Thursday, August 28, 2014

Reviewer's Cut: The Day of the Doctor

Day of the Dogs Dinner

Ten months on.... 

Ten months on since the so-called 50th Anniversary still haunts and irks my soul to no end of how poorly handled it was by a showrunner I used to praise out the fact that he was thinking less like a Hollywood marketing exective and more like a fan. But even before April of 2013 looks and words can be decieving. Prior to the late March early April news, I like many were excited about the 50th and what we were hoping for t have all the surviving Doctors interact with the New Who ones taking on a greater evil. Alas, it didn't turn out to be the case......

Matt: Why can't we have the other living Doctors?
David: Quiet, you!

Around the start of April we learned of David Tennant and Billie Piper's return plus the inclusion of John Hurt in tow. At first, I was thinking it may have been an April's Fool joke to leave out Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann. But as the summer came and Steven Moffat's statement about not making it a fan-fest made me wonder what on Earth's going on? Then came the Hurt reveal (though the leaked DVD release of Series 7B gave it away in advance shortly before Name of the Doctor's airdate). Until the reveal, I was fully convinced he was playing a Gideon Crane like character who somewho wound up believing and acting like the Doctor ala Nick Briggs' character of the same name from the 2001 8th Doctor audio Minuet in Hell (I actually would've welcomed that; seriously). Instead the reveal was that he was a incarnation between 8th (McGann) and 9th (Christopher Eccleston). WHY?

Not  the Doctor nor the Warrior... Just the Band-Aid

That was my exact response. Why was there a need for an inbetween Doctor for the Last Great Time War? For the last several years it was believed by fandom that the 8th Doctor fought in it and was the one who ended it wiping both Dalek and Time Lord alike. Even various spin-off media managed to either hint at it or showed the road to it. In 2008, IDW's The Forgotten showcased a scene with 8th that took place during the Time War and the following year Mary's Story from Big Finish's The Company of Friends showcased a wartorn disgruntled 8th (and his younger pre-Charley self). Armageddon 2010 in New Zealand, Paul McGann inveiled his new 8th Doctor outfit (which had mixed reviews but grew positive overtime) which became finalized by the BBC to be 8th's look for Big Finish's widly successful Dark Eyes (and its following sequals) which had more hints of the Time War and 8th increased discontent for the Daleks in the wake of the deaths of his companions Lucie Miller, Tamsin Drew, and his great-grandson Alex Campbell; Susan and David's only child. Then came the Night of the Doctor mini-sode where everyone punched the air to see Paul McGann return (and in new digs)....only to see him rebuke the War rather than fight the very creatures that took away said companions and great-grandchild as well as give up his incarnation by drinking a "Warrior" elixor from the Sisterhood of Karn to become a "War Doctor". In one interview Moffat said he didn't believe 8th to be the Time War Doctor because he "didn't fit the idea" and would never commit genocide. If it's so hard to imagine McGann fighting in the war, wouldn't it also be hard to imagine Hurt attempting to save Davros from the Nightmare Child (as 10th mentioned in The Stolen Earth)?

The true War Doctor; No. 8

This is where I call bull. If 8th wasn't the type then why were there hints from Big Finish prior to the 50th? Why did Tony Lee show 8th in the War if he didn't want to fight in it and why were most of fandom convinced of his involvement for so long? Moffat's logic doesn't compute with 8th characterization in Dark Eyes and Dark Eyes 2. It spits in the face of not only the said references but a huge spit in the face to Big Finish and more importantly McGann. It makes the changes 8th worthless and rendering the deaths of Lucie, Tamsin, and Alex pointless as if they were killed off for nothing. In the BBC Books, 8th  had to blow up Gallifrey to thwart Faction Paradox. He didn't need to go to the Sisters (who somehow gained regeneration when they want nothing to do with all things Rassilon) to change to regenerate into a warrior to defeat the Grandfather Patadox. Even if Eccleston was unavailable (due both to filming Thor: The Dark World and Moffat unable to get Joe Aherne to direct instead of Nick Hurran) to be War/9, Moffat could've still kicked the War role to McGann as it gels in tune with his current characterization in the recent audios. 8th shouldn't have to not to be a deserter just so he could maintain the perception of a children's hero; its doesn't make a dog lick of sense. As great an actor John Hurt is, I just don't see a need for an hidden incarnation.  Especially one who was promoted as Warrior in vain of Kalendorf from Dalek Empire when what we actually was a retread of Peter Cushing's cinematic (and .100% Human) "Dr. Who". That was what came out in the final product: In my early immediate review of Day, I stated that Hurt was the New Who generations's Richard Hurndall but it appears more than just that the more I think about it. He wasn't a warrior at all; just a cuddly, depressed old man who really didn't break the "promise" 11th told Clara. Further, when he had the dilemma of killing everyone to end the war, I honestly felt nothing, because I didn't know who this person was. Moffat sure enjoys making a huge deal about things only for the payoff to come flat like a soda (i.e. River Song and later Time of the Doctor). Adding insult to injury is the repercussions of the insert (and counting Meta-Crisis 10th) which was part of Moffat's plan to solve the regeneration limit just so he could be hailed a hero to fandom at large so the next showrunner who comes after him won't. Instead of solving it, it bollixed it up in story and in merchandising. It also makes the whole 11th's the 13th and final incarnation relevations flat and pointless when we know of Peter Capaldi named as 12th plus makes for a sloppy Christmas Special story to resolve (or lack there of) all loose end only to tangle them up in knots. Hurt served his purpose as the band-aid. There's no need for more appearances on screen nor in all of the spin-off material regardless of a recent lone novel.

