile. It is one of the most powerful statements of self-acceptance and self-healing I have ever seen.

The Moment looks so crestfallen and disappointed when she sees the future Doctors planning to participate in Gallifrey's destruction, rather than talking their younger self out of it. She looks as if her plan has backfired.

The Moment's projection of the people suffering, and the Doctors' distress at his inability to find a solution, is powerful. And after all the Doctor's cleverness, after fifty years of taking the audience on adventures with him, and after hundreds of years of taking humans with him in the TARDIS to keep him safe and sane, it's the simple appeal of a human – Clara – which saves him, and saves his people. Clara's dismay, and the Doctor's triple giddiness upon finally finding a solution, are monumental. I love this scene so very, very much. I cry. It is spellbinding. The directing and acting are pitch perfect.

Of course, the full irony is that just moments before this scene begins, the Doctor angrily and arrogantly lectured Kate about doing the very thing he has now decided to do again. He told Kate that he was wrong to do it, yet minutes later, here he is, ready to recommit. He never once addresses this hypocrisy.

Kate had a Doctor to rescue her from her decision. In her case, she was spared because a man with far greater knowledge, technical ability and ingenuity came down from the stars and created another way to resolve the crisis. But when the Doctor faces the same crisis, he doesn't get an even cleverer man than himself to come down from the sky and give him a solution. He has to do it himself. So he does do it...to himself.

The thought of using time travel to double or triple himself in time intentionally in order to solve a crisis is so anathema to the Doctor that it never once occurred to him to do so, yet that is the solution. Luckily, the concept is not anathema to the Moment, who brought them all together.

I love Clara's most powerful line: "What you've always done – be a Doctor."

After this, we see mini-montages of children coming out of the rubble, no longer under attack, looking hopefully up at the sunlight. I have no comment, other than that I find this interesting, since these images are not showing us any event that has actually happened, yet.

All together, now

Oh, that moment. That moment when ten more blue police boxes swarm towards Gallifrey and we hear the 1st Doctor's voice. The audience cheered.

When the 9th Doctor appeared, the audience erupted.

When the eyes of Peter Capaldi appeared, the audience went ballistic.

Showing us only Capaldi's eyes, and saving the reveal of his face and costume for his regeneration scenes and first episode, was the right thing to do, because Capaldi deserves not to have his once-in-a-lifetime reveal spoiled by a cameo appearance. Capaldi's surprise presence, and the way we saw only his eyes, was absolutely pitch perfect, and was a very nice touch.

"All my worst nightmares." I think it's humorous that the general rates multiple Doctors as a nightmare worse than the Daleks attacking his world.

All the Doctors flying in at once is an incredible moment. I get the feeling that if it had been possible to film a scene in which all the Doctors actually walk into a room en masse, with determination on their faces, in slow motion, with dramatic music, we would have gotten it. It's just about the most incredible moment in the history of the show. So it hurts so much to point out its flaws, and there were many.

I think any time the Doctors are shown in a series of images (such as in this scene, or in the final moments of "The Eleventh Hour"), the images are shown in gray scale in order not to call attention to the fact that the first two Doctors are in black and white. But as we have seen, they can be colorized, and while the result of colorization isn't perfect, it's pretty good. Which means that there's no excuse for not doing better than what we get here. We finally have all the Doctors in this incredible moment, but all we get to see are static-filled gray images on small screens.

This is the 50th anniversary special. They had the money. They had the time. This could have been done so much better, and so easily. That fact that it was not is really inexcusable.

Just before the Doctor freezes Gallifrey, we see one last dramatic shot of each of the three main Doctors in the story, poised over his console, waiting for the moment. We could easily have been given a similar shot of each of the other past Doctors. I'm sure an image of each Doctor in such a pose exists somewhere in their episodes (perhaps with companions by their sides, which would have been even better). Would this have been so difficult? Perhaps Steven thought about doing this, but rejected it because he didn't want to show Peter Capaldi's full face, and felt it would have been awkward to leave Capaldi out of such a series of images. But I think showing us a series of shots of each Doctor, excluding Capaldi, would have been absolutely perfect.

Besides the images on the monitors, we do get a look at precisely one of the other Doctors, and it's very telling, in my opinion, that it is the 9th Doctor. The classic series Doctors were shown only on those small, static-riddled screens, but the remaining Doctor from the new series gets a real moment on the full screen. If him, why not the others? It pains me to say it, but I think we all know why: new Who is just more important.

