The evening of the Doctor

The day finally came and went: we went to see “The Day of the Doctor” in 3D in the movie theater! It was a long wait, and it was completely worth it.

Warning: Spoilers! Don’t read more if you don’t want to get spoiled.

I went in costume as the Fifth Doctor; my husband unfortunately was unable to wear his Fourth Doctor costume, and I think he now regrets it in hindsight. We arrived at the theater an hour early, and had to wait in line, as the theater didn’t let us in until half an hour before the start. There weren’t too many cosplayers there, and most of them were dressed as the Eleventh Doctor: there was one Tenth Doctor, one TARDIS (completely with a light on her head), a couple of the dolls from Night Terrors, and a few people with partial costumes (for example, Tenth Doctor-like suit jacket over a Doctor Who t-shirt). The only classic Doctor was me, and it was quite gratifying to hear people saying to each other, “Oh, look, it’s Peter Davison!!” I did get in on a group picture with the TARDIS, the Tenth Doctor, and one of the Eleventh Doctors, and one of the picture-takers promised to email me a copy.

Probably one of the coolest things about the entire night, though, was simply watching “The Day of the Doctor” on the big screen in a group of fans. The energy in the atmosphere was tangible, and there is nothing like a room of 300 people who share your interests and are laughing and clapping together. The applause that broke out when the Ninth Doctor appeared on the screen was exhilirating. I wish that Mr. Eccleston could have seen it, so that he would know how much we loved his Doctor and wish that he would ever return for events like these. The appearance of the Twelfth Doctor also caused an eruption of applause and screams. The Christmas special can’t come soon enough.

But, to the show itself. It was brilliant. Steven Moffat managed to pull together all the things that an anniversary special needs to have: a coherent plot that isn’t too convoluted, more than one popular Doctor, great interaction between the principals, references and in-jokes for the fans, and a resolution that depends on the current Doctor (rather than on one of the guest Doctors, as it happened in “The Five Doctors”). The show was fun and exciting. Added to this was a taste of things to come, the intimation that the Doctor now has a quest, which pulls the show into the future.

We all knew, going into the episode, that it was going to be dealing with some pretty serious stuff. Eleven, in the previous episode, “The Name of the Doctor,” did not want to face the memory of the War Doctor, and certainly seemed to have succeeded in forgetting about him again by the beginning of the special. However, right after the wonderful black-and-white opening and the school sign with Ian Chesterton’s name boldly displayed, the atmosphere is set: this is still a Doctor Who episode and we know it will sparkle with humor and clever dialogue. The tormented War Doctor is introduced, and the Moment, and then a fez falls at their feet. Where did that come from? We’re shown where, because it’s all a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey film-making. The three Doctors together get into scrapes and find solutions in typical Doctor fashion – leaps of logic and manipulation of time. Just that much would make a good regular episode.

And then the main conflict: can the War Doctor do what he needs to do to end the Time War? He does, but not how you expect it to happen, as Clara inspires the Doctors to find another solution, a solution that requires assistance from all of the Doctor’s incarnations, and the thirteen of them (yes, thirteen!) appear to enact the plan, and Gallifrey stands.

There are a few bits of the episode that didn’t work for me, but I’m not going to nitpick them here, and anyway, in any story, there are things to nitpick, but they don’t necessarily ruin it. “The Day of the Doctor” succeeded in all of the things that make Doctor Who fantastic, and enjoying it on the big screen with a crowd of fellow fans was definitely the way to go.

Happy 50th, Doctor Who! Thanks for everything!

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