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'The Day of the Doctor': Rewriting the Past One Satisfying Moffat Ex Machina at a Time

By C. Robert Dmitri | TV Reviews | November 25, 2013 | Comments ()


day-of-the-doctor-pics-3-smith-hurt-tennant.jpg

Doctor Who has come a long way.

I was not around in November of 1963; my parents had only just gotten married. For me Doctor Who started back in the mid-80s with The Doctor, Romana II, and K-9. I was around eleven or twelve years old. KERA, my local public television affiliate, aired a syndicated adventure every Saturday night, and I first happened upon “The Creature In The Pit.”

There was a dearth of interesting televised science-fiction and fantasy in that era compared to the way that we’re spoiled now. Among others, there was the unjustly (in my opinion) cancelled 80s Twilight Zone reboot. There was the almost immediately cancelled satire Wizards and Warriors with Julia Duffy. There was the Marc Singer and Jane Badler V series that did not live up to its TV-movie and miniseries predecessors. Of course, there was Star Trek: The Next Generation, but in those days I had a stubborn loyalty to the classic series and was opposed to what I initially labeled as “Love Boat In Space.” (Maybe I just unluckily happened some extremely bad episodes.) Hence, in lieu of Saturday Night Live - a show that I like to think borrowed my jibe from the collective unconscious when it spoofed Star Trek: The Next Generation as The Love Boat - I was hooked on this alternate weekly appointment with our favorite Gallifreyan.

Belated apology and gratitude: I’m sorry, KERA, that I never gave any money to one of the several pledge drives that always featured “The Five Doctors.” I was just a kid, so I did not have much in terms of disposable funds, but thank you for introducing me to the show.

I did not have many friends that also enjoyed the show, or at least I did not know about it. I recall in my eighth grade Humanities class that a cute girl once mocked my weekend habit when the show came up in a conversation, and I only remember watching Doctor Who a single time back in those days when I was not alone. (A high school friend and I watched Sylvester McCoy’s “Dragonfire” together.) It was not that I had a shortage of nerdy friends; the British import was simply not on the radar like it is now. Hence, while something like Star Wars might have been more formative to my development and preferences and was certainly more universal in the world of my youth, for a kid in the Texas plains Doctor Who - that fixture of my solitary late-night weekends - felt like it was “mine.”

Near the end of the 80s I attended a Doctor Who convention in Dallas and was first exposed to the fact that the show did have a sizable American cult following. One of the show’s producers was there and announced the plans to imminently make a Doctor Who feature film. The audience loved the sound of that. What followed was no feature film, the cancellation of the television program, the lackluster McGann TV-movie (no offense to McGann), and the long hibernation of BBC’s Doctor Who…until that 2005 rebirth.

Flash forward to the morning of November 23, 2013. I’m at a big multiplex movie theater that must be using six or seven of its screens filled to capacity to give us a global premiere simulcast of the 50th anniversary episode. This isn’t that feature film proper that we were promised so long ago, but it’s on the big screen, we’re wearing 3-D glasses, the cosplay is rampant, and for all the people at this multiplex, I barely saw a duplicate t-shirt. (Aside: how many unique Doctor Who t-shirts must there be in the world?) The pre-show includes Doctor Who trivia, and the warning to silence our cellphones and follow proper theater etiquette is humorously delivered by none other than Strax the Sontaran. Smith and Tennant in dueling Doctor roles inform us of the 3-D perks of our viewing. (Another aside: the 3-D would not add much for me.) The audience is hyped, and their sonic screwdrivers commemorate the moment with a chorus of lights and squeals. (Yet another aside: one of the trivia items informed us that over one thousand sonic screwdrivers are sold daily in the States. At that rate, you’re looking at a million in less than three years. I’m certain there are some repeat customers - several of them no doubt in my theater - but that’s still staggering.) With the exception of that rude guy that griped at me for saving seats for my friends, the environment is all good will.

So why am I providing you all this personal context? The context helps in understanding that my extremely positive reaction to “The Day Of The Doctor” is biased by nostalgia and the general allonsy-conducive vibes.

