Like a good wine, it took a while to ferment, but this is my review of the DVD release of the Day of The Doctor, the fiftieth anniversary Doctor Who Special. Don’t worry, there isn’t much in the way of spoilers here. It’s just too special for me to go and spoil it for you.
First off, the DVD Extras:
Behind the Scenes – a visit with the cast and characters old and new, narrated by the sixth Doctor Colin Baker, and the happy birthday’s at the end by the various doctors was great. It is a look at what took place on the set during the filming of the episode, and it was a lot of fun to get this glimpse, and hear David Tennant and Billie Piper talking about what is was like to come back. John Hurt talks about how he was roped into the War Doctor job, and there are also snippets from the whole cast and crew.
Mini Episodes – great lead in to the special. You should know to watch these first before the episode for best enjoyment. The first mini-episode was ok but the second one (The Night of the Doctor) was brilliant. It depicts the Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann, whom I had never seen before, and made references that I just had to go research after the episode was over. (Just FYI, The Sisterhood of Karn was introduced way back in 1976, and they lived on Gallifrey before the time lords did.) Make sure to watch for the young John Hurt’s reflection at the end of the episode. A cool effect.
Doctor Who Explained – This is a featurette and a brilliant introduction to the Doctor. In it we learn of the Time Lords, The TARDIS, all twelve Doctors, his companions, his enemies, and the evolution of the series as told by many of the cast from the entire run of the show. If you are looking for a way to introduce the kids to Doctor Who, here is the perfect little show to give them all the basics that they need to know to start them on a journey of adventure and excitement through time and space.
You’ll see the story of the Doctor told by cast members you haven’t seen in decades, as well as guest stars, production staff, and every living Doctor has his own say. Neil Gaiman even stops by, and the show is populated with clips from many old episodes that haven’t been seen in years.
The DVD also has the teaser trailer and the trailer from Comic-Con, which you can watch if you need to build the anticipation even further before you watch the special
The Day of the Doctor Fiftieth Anniversary Special itself really lived up to everything that I was hoping for. Mainly, it was to see David Tennant return to the role of the Tenth Doctor, still wearing the same suit and still looking like his old self.
We of course need to see the convergence of three storylines in order to bring the three Doctors together. This is where we get to see John Hurt in action as the War Doctor, and we discover that he was the Doctor that ended the War between the Time lords and the Daleks by destroying everyone.
What we didn’t know is that in addition to destroying all of them, there were billions of innocent men, women, and children on Gallifrey that were slaughtered in the process as well, and the Doctor has had to live with the guilt of all of these deaths that he caused ever since.
Queen Elizabeth the First plays an integral role, and does quite a bit of smooching with one of our intrepid Doctors, I’ll leave that surprise to you. There is a special effect used on a painting titled “No More” or something such in the episode that I found just amazing. The light years that effects technology has come since I started watching Doctor Who in its earlier years really is quite incredible.
Billie Piper also returns as Rose Tyler, but not Rose Tyler. She is the conscience of the weapon that John Hurt will use to end the war, and manifests as Rose. Only John Hurt can see and hear her, and her job is to make sure that the War Doctor does what he really needs to do. I was disappointed that she didn’t get to interact with David Tennant, but truthfully I was just happy that she was there. She’s always been my favorite companion.
Jenna Coleman is also there as Clara of course, again proving that she is actually smarter than all of the Doctors combined in her own way. She provides an intense bit of emotion at just the right time to make the Doctor realize what he needs to do. It’s a powerful scene that brought tears to my eyes.
What we are dealing with is Zygons taking over the Earth by manipulating our past, but the bigger story is the decision that John Hurt must make to destroy his own people in order to save the universe. The Tenth and Eleventh Doctor’s have already done the deed and learned to live with it. Billie Piper takes the War Doctor to them to find out what they think of his actions, long after he has already performed them.
The episode is really one of the best that I have ever seen. The end is full of surprises, and the appearance of one other Doctor right at the end just made me smile and laugh out loud with pleasure.
My verdict, Don’t miss the Day of the Doctor. The DVD extras are icing on the cake and make the purchase of the DVD well worth it.