50 Years of Time and Space: The Doctor Who Anniversary

**There will be spoilers in the article, so if you have not yet seen the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who yet, I would advise not reading this!**

DW50 BannerSaturday, November 23rd was a very important day for Whovians all around the world. Especially for myself. This was also the first time ever that Doctor Who was simultaneously broadcasted to over 75 countries all over the globe, as Doctor Who was celebrating its 50th anniversary.

To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from what was going to be one of the most important episodes in Doctor Who history. I was excited, of course, (even switched shifts with a co-worker so that I could have that day free), but at the same time I was nervous that my expectations were too high and that the episode wouldn’t be as amazing as I’d dreamt it would be.

For over a year, Whovians were speculating who would be in it and what the plot would be. How many Doctors will they bring back? Will we get to see Captain Jack? Former Companions? Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go to SDCC (San Diego Comic Con) but I, as well as many others, figured that fans attending the panel would leak the trailer or any bit of information giving us a taste of what we would expect from the 50th anniversary episode. Well, to give you an idea of what kind of loyalty this fan base has, not one video, still, or information was leaked anywhere. Fans at the panel were asked, or should I say pleaded not to tell anyone, and they kept their word. I was bummed out, but at the same time very proud of being in a fandom like that.

Smith & Tennant with their sonics held high.

Smith & Tennant with their sonics held high.

As November 23rd got closer, teasers were officially released from the BBC and fans went wild (I think the internet may have broke for a day) as it was definite that David Tennant would reprise his role as The Doctor once again after four years. I had a strong feeling that Tennant would come back (even before Tennant was The Doctor, he was always a massive Doctor Who fan), but I wasn’t sure, and I do enjoy Matt Smith as the Doctor, but David Tennant was my Doctor.

I was late to the Doctor Who community. It all started for me back in 2009, when I was living with some pretty awesome roommates. They always talked about this ‘Doctor Who’ show and what this ‘Doctor’ was up to. Feeling left out, I had asked about it, and was handed season 1 (the 2005 reboot). “Just watch.” my roommate had told me. Little did I know what I was just handed would change my life entirely. Like many others, I started with the episode ‘Rose’ and quickly fell in love from the start. Being that Eccleston was my first Doctor, I have a special place in my heart for him, and a little part of me died inside when I found out that Eccleston really wanted nothing more to do with Doctor Who, so, I knew he definitely wouldn’t take part in the 50th. When David Tennant took over in 2006, I took to him and he quickly became my Doctor. Now, I actually am a fan of Doctor Who and not JUST a Tennant fangirl so I’m not one of those “boo Matt Smith!” people. Doctor Who is always changing. It has been since 1963. If you can’t handle that, then you can’t really call yourself a true fan of the show itself. I think Matt Smith did a great job stepping into that role, but I was thrilled to see Tennant in the Tardis once again.

Paul McGann as the 8th Doctor in the 1996 movie.

Paul McGann as the 8th Doctor in the 1996 movie.

Another surprise that Whovians got before the 50th was a short video called The Night of The Doctor (not a trailer, but a prequel leading into the 50th) starring… PAUL MCGANN! For those of you who hadn’t seen any Who pre-Eccleston, Paul McGann was the 8th Doctor. He starred in the Doctor Who movie that was released in 1996, which was originally meant to be a soft-pilot for an American produced Doctor Who series. The canon of the 8th Doctor has been controversial for many years because of some of the odd changes made in this, most notably The Master proclaiming that the Doctor was evidently “half-human”, most people since have just ignored that it was ever uttered. Regardless, it’s a shame he only got one movie because I found him absolutely brilliant as The Doctor. So, it was a really nice surprise to see him reprise that role once again, especially since up until its release, McGann had been vehemently denying any involvement in the 50th Anniversary. We had seen from the teaser trailers that John Hurt would be the ‘War Doctor’ (pretty obviously being the Time War, which was mentioned numerous times throughout the run of the reboot).  The Night of the Doctor was a special treat for fans because we found out that McGann’s Doctor didn’t regenerate into Eccleston’s Doctor, he regenerated into John Hurt’s “War Doctor”!  You didn’t HAVE to see the prequel in order to watch The Day of the Doctor (the 50th anniversary episode), but it sure helped.

Matt Smith, David Tennant, and John Hurt in 'The Day of the Doctor'

Matt Smith, David Tennant, and John Hurt in ‘The Day of the Doctor’

Finally, the day had arrived. November 23rd 2013. 50 years exactly after the very first episode of Doctor Who had aired. Since it was a simultaneous broadcast from the UK, the episode would start at 2:50pm (normally we see Doctor Who episodes in the evening over here in the States). My original thought was to go to The Way Station, which is a Sci-Fi themed bar with a definite Doctor Who influence running through it (the bathroom is a Tardis!), over in Brooklyn,…seriously, every Whovian should check out that bar at some point. However, logically I knew that as fun as it would be to watch with a massive amount of fans, I would have to get there hours ahead of time to even get in the bar. Instead, my boyfriend (who is also a massive Whovian) and I hosted a small party at our place. We even had fish fingers & custard! Okay, well, not really fish fingers & custard, we had french toast sticks and vanilla pudding (close enough, right?). Our friends settled in and an image popped up on BBC America ‘Please Stay Tuned for A Global Simultaneous Broadcast’.