Spoilers, as River Song would warn, follow.

We pick up with Eleven and Clara being called by the Brigadier Stewart’s daughter to account for a mysterious high-tech painting of the last day of the Time War on Gallifrey and a summons of The Doctor by Queen Elizabeth I. (Yes, I’m still calling him Eleven.) As we find out later, the painting is not simply a separate artistic rendering of a moment; it’s a preserved capsule of the moment itself that can be used to preserve living beings in waiting. Incidentally, I’m not sure how Eleven and Clara escaped that strange “place” that was The Doctor’s timeline at the end of “The Name Of The Doctor,” but if we’re intended to know that information it must be forthcoming in a future episode.

Meanwhile (a word that of course has little real meaning in this timey-wimey jumble), The War Doctor (John Hurt) faces the ethical dilemma that defined Nine for us at the very beginning of his run: should he or should he not activate the doomsday weapon that will annihilate the Daleks and all of Gallifrey, thus ending the Time War? Such a powerful weapon has a clever feature - a built-in conscience that manifests itself in a manner so as to make sure the weapon’s user fully grasps the implications of the decision. In this case, the weapon takes the form of a future companion of The Doctor, Rose Tyler. The actual Rose Tyler does not appear in this episode, and there is no interaction between her and Ten. (Take that, shippers. Sorry - I couldn’t resist.)

Speaking of Ten, he’s busy wooing Elizabeth I in 1562, only to discover that an old enemy, the shape-shifting Zygons, are infiltrating England, in the hopes of making Earth their new home. Confronted with two bickering Elizabeths, one real and one villainous, Ten does his best to navigate the situation.

The War Doctor brings the three Doctors together, as “Rose” provides him with a chance to meet his future selves as a means to decide whether or not he can live with using this weapon that will kill so many innocent Gallifreyan children, as living with the act is to be the weapon’s punishment for him.

Once these three are together, the fun begins. Eleven and Ten riff off each other as well as you might have imagined, and Hurt’s War Doctor brings the appropriate gravitas to the proceedings. Using Hurt in lieu of Eccleston might have been accidental, but I do think it was also serendipitous. Having a new voice works to set apart the critical moment that ends the Time War and builds suspense in the story by emphasizing how unlike The Doctor (as we know him) the decision was.

There are many good moments, but here’s my favorite exchange between the three:

Clara: “Doctor, what’s going on?”
Eleven: “It’s a…a timey wimey thing.”
War Doctor: “Timey what? Timey wimey?”
Ten (the phrase’s source): “I have no idea where he picks that stuff up.”

Past cross-Doctor adventures use the same motif: the younger-in-age Doctor mocks the new, younger-in-appearance blokes, resenting the implication that there possibly could be any improvement. It’s a funny thing that these older Doctors are the younger spirits; as we find out, the relative juvenile nature of Ten and Eleven is a method of compensation for that great evil that they committed in the past. Certainly the BBC wanted to cast younger guys, but conceptually this works. Regeneration becomes a defensive, instinctual coping mechanism.

Ever since Eight kissed Grace Holloway, Doctor Who has seen a contentious shift in The Doctor’s inclination for romantic entanglements. I myself was opposed to it at first, but I’ve become accustomed to it and accepting of it. Another of my favorite moments contrasted the new and the old in that respect:

*Ten kisses Elizabeth I, having just married her.*
War Doctor: “Is there a lot of this in the future?”
Eleven: “It does start to happen, yeah.”

The Zygon-Earthling conflict works as a representative microcosm for the War Doctor’s own ethical dilemma when the younger Stewart threatens to detonate London in a nuclear explosion in order to prevent the Zygons from procuring the U.K.’s secret alien technology cache. Is it right to save hypothetical billions at the cost of murdering millions? Ten and Eleven - having dwelled in guilt long enough to deem killing the millions to be wrong - solve the smaller dilemma by deluding the humans and Zygons into not knowing who is who until a treaty is reached. The same solution won’t apply to Time Lords and Daleks, but the War Doctor has seen enough.