There's also irony here. Several of the past Doctors made it very clear that they were eager to take part in this episode, but the only one who made it clear that he wanted nothing to do with it is the only one we get to see an extra shot of in full screen.

So, we have the past Doctors seen dimly on small, crappy monitors. Not only is that inexcusable, but how could any editor have failed to notice the way the 7th Doctor appears wearing different sets of clothing?

The entire sequence was written big and presented small, and the result looks extremely amateurish. It's embarrassing. Fans on their PCs could do a far better job.

Then there are the voices of the past Doctors. (That's right, I'm not finished with this scene, yet.)

I've heard some people complain that the impersonator who spoke the 1st Doctor's dialogue sounded nothing like him. I disagree. I think he sounded just fine.

Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy were chomping at the bit to join this story. Tom Baker took part. Paul McGann was keen. So why did they not record new dialogue?

It's possible that the production team felt it would have been insulting to ask big stars of the program to return for such a brief contribution, and sometimes big stars do feel slighted when asked to give only a token appearance. In some ways, being asked to supply a token appearance might be more insulting than not being asked at all. That's not a criticism, just a fact of human nature. And I am certainly not claiming that this happened here, I'm just speculating. It might explain why the production team did not ask previous Doctors to show up, record a couple of new sentences, and go, as if that was all they were worth. Politics sometimes rules these situations.

But the actors who played the Doctor in the past all seem very amiable and down-to-Earth, and love participating, so I think they would have gladly done even a little thing such as record some new lines of dialogue, had they been asked.

Sadly, I have no inside information. All I know is that, as a fan, I wish we could have been given new dialogue written specifically for this scene. Based solely on instinct, I can't believe it would have been very difficult.

I want to be clear about this. Despite my harsh criticism, I still love this scene (and if that sounds contradictory after the way I slammed it so hard, so be it). My imagination can fill in the gaps. It's still an incredible moment in the history of the show, and in the history of the character, and it gave me such joy when I saw it the first time. As a long-time fan of Doctor Who, I've been waiting for a scene like this almost all my life. Despite its flaws, I'm happy that it was given to us.

Just before the 10th Doctor says, "Sorry, just thinking out loud," you can see his footage jump where it was edited.

The 10th and 11th Doctors continue sharing each other's sentences.

Since the Time War is time locked, are we to assume that the Moment allowed all the Doctors in?

The audience laughed at the War Doctor's, "Oh, for God's sake!"

The editing, buildup, and execution of the entire scene in which the Doctor saves Gallifrey, overall, was very nicely done.

Okay, so what actually happened?

Let's talk for a moment about "The End of Time" and "The Day of the Doctor."

As far as I'm concerned, what we see in "The Day of the Doctor" is what always happened. The Doctor comes close to destroying Gallifrey, doesn't, but spends the next 400 years believing that he did, and suffering emotionally because of it. He doesn't remember his future selves helping him out and coming up with another solution. The 11th Doctor then comes back and completes the circle. The Doctor's personal continuity is preserved, and the 11th Doctor now knows the truth.

I like this idea so much that, until further clarification, it's what I choose to believe.

However, if the Moment was never activated, then what time locked the Time War? Let's say the Daleks and/or the Time Lords did that themselves. Or it was a byproduct of the Time Lords and the Daleks using so many time weapons that that area of spacetime became completely schnozzled (that's a technical term). I doubt the Time Lords did it to themselves, because they desperately wanted to stay unlocked; the whole point of Rassilon's plan was to break free of the time lock. Rassilon certainly believed that the Doctor, using the Moment, was the one who had locked them in.

Or maybe the time lock was like the Doctor's cell door in the Tower of London. The Time War was never really locked in the first place, it's just that no one ever actually checked.

Anyhoo, wherever Gallifrey is, in its pocket universe, that was where Rassilon was trying to break out of. The question then becomes: How could the Time Lords be so active if they were frozen in an instant of time? Well, to me, that's more evidence that the paintings – and any stasis freezing pocket universe thingamajigs – have alarm clocks, because people move around inside them.

