“A Good Man Goes to War – With Himself” (Looking Back on The Day of the Doctor)

Dalek on Gallifrey (Day of the Doctor)
That Dalek looks pretty angry.

On this blog, I feel that I should get something straight. In a post dated around a year ago, I reviewed the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special. I believe I gave it undying praise, and a 7 out of 10. However, it dosen’t deserve such a high score. I originally had nothing but good words, but now the opposite is true. Over time I have been both convinced and swayed by friends and the passage of time to grow to hate this special edition of Doctor Who. Special in what way? That it sucks, that’s what way!

I said this before, in my review of Dark Water and Death in Heaven, the season 8 finale to the series (my review here), but I’ll say it again. In my opinion, the best episodes ever to grace viewers of Doctor Who with their presence are The End of Time, Parts I and II. These were the final episodes with the 10th Doctor (my favorite), and featured the Master as a villain. I loved them because they succeeded both as regular episodes, with a believable plotline, great characters, and conclusion worthy of all those things. But it also succeeded as David Tennant’s last hurrah, with intense action, deep drama, and ultimate redemption for one of the most iconic and despicable villains in the show.

War, 10, and 11 (Day of the Doctor)
You should all be being eaten right now!

The Day of the Doctor is none of those things. As opposed to The End of TimeThe Day of the Doctor is completely ridiculous. It jumps around from the present, where UNIT has an unexplained infestation of Zygons, medieval times, which also has a strange infestation of Zygons, and the Time War, which last I checked (in The End of Time), was completely inaccessible. Not to mention the three Doctors meeting each other would create a time paradox, and would cause a Father’s Day esque event, with Reapers trying to eat everyone involved. Keep in mind that the Reapers are a Doctor Who creation, and the time paradox event that happened in the season 1 episode Father’s Day is completely canon. The whole thing happened when a past version of Rose saw herself from the future, meaning that if the past versions of the Doctor saw themselves, then the same event would be recreated, but on an epic scale.

The silly thing is, this could all be avoided. After season 2’s The Age of Steel, Rose and her family were stuck in Pete’s universe, a parallel reality. In season 4’s Journey’s End, the Doctor makes his way into Pete’s universe to return Rose to her reality. As well as that, he gives her a copy of himself, human. There was no reason to bring the actual physical Doctors together and create a paradox. All that was necessary was to pop into Pete’s universe again and snatch Rose and her 10th Doctor. If you leave out the War Doctor, because he’s really just a cheap replacement for the 9th (still a real shame they couldn’t get Christopher Eccelston), then you’ve completely circumvented your paradox problem, and the Reapers.

Doctor Who – 50th Anniversary Special - The Day of the Doctor
You too! Where are the Reapers?

And yes, I know that the Doctors have met before. In several other anniversary specials, multiple Doctors worked together to overcome problems. But, that all happened before the Reapers came in with their convenient paradox eating mouths. That would be like judging X-Men Origins: Wolverine for the canonical errors in it that only became errors when First Class was released three years later (ex. Emma Frost being in both movies, but as a teenager in Origins: Wolverine, and as an adult in First Class, when only a few years separate the movies, canonically.).

Despite destroying the brilliant ending to The End of Time, another thing that the Day of the Doctor is guilty of is the complete dumbing down of the show. Sure, it may not be the episode itself’s fault, but this was the first time I realized that something had been lost. In Classic Doctor Who, and up until The Day of the Doctor, the Time Lords were absolute assholes. They chased the Doctor across time and space, forcefully regenerated him from his 2nd incarnation to his 3rd, and attempt to destroy the Earth in order to return from the time war in The End of Time. Sure, the Daleks weren’t heroes either (far from it), but the Time Lords were always portrayed as the lesser evil.

Now, flash forward to the present, and the Time Lords are the good guys. The Daleks are the bad guys. In Dark Water and Death in Heaven, UNIT are the good guys. The Cybermen are the bad guys. The Master is a bad guy. I remember the season 2 finale, (Army of Ghosts and Doomsday) where Torchwood was experimenting with time and space, and unleashed both the Cybermen and the Daleks. It wasn’t some stupid thing that happened, it was Torchwood that caused the whole mess in the first place! The Doctor, who they knew is a really helpful kinda guy, specifically told them all that what they were doing was bad, and they told him something along the lines of “screw off.” Nowadays, if Torchwood even popped back into the show, I have no doubt that they would be portrayed as the good guys, fighting against the bad guys.

NO! (Day of the Doctor)
No! Don’t do it!

In season 4’s The Stolen Earth, the Doctor and Donna go to the Shadow Proclamation, an interstellar police force, for help in locating Earth. They help him, but attempt to stop him from leaving, even going so far as attempting to arrest the Doctor and Donna. That, in my opinion, was good TV. I miss the older Doctor Who, where there weren’t just good guys and bad guys. In earlier episodes, there was a significant gray area, even in the Doctor himself. One of the most compelling things about the Doctor is that in order to stop the time war from enveloping the galaxy, he himself pressed the button and trapped his own people in perpetual war with the Daleks. In The Day of the Doctor, all of that is thrown out the window. He goes back and fixes his “mistakes”, managing to ruin both The End of Time, and all of the 9th Doctor’s characterization in one go. Now, even the Doctor has lost his allure. He’s just another one of the good guys.