“Rose” takes him back to Gallifrey, but Clara, having intuited that the War Doctor has not destroyed Gallifrey yet, goes with Eleven and Ten to meet him there before he can activate the weapon. Such a moment in history should be time-locked, unless of course this was the way that it was supposed to be all along. Ten and Eleven resolve to join the War Doctor in the fateful action, but it’s Clara’s doubt that this is something The Doctor could actually ever do that gives them pause. Thus, a plan is hatched.

They’ll time-lock the entire planet of Gallifrey, preserving it in the same manner that the painting used on a much bigger scale. This isn’t a calculation that can be done by a single Doctor in the moment; it’s one that needs to have been running for hundreds of years. With a sly use of stock footage, enter Doctors One through Nine! Oh, and enter Thirteen! (I’m confused now. I’m still calling Matt Smith Eleven, but if we accept the War Doctor as a genuine Doctor, which I feel that the story implies that we must, then shouldn’t Capaldi be Thirteen, given that we have never had the chance to call him a different number? Forget it. Just know that Capaldi’s Doctor helps out from the future as well.) A Gallifreyan in the command center actually says the phrase “all thirteen” in reference to The Doctors, which irritated one of my viewing companions as to its potential implications. I suggested it could simply be a case of breaking the fourth wall and sharing the fun with the audience.

With Gallifrey removed, the surrounding Dalek ships destroy each other in the crossfire. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know immediately if the plan worked; preservation of Gallifrey looks the same as destruction, and thus continuity is preserved, as the War Doctor, Nine, and Ten will have no memory of this adventure because of the jumbled time streams of multiple Doctors interacting. They all assume that Gallifrey is destroyed and don’t recall Ten and Eleven going back to save the day.

Now that, my friends, was a Moffat ex machina if I ever saw one. (Yes, I just coined that term independently. Something tells me that it’s so catchy and on point that someone else probably has used it before, but I’m still going to take credit.) One day I’m going to rank all of the Moffat ex machinas in a hierarchy that rates how ludicrous, implausible, arbitrary, and satisfying they are. (For example, the resolution of “The Big Bang” is very tough for me to accept logically, but it’s so satisfying emotionally that I can’t criticize it.)

In this case, I must admit that I was a complete sucker and softie for the Moffat ex machina. You throw all those Doctors together, and that nostalgia of mine is going to win out. The idea of a subroutine running on the TARDIS for all that time since Hartnell’s era has its appeal too as a clever Doctor-esque solution, even if we didn’t see the moment when the three Doctors at hand summoned the other guys.

The War Doctor, Ten, and Eleven go back to the museum to reflect on what has transpired and part ways. The War Doctor is feeling old and tired once he boards his TARDIS (or again, perhaps it’s a reaction to the guilt), and we see him regenerate into Nine. (There’s a hint of Eccleston’s eyes in the light.) Eleven tells Ten about the dread of seeing their tomb on Trenzalore, knowing that Ten won’t remember. Once Eleven is left alone, we are treated with the killer cameo that transported me back to my living room in the 80s and put a lump in my throat: Tom Baker, the oldest living Doctor, appears in the role of the museum curator and tips Eleven off to the fact that the painting’s two titles - “No More” and “Gallifrey Falls” - are actually one title: “Gallifrey Falls No More.” Thus, Eleven with his unconfused time stream, has access to the memory that Gallifrey did survive, and he resolves to find it.

Who was Tom Baker’s character? How did he come by this knowledge? I didn’t care. The dialogue slyly broke the fourth wall once again, with Baker acknowledging the kinship between the two men across the decades of the show. That old twinkle in Baker’s eye is still there. (Why didn’t he offer him a jelly baby?!?) The Doctor’s new mission is to go home.

So, yeah, there was a whole bunch of “fan service” in “The Day Of The Doctor,” and I know some viewers were frustrated by that and use that term derisively. If you’re ever going to go all the way with fan service, though, it seems to me that such a momentous occasion as the fiftieth anniversary of a program is the time to do it. Fan service? Yes, consider this long-time fan of the show served.

