There is no way in hell this episode could have been perfect for me. The only way it could is if we got to see both Christopher Eccleston and Paul McGann involved in the actual plot instead of in stock footage (and in McGann's case a 6 minute short on YouTube). We would have seen the full scope of the Time War, with the various planets it affected by such a disastrous conflict. We would have gotten to know the people of Gallifrey who were going to be burned to death by the Doctor's use of The Moment. We would have gotten to see the scope of the Doctor Who universe laid bare, with time and space and alternate dimensions and all life engulfed in it. And, most importantly for me, we would have gotten one scene: the Ninth Doctor, the character who got me to be a fan of the franchise, my Doctor, weep with joy at the sight of Gallifrey finally being saved after all this time, seeing his greatest torment undone.
That would have made it the perfect episode. As it stands, the episode is really, really, really, really
REALLY, REALLY FREAKIN' GREAT!!!
|My reaction by the end of the episode|
First, let's get all the bad out of the way. Like I said before, showrunner Steven Moffat seems to really like screwing with the space-time continuum for his big events from the time compression of the Series 5 and 6 finales to people just going through the Doctor's timeline at the end of series 7. They don't always work, (see the cluster%$#* of concepts you thought were cool in grade school that was "The Wedding of River Song" for proof of that), but I will say this is the closest Moffat has ever gotten to recapturing the greatness of the one-two punch of "The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang".
Clara Oswald is... well, she's there. I haven't had the greatest fondness for Clara the mystery girl, but at least here, like in "Cold War" and "Rings of Akhaten" we ignore that in favor of focusing on here innate need to help people. Love to see more from her character, especially here where she gets shoved into the basically inconsequential Zygon plot. I don't blame Jenna-Louise Coleman for any of her character's failing in series 7B since she seems to be written so sparsely instead of the actress just not having the chops to pull it off.
Speaking of the Zygons, while it was nice to see Kate Stewart and UNIT again, the Zygons attempting an invasion through stasis-paintings seems a bit unimportant with the sight of the Daleks (my personal favorite villainous alien species) invading Gallifrey on the last day of the Time War. I do hope to see them again in future episodes as they're interestingly designed creatures. And I've got to admit, the stasis-paintings plot is one of the more interesting ways t accomplish world conquest I've seen in a while. It's like the "aliens have been in sleeping all along", only the sleep and awakening is deliberate.
|Reverse the reverse of the polarity|
|The Doctor for the day it wasn't possible to get it right|
"Then that's your punishment. You'll survive this."
Chilled me when I first say it, despite the fact they were in the desert.
Did I mention the production is absolutely beautiful? Because it is bea-u-ti-fil! Almost everything to do with Gallifrey is some sort of autumn-colored modernization of it 80's Flash Gordon aesthetic, with reds and golds pervading throughout. While I personally would have loved to see the other chapter of Time Lord society and possibly even the Outsiders, it was still a beautiful sight to behold. The sections of the special taking place during the rule of Queen Elisabeth I are also very well done and well costumed. Even in the modern setting, the hi-def modernism of the UNIT sections looked good, if only because it looked like a more high-budget TV series. And the Zygons are gorgeously represented here, bringing a unique looking monster from the old series to the 21st century.
|The Horror of Tentacles|
So now let's go with no organic transition to the big one: the salvation of Gallifrey. Throughout this special the destruction of Gallifrey is a foregone conclusion. It is something that is going to happen, and absolutely no one will be able to stop it. But today is The Day of the Doctor, and if there's one thing any version of the Doctor can do, it's pull of the impossible. And so he does. Thanks to gathering every incarnation he has (including the piercing gaze of Peter Capaldi's Twelfth) freeze Gallifrey in time and hide in another dimension. That's right, Gallifrey is alive and there's a chance it'll come back.
This is a concept I freakin' loooooove. It's something I've wanted to see since the overstuffed End of Time. Finally, the Doctor can truly let go of the guilt he's had over the death of his own people. The burden of his entire revival series existence has become a victory. What was impossible becoming all too real. Certain death made into a chance at life. Such is the nature of the Doctor. Gallifrey will live. And maybe, just maybe, she can rise again.
And this is why I love The Day of the Doctor. It celebrates the 50th anniversary in style. It was obviously a labor of love, with almost every bit of love on screen. It's about as close to perfect an anniversary story as we're probably going to get in this era. So I congratulate you, Doctor Who. Here's to another fifty years.