Within the first few seconds it was already exciting. They had used the classic Doctor Who opening, and as there was a person’s shadow shown walking by a building, it appeared to be the shadow of William Hartnell (who was the very first Doctor). It was a nice nod. There was also a few other easter eggs right in the beginning, and throughout the entire episodes.

I won’t give you play-by-play of The Day of The Doctor, but I will discuss some ‘squee’ worthy moments.

  1. DAVID TENNANT. As if that wasn’t obvious. Just as handsome, brilliant, and funny as he was when he was the official Doctor. His opening scene was him & Queen Elizabeth I bursting out of the Tardis doors on a familiar horse. This subplot also explained why she wanted Ten’s head in ‘The Shakespeare Code’.
  2. ZYGONS. Another touch of classic Who as we haven’t seen these creepy creatures in years. The Zygons can ‘copy’ and disguise themselves as humans.
  3. ROSE TYLER. Okay, not the “real” Rose Tyler. It was ‘The Moment’ (a piece of Time Lord technology that we find out The Doctor had used to destroy Gallifrey in the Time War when the entire planet was suffering). The Moment had developed a conscience of its own over time, and had itself appear to The Doctor as ‘Bad Wolf’. I was sad that it wasn’t the real Rose, but it was exciting to see Billie Piper in Who again.
  4. THE TIME WAR. We got to actually SEE chunks of the infamous Time War. Seeing clips of it was both sad and exciting. There was also a beautiful scene between the three Doctors putting themselves on Gallifrey during the Time War in order to “break” into The Black Archive.
  5. DALEKS. Of course. You may be sick of them, but I will never be. I love the Daleks. They weren’t a huge part of the story since they were only shown in the clips of the Time War scenes, but there probably would be no Doctor Who without these villains.
  6. PETER MOTHER F**KING CAPALDI.  I didn’t actually think I would get THIS excited over a Doctor that hasn’t even been a Doctor yet. Earlier this year it was announced that Peter Capaldi would take over from Matt Smith as the 12th Doctor. Right from the start I was rooting him on, and I cannot WAIT until he takes over the Tardis. We didn’t get to see him in his actual Tardis, or his full outfit, but we got to see a small clip of his eyes glaring at us during my favorite scene in this entire episode. When I saw The Day of the Doctor on the big screen on that following monday, the entire theater cheered when Capaldi appeared. Clearly, I’m not the only one anticipating his arrival.
  7. THE 13 TARDIS’ (and Doctors). My absolute favorite scene in The Day of the Doctor. I was brought to tears. The War Doctor, 10, and 11 worked out how to stop the war without burning Gallifrey. As the three Doctors are explaining their plan to the Time Lords in charge, these Time Lords find it impossible to see their plan working. Eleven, however, assures them that he’s been planing this for a “very, very long time” as images start to appear of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd.. etc. Doctors (I’m actually starting to well up as I’m writing this) pressing buttons on their Tardis’ and all working together to help their home planet. It was amazing that they were able to put every Doctor in the 50th anniversary. Although Eccleston’s clip was recycled from a previous episode of his, my boyfriend still screamed with excitement.
  8. TEN’S FINAL WORDS. The. same. words. “I don’t wan’t to go.”
  9. TOM BAKER. A perfect ending. Tom Baker as the Curator as.. The Doctor? We’re not 100% sure here if he was, but it was leaning towards yes judging by the conversation between him and 11. It was a very sweet moment and I know classic fans were tearing up all around the world.  Nerd-Base founder Christopher’s Doctor is Tom Baker and he definitely cried during this scene. He’s not ashamed to admit it.

    Tom Baker and Matt Smith in The Day of the Doctor.

    Tom Baker and Matt Smith in The Day of the Doctor.

  10. LOST REGENERATIONS. We finally get to see not only the regeneration of the 8th, but the “birth” of the 9th! (Look closely and you can see Eccleston’s eyes!)
  11. GALLIFREY! Watch it. You’ll understand.

I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect episode. So far I’ve seen it three times (and cried three times), including once on the big screen amongst a packed theater full of die hard Whovians. A lot of Doctor Who fans that I’ve talked to, both fans of classic and new Who loved The Day of the Doctor as well.  Jenna Coleman did an excellent job as Clara. I’m quite a fan of Clara, and she did play a major role in this amazing episode; I cannot wait to see more of this clever, fun companion! John Hurt was brilliant (although now the numbers are a bit wacky… I don’t even want to think about it…it hurts my head). Tennant and Smith had excellent chemistry throughout the episode with fun banter (which is a nod to previous multi-Doctor specials) and touching moments. Bravo to show runner Steven Moffat, and those who all took part in making the 50th anniversary fantastic; touching Whovians’ hearts all around the world.

Here’s to another 50 years!


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