Fifty years ago, a small low-budget TV show started airing on BBC. Featuring a mysterious old man from another planet and his time machine, Doctor Who became an overnight sensation and has become one of the longest-running science fiction franchises. Last weekend, Doctor Who celebrated its 50th anniversary in style. Who would have thought that that small black-and-white show with the wobbly sets and starring the old man who can’t seem to remember his lines become this big – and effectively take over half of the posts of this blog in the process?
To celebrate the 50th year of Doctor Who, Ade and Comicgasm co-editor RJ will sit down and talk about the festivities connected with the anniversary.
WARNING: SPOILERS AND CAPS LOCK AHEAD!
Ade: Before anything else, here’s a reminder: the Philippines needs your help after Typhoon Yolanda left Tacloban and parts of Visayas in shambles, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless. I didn’t want to join in the noise by writing a blog post about it and be accused of jumping in the SEO bandwagon, but at the same time I didn’t want Yolanda to be unacknowledged. So there.
RJ: I do believe that this is the first time I’m writing for your blog after the 1:43 fiasco. God knows what kind of trouble we’d end up in this time.
Ade: HEY 1:43! YOUR BAND SUCKS STINKY SWEATY SALTY BALLS. Aaaand that’s the sound of angry fanboys going to my blog. Dude, we have an audience! Let’s do this.
RJ: Let me just say that the 50th Anniversary Special is AMAZING. This will probably be our longest round table review yet, to the point where you (yes, you!) would stop reading half way.
Ade: You’d stop reading halfway and start to wonder what it is you’re doing with your life and possibly make some life-changing decisions and in the process find God.
RJ: We’re going to offend all sorts of people in this post, aren’t we? CAN WE START THE REVIEW YET?
Ade: STEVEN MOFFAT IS AN AMAZING WRITER AND HE MAKES VARIED AND FULLY-REALIZED FEMALE CHARACTERS (Dude! I can hear the butthurt from here!)
RJ: AT LEAST HIS FINALES DOESN’T SUCK BALLS LIKE RUSSELL T. DAVIES’. God damn, does he like his deus ex- WAIT, LET’S TALK ABOUT THE SPECIAL PLEASE.
Ade: Before I watched The Day of the Doctor, I expected three things:
- Tennant-Smith Bromance
- John Hurt scene-chewery
- Restoration of Gallifrey
And god DAMN did Moffat deliver and then some.
RJ: I only really wanted one thing: the Tennant-Smith Bromance. Because it’s futile to expect anything else from the misleading bastard that is Steven Moffat. More on that later.
Ade: So we start with the classic Doctor Who opening titles – in fact, the exact same opening they used for An Unearthly Child! The 1963 version of the theme song is my favorite, so hearing it used on the show again is great. Then it fades out to Clara teaching in the same school Susan used to go to.
RJ: As usual, Moffat does not even bother explaining ANYTHING regarding the events of The Name of The Doctor. Because Steven Moffat is an asshole. I like the part where Clara rides a motorcycle into the TARDIS and the door opens by itself. It shows that the TARDIS likes Clara. Who wouldn’t? Look at her. She’s adorable!
Ade: Yeah! Amy who? Anyway, stupid UNIT picks up the TARDIS via helicopter with the Doctor and Clara inside. The Doctor almost falls to his certain death, because the geniuses at UNIT thought it was a good idea to take a time machine where their most valuable asset lives and transport it via helicopter. It’s not like the TARDIS can materialize in and out of places, right?
RJ: I was too busy freaking out to notice anything this early in the episode. Until I saw the Fourth Doctor’s signature scarf on one of UNIT’s science-y people, Osgood.
Ade: Let’s go and jump to the Tenth Doctor’s shenanigans. And by shenanigans, I mean he totally shagged Elizabeth I. He thought she was a Zygon all this time but he tapped her anyway. Ten’s dedication is amazing.
RJ: I was going to make a Captain Kirk joke to offend Trekkies, but I’m not that insane. Anyway, I giggled like a little girl the moment I saw David Tennant (who wouldn’t?). But not as much when he the two Doctors finally meet! The chemistry between Tennant and Smith is just uncanny. I can watch a show of those guys just talking to each other.
