It’s sometimes the most difficult to review a thing you love unconditionally. How can you quantify unmitigated adoration in anything approaching coherent speech? I mused on Twitter following the airing of “The Day of the Doctor,” the 50th anniversary…
Okay, so, I watched The Day of the Doctor with Bryant and Joe a week or so ago. Not to get super millennial-over-dramatic-about-television or anything, but the special was so bad I literally had to stop myself from crying. It was riddled with goddamn Moffat-isms (is the painting’s title “Gallifrey Falls” or “No More”? Oh, it’s “GALLIFREY FALLS NO MORE” motherfuckers! How did we not see this incredibly clever play on words coming? If only this was Sherlock and then the words could’ve been whizzing around in front of our faces because I’m Stephen Moffat and no one taught me to show, not tell!), and chose to kick all of us who loved the Tennant/Davies years in the gut.
So I tried to read some positive reviews (okay, just this one), and it turns out that I just like a different show than other people (okay, than this one guy). Let me waste your time with feelings I have, in no particular order:
1) A time travel conceit that I hate is deciding to do something out loud, and then the repercussions of that action existing immediately, i.e. in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey when they decide to go back in time in the future to hang a cage over where the villain is standing, and by virtue of them saying that, a cage falls on him right then. I can forgive it in Bill and Ted because it’s a comedy. “Hey let’s scan this door with the oldest Doctor’s sonic screwdriver and then it’ll finish processing on the newest Doctor’s sonic screwdriver in time, and then we’ll not even need it because Clara’s going to come in and be a practical human woman and laugh at you for not having tried the door because you’re so smart that you don’t see the obvious, and you’ll have all wasted five minutes of my time” is not writing that I enjoy.
2) Is a vortex manipulator really that easy to use that Clara can pick it up, punch in the password, and end up exactly when she intends to in like three seconds flat?
3) So…Billie Piper is the interface of a bomb that convinces the user of the bomb not to use the bomb by becoming a person that the bomb somehow knows is significant to the user, yet the bomb doesn’t know that the user of the bomb hasn’t met this person yet? But somehow the ruse works anyway? And then when Nine comes around and meets Rose, he won’t be like, “oh you’re the girl that was the bomb interface that time”?
4) I’m going to admit some biases here. I haven’t watched any of the other episodes with Clara except for the Soufflé Girl one. And she was fine in that; I liked her, despite the fact that the whole episode doesn’t make a lick of sense because it was written by you-know-who (Egg. Egg. Eggsterminate. Holy fuck I want to punch everyone), but I digress. So the bias is this: I’m not invested in the Clara character. I know that the Doctor’s companions have always humanized him. That was Rose’s great triumph with Nine, and Martha and Donna continued it. All three of them have beautiful moments where they stand up to him and fight and beg and plead to save someone. Clara quietly weeping in the corner while the Doctor(s) nearly eradicate two species and Eleven has to drag it out of her doesn’t work for me.
5) The whole conceit of Doctor Eight B is dumb. I don’t like it. Just a matter of taste, I guess. I liked the mini-episode with Paul McGann, though.
6) I’ve tried to go back and watch some Tom Baker episodes and admittedly, it’s all a little too slow for me. I’d like to give it another shot at some point. At any rate, when Tom Baker showed up, he brought the screen to life. I couldn’t look away, even as someone who isn’t a fan of the old series. That’s a good actor. I can always look away from Matt Smith.
7) For this one, I’m just going to directly quote the Nerdist review:
3. It rewrote and changed games without lessening the past
It’s integral to the Ninth and Tenth Doctor’s tenures that they believe they destroyed their own people to end the war. The battle-scarred nature of their journeys depends on them having done this horrible thing. In this, we’re able to get a hopeful resolution to the Time War without taking away the sacrifices and choices made because he thought he’d done something dreadful.
That exact paragraph, as written, is why I think this episode was stupid. Again, I just like a different show than this guy. How could it both happen and not happen? Wouldn’t not destroying Gallifrey have huge implications, like Gallifrey still being there? Wouldn’t the Doctor no longer be The Last of the Timelords? Wouldn’t that become evident at some point in his travels, when suddenly there are shitloads of Timelords where once there were none? If you’re going to ruin the entire premise of the show, at least have the balls to do it for real, not maybe sort of half do it kind of.
8) Again, going to quote:
11. It somewhat redeemed the Tenth Doctor’s regeneration
As I’ve said a billion times, I really hated the Tenth Doctor’s regeneration because I felt like it made him seem weak and unheroic, and sort of not giving Smith and Moffat a proper welcome with his tearful line of “I don’t want to go.” This was, of course, more RTD’s doing than Tennants, and here, as the Tenth Doctor leaves, we have two wonderful moments that take a bit of it back. One, he says “It’s good to see my future’s in safe hands,” and two, when he says “I don’t want to go” again and the Eleventh Doctor says, “He always says that.” Just lovely, and finally the passing of the torch (albeit at the end) that should have happened on New Year’s Day 2010.
Okay. Guess what. Some of us loved David Tennant. He was the Doctor for three seasons. Some of us loved Russell “The” Davies. He resurrected the show. We can’t have a tearful goodbye because it might hurt the new guys’ feelings? And now Moffat gets to mock a moment that meant something to fans? “Oh, he always says that.” HA HA. Fuck you.
9) The Thirteen Doctors looked like a circle of cardboard standees. Good job, guys. We’ve had a million fucking montages of all of the Doctors many times on the show. This was such a half-assed nod to the past.
10) I know full well that BBC owns the footage of Christopher Eccelston as the Doctor, but somehow shoe-horning it in as if he’d shot a new scene felt like a gross sort of trick.
11) The Five(ish) Doctors was miles more entertaining than this episode. Sylvester McCoy is like a doddering old kitten.
12) I like Peter Capaldi. I’d be so excited for the next season if someone else was writing it. And that’s sort of the saddest part of all.