Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor

This, folks, is the big moment. The reckoning.

“The Day of the Doctor”, the film-length 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who, written by the deeply passionate and idiosyncratic showrunner Steven Moffat, who had really lost his golden touch when it came to his mixture of horror, comedy, and emotional drama since the beginning of the season.

This had the potential to be horrible. Not only did the big hook of the episode – introducing a “Forgotten regeneration” of the Doctor played by the legendary John Hurt – irrevocably retcon the last decade of the show, but the episode would be about the Last Great Time War, the mind-bending universal holocaust which Moffat’s predecessor adamantly stated they “could never show on screen”, because how do you show a war fought with time as a weapon, in boring old causal 3-dimensional space?

And yet, I thought it was good. No, I absolutely loved it. And initially, I wasn’t quite sure why, but after some thought I think I’ve figured it out:

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Doctor Who: The Name of the Doctor

Those of you who keep up with my Doctor Who reviews are probably rolling your eyes at this point. “Yeah, we know that this guy has serious issues with the direction Steven Moffat is taking the series. We get it.” Well, that’s the thing. Though I only review the key episodes of the show, there were quite a few parts of the 2013 season I really enjoyed.

“The Rings of Akhaten” had some interesting character stuff in it as well as some nice higher sci-fi concepts, and “Nightmare in Silver” shows us that whatever issues I may have with it, Who is probably the closest modern equivalent we have to those groundbreaking ‘60s shows like Star Trek and The Twilight Zone – a show where respected sci-fi writers can just drop in to write episodes every now and again (John Scalzi, you listening? We know you’re a Whovian who has experience with writing dumb TV shows).

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Doctor Who: The Bells of Saint John

Well, let’s plunge ourselves back into the unpredictable rip current of Doctor Who. Now, I bashed the previous episode, 2012 christmas special “The Snowmen”, because it had a dumb plot and an inconsistent tone. At the time, though, I was pretty happy with it. The point of the episode was to introduce a new companion, and it did so pretty well: We got to know the compassionate teacher and lady-out-of-time Clara Oswald. Though she seemed a little generic, I was looking forward to future episodes fleshing her out and establishing her as something other than another tiresome “Most important person in the universe, with a love-hate relationship with the Doctor” companion.

Well, here we are at the season premiere (I’m not going to split hairs with Brit vs. American terms, or with the wonky series division the BBC has – the run of episodes from now until “Time of the Doctor” is the 2013 season for me). Let’s see how things pan out, and whether promoted internet weird guy Stephen Moffat can work his customary magic to restore my faith and fandom in the show.

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Doctor Who: The Snowmen

yearlatesnowmen

Things like last year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, “The Snowmen” are the reason this site exists: When I first saw it, I thought it was a decent episode – that its main flaw was that it relied too much on setting up questions to be answered in later episodes, but I was eager to see those questions resolved all the same.

Now, armed with the knowledge given to me by this past year of Doctor Who, I can make a more definite appraisal of this episode, and thus I can safely say that I really don’t like it.

In many ways, it typifies writer and showrunner Steven Moffat’s approach to the show, of late – we get armfuls of banter, grand spectacles filled with raw emotion and theatrical symbolism, goons with creepy faces, recognizable references to the classic series… but it’s all done without any sense or consistency, and so quite a lot of it just doesn’t work for me.

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Doctor Who: The Power of Three

“Invasion of the very bad mystery story…”

Well then, Doctor Who, the venerable British sci-fi television show. I’ll put my All-Star Superman hat on to introduce it…

Powerful aliens. Blue box. Horrible war. Human friends. Doctor Who! (more…)