Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Review: “”The Day of the Doctor”


November 23, 2013 will forever be remembered as one of television’s biggest events as the world was glued to their television screens (as well as in several theatres) to the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who.

Only one word can describe this extraordinary celebration and that word is “epic” as it captured so much of what the show has always been about as well as the Doctor himself.

One of the episode’s most fantastic elements was without doubt the interaction with all three Doctors. The casting of John Hurt for “The War Doctor” was a perfect casting job. When it was announced that Hurt had been cast in the 50th anniversary, it was difficult to imagine what to expect from the actor since no one knew who he was playing.

When the 7th series finale “The Name of the Doctor” revealed that he was some version of the Doctor, it got more intriguing, especially after it was confirmed that he was playing “The War Doctor”. Just like every other actor on this show, he made this specific Doctor his own as he brought an incredibly compelling performance to this character. His arc was beautifully done and while it was sad to learn that he wouldn’t remember any of this, seeing his regeneration into the 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) was a nice conclusion.

The deep moments he had with Billie Piper as The Moment in the form of Rose Tyler/Bad Wolf, was incredibly moving. On the subject of Piper, the way she returned was perhaps a big shock to a lot of people who had hoped as well expected her to return as Rose and interact with the 10th and 11th Doctors. It was however understandable why they did it that way since they didn’t want to interfere with Rose’s story. The way she performed this character felt right since she was the first companion of the 2005 series and to have “The Moment” in the form of her was a respectful tribute.

It can’t be stressed enough how entertaining and beautiful it was to see Matt Smith’s Doctor interact with David Tennant’s Doctor. This will without doubt be forever remembered as one of the show’s highlights by the fans. They had fantastic chemistry and whether their scenes were emotional, comedic or intense, every scene they had together was a joy to watch. Despite playing the same character, it was still fascinating to see what they presented to each other throughout the whole anniversary, along with Hurt’s Doctor.

The 11th Doctor had gone through a lot of pain in the seventh series and to see how the 10th Doctor reacted when hearing that the 11th had forgotten about the 2.47 billion that died when Gallifrey were destroyed, was moving. It explained how far this doctor has come and how dark he has become.

Jenna Louise-Coleman’s Clara deserved a big hand of applaud as she, surrounded by three doctors, brought a strong performance to the companion in the situation she was in. Seeing once again her influence on the 11th reminded the viewers of the special moments from her first episodes in series 7.

Doctor Who has always been good at delivering jaw-dropping moments, but the ones the 50th anniversary had was bigger than so many other moments that has been seen. While it was expected, the way that they brought all the Doctors was mind-blowing because who would have ever expected that all of them would come together in order to save Gallifrey? The biggest twist was that it wasn’t 12 Doctors who helped placing Gallifrey in a pocket-universe, it was 13 as Peter Capaldi’s upcoming Doctor appeared as well.

Throughout “The Day of the Doctor”, several visual Easter eggs and tributes were seen, even the opening credits which was done in a classic way and it was definitely suitable for the anniversary. Objects such as Captain Jack Harkness’s (John Barrowman) vortex manipulator, the 4th Doctor’s famous scarf and the Fez, was seen and that was another great way to say “Thank You” to the fans.

While the wait was long and there was so much that they wouldn’t tell in advance, it was all worth it. This couldn’t have been an easy script to write for head writer and show-runner Steven Moffat, but he did it. Moffat’s choice to go back to the Time War was a genius decision for this special episode. While not much can be said about the Zygons, they were definitely intriguing as villains, especially through the view of someone who has never seen them before.

Director Nick Hurran didn’t just direct a television episode, he made this special moment feel like a movie. Along with Moffat’s powerful script, Hurran did an outstanding job for one of the series’ most imperative events. The score for “The Day of the Doctor” by Murray Gold was splendid and hopefully this score will be released soon as it would make as an amazing Christmas gift.

One has to wonder if the search for Gallifrey will be the storyline for Capaldi’s Doctor. The special cameo appearance by Tom Baker (The 4th Doctor) as the Curator may have hinted on that when talking about the Time Lord painting “Gallifrey Falls No More”.

The decision to change the status of Gallifrey can be seen in different ways, but this felt right as it does set a new seed within the show. Seeing how the 11th spoke about it in the final sequence when all the Doctors are seen together was a nice way to conclude the anniversary.

“The Day of the Doctor” went beyond the expectations as it did what it was supposed to do, which was celebrating 50 years of the world’s most popular Doctor. The entire cast brought outstanding and shining performances based on the beautiful story that Moffat put together.

Doctor Who will return for its Christmas Special which will feature the last appearance of Matt Smith, in December 2013.

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Andy has contributed to sites such as KSiteTV,and It's Just Movies. While working as a TV Critic for TVOvermind, he is also a podcaster and podcast producer for as well as a moderator of and Andy is also the founder/owner/editor in chief of He has always had a big passion for writing and analyzing superhero, fantasy and sci-fi television. Follow him on Twitter @AndyBehbakht
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