And now, the big question. Why is the Doctor so keen to bring back Gallifrey now, when in "The End of Time," he did everything in his power to keep it locked away? My answer is that, in "The End of Time," the Doctor still believed that he had time locked the entire war, and therefore, he believed that if Gallifrey broke free, then the Daleks would also break free and the time war would once more threaten the universe. He didn't fear Gallifrey, he feared the war. But now that he knows that freeing Gallifrey would not restart the Time War, he's okay with it.

Except that freeing Gallifrey would restart the Time War, because there are still Daleks in the universe, and the two races are still pretty peeved at each other. Maybe the Doctor hopes that this time he can persuade the Time Lords not to engage? But then, he's always wanted the Time Lords to use their power to do some good, so he would actually be in favor of the Time Lords doing whatever they can to stop the Daleks, but that would restart the Time War...

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand my head hurts.

It's all terribly timey wimey.

"The End of Time" and "The Day of the Doctor" are both lots of fun. Never let continuity get in the way of a great story.

Happy ending

Three TARDISes parked side by side by side in a perfect line. How awesome!

I find it so interesting that the TARDIS's shape is always a police box, but that the police box design changes every so often. The TARDIS is still changing, just stylistically. That leads me to believe that the chameleon circuit isn't actually broken at all. I think the TARDIS just likes being a police box.

What does the Doctor do with the Moment? He's not fond of superweapons, but he also abhors the thought of destroying anything sentient. Therefore, my theory is that he takes the Moment into the TARDIS for safekeeping.

The 10th and 11th Doctors must have been wondering about the time fissures, and about the fact that the War Doctor just disappeared from the Black Archive (and Clara would have told them about how he seemed to be talking to someone who wasn't there). They heard the War Doctor shout, "She showed me exactly the future I needed to see!", and also heard him mention "Bad Wolf girl." They know that someone or something allowed them into a time locked event. From all of this, they should have pieced together, easily, that something was guiding events. Whether they did or not, I like to think that the War Doctor told them all about the Moment while they were drinking their tea.

A fan on line theorized that the 9th Doctor was partially drawn to Rose when he met her because he subconsciously remembered her face as the Moment.

The War Doctor's farewell to the others is beautiful.

"Which one is mine?" Ha! I've always wanted a Doctor Who moment like that!

And just when I think the 50th anniversary episode has given all it can, we get a regeneration. A freaking regeneration, in the freaking anniversary episode! How cool is that!

The audience – including yours truly – was edging further and further forward, eager for it, waiting for a sign that Christopher Eccleston had filmed a secret cameo. The regeneration builds, and builds, and – cuts away! The audience let out a huge "Ooooooooooooooohhhh!" of disappointment, and then we all laughed at ourselves as the tension was released.

Damn you, Eccleston! Just stand there for a few moments and let them film your face! Argh! What we could have had!

A fan has completed that regeneration, holding it a few seconds longer and morphing John Hurt's face into Christopher Eccleston's. It's on Youtube, and it's very well done. And if a fan could do it, why couldn't the Doctor Who production team?

If Christopher Eccleston had appeared at the end of that regeneration, the audience would have blown the roof off the theater.

The War Doctor's words, "Wearing a bit thin," are an homage to a line from William Hartnell.

The fact that previous Doctors don't remember multi-Doctor events is an explanation this show has needed for a very long time. I think that when multiple Doctors meet, only the latest one remembers the entire meeting, with memories from his previous selves appearing in his mind only after the meeting is concluded. This explains why the 11th Doctor thinks he has no more regenerations left even though his next self showed up to help him wrap up Gallifrey.

The circles on the wall in the undergallery look very much like TARDIS roundels.

"Good to know my future is in safe hands." Another homage to another multi-Doctor story, and David Tennant would know the significance of that line. He delivered it in a way that was very similar, but not a copy, to the way Richard Hurndall delivered it. Very nice.

"We need a new destination, because...I don't want to go." The audience let out one enormous, "Awwwwwww." Then everyone laughed lightly when the 11th Doctor said, "He always says that."

And the sentence "I don't want to go." is still the final on-screen sentence spoken by David Tennant as the Doctor. So the 50th anniversary script preserved that fact.

And then...Tom Baker.

I am proud to say that I remained spoiler free for this episode, so I did not know he would be in it. It was a pleasure.

