I may not have watched much of ‘classic’ Doctor Who; but when those black and white, psychedelic opening credits from the very first series came on screen, I squealed. Or at least, I jiggled around in excitement. Trying not to disturb people in the cinema during the Doctor Who 50th anniversary is difficult when you’ve been watching it for the majority of your childhood.
Especially when you’re watching an episode that’s just that good.
Personally, I’m conflicted about Steven Moffat. He’s written some of the best and worst episodes of Doctor Who- so I tried to hold back my excitement for the 50th anniversary. Build up anything too much and you’re bound to be disappointed, and with Moffat as writer, I had my own qualms. But it turns out I had no cause to worry. This episode catered for every doctor who fan- the New Who fans, the Classic Who fans, the ones who’d never watched an episode in their life, the kids with their sonic screwdriver toys, and… the adults with their sonic screw driver toys… and 4th Doctor scarves… and fezzes…
Every moment of the 1 hour, 16 minutes and 36 seconds was joyous. From the first minute- set in the school where the Doctor’s first two companions were teachers- to the final shot of the thirteen Doctors, side by side, looking up in hopeful disbelief at their saved, home planet, I was speechless. I’m not even sure if I was breathing for most of it.
It has to be said that there are a few things I’d like cleared up- for instance, how did the Doctor find Clara, after she’d become lost inside his timeline in ‘The Name of the Doctor’? And how did John Hurt’s, David Tennant’s and Matt Smith’s Doctors contact the previous Doctors? These things are frustrating, but I think I’d prefer to let them pass- for the sake of creative licence. Because I don’t think that everything should be explained in Doctor Who. I believe some plot points should be left open, should be confusing- because the point of Doctor Who is the miraculous, the unimaginable, and sometimes, the inexplicable. Some people might say this is a way of conveniently covering plot holes- I say that this is integral to Doctor Who, when used appropriately.
The 50th captured the heart and soul of Doctor Who. It was fast paced, bewildering, but easy for everyone to follow (something the show hasn’t always succeeded in doing). It had the same, endearing, British silliness that all fans know and love- the three Doctor’s nicknames for each other, ‘Chinny’, ‘Sandshoes’ and ‘Grandpa’, and their relationship in general was satisfyingly heart warming. But as Moffat is accustomed to provide, there was a healthy dose of slow motion, seat clenching excitement- I loved the image of the three Doctor’s, each scarred by their past and future decisions, standing in a battle field frozen in time, filled with the Gallifreyans which they are destined to kill.
I would have liked to have seen some more context for the Time War, perhaps a little more of the war itself. But I think it worked perfectly without it, and now that the truth of the Doctor’s role in the war has been revealed, it’s a subject the writers can bring up in later series. In the end, I think Moffat paid a perfect homage to Doctor Who- it’s left a dazzling mark in the 50 year history of the show. Now that the Doctor has reached a point of hope for himself and his people after 400 years of guilt, I think the fans can feel equally hopeful for the future of the show. Here’s to hoping not too many more people die next series.
All images sourced from Pinterest and compiled by Lori Anderson.