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Doctor Who: Fiftieth Anniversary Special - The Day of the Doctor

December 4th, 2013 (05:11 am)

I've finally written up my review of The Day of the Doctor and it's been posted at The Doctor Who News Page's reviews section at the link below.

Soufflé, meringue or reinforced concrete? Time War, Gulf War, banking crashes and horrible history

Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/2013/12/04/the-day-of-the-doctor-review.html.


Posted by: Phlebas (phlebas)
Posted at: December 4th, 2013 10:04 am (UTC)

Interesting thoughts - thanks for that. The hut-as-TARDIS parallel hadn't occurred to me - will pay more attention on rewatching!
As to the prettier sister - I rather thought she might be an identical twin with more confidence and no asthma.

Edited at 2013-12-04 10:26 am (UTC)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 4th, 2013 12:18 pm (UTC)

Thanks - and that's a thought!

Posted by: sensiblecat (sensiblecat)
Posted at: December 4th, 2013 11:04 am (UTC)
regrets and forgets

Very much enjoyed this review; I was anticipating it eagerly since I suspected that, as an historian, you'd have an interesting view on the "rewriting history" part of the plot.

A couple of thoughts on the Zygons and contemporary British politics. I've noticed several times in rebooted-DW that alien races displaced by the Time War have covertly or overtly settled on Earth - and more specifically, in London. In fact, it happened with the Autons in "Rose". The motif of them hiding from the general population in plain sight, assuming their form, reaches something of a culmination here, with the Doctor literally making the negotiating humans and Zygons indistinguishable, even to each other. I was wondering what your thoughts are on this possibly reflecting current British thoughts on immigration as we await a perceived overwhelming flood of Eastern Europeans? It's something I've not seen addressed at all in DW criticism, yet it's very reminiscent of the way DW used to reflect contemporary postcolonial anxieties in the 1970s.

One small piece of fannish nitpicking - the fall of Arcadia was first referenced in "Doomsday" when the Tenth Doctor tells the Daleks, "I was there. Might even come to terms with that one day." Another example of SM fulfilling a prophecy first articulated by RTD, maybe?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 4th, 2013 12:28 pm (UTC)

I'd not thought of the Zygons in those terms, though had (and not made room for) the connection with the Autons and to some extent the Gelth. I was going to take it in a different direction, suggesting that this was a last hurrah for a signature trope of the ninth Doctor's era while reflecting on the broadcast proximity of Genesis of the Daleks - the first shot in the Time War - to Terror of the Zygons, which gains an additional resonance from this line, but I think you are right to raise it.

I didn't give enough space to the relation of The Day of the Doctor to contemporary concerns, on the whole.

Thanks for the Doomsday correction. I'd mentally misplaced the line. I plead late nights writing this!

Posted by: Lady Summerisle (strange_complex)
Posted at: December 4th, 2013 02:33 pm (UTC)
Doctor Who anniversary

I've just enjoyed a good read of this over lunch. I particularly liked your political reading of the shift from Elizabeth I to Kate + juniors, and of one Doctor's decision to three's, in terms of monarchy vs. pluralism. Also the idea of the thirteen Doctors standing together at the end as an explicit nod to licensed action figures.

I'd say that the relationship between the Doctor and the British monarchy in New Who is already more than minor before The Beast Below, though, given his dealings with Victoria in Tooth and Claw.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 4th, 2013 02:39 pm (UTC)

Good point about Tooth and Claw. It's a story I tend to blank out because I find too much of it very difficult to watch - I'm not attuned to its portrayal of Queen Victoria or the assumptions behind it, whereas Moffat's depiction of royalty seems to be part of a tradition which chimes with me emotionally.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: December 4th, 2013 04:21 pm (UTC)

Was it The Sensorites where the Doctor claimed to have thrown a parson’s nose at Henry VIII so he would get sent to the Tower, and to the TARDIS, which had landed there? Not entirely dissimilar to what happens here. Incidentally, Elizabeth I has now appeared in three different stories played by three different actors – is she a Time Lord? (The Rani???!!!) Also worth noting that the Tudors were a Welsh dynasty, given the current centre of production.

I suspect we didn’t see the human-Zygon peace treaty because anything mutually acceptable would have been improbable for the characters and/or removed this version of contemporary Earth too far from our own for the sake of verisimilitude in future stories (e.g. a legal Zygon colony in Scottish highlands, Zygon commuters on the Tube). Not the first time a Doctor Who author has painted himself into a corner, but here the shift of focus to the Time War and the coup de television of the thirteen Doctors united provided ample distraction, not unlike a successful magic trick.

I’ve never bought the ‘companions = weapons’ equation and still don’t, nor the ‘Doctor = weapon’ one.

I agree that the gaps are a key part of Doctor Who. Painting on a canvas so vast on a BBC budget, even a contemporary one, there will always be gaps to be filled, and every attempt to fill them merely opens the way for new stories, on and off-screen.

a sage who talks in riddles but offers hope that even after fifty or twelve hundred years it's far from being all over

Would that be the fourth Doctor or Tom Baker?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 4th, 2013 04:24 pm (UTC)
Hartnell words

Aargh! How could I have forgotten the parson's nose story in The Sensorites? I will hand in my Doctor Who historian card at the door.

Posted by: kaffyr (kaffyr)
Posted at: December 9th, 2013 03:36 am (UTC)
Big threatening button

This is one of the best reviews I've yet seen for "Day of the Doctor." Congratulations on a dense and well-thought out meditation on the show!

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 9th, 2013 12:20 pm (UTC)

Thanks! It took far longer than I expected to write, and there are many points which I could have considered but which didn't occur to me... but overall it's been well-received and I'm pleased with it. It's the writer and director, cast and crew who provided the density; I just unpicked!