Ade: I love how they managed to suddenly have a number of in-jokes between them within 30 seconds of meeting each other.
RJ: The special could have ended there and I would have been satisfied! I was grinning the entire time they were talking to each other. But after they confused the polarity, the atmosphere suddenly changed… for 10 seconds. Moffat has led us to believe that The War Doctor is such a horrible person, his future selves are afraid of him. But like I said, Steven Moffat is a misleading bastard.
Ade: John Hurt is brilliant. I love how he’s all no-nonsense and “Why are you pointing your sonic screwdrivers?” every time. Imagine the dread he felt when he realized that he’s going to regenerate into two man-children after he makes the ultimate sacrifice of destroying his home planet. I imagine it’s like how parents feel if they have grown-up Brony —
RJ: HEY, PONIES ARE AWESO- …I love how he’s equally appalled at his future selves as they are at him. I love grumpy old man War Doctor telling Ten and Eleven to get off his lawn. That bastard Steven Moffat misled us on how John Hurt’s character would be used. On how he doesn’t deserve the title “Doctor.”
Ade: I thought John Hurt was going to be the principal villain. Leave it to Moffat to get a Doctor nobody’s heard of, stick him in the middle of the mythos, and have him be the lead character for the 50th anniversary, and make it work.
RJ: Then he shows us that even though he’s done terrible things, and despite his self-hatred (to the point where his future selves despises him), he’s still the same person inside. Still the same Doctor. “Same software, different face.”.
Ade: When you say the Doctor did terrible things, you mean River Song, right?
RJ: Oh god, mental image. Dammit, Ade!
Ade: Before I get carried away and look for fanfiction for you to read, let’s get started on the big plot point: the Three Doctors concoct a plan to save Gallifrey. It makes sense that Eleven thinks up of the solution – Ten is too guilt-stricken to even think about it. Eleven has properly put some distance between himself and the Time War. He can properly view things with some hindsight. And, let’s face it, he’s way more hopeful than Ten ever was.
RJ: I loved how they didn’t show sad Ten or angry Ten in the special, we don’t need any more of that!
Ade: I love how Moffat wrote a better Ten in one episode than RTD ever did in 3 seasons. Seriously, how the two writers approached the Time War shows the difference between them. RTD wrote a war so apocalyptic and destructive that the Time Lords themselves have turned into something worse than the Daleks, and Ten had no choice but to lose his people one more time. Moffat wrote a story where the Doctors focused on the non-evil Gallifreyans and how the Doctor breaks the laws of time saving everyone. Which makes sense for them, thematically. RTD’s finest Doctor Who episode was Midnight, where humans turn themselves against the Doctor while Moffat’s first Doctor Who story had “everybody lives!” as the climax.
RJ: Eh, I wanted more details about the Time War. All the special showed was Daleks cornering Gallifrey with pewpew lasers. As much as I disliked RTD’s stories, the Time War has been built up so much and all we got was lasers? What ever happened to the Skaro Degradations, the Horde of Travesties, the Nightmare Child, the Could-Have-Been King with his army of Meanwhiles and Never-Weres? I really dislike how Moffat can be so vague!
Ade: To be fair though, we knew that this was the last day of the Time War. The Time Lords had already used up all of their weapons and have already lost. The Daleks just invaded Arcadia and started rounding up the survivors. The massive, reality-bending battles were done a long time ago. And I don’t think I’d ever want to see how the Time War is depicted. The way it was described during RTD’s run makes me want it to be left to the imagination.
RJ: I still think it was a bit anti-climatic, but I understand that they’d need a bigger budget for that. I just wanted to see how Hurt finally snaps at the end of the Time War, and not by making a graffiti with a laser.
Ade: I liked the part where he spent five minutes carving “NO MORE” at a wall when a family was going to die like five feet away from him.
RJ: Art is serious business, man. You can’t rush it.
Ade: At least he used the TARDIS to bump into some very delicate Daleks…?
RJ: Moving on. I thought the Zygon plot was stupid and unnecessary at first. Until the very end where Hurt finally saw his successors, as silly as they can be, had become better men. How they carry the regret of the genocide every day and how that regret has done good to the universe.
