The Doctors embark on their greatest adventure in this 50th anniversary special. In 2013 something terrible is awakening in London's National Gallery; in 1562 a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion. All of reality is at stake as the Doctor's own dangerous past comes back to haunt him. Starring: Matt Smith David Tennant and Jenna Coleman with Billie Piper and John Hurt. This must-have DVD contains the eagerly anticipated feature length anniversary episode the explosive Night... of the Doctor starring Paul McGann and much more! [show more]
Doctor Who is one of the few TV shows that can legitimately be classed as a British Institution. It's no surprise, then, that the BBC pulled out all the stops for the programme's 50th anniversary in November last year, with a host of programming that revolved around the series.
The centrepiece of the celebration was this special 75-minute episode, which saw the latest incarnation of the Doctor, the Eleventh (Matt Smith), united with his predecessor, the Tenth (David Tennant) - as well as a hitherto unrevealed Doctor from the past, played by John Hurt - through the medium of time-travel to solve a conflict of universe-shattering proportions. And the result is a dizzying, dazzling, supremely entertaining slice of family-friendly sci-fi that should put a smile on even the grumpiest face.
Involving otherworldly paintings that are bigger on the inside, shape-shifting aliens bent on global domination, a world-destroying weapon with a mind of its own and a guest-appearance from none other than Queen Elizabeth I, the plot of Day of the Doctor isn't one that's easy to sum up in a sentence. And that's without even touching on the fact that this special story finally offers up some details regarding the "Time War", an enigmatic conflict from the Doctor's past that was introduced when the show was relaunched back in 2005, but which has never been fully explained.
But really, all of that is just the backdrop for the fun shenanigans of a traditional multi-Doctor storyline that allows different versions of the character to play off each other. And although it takes a while for the story to manoeuvre them into one place, once Smith and Tennant get together, the comedic sparks really start to fly. Their interactions (sometimes irritable; sometimes self-regarding; sometimes chummy; sometimes ingenious) are hugely fun to watch, and frankly if there's any criticism of this episode it's that it moves so quickly that there just isn't enough time to spend watching these two actors sparring with each other so good-naturedly.
Because no sooner do Smith and Tennant get together than yet another Doctor - the "War Doctor" (played by Hurt, and established as the never-before-seen immediate predecessor to Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor - are you keeping up?) - crashes the party, with an altogether more stern personality and a serious problem that requires more than one Doctor to solve. Veteran actor Hurt is as fantastic as you'd expect, upbraiding his successors for their childish antics and demonstrating a more tortured mindset and hardened exterior than we're used to from the modern versions of The Doctor.
Hurt's brash exterior is justified by the fact that his Doctor existed during the Time War, which was a huge conflict between his home planet of Gallifrey and the Dalek empire which almost brought the universe to its knees. We meet Hurt's incarnation of the Doctor at a time when he has to make the most difficult decision of his life: whether to use an unprecedentedly powerful weapon, "The Moment", to end the Time War in the most deadly way possible.
To complicate matters even further, The Moment has its own personality: an operating system that takes the form of Billie Piper (channelling all of the goodwill from her previous appearances in the show as Rose Tyler into a very different character here) and tries to talk the War Doctor out of making one of the most damaging decisions of his life.
If all this sounds very serious and dour, it's just one part of a story that is otherwise hugely imaginative, energetic and funny, tipping the hat to the history of Doctor Who (including one surprising cameo that will mean a lot to longtime fans of the series) while also keeping one eye to the future (including another blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo that I certainly wasn't expecting).
And whether you're a lover of the show or not, it's impossible not to be roused by the barnstorming multi-Doctor finale that writer Steven Moffat provides at the episode's climax. By the time the final credits roll, not only has a satisfactory conclusion been provided for one era of Doctor Who, but a whole new set of potential adventures has opened up for the next one. And I can't wait to see where this story leads next.
The only thing stopping this DVD from getting full marks is the relative paucity of extra features. While you do get a couple of mini-episodes of a few minutes each (one of which is much better and more essential to this story - and the history of Doctor Who as a whole - than the other) and some behind-the-scenes stuff, it would have been nice to have a proper full "making-of" documentary to mark this historic special. The same goes for the lack of a commentary track, which would have been an excellent opportunity for Moffat and the actors to give us a little more personal input into this landmark story.
The DVD also doesn't include the wonderful "Five(ish) Doctors Reboot" film - a hilarious spoof documentary featuring several previous actors to have played the Doctor, and a lot more besides - for which I would have happily paid the full purchase price alone. And finally, the BBC's lovely dramatisation of the genesis of the series, "An Adventure in Space and Time", would have sat quite nicely as a companion piece to this special anniversary episode (although I guess they can make more money by selling that one as a separate disc on its own).
Nevertheless, despite the less-than-perfect set of extras, this is a DVD that's well worth owning just for the main feature. This may be as close as we ever get to a Doctor Who movie, but if that's the case then it's fine by me: because Day of the Doctor offers up all the action, drama, humour and excitement of a big-screen adventure, while also serving as a perfect celebration of the show's televisual history. Here's to the next 50 years.
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Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play. The Doctors embark on their greatest adventure in this 50th anniversary special. In 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space, an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion. All of reality is at stake as the Doctor’s own dangerous past comes back to haunt him. Starring: Matt Smith, David Tennant and Jenna Coleman with Billie Piper and John Hurt. This must-have DVD contains the eagerly anticipated feature length anniversary episode, 2 mini-episodes including the explosive Night of the Doctor starring Paul McGann, Doctor Who Explained, Behind the lens and more!
Feature-length special of the long-running sci-fi series in celebration of its 50th anniversary. The eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) and his companion Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman) are joined by two previous incarnations of the Doctor (David Tennant and John Hurt), with Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) also making a return. As an ancient war rages in space, a murder is being plotted in Elizabeth I (Joanna Page)'s England and, in the present day, there is danger at London's National Gallery. Meanwhile, the Doctor comes face-to-face with his own terrifying past.