C. Robert Dimitri hopes he’s around to watch the hundredth anniversary.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Haystacks

    I love sci-fi, and I love Doctor Who. That said, it really bothers me when you take a closer look at the plot and realize it makes no sense. And Moffat does that a lot. His excellent writing of the male characters as a whole makes up (somewhat) for his awful writing of women.

    But the plot thing makes my teeth itch.

  • Garferty

    I don't think it's a particularly good idea to undo the Time War - or at least, the Doctor's part in it. All the character development since then still happened, thanks to amnesia, but now it's completely meaningless.

  • Green Lantern

    Nice review, C. Rob! Thank you.

  • Belvedere Spudge

    Happy as I was with the shows resurrection, I went along
    with the Time War background without ever really buying it. The heart of the show- “the triumph of romance and intellect over brute force and cynicism” (thank you Craig Ferguson)- was pretty hard to reconcile with a character who had effectively put his entire race to death, however long he took to get over it. The Doctor changed, but could only change so
    much without compromising the fundamental expectations of the Doctor’s audience and it just didn’t ring absolutely true for me. Besides, it wasn’t helped by his supposedly timelocked enemies showing up every other week either- taking away Gallifrey but wafting the Daleks in and out of storylines ad nauseum was more than just a hint that eventually anything could be undone.

    With the return of Gallifrey, fans of the new series might see a key piece of mythology being overwritten; old time fans like myself might see a key piece of the mythology from 43 years of the show being restored. The Doctors initial rebellion against his own race is as much a part of his narrative as his return home, trial, reintegration, destruction and now, the possible resurrection of his people. Theres ample history to explore there and a whole
    lot of potential storylines ahead that I’m actually keen to see.

  • Ben

    I really enjoyed it except for one pretty glaring thing.

    THAT was the time war? Like I understand budget constraints and shit, but that? You're a race of alien gods who have mastered time travel, the concept of infinity and eternity, power your ships the size of solar systems with dying stars caught for ever in the moment of their death, using that power to bend reality and force the ship into the space into a small wooden box. Then they start a war that is supposed to burn through the entire universe, in every moment of time and undo reality.

    And the war is... like a laser gun fight from an 80's sci fi movie? Seriously?

  • That was the END of the Time War. The War Doctor grew old fighting it. The Time Lords used every nasty trick that they had, and they had nothing left but the Moment, which none of them had the nerve to use. And pew pew pew is the Daleks' hat.

  • Ben

    It was only the END of the Time War because the doctor ended it though. It's not like it was a war won by attrition. If the doctor hadn't decided to end it there it would have kept going for ever. That was the whole problem. If the war was going to end on it's own then the Doctor wouldn't have had to go to such extremes to stop it as committing double genocide on two races.

  • A most excellent write-up, C. Rob, and I felt much the same as you. All the winks and nods were delightful, and Tom Baker sent me over the edge. I couldn't wait to watch it again.

    Moff's mucking around with things again: http://www.radiotimes.com/news...

    Essentially, Ten used two regenerations and Hurt counts, so Moffat is calling Smith Thirteen. I'm betting Eleventeen finds Gallifrey and earns the Doctor a new set.

  • Uriah_Creep

    In the linked article, Moffat says "The 12 regenerations limit is a central part of Doctor Who mythology - science fiction is all about rules, you can't just casually break them."

    Now, I love Doctor Who, but that's pretty rich coming from Moffat ex Machina, no?

  • foolsage

    To be fair, I think the creators of Doctor Who very carefully break the rules, from their perspective. They don't do it casually. They find ways to rationalize the end they seek.

    But yeah, there's a lot of irony there.

  • They don't do it casually.

    This.

  • It most certainly is.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    That's odd. In an ep of Sarah Jane Adventures (RTD's era), they just retconned and handwaved the limit away. Kind of odd that Moffat's opting to bring it back, considering how seriously he screwed with it all anyway (also, kind of a lot of gall to talk about rules when he's gone about making the Doctor a reckless manipulator of time when he never really was before); he could've just dropped it, or at least dial back its importance.