Ade: The smile on John Hurt’s face as he was using his sonic to activate the memory wipe thing was brilliant. I kinda hate the Zygon subplot, but it all came together in the end. But let’s talk about the one who enabled the Doctor to become the Doctor again and save Gallifrey: Clara Oswald.
RJ: Clara is quickly becoming my favorite companion, at this rate she’ll dethrone Donna by the Christmas special. No other modern companion has a deeper understanding of the Doctor than Clara. Also, she’s really hot.
Ade: You hit the nail on the head. Clara is amazing. She realizes that the Doctor, no matter how much he says he regrets the Time War, will annihilate Gallifrey over and over again in the blink of an eye. And with a simple question: “what was the promise?” she renews the Doctor’s purpose and gives him his home back. Fuck you Clara haters. She’s not boring! She’s adorable. And really hot.
RJ: It’s the tiny spark of humanity that the Doctor always always needs to have around. This is why he NEEDS companions. More than they need him. Clara has saved the Doctor time and time again, it was the theme for half a season; but this time, she saved the Doctor from himself.
Ade: The show keeps on talking about how much the Doctor needs companions, but never in 50 years has they’ve shown exactly why. And I love the progression of Eleven’s arc. Amy was there to help the Doctor move on from the Time War and the trauma of being Ten. Clara was there to help him become the Doctor again. And I love how Clara’s so normal, so unaffected by her travels if she’s not in adventures.
RJ: Okay, Deus Ex Machina time. How come I don’t hate Moffat’s Deus Ex endings? RTD’s finales are awesome and terrible at the same time, the stupid Deus Exes always made me scratch my head.
Ade: Because Moffat’s plot solutions don’t come out of nowhere. And they’re not cheesily executed. Sure, Moffat has his faults, like an aversion to showing stuff happen instead of having his characters talk about how threatening this MacGuffin is when all they do is, well, talk, but the man knows how to finish an episode in style.
RJ: I think we were just too busy screaming at the screen when the stock footage of the classic Doctors showed up.
Ade: Huge missed opportunity there, by the way. They could’ve shot new footage of the classic Doctors in their TARDIS consoles, for three seconds each. I won’t care if Peter Davison’s balding or Colin Baker’s too fat to fit in the TARDIS. Just give the surviving classic Doctors who are not Tom Baker their moment.
RJ: I really wanted Eccleston to make a cameo, but I he’s too stubborn (or hates the producers) too much to come back. I guess stock footage and Hurt regenerating into A MYSTERY is enough. But hey, at least we got a glimpse of Capaldi!
Ade: You know that you just can’t fuck with Future Doctor Capaldi. Oh man, I am excited for his run. Which reminds me. We have one last episode with Matt Smith left. And this makes me sad.
RJ: Oh, the possibilities! But before we start wrapping things up, I need to point out that Billie Piper’s role in the special was totally unnecessary. Yeah, I said it. Suck it, Rose fans! The Moment could have been different incarnations of the Doctor’s companions, but noooo, they needed to pander to tumblr fangirls!
Ade: She could have been MOTHERFUCKING SUSAN FOREMAN. YOU KNOW, THE DOCTOR’S FRIGGING GRANDDAUGHTER FROM THE FIRST EPISODE. SHE DESERVES TO BE IN THE 50TH MORE THAN ANYONE. I like how Moffat went “Fuck you, Tumblr fangirls! Nobody gets what they want!” and made sure that Ten and Rose did not see each other.
RJ: Wasted opportunity, really. I would have been happy with The Moment skimming through the different companion’s faces and choosing Rose in the end, stock footage and everything. But this is Steven Moffat, you never get what you want. Ever.
Ade: Well, imagine if the special was written by RTD. Remember how Journey’s End made sense? No? It had every single companion in RTD’s run and possibly everything I asked for, but I hated it for some reason. Moffat knows what we want isn’t always the best for us. THANK YOU BASED MOFFAT.
RJ: I love Steven Moffat but I still think he’s a lying, misleading bastard. Like Joss Whedon if he took Grant Morrison’s drugs.
