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Review of Doctor Who The Day of The Doctor

The Day of the Doctor, the BBC’s episode celebrating 50 years of Doctor Who was a huge success across the world.

Review of Doctor Who The Day of The Doctor
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They broadcast it simultaneously in 94 countries. Some of those broadcast took place in cinemas around the world. In the UK the box office takings put the epsiode in the top three Cinema showings for the week.  In the United States it took  $4.8 million at the US box office making it second only to The Hunger Games sequel.

And of course in the UK with 12.8 million viewers The Day of the Doctor was the most watched TV programme of the week.

But was it any good?

Let’s face it must have been almost an impossible task for producer Steven Moffat to get it right and keep everybody, fans and non-fans happy. He could’ve littered with in jokes and nods to the past and alienated the casual viewer. Or he risked annoying the fans by going light on past references.  As it turns out his nods the past were very subtly woven into the story, such as sign saying that the Chairman of the School Governors was Ian Chesterton – one of the Doctor’s original companions back in 1963.

The comic timing tension and camaraderie between David Tennant and Matt Smith I thought was marvellous. Tennant was not as over the top as he was towards the end of his tenure as the Doctor.

John Hurt as the previously forgotten incarnation Doctor was simply superb. His character was known as the “War Doctor” and his appearance completed a story arc that we’ve enjoyed since the programme came back in 2005. He was the Doctor who fought in the Time War. Rugged, battle weary, I loved his exasperation at the younger Doctors’ mannerisms .

The interplay between three doctors was very funny. I’m not sure about the Tom Baker cameo as the museum curator. He obviously wasn’t the Doctor himself but it was all obviously nice to see him and I have to admit I cried out at the glimpse of Peter Capaldi.

Moffat provided us with a roller coaster ride, resurrecting 1970s villains the Zygons in their phlegm spitting, shape-shifting magnificence. We saw  tantalising big budget Star Wars style glimpse of the Daleks versus Timelord battles. And he managed to bring Billy Piper back in a completely different role to that of Rose Tyler. In fact Billy Piper’s performance as the conscience of the ultimate weapon of mass destruction was sublime to say the least.

Thoroughly entertaining “The Day of The Doctor” succeeded in celebrating the past whilst setting up another 50 years of Doctor Who.

Review of Doctor Who The Day of the Doctor
Paul McGann, “I’m a Doctor. Though not the one you we’re expecting.

But for me the best thing about the 50th anniversary celebrations wasn’t this 75 minute special.

It was the 8 minute mini-sode that the BBC put on the internet a few days earlier.

When I watched that and heard the voice say, “I’m a Doctor. Though NOT the one you were expecting,” I gasped as Paul McGann appeared on-screen for the first time since 1996. He utterly nailed his performance. And now we know who he came to regenerate into the War Doctor by sipping a potion created by the Sisterhood of Karn. “Will it hurt?” he asked almost knowingly.

For me this was the best 8 minutes of Doctor Who made by the BBC since they resurrected the show in 2005.

Now it’s your turn: Do you agree with my review of Doctor Who The Day of the Doctor? What did you think of it? Was it a success? Did it do justice to the anniversary? Please let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or post a link to your own review.

Daleks are scary again – review of Doctor Who Asylum of the Daleks

Doctor Who came blazing back on TV screens on Saturday 1 September and nearly 49 years after they first terrified the nation the Daleks returned to send kids scurrying for safety behind the sofa. <Click here to Tweet this

Review of Doctor Who Asylum of the Daleks
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In nearly half a century successive production teams have treated the Daleks differently. What used to be a scary monster was often reduced to a figure of fun. Especially when exploiting the fact that all you need to do to escape from one is to run up the stairs.

When Russell T Davies revived the show in 2005 he had the metal maniacs flying and they became frightening again. Stairs were no longer a source of salvation from their exterminating excesses. But as the modern programme continued the Daleks became dull again. Too easily defeated. Always wiped out. Instead of fearing them children want to cuddle them. It’s okay to go to sleep with a toy Dalek in your bedroom.

With Asylum of the Daleks, current show runner Steven Moffat, has delivered a genuinely scary script. Humans infected by Dalek nanobots sprout eye stalks from their foreheads and guns from their wrists. Even the rotting skeletal corpses of dead humans rise and deploy their sinister appendages.