  • Well, it's not a biological imperative, but I think there are plenty of people who feel like the limit was an unofficial rule. I'm glad he's not pretending it doesn't exist.

    I am curious though, to see how we're supposed to refer to everyone since all the numbering has shifted. And if he's calling Smith Thirteen, are we just supposed to fall in line and rename the others? What do we call Tennant? Aaaaggghhh!

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    "Tweleven"? Yeah, I think there's some value to being Thirteen still in a general way, as even if the limit is gone, it's still something that was apparently super common among Time Lords for forever, so it should still be... Like, emotionally kind of a big deal.

    I still find it interesting that Moffat is kind of overtly forcing the Thirteen thing here. You could just as easily argue it as literally allowing for thirteen incarnations as opposed to just regeneration events (I doubt they've ever been explicit enough to rule that out), but he seems to really want to do the Thirteen story now, which both intrigues and sort of frightens me.

  • I don't want to be that guy, but it's Lethbridge-Stewart, with a hyphen. In the great tradition of upper crust hyphenated British names of military men who went to Eton (almost certainly for the Brigadier) and then on to Sandhurst.

  • DarthCorleone

    You are that guy, but I happily accept the correction. Mea culpa. - C. Robert Dimitri

  • BWeaves

    So, how big a Doctor Who fan do you suppose John Hurt is?

  • He was clearly waiting his whole life to play the Doctor.

  • BWeaves

    I've been watching Doctor Who since 1964, and this 50th anniversary special did not disappoint me. I loved it. Yes, I didn't care for the Deus Ex Machina, and the Doctor numbering is hurting my head a little, but it's OK.

    Am I the only one who wanted 10 and 11 to kiss? They had fantastic chemistry together. I loved every moment of their bickering.

    As much as I love John Hurt, I really sort of wish that they had pulled in Paul McGann as the War Doctor, and given him a proper episode. Still, I'm glad they got him for the mini-episode that showed him sort of regenerating into John Hurt.

    And I laughed my ass off at The Five(ish) Doctors webisode right after watching the anniversary special. That gave me all the cameos and comedy I could have asked for, without mucking up the actual 50th anniversary special.

    Also, I went back and rewatched The Five Doctors with the commentary. Peter Davison and Terrance Dicks (the writer) do the commentary and Dicks is hilarious as he imparts all the behind the scenes tidbits to Davison, like how they called the Galifrey High Council's chambers "Rassilon's Burger Bar."

  • Boo_Radley

    Baker was always my favorite Doctor.

  • BWeaves

    Which Baker? There were two.

  • dorquemada

    Me too. Followed by Sylvester McCoy.

  • Wrestling Fan

    There was no lump in my throat when Baker appeared.
    No, I was a full-on weepy mess. That unforgettable voice started to talk, and erased the last 30-somthing years and brought me right back to being the young kid who fell in love with The Doctor, Sarah Jane, and K-9.

    God that was a great moment.

  • csb

    I thought the episode was great, the only disappointing part for me was the absence of Eccleston - the only living actor who wasn't part of Who's 50th birthday in some way. But that couldn't be helped so on we go.

    On the numbering, Capaldi will be the Twelfth Doctor if we continue to go with Smith as the Eleventh. Hurt, "the War Doctor", can be considered "The Eighth Doctor, Mark 2" (or "8.5" or I'm sure there are other titles floating around out there).

  • LOOOOOOOOVED IT. I LOVED IT SO MUCH. I WANT TO HUG IT.

    ^ why I don't review things. But true.

  • John W

    So is Eccleston and Hurt supposed to be the same Doctor (#9)? Or are they two different Doctors (9 & 9A)?

  • Moffat is now counting Hurt as a separate number--which would theoretically shift everyone else's number--and he says Eleven is Thirteen.

  • John W

    Thanks everyone that clarifies things a bit.

  • Guest

    .

  • Joe Grunenwald

    Hurt comes between Paul McGann (8) and Christopher Eccleston (9). He renounced the name of The Doctor and fought in the Time War. Moffat refers to him as The War Doctor, so he doesn't really fit into the 'count' of Doctors.

