“The Day of the Doctor”, the 50th anniversary special of the BBC’s “Doctor Who,” has just been simultaneously broadcast around the world and is scoring a cinema release today on around 1,500 screens across the globe.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD – DON’T READ UNTIL YOU’VE SEEN IT
While there were some great nods to the past, two major cameos, and some great multi-Doctor banter, the special was really about closing one chapter and beginning another.
In this case, the special wrapped up the Time War arc that began eight years ago with the show’s reboot in 2005. In the process, it solved some continuity issues whilst creating some more.
Amongst the great surprises: We got our first super brief glimpse of Peter Capaldi’s new Doctor, albeit only his eyes and forehead. Fourth Doctor Tom Baker made a welcome appearance as ‘The Curator’ in a great scene towards the end.
While Chris Eccleston turned down doing the special, we did glimpse John Hurt regenerating into the Ninth Doctor (though it cuts just before his face fully forms). This finally closes the loop, with every regeneration now having been done onscreen (though two-to-three technically remains offscreen too). It also sets in stone that Capaldi’s upcoming Doctor will be the character’s thirteenth (and final?) incarnation.
What’s surprising is that it also effectively sets up the story arc for Capaldi’s upcoming incarnation – The Doctor searching for his home. Gallifrey is no longer destroyed or time locked, rather it is safely tucked away in a pocket universe, lost somewhere in space and time. Capaldi’s Doctor will now have to find it – and you can probably bet that particular subplot will be drawn out over at least his first series which begins filming in January.
By changing events though, it certainly leaves some minor holes in pre-established continuity. The events in Tennant’s swan song “The End of Time” in particular seem a bit up in the air now, but The Time Lords return seems an eventuality and even The Master’s return is now a possibility.
It also completely forgot the situation that was left at the end of the season finale “The Name of the Doctor” where Clara and The Doctor were trapped inside the Doctor’s own collapsing time stream on Trenzalore. How in the world did they get out?
Judging by the first teaser trailer for the upcoming Christmas special, we may get the answer to that last question as the story is now shifting focus back to Smith’s Doctor and his ‘fall’ at Trenzalore.