First off, the episode opened with the original black and white opening from the series inception, which is a perfect thing to do for the 50th Anniversary. Second, David Tennant is back and he is better than ever! His brilliant performance in the episode makes me wish he had never left or that we could see more of him somehow. The Day of the Doctor is like a Doctor Who episode on a theatrical budget and the episode was even released in select theaters, in 3D no less. It is basically a movie in both scale and entertainment, and it is better than most of the ones I have seen this year. The Day of the Doctor hit every note from the emotional to the comical, and if you are a fan of the series, you will at least find something to like. What I did enjoy is that the episode did not go for an all out style over substance with the larger budget. But instead, it focuses on what makes the Doctor tick, and why he acts the way he does. Both Tennant and Smith's incarnation of the Doctor are developed and the reasons they act the way they do is revealed and explained. He is a literal "Madman in a Box" because of the inner struggle of trying to forget all of the billions he has murdered to save the universe. This is one of the few times that we get to know more about the Doctor's character as he reflects about his past and future selves. It is basically a character study of the Doctor, which is fantastic.
John Hurt's incarnation of the Doctor, or "War-Doctor" is rather excellent. His performance was incredibly strong in the role and portrayed the Doctor's conflict perfectly. He is the embodiment of every angry classic Who "fanboy," which makes for rather amusing scenes when he berates his future selves for their "wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey" sayings.
One of the best parts of the episode was when all of the Doctors came to save Gallifrey from its ultimate demise. I literally had chills during that scene and seeing all of the Doctors, both new and old, was absolutely "Fantastic!"
What turned out to be a pleasant surprise is what was not in the episode, rather than what was in it. Thankfully, River did not make an appearance, and while I like the character for the most part, the more I see her, the less I like her. Since "The Wedding of River Song," my patience with the character was wearing thin. Additionally, Captain Jack, Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax, fortunately did not make an appearance, and I was even glad that the other companion did not appear in the episode, since they would only distract from the focus, The Doctor(s). However, having Clara along was great and, as before, I loved her character.
Despite how much I loved the episode, I do have a few minor flaws. The first of which being the Zygons. They were decent enemies and a cool callback to the classic era, but why are they the antagonists of the 50th Anniversary special? Overall, they served their purpose of driving the plot forward. My other minor problem is the "Zygon" leaving the door unlocked was a little too silly for its own good, especially after the Doctors figure out how to make the calculation to disintegrate it, which sets up the final scene perfectly. My last problem are the few plot holes, like what happened to the rest of the Daleks if "The Moment" did not destroy them? Although, if the moment did destroy all of them the first time, how were there still Daleks for the Doctor during the series?
Now for the references and cameos. First off, we have the Osgood woman wearing a scarf that is obvious a reference to Tom Baker's Doctor and Smith even comments, "Nice scarf." Peter Capaldi makes a surprising appearance in the episode. As for Capaldi's future Doctor, I am extremely optimistic and look forward to seeing an older Doctor. As Tennant is leaving he says, "I don't want to go," and Smith tells Clara, "He always says that," which made me laugh hysterically! But the best part in terms of references has to be Tom Baker at the end as the "The Curator." Of course there were other references and such, but there are far too many to mention here.
The Good: David Tennant returns!, Moving story, Great sense of humor, Unexpected cameos, John Hurt is an amazing Doctor, Balances humor and story effectively, References to both Classic and NuWho, Billie Piper gave a delightful performance, Less is more, Meta-humor, Just about everything, Smith and Tennant playing off each other, Fan-service abound, Impressive special effects, Deeper study of the Doctor's character,
Plot: 10/10- While there are some logical flaws, as mentioned above, the story gets it right where it is important, the characters, specifically, the Doctor in all of his incarnations. The reasons why the Doctor is the way he is and how he has changed since ending the Time War is studied in depth. The dialogue is snappy, witty, and often hilarious! Clara was used well, being the only companion to truly be apart of the episode, however she never overshadowed the Doctor(s). Some of the events of "The Name of Doctor" were left unanswered, however we will probably receive our answers in the Christmas special.
Action: 8.2/10- The battle on Gallifrey is quite impressive considering that Doctor Who is usually on a television budget. While there is some typical running around action that we come to expect from Doctor Who, the episode is fortunately more about the characters and less about the spectacle.
Acting: 10/10- David Tennant was fantastic as the Doctor again! He might have been even better than before. Matt Smith is reliably funny and clever as always giving a perfect performance. John Hurt gave a surprisingly fun and strong performance as the "War-Doctor." Billie Piper's performance was delightfully zany and fun as the mysterious "Moment." Joanna Page as Queen Elizabeth I was noticeably weaker than the rest of the cast. For such an iconic historical figure, a better actress should have been chosen. However, the rest of the cast was fine.
Special effects: 10/10- Compared to any other Doctor Who episode, the special effects are stunning and high quality. While not always on par with theatrical films, the effects are rendered very well.
Soundtrack: 10/10- Doctor Who's soundtracks are always amazing, but The Day of the Doctor featured some memorable tracks that I cannot wait to be released on their own. Also, opening the episode with the classic Doctor Who opening was positively brilliant! If anyone knows where I can listen to the soundtrack, please let me know.
Comedy: 10/10- The Day of the Doctor featured many hilarious jokes, inside references, and all around witty and humorous dialogue. Everything was spot on perfect in terms of humor, and never did a joke fall flat.
Would I Watch This Again: While I do not normally rewatch episodes of anything, The Day of the Doctor is an exception to rule because I have rewatched it and will certainly watch and rewatch it many more times.
Overall: 10/10- As a fan of Doctor Who, giving The Day of the Doctor a non-bias rating is nearly impossible, however it completely exceeded all of my expectations for the film/episode and it makes me hopeful for what is to come.
Closing comments: If you are a Doctor Who fan, chances are you have already seen it, if not, what are you waiting for!?
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