Ade: Before we end this, can we mention The Night of the Doctor and McGann’s stunning return and regeneration? Seriously, I did not expect that.
RJ: I would have loved it if he made a cameo in the special as well but seeing him as the Eighth Doctor again was enough.
Ade: I am fine with McGann not having a cameo. He deserves more than to play second fiddle to Hurt, Tennant, and Smith. Moffat made sure that for a glorious seven minutes, McGann was the incumbent Doctor again. I’ve been a huge fan of McGann’s Eighth Doctor audio plays, so seeing him acknowledge all his audio companions (who are all supposed to be non-canon) was like the greatest payoff ever.
RJ: WAIT, WE HAVEN’T TALKED ABOUT TOM BAKER YET. And this is how this article will never end. SPECULATIONS!
Ade: Moffat left it open ended, but the most popular conclusion is how Tom Baker’s Curator is a future incarnation of the Doctor. He’s satisfied that he’s already saved the universe over and over, and with nothing else to do, he regenerates into a favorite face, and settles down as the curator of the Undergallery.
RJ: One day the universe won’t need saving and the Doctor can finally retire. I love how the special started with a Fourth Doctor cameo by showing his signature scarf. And then Tom friggin Baker appears right at the end. God damn!
Ade: Also, Tom Baker out-weirded Matt Smith. I did not believe that was possible, but it happened. I love how Tom Baker (if I’m right) ends up as the last incarnation of the Doctor, happily spending his days fussing over art. Also, the implications of reusing regenerations will make the “BRING TENNANT BACK” fangirls more annoying.
RJ: I believe Moffat wants to end the Who franchise with his run (if BBC lets him) his way: vague and open-ended, tying up loose ends and giving conclusions that raises more questions than it answered. A possible clean slate for future series. Because Steven Moffat. That’s why.
Ade: I prefer to think of it this way: the Doctor Who revival started on a dark note. For seven years it was all about the Doctor’s great sorrow and how awful it must be to be the Doctor with all the weight he’s carrying on his shoulders. The show may dive deep into darker and darker territory – the main character is a PTSD-stricken war survivor who committed double genocide, after all – but it never loses sight of the hopefulness that made people love it in the first place. In line with “everybody lives,” Moffat found a way to bring back the hopefulness and fun into Doctor Who without invalidating the darkness of RTD’s run. It’s been seven years, but he’s really the Doctor again. He’s renewed his purpose. He’s ready to find home again.
RJ: Just in time for Capaldi to take over too. The Time War plot was great and it was built up really well for the past seven years, but it was about time it concluded. We all compare the different incarnations, but the 50th Anniversary Special has proven that they’re all still the same Doctor. A new face, a new TARDIS design, new companions, new ways to fuck with the space and time, but it will always be the same Doctor. This is why I love Doctor Who.
Ade: No matter how dark the show gets, it always ends up being driven by the same bright and hopeful Doctor who will always find a way to make sure that everybody lives. Even on the one day he had no other choice but to commit the unspeakable, he found a way. This is why I love Doctor Who, and this is why I hate Man of Steel.
RJ: D-did we just write a whole article without making a single dick joke?
Ade: The opportunity was just sticking out all the time, no? It was hard not to grab it. What a hairy situation. Suck it, dick jok- wait.
RJ: No. It won’t be a roundtable review without dick jokes. So here we go: Is it considered incest if the Doctors sucked each oth-
Ade: I think it’s just mastu-
RJ: MENTAL IMAGE, DEAR READERS. YOU’RE WELCOME!
Ade: Remember what happens when the same sonic screwdriver from different points in time touch each other? Sparks fly. Yep.
RJ: So if they had a “sword fight”, they universe would explode. If you know what I mean.
Ade: It’s actually called the Blinovitch Limitation Effect in canon. Jesus Christ, even THAT sounds dirty.
RJ: Okay, maybe we should sto- oh look, an image of all the Doctors, human centipede style. Maybe I should post the lin-
Ade: OKAY I THINK IT’S TIME TO END THIS BEFORE SOMEBODY POSTS A DOCTOR WHO DAISY CHAIN
RJ: What the hell is a Daisy Ch- GOD DAMMIT, ADE!