Are you sure this is Doctor Who and not Star Wars, son?

Another thing that bugs me about Day was how the children of Gallifrey through the eyes and words of Clara were used as emotion fodder to the audience to sell them on why what the Doctor did was wrong; why he has to be the Man Who Wouldn't. With the said first destruction, the children never factored into it since the planet wound up in the corner of the 8th Doctor's mind, so they turned out safe along with the rest of the Time Lords. It became clear with the music, the kids became fodder for emotional manipulation in ways I just couldn't bring myself to showing this special to my girlfriend's children. "The Man Who Wouldn't".... this dreck began with the 10th Doctor era as part of how the Doctor should be presented yet ignoring the many thing he had to do sometimes like blowing up Skaro, shooting an Ogron or manipulate his companions on an occasion (i.e. 2nd in Evil of the Daleks) or more (i.e. 7th). Heroes do make tough choices sometime; that's what Moffat and before him RTD forgot outright. Even the choices they don't like and the results of the choices. By snatching away the tough decisions and consequences, what good is a hero and his story if he just avoids them and rewrite history just because it's fashionable? Even moreso is actually showing the Time War itself when we all know it wouldn't done justice either on screen or in print. The War was presented by Moffat as a run-of-the-mill Star Wars shoot out rather than the endless batch of "what ifs" we'd been accustomed to. It really didn't need to be seen whatsoever. I'll give props for changing the outcome but not the manipulation that lead to it. Even the Moment's appearance as Rose fanned the flames of the 8th Anneversery charges against the special and are well justified. It wouldn't hurt Moffat to have the moment appear in the form of Susan or Romana to silence the critics but chose not to out of disrespect to the 42 out of the program's 50 year history.

Liz would NEVER!!
                                       -  the poster of ONTD

Then there's the early segments of the special with the Zygons and Queen Elizabeth I. Many a female and LGBT viewer were feuming mad at Moffat for the potrayal of the Virgin Queen as just another stock female character who falls for the Doctor. What makes it more cringeworthy is that Moffat chose to adapt the infamous line about her from The End of Time. The posts on Oh No They Didn't! Live Journal really showed discontent for Moffat's blatent sexism that shows up in his writing...and frankly, I now understand and see it. Until 2013 I overlooked the sexism because, I was still content with stories that didn't feel like written by commitee via Hollywood exectuives to reach the lowest common denominator. But even with having a new showrunner who wasn't about character over plot came at a price and the sexism is that price. Not even a special guest appearance from Tom Baker and a cameo from the now incumbent Doctor Capaldi isn't enough to mask what's wrong with it.

Will he hold out, folks? CAN HE HOLD OUT?!

Now like Nostalgia Critic regarding Man of Steel, I understand what some folks loved about this special but I just don't love nor like it in any compacity. I meant what I said in my earlier review that Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman deserve better as did and does McGann, McCoy, C. Baker, Davison and fans old and new. If this speacial was what we'd look forward to since 2005 then I think Lorainne Heggessey shouldn't have bothered reviving this show and I say this as young man who first watch Who via SyFy when they had the rights to show it prior to BBCAmerica taking the lead. So there you have it the full no holds bar Reviewer's cut of Day of the Doctor. I know it won't change minds (you know who you are) but at least take everything type into deep thinking and consideration.

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