Saturday, November 23, 2013

Oh. My. Gallifrey.

Everybody's seen "The Day of the Doctor," right? I don't need to worry about spoiling anyone?

Still shaking, still crying (though not as much as I was about a half hour ago).

Where do I even begin?  How can I even begin? The opening title sequence! Foreman's Scrapyard! Clara's a teacher at Coal Hill School! (with one I. Chesterton as Head of the School Governors!!!) Kate Stewart and UNIT! The girl with the Tom Baker scarf! Mentions of "The Three Doctors!" Companion pictures! Zygons! TARDIS interiors! (with commentary on the roundels and how none of the Doctors know why they're there!) And The Thing that happens at the end! (actually, several things) EVERYTHING! I LOVE EVERYTHING IN THIS STORY!

This special is so vastly different to any previous anniversary specials or multi-Doctor stories Doctor Who has done before.  It's not the fan-wanky goodness of "The Five Doctors" (though heaven knows I dearly, dearly love that one) - there is an actual story to tell. There's history to be made. We're not here to rest on our laurels and think that the future will take care of itself. But there are little nods to the past, appropriately and lovingly done.

There are actually two plots going on here.  The A-plot with the War Doctor on Gallifrey with The Moment (that takes the form of Bad Wolf - and not Rose Tyler. I sort of figured that was going to happen).  And then, the B-plot with the Zygons and Queen Elizabeth I woven inbetween.  Smack dab in the middle of this, is the Eleventh and Tenth Doctors meeting up and crossing timelines. Of course, we get the interplay with the three Doctors in the cell beneath the Tower of London.  They'd already gotten all the fun little digs at each other out of the way - Sandshoes, Chin Boy, that kind of stuff.  And then - The Story.

Steven Moffat has used the whole "timey-wimey" thing quite well to this point, so it follows that it would come into play in this multi-Doctor story in a huge way.  The War Doctor - before he does The Thing that makes him Not-The-Doctor - gets to see the future.  And the other Doctors get to see the past.  The story's really about making things right what went wrong and learning from your mistakes.  It's sort of like Back to the Future - Marty changed his past, but he still remembers what came before to get him to that point (and yes, hard sci-fi fans - I don't know how it works. But let's just pretend for a minute that you aren't a bunch of pedantic hardasses and let's have some fun with this).  The post-Time War Doctor has been emotional and angsty to this point and no one's going to take that from him.  He wouldn't be the Doctor we know and love if he did that.

But avoiding the Moment isn't about the Doctor.  It's about the people he's going to save. It's about putting aside his regrets and doing what he's spent 400 years thinking about how he could have fixed it and What Went Wrong and reclaiming his title and being the man that he's always been - the one we've loved for so many years and so many regenerations.  It's about second chances.  For once - the Doctor gets to save himself.

And, boy, did I squee when ALL THE DOCTORS appeared!  And I heard them!  I saw them! First Doctor! Second! Third! Fourth! Fifth (I distinctly heard Peter Davison's voice!) Sixth! Seventh! Eighth! Ninth! (yup - he was in there too - probably reused audio, but I don't care!) Tenth and Eleventh, of course. And...


(I think I might have died at this point. And then I regenerated. My second incarnation is typing this up).

So, the day is saved - and so are millions of Gallifreyans.  Gallifrey is out there, somewhere in a hidden pocket of the universe.  And that's the next step - go back to Gallifrey and see what New Who can do with that.  After 50 years - the Doctor is finally going back.  But not before the Doctor meets a certain curator... whose appearance is going to be discussed and dissected ad nauseum in the coming days and weeks.

Only because I know what this means to the fandom and I'm part of the fandom - yeah, I was hands-in-my-face bawling at this point.  Tom Baker came to the party.  The Doctor no one can ever really be sure of, but everyone still loves.  I know, I know - Tom Baker isn't my absolute favorite Doctor... but it was a special moment and I'm glad he came in for this cameo.

In "An Unearthly Child," the Doctor says that he and his granddaughter are cut off from their own world, but that they will get back one day.  Well, Susan is somewhere else but the Doctor remains.  He has remained for fifty years in our timeline.  He just saved his home world after having destroyed it.  But for once (and it wouldn't surprise me if this was mixed in the Christmas Special with all that Trenzalore stuff) - he has a purpose and a target.  He's going home.  Of course, we know that it's quite never that simple with the Doctor.  You step out to take a look around, and you inevitably find yourself captured before you can explain anything.  Honestly, the future of Doctor Who is secure (at least, from where I'm standing).

But we always love nostalgia and the past because we know that it's still there.  So, the Eleventh Doctor walking out of the TARDIS to stand among his past regenerations (including the War Doctor - oh, that made me happy!) was right and proper and good.  Made even better (probably because I've still got An Adventure in Space and Time feels running through my system) by the fact that the First Doctor stands in the middle of the circle and the first, the original, the one who started it all.  And then the credits put all the Doctors' actors names under "The Doctor" - by that point, sobbing and laughing and tears were pouring down my face and everything was beautiful and nothing hurt and EVERYBODY LIVES!

This entire special was a delicate balance between fanwank and moving the Doctor's story forward. And they hit just the precise balance with "The Day of the Doctor."  Doctor Who isn't going away - not anytime soon.  We now have a whole new direction to go and new places to explore.

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