Well 23 November has come and gone and with it my 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. I say my 50th anniversary because for each of us the Doctor’s 50th is something different. Whether you were there for the very first airing or have just started watching this special event is always a very personal and individual thing.
The 50th anniversary episode was simulcast around the world from BBC in homes and in cinemas in 3D. Overall, from the reactions I’ve read, everyone loved it and was pleased with the efforts of Steven Moffat & Co. I am one of those who was extremely pleased, but more than a single episode the 50th anniversary has been marked with several wonderful productions from BBC.
The first was a prequel episode, The Night of the Doctor, staring the Eighth Doctor Paul McGann. McGann was the Doctor for a single film from Fox television in 1996. While it was not the greatest of Doctor Who stories, McGann played the Doctor so well that it made him part of the Doctor Who canon and not simply an aside to be noted and ignored. It was certainly a tribute to his skill as the Doctor that he was once again utilised in such a dramatic way. Thank you Mr. Moffat.
Next the BBC gave us the true(ish) life story of how Doctor Who came to be and the difficulties it had in coming into production and just how close it came to being dropped early on.
An Adventure in Space and Time (2013) stars David Bradley as the First Doctor William Hartnell and does so in spectacular fashion. Bradley gives such a convincing performance as Hartnell that I have seen it suggested that he be given the opportunity to play the first Doctor in reproducing all of Harntell’s original episodes. I cannot agree with this idea more. I think it would be wonderful to update those first few years and give everyone a chance to enjoy the Doctor as he was originally conceived.
More than anything else during the whole lead up to the 50th anniversary, this production was the most emotionally charged. There were moments of fear and great joy, and then the tragic way Hartnell’s reign as the Doctor came to an end as ill health kept him from continuing on in a role he defined and came to love. This was perhaps the best tribute to Doctor Who, and the people who created it, there could have been.
An Adventure in Space and Time can be seen on BBC iPlayer for a few days yet here. I will be looking for this one in blu-ray as soon as it’s released.
Next we have our 5oth anniversary episode, The Day of the Doctor. I cannot say enough about this episode and the portrayal by all three Doctors, Matt Smitt, David Tennant, and John Hurt.
The Day of the Doctor took us back to the end of the Time War. Oft mentioned, we know how the Doctor ended it once and for all. His solution was to eradicate not only the Daleks, but his own people as well. This has been a heavy weight for him throughout the new series. Now we see how this final solution came about. But since this is Doctor Who, we should have by now come to expect radical alterations and stirrings in the space-time continuum.
There were some truly wonderful moments in the show, but perhaps one of the best, for me, was the using sonic screwdriver in a 400 year problem. The show was filled with little moments that traced through the history of Doctor Who and if you’ve watched any amount of the classic Who then you will have recognised them and smiled, as I did.
The last part of the 50th anniversary came after the airing of The Day of the Doctor with The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
Written and directed by none other than the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, it follows Peter Davison, the Sixth Doctor Colin Baker, and the Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy in their charming attempt to be part of the 50th anniversary episode. They even attempt to enlist the aid of Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor. This little story was simply the icing on the cake of a wonderful celebration. I enjoyed it as much as anything else the BBC has given us for this event. If you’ve not seen it, go here to watch The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. You are in for a treat.
I’ve been watching Doctor Who for nearly 40 years, and in that time there have been some wonderful moments. Too many for me to list here or objectively. BBC, in 1963, did something that has rarely been done. It gave us a unique view into the future, the past, and into ourselves. It has reinvented itself numerous times, and with each iteration we are renewed ourselves. For fifty years you have stretched our imaginations, and you have given us a particular brand of science fiction that can never be duplicated.
Thank you BBC for my Doctor Who.