  • foolsage

    Hurt regenerated into Eccleston. We saw the yellow glow that comes with a normal Time Lord regeneration. Hurt also made a little joke about hoping the ears weren't as prominent next time (referring to Eccleston's very prominent ears).

    What's not clear, to me anyhow, is whether McGann and Hurt are the same person. In that case, we did not see the yellow glow of Time Lord regeneration, and the regen itself was supplied by the Sisterhood of Karn, via the Elixir of Life. I'm just not sure whether that one counts, or whether Moffat will find another excuse to extend the Doctor's regenerations once Capaldi leaves.

  • Joe Grunenwald

    McGann does regenerate, but like you said it's spurred on by the Sisterhood's elixir. Maybe the elixir, in bringing McGann back to life (they said he died in the ship's crash) and inducing his regeneration, actually 'reset' his regenerations?

  • foolsage

    Huh. Somehow my mind blocked out the yellow glow there. Thanks for the screen cap.

    You're right; resetting the regenerations is one possible solution, as is extending them. After all, the Moment (aka Bad Wolf Girl) told the Doctor that his punishment would be to survive. She didn't however say for how long; maybe he's the Time Lord version of Captain Jack Harkness now, and will regenerate endlessly.

  • Guest

    That would solve it and sounds like a Moffat solution (not in a bad way).

    2. War Doctor
    3. Eccleston
    4. Tennant
    5. Smith
    6. Capaldi

  • Haystacks

    I always figured that when River Song gave all her regenerations to save the Doctor, she gave the extra 10 as well.

  • AvaLehra

    I thought it was fantastic and I loved seeing Rose/Bad Wolf, and I am just so happy I got to see Eccelston (my favorite Doctor) in there if only for a few brief moments.

    I'm wondering how many people saw it in the theaters this weekend, in 3D?Today is the last day it is still in theaters and I won't be able to go.

  • BabyBearStrikesAgain

    I have had serious issues with Moffat's run, but I thoroughly enjoyed this episode.

    Only problem, it really (really) made me miss Ten.

  • Leelee

    I hadn't realised just how MUCH I missed Ten until he was back, bounding around like a skinny boy in a suit.

  • Sassy Rouge

    I adored it. I was expecting a lot of winks and nods, and we got it. Also, I won a bet as to how many "alive" Doctors would be in the episode, and I think I am collecting my beverage shortly.

    On a side note, my birthday is Nov. 23. Being in the Middle East right now, I wasn't able to get the 50th on the 23rd. Regardless, my friends got me a Doctor Who cake. Apparently not so popular here...

  • BWeaves

    You need to send that over to Cake Wrecks. It's worthy.

  • Sassy Rouge

    Done and done. Sadly, I took lousy pictures. It was my birthday, and there was champagne.

  • frozen01

    That's adorable. I love that it says "Doctor Ohm" :D

  • foolsage

    Well, or "WHO" upside down. ;)

  • NateMan

    I like frozen's better!

  • Sassy Rouge

    Oh goodness, huge picture. My apologies.

  • dorquemada

    "Can you imagine Americans with Time Travel? Have you seen their movies?"
    Best line of a great show.
    The nerdrage over the Doctor naming (11? 12? SmithDoc?) is both hilarious and depressing. Christ people, it's a SHOW. On TV. It's not fucking Dostoyevsky. Lighten up, and have fun with it. On another hand, the anniversary special gave geekdom the greatest gift of all. Something to eternally argue about.
    See you at Christmas, Capaldi!

  • Ah, but Doctor Who *is* fucking Dostoyevsky. Just because it's a television show (and books, magazines, radio plays, movies, etc.) doesn't lessen it as (sometimes) great literature with lasting importance.

    Just as much as Dostoyevsky ever did, Doctor Who explores religious, psychological and philosophical ideas. It's looked, as much as any great literature has, at morality, human manipulation, and society.