Review of Doctor Who Asylum of the Daleks

Deep within the gloomy shadows of the asylum, dormant cobweb covered Daleks raise the heart rate simply because they are immobile. We know they are going to move but which one first. These scenes drag you to the edge of your seat with tension. Maybe children will be putting their toys outside the bedroom after this adventure.

Matt Smith is totally at ease in the role in his third series, a darker Doctor but still flitting effortlessly between humour, sadness, anger and happiness. He develops a strong bond with Oswin, the girl in the red dress who is hiding out deep in the asylum. She guides him through the maze, opening doors and hacking into systems. When the Doctor finally finds her his face is one of complete desolation as he realises that she is in fact a Dalek after all. A Dalek still dreaming of the time it was still a human. And in that sadness is still loathing. Loathing of what she has become. What a strong moment in a stand out script.

Review of Doctor Who Asylum of the Daleks are scary again

But of course the big surprise is Oswin herself. Played by Jenna-Louise Coleman the BBC has promoted her as the Doctor’s new companion replacing Amy and Rory and that they will introduce her in the Christmas episode. So what is she doing here in the first episode of the new series when Amy and Rory’s story is still incomplete? And if she is a Dalek how is she going to become a companion?

As usual Steven Moffat messes with our minds and sets up many questions that we may or may not find answers to as the weeks go by.

Over to you:  Do you agree with this review of Doctor Who Asylum of the Daleks that the show made the monsters scary again? How will Oswin become the new companion if she has been blown to bits as the asylum exploded? Leave a comment. Let me know your thoughts.

Updating a Cheating Memory – Day of the Daleks review

day of the daleks review

Okay so I’ve always been a Doctor Who fan. I love the modern reboot and especially the “timey whimey” stories that show runner Steven Moffat is so well known for. You know – he’s always getting things that happen in the future mixing with things that happen in the present. Or do I mean the past? The grandfather principle and all that brain aching stuff. Some people say it is too complicated. I disagree.

One of the earliest stories I ever saw – when I was just a little boy – was the Jon Pertwee story, Day of the Daleks. This had a very time travel paradox orientated story which at the time went over my head. I was more interested in the Daleks and the amazing battle they had with UNIT troops at the end of the story.

For me as a child I was captivated. My memories of that battle, with hundred of Daleks sweeping across the lawn of an Edwardian country house, exterminating the soldiers with their cool “negative” laser blasts, whilst the troops desperately fired mortar grenades at them, super-charged my imagination for many years to come……until I bought the VHS video when it was released 15 years later.

I watched in disbelief. What happened to the battle I remembered? The actual reality was just three battered old Dalek props struggling to glide across the grass whilst a couple of soldiers fired cap guns at them.

Of course when it comes to TV and films that you watch as a child, the memory cheats. My young mind had embellished what it saw with the more descriptive prose of the later novelisation and created a false memory of a spectacle that was way beyond the production and budget capabilities of the 1970s BBC.

However it’s not just me. It seems that the memory cheated for many more people who remember the story with fondness. So hats off to the producers at 2:Entertain for the recently released DVD of the tale. The team have gone back to the original filming locations (such as Dropmore Park in Buckinghamshire) and re-shot some scenes using a 1970s film camera, retro Dalek props and new people dressed as soldiers. On top of this they have added better explosions, more lasers and had the modern Dalek voice artist, Nick Briggs, redub the sound track to make them sound super scary.

The remarkable result cures the cheating memory. They have produced a special edition that is true to the exaggerated memories I formed as a child. Pertwee is still a fabulous Doctor. Here he is authoritative, charming and resourceful and shows a particular fondness for red wine whilst fighting his enemies. And he has the best line in the script with his put down of a pompous Government Minister, “Look try and use your intelligence man, even if you are a politician.”

Day of the Daleks was always a great story and script let down by poor production. Now that the old flakiness has been polished we can enjoy this top rate tale as the memory intended. And what a story. Guerrillas from the future traveling back in time to the present to kill the person they think created their Dalek subjugated future (sounds a bit like The Terminator doesn’t it? Except DOTD came first!). It’s a time travel paradox that I never understood as a child.

Now I can understand it, and can watch the show as the tour-de-force my memory always told me it was.