Fifty Years in Four Hundred and Ninety Four Days
When I started this ridiculous project on February 20th of last year, I deliberately didn't calculate how long it would take. I guessed a little over a year, and it turns out to be more like a year and a half. Today, though, I hit a huge milestone. Today I watched the 50th Anniversary special, meaning that as of this morning I have watched a full fifty years of Doctor Who in four hundred and ninety four days. Wow. With only one Eleventh Doctor story left, I only have the Twelfth Doctor era left to go through. I just double-checked my count, and I must have missed something the last time I worked it out. I need to finish by Monday, August 6th because I have a work trip that begins on the 7th and I want to have a clean break. But I just counted it out,and if I miss no days and watch one episode per day I won't finish until August 8th. That means I have to double up on at least two days. It looks like Under the Lake / Before the Flood would be a good double falling on a Saturday, and then Heaven Sent / Hell Bent on the following Saturday will get me there.
Am I even going to survive this project? I guess I'll find out. In the meantime, let's talk about today's special episode.
The Day of the Doctor
(TARDIS Data Core recap)
What can I even say about this monumental episode? Steven Moffat absolutely knocked it out of the park. He had spent literally years teeing it up, and manages to honor the entire history of the show while telling a fun and engaging story. He neatly avoided the trap that The Five Doctors fell into, cramming too many characters into the story just for the sake of giving cameos to past characters. Yes, by the end, all thirteen Doctors make an appearance, but the bulk of the story limits itself to the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors along with John Hurt's War Doctor.
Again with companions, there are plenty of Easter eggs with photos and bios of dozens of past companions, but aside from current companion Clara Oswald the only past alumni that returns is Rose Tyler -- and it isn't even really her, just a sentient megaweapon plucking a familiar form out of the Doctor's brain in order to talk to him.
And then, with the villains, a big surprise: Everyone expected Daleks, and sure enough there are Daleks aplenty in the Great Time War sequences. Indeed, the threat of the Daleks is the pervasive driver leading the War Doctor to making his genocidal decision. But the real primary villains are a true blast from the past: the Zygons, last seen in Terror of the Zygons way back in the Fourth Doctor era, provide a credible timey-wimey menace for the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors to tussle with as the War Doctor comes along for the ride.
The plot in essence is that the War Doctor must make the decision whether or not to end the Great Time War by destroying not only the Daleks but the Time Lords as well. The sentient super-weapon known as The Moment engineers an adventure with two future regenerations so that he can decide whether the sacrifice is worthwhile. Meanwhile, a group of Zygons stranded in sixteenth century England make use of Time Lord artwork (it's bigger on the inside) to place themselves in stasis and then launch an invasion in the twenty first century. Lots of stuff happens, a surprising peace is negotiated with the Zygons, and then all three Doctors work together to find a different way to end the Great Time War.
And then the coda. Oh, my.
I honestly burst into tears when, out of the blue, Tom Baker turns up in a final scene as the Caretaker. It is such a lovely scene, beautifully executed, and it puts the perfect button on the entire tale.
This story was a Herculean task to execute, and my only complaint is one that I totally understand. I really wish that Christopher Eccleston had agreed to take part, and his absence was strongly felt. That being said, I don't blame him at all for declining. It's hard to say who was treated more shabbily by the BBC - Colin Baker back in 1986, or Christopher Eccleston in 2005. I have a world of respect for Mr. Eccleston in the classy and professional way he handled the entire situation, both at the time and in subsequent years. So yeah, I get why he wasn't there for the fiftieth, but it still makes me a bit sad.
The other wish I have is that Steven Moffat would have handed over the reins to a new show runner at this point (or, I guess, after the next episode once Matt Smith made his exit.) This was the perfect moment to end on a high note, complete an era, and then let someone with fresh ideas take the show off into a new direction. Unfortunately that didn't happen. But I guess I'll get to that over the next few weeks.
So that's it. A half a century of Doctor Who has passed through the Time Treadmill. It's hard to even wrap my head around. Tomorrow I see the last of the Eleventh Doctor, and then it's a sprint to the end. This thing is almost over.
Doctor(s): First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, War, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth
Companion(s): Clara Oswald, Rose Tyler (but not really), Kate Stewart, Petronella Osgood
Episode(s): The Day of the Doctor
Steps Walked: 10,641 today, 3,321,054 total
Distance Walked: 5.60 miles today, 1,736.15 miles total
Push-ups Completed: 0 today, 6,529 total
Sit-ups Completed: 0 today, 929 total
Is Anything Cool?: "Oh, he's cool. Isn't he cool? I'm the Doctor and I'm all cool. Oops, I'm wearing sandshoes."
Weight: 247.90 lbs (five day moving average), net change -59.40 lbs