  • Samantha Klein

    My experience with Who is much like your own (a wee bit earlier: I started proper w/Baker's first ep, Robot), but I do not watch the new show. Too many changes, and frankly, it just doesn't appeal. My love of the "Classic" show is largely nostalgia-fueled, and that's fine with me. I've been enjoying paying attention to all the 50th anniversary goings-on, though.

    I just wanted to say that yours is the second recap I've read that points out that Tom Baker is the oldest living Doctor, and that statement somehow just breaks my heart. I sobbed when Nicholas Courtney died, and when Elisabeth Sladen died, and I can't even bear the thought of Baker leaving. Maybe he really IS the Doctor. :)

  • ElementRed

    I FVCKING LOVED THIS ONE (for so many reasons)!!!

    That is all. WELL DONE EVERYONE! I can't wait for 12 even though it means I'll have to say goodbye to 11. I'll miss you Matt, you'll always be MY Doctor.

    P.S. Jenna Coleman was / is FANTASTIC (regardless of whatever you may think of the Impossible Girl arc). And she's even GORGEOUS when crying.

    **Also more Ingrid Oliver please.

  • NateMan

    I thought she was perfect. It brought back why I loved her the first couple times we met her. She fit seamlessly into things without being what the story revolved around or sticking out.

  • ElementRed

    I loved when the War Doctor, 10 and 11 all appear from the painting:

    10 - Hello
    W.D. - I'm the Doctor
    11 - Sorry about the Dalek

    Clara: Also the showing off

    Perfect.

  • JenVegas

    I felt like all of the cross-doctor dialogue was really just spot-on perfect.

  • Muhnah_Muhnah

    Really enjoyed it too. Came to DW late in life because I grew up in a french speaking African country! I just love the childishness of it all. I clapped with unmitigated glee when all the 13 doctors surrounded the planet and squeeled "CAPALDI!" when his gloriously glowering eyes showed up on screen.

    Can't wait for the return. They need to give Clara something else to do besides be the "conscience" of Eleven. Although that opening scene with the motorcycle was pretty sweet. Carry on, Oswald.

  • Sam Underwood

    It's going to be interesting to see her reaction and interaction with Capaldi going forward. and yes i too got way too excited when i saw Capaldi. I'm sitting there and I hear the line "No sir, all thirteen" and I go "no way.. no way.. *See his hand, see his face* OHMYGODYES". Was the highlight of an overall great show.

  • Muhnah_Muhnah

    I hope, he's all curmudgeonly and not impressed with Clara's "spunk" or whatever. I'd love to see her spar with him and be all badass. I don't want him fawning over her like the other doctors were in the special.

  • Ted Zancha

    I said this over on the Pajiba Facebook page, but I have to say it again here.

    I enjoyed the episode up until the last 20 minutes. I thought it was fun. I thought seeing Tennant and Smith together was awesome.

    However, I felt like the "Moffit ex Machinia" was a huge cop out.

    I think it would have been much more powerful and cathartic if Smith and Tennant had helped the War Doctor push the button. Forgiving him (or himself) for what he had done. The next season could have been about him moving on and getting away from this "wandering savior" theme. Because for me what made the doctor so interesting is that he was trying to slowly make up for the terrible thing he had done. And he had to live with the genocide of his people. This could have been his time to move on.

    But allowing him to have a magic cube that could fix everything seems to fly in the face of all the progress he has made. Plus the magic cube and how they got it to work totally flew in the face of all the rules the doctor had set about time travel, fixed points, and crossing his own path.

    Furthermore there was a lot of continuity issues with Tennant's End of the World. He decided to destroy Galifrey because the time lords were willing to let the universe burn to survive. And to go to that tired and true "we have to do it for the children" was a bit much.

    For me, it was a lot like the most recent Moffat episodes. It was all
    fun in the moment. But upon reflection I was frustrated and I just don't see why Moffat had to go down the road he did.

  • NateMan

    See, I figured they WOULD push the button, and I was very happy when they didn't. The Doctor, for me, is about not only the hard choices - which, as frozen01 says, every show seems to do - but about optimism and triumph. And I loved, loved that they went that route. I don't care if it was cheating or the easy way out of a terrible situation. I wanted the Doctor, in all his lives, to get the win. It made me very happy.