The 11th Doctor winks at the curator, and there is no ding sound effect! Yay!

The vague dialogue, and the wink, tell us that there is no explanation for what we're seeing, and there never will be. This scene, intentionally, lies partially outside the realm of the fictional story, and partially within the realm of shameless self-indulgence as a gift to the fans. This scene is sort of like the moment when you give yourself permission to leave your diet and go hog wild with the chocolate cake just because it's your 50th birthday and you can. Here, then, is the completely self-indulgent romp through at least part of the show's history.

One line stunk. The curator's line, "But just a few of the old favorites, eh?" raised my hackles. I don't want that line to be a snub directed at the other Doctors, but I can't see how it could possibly be anything else. That line was not classy at all. Even if it was somehow intended innocently, I can't understand how Steven could be so insensitive, knowing how badly the other actors wanted to participate. That was not cool, and it was not necessary.

"Congratulations!" "Thanks very much!" This sounds ad-libbed. I find it hard to see someone scripting those sentences, and it seems very spontaneous.

We get more clever word play from Steven Moffat. The recurring theme of "No more" began as two words in the middle of a quote from Marcus Aurelius. It became a mantra of the War Doctor, encapsulating his feelings. It became the title of a painting. And now, we learn that "No More" and "Gallifrey Falls" are actually one title: "Gallifrey Falls No More." That's very well done, and another example of why I adore Steven Moffat's writing.

And the episode ends with a newly introduced storyline. Nice.

It also ends with another self-indulgent moment, passed off as a dream sequence to make it part of the actual story. All the Doctors, standing together, looking up.

It's a glorious notion, but the first time I saw it, it bothered me that Doctors 1-9 were so obviously not the real actors. The faces digitally inserted over men standing in the same clothes looked very clumsy and amateurish. On subsequent viewings, however, I've softened my stance, maybe because now I know what to expect. It still looks a little bit like three live people and nine waxwork dummies, and I still can't help but feel that it could have been rendered better.

But whenever I see that scene, I ignore the flaws and choose to enjoy it, anyway, because it's still so wonderful to see all the Doctors together like that.

When the 11th Doctor walks out of the TARDIS to join his other selves, they form a curve which extends in front of him, with his first self on the far left of the screen. When the view switches to the front, the curve now extends behind him, and the 1st Doctor now stands apart from the others.

Peter Capaldi does not receive a screen credit as the Doctor.

Billie Piper is credited as Rose. She should have been credited as the Moment. Rose was not in this story.

Summary

I adore the 50th anniversary special. I just love it to pieces. It has flaws, but I've never seen a Doctor Who episode which didn't. It's already one of my favorite television episodes, from any show, ever. It is chock full of so many things, so many clever situations and references, so many incredibly creative gags and jokes. In some places it's hilarious, and in others, it's deeply emotional and brings tears to my eyes.

There are places in this review in which I am harshly critical of some of Steven Moffat's decisions, yet I'm still a great fan of his writing and of his writing style, and I love most of his work. I'm still overjoyed that he, rather than anyone else, was the man on the spot for the 50th.

I will long remember watching "The Day of the Doctor" for the first time on the big screen in 3D. It was bliss.

I am grateful for Doctor Who, for the cast and crew (past and present), for this episode, for the simulcast, and for the 3D. It was so very, very important to me that I watch the 50th anniversary episode with a crowd of screaming and partying Whovians rather than alone in my living room, so I am deeply grateful for the fact that it was shown in theaters.

We got: a new Doctor; all the Doctors gathered together; hilarious banter among the Doctors; Osgood the everyfan; references both to the 10th and to the 20th anniversary stories; 3D oil paintings in a 3D episode; Daleks; fans being made a part of the story; an alien invasion of Earth; a look back; a look forward; Tom Baker finally making a reappearance; Peter Capaldi making his first appearance; incredibly ingenious solutions to problems; an amazing cast; a bulletin board full of photos from past companions; powerful emotion; the Brigadier's daughter; a regeneration; a long-awaited revelation; the healing of a very old and very powerful wound in the Doctor's heart; and more in-jokes and self-references than you can shake a sonic screwdriver at.

The only thing missing was the Terrible Zodin. Maybe for the 100th anniversary.

In the immortal words of Borusa: "Nine out of ten."

Back to the Doctor Who page

Back to my home page