    Also: it wasn't just 'think of the children' in your typical moral grandstanding dilemma. It was actively choosing to murder several BILLION children. And no matter what's at stake, I simply can't see the Doctor in any of his current forms (having watched almost none of the older series) making that decision. Killing his enemies and sacrificing his allies in the coldest way imaginable because it's what needs to be done? Sure. Flat out executing billions of children? Nope. Can't see it. And now that it's been brought to my attention, because I certainly didn't think about it when we first learned what he did, I can't see enjoying the show with that thought in my mind. So yeah, it made me happy.

  • Flat out executing billions of children? Nope.

    Certainly NINE couldn't do it. His relief at saving lives was palpable.

  • frozen01

    I have a problem with that though. Having 10 and 11 help him press the button would be what every other sci-fi show would've done. The Big Sacrifice. This plot was uniquely Doctor Who. The Big Sacrifice had happened, and now the main character has a chance to go back and do it a different way, pulling victory out of the jaws of defeat centuries after it had consumed its meal, and just in the nick of time. Having them push the button was far too mundane.

  • foolsage

    Agreed. The POINT of Doctor Who is that there's a better solution than violence. Yes, sometimes violence is necessary, but generally the Doctor's goal is to find alternatives. The violence here was preordained; we already knew that Gallifrey had been destroyed and all the Time Lords had been killed. The Doctor couldn't find an alternative and committed a grievous act of genocide. This already happened offscreen, decades ago in real time, so we'd already accepted this

    Making that decision again wouldn't have been in the spirit of the show or the character IMO. What's the point of being a time traveler who makes the same mistake again and again, after all? The Doctor NEEDED to find another way to unravel this Gordian Knot. That made it all the more suspenseful when it seemed that all three Doctors would push the History Eraser Button (Ren & Stimpy shoutout there).

  • axis2clusterB

    Totally agree with what you've said here. When we watched last night, there were a few moments that seemed painfully out of character for me (particularly where 10 was concerned) but by the end it came together in such a uniquely WHO way that any quibbles I had got tossed out the window. And Baker - hubby and I both had dust in our eyes.

  • Green Lantern

    The bright, shiny, CANDY-LIKE button!

  • SVR

    When I learned that Moffat was going to be doing the Time War, I was terrified, because I didn't want him to undo all of 9 and 10's runs. I find Moffat to frequently...snobbish? I guess, regarding his time on Who. His Doctor is best, he can rewrite canon (surprise regeneration!), etc., but I actually didn't think it was that bad. Part of that may be diminished expectations on my part as I don't really like Moffat's Who (Matt Smith's excellent performance not withstanding).

    I feel like Moffat isn't willing to go to the really dark places. I know that it's a kid's show, but children's entertainment doesn't need to be bright but shallow, and I feel that Davies (with all his flaws as a storyteller) understood that. Moffat just doesn't. So him rewriting the Time War so it wasn't so desperately sad didn't really shock me. But despite that, and despite my agreeing with you pretty much totally, when you add up the sum of everything it just worked for me in a way I wasn't expecting.

    The War Doctor was willing to push the button. 10 and 11 were too. They were still willing to take on all that loss and pain because it was the right thing to do -- or at least the best option they had in such morally fraught circumstances. That seemed true to character. I can watch 9 and 10 and still be satisfied that their stories are genuine and their pain is real. They were willing to destroy Gallifrey (and from 10 and 11's perspective that would've been the second time), and I'm glad that that characterization wasn't rewritten.

    I can give Moffat this happy ending because I think it opens up interesting stories for Capaldi's Doctor. I hope, however, that he will learn that sometimes you can't fix all the problems, and hard choices have to be made, and solutions sometimes come with costs. But for this particular episode and storyline, I can ignore those desires and be happy that 11 was able to get some peace.

    I really do wish he would've undone the War Doctor's existence though. It messes with the numbering in a way that annoys me.

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