Day 327: Unearthly Trainers

A year on from Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary…

November 23 main

Fifty-one years ago today, Doctor Who was first broadcast. And no, I wasn’t there. I was, in fact born on the day Doctor Who episode premiered and it was in black and white (with Daleks!) but I’m not quite that old.

Doctor_Who_-_An_Adventure_in_Space_and_Time_PosterJust a year ago, we celebrated the 50th anniversary in style, though my highlight of the celebrations had already been broadcast the night before – Mark Gatiss’s sublime An Adventure In Space And Time, the dramatised story of the creation and early years of the show. Even on the actual day of the anniversary – 23rd November 201 – I think I most enjoyed the little gem that was The Five(ish) Doctors, Peter Davison’s wonderful, cameo-packed fictional pisstake of what life is like after Doctor Who for ’80s and ’90s Doctors. The scene when Peter Jackson and Ian McKellen turned up was probably my geek highlight of the year.

That’s not to sat I didn’t enjoy the big  centrepiece of the celebrations too. “The Day Of The Doctor” was enormous fun, but somehow, it suffered from weight of expectation. The Five(ish) Doctors and An Adventure In Space And Time were unknown quantities, and unexpected delights. But we all expected so much from “The Day Of The Doctor” it was bound to be subjected to closer scrutiny, watched in a different way.

The fact that it was received so well, then, was amazing in itself. It was enormous fun, with some classy, expensive-looking set pieces and three magnificent performances from the Doctors. I just found it difficult to totally lose myself in it a year ago; one of the downsides of being a fan.

Surprisingly, yesterday was the first time I’ve watched it since. I haven’t actually been avoiding it; I’ve just had a weird old year since, and I never got around to it. But I’ve had the Blu-ray since the day it was released, so a yea on seemed a good time to make the effort.

And I pretty much loved it. More so than on the night, definitely. My main gripes are minor. I hate the portrayal of Queen Elizabeth; I’ve never minded New Who reinventing historical figures in the past, but this was so unlike any version of Liz I I’ve ever read about, they may as well have replaced her with a pantomime cow. But maybe I’m just being a history snob. I think bringing back Billie Piper just to play the avatar for a GPP bomb was an utter waste.  And the big climax was a little confused and very contrived to set up that “all the Doctors!” guff. But they were mere quibbles. Why complain when you’ve got Daleks invading Gallifrey and John Hurt being magnificent?

It also gave me the chance to watch David Tennant and Matt Smith side by side and try to work out whose Doctor I preferred. You know what – it truly it too tough to call. I love Smith’s physicality and his ability to act old in a young body, but Tennant… well, he was wearing sand shoes. I’m biased.

I’m going to watch “The Time Of The Doctor” soon. I’ll warn you, though – going against the flow of public opinion, I loved that even as the time!


And here, for no better reason than it’s my blog, and everyone like to trumpet their own opinions, are how I rate the stories in Peter Capaldi’s first season from my favourite to least favourite:

1) “Mummy On The Orient Express”
2) “Listen”
3) “Into The Dalek”
4) “Flatline”
5) “Dark Water”
6) “Time Heist”
7) “Deep Breath
8) “Death In Heaven”
9) “The Caretaker”
10) “In The Forest Of The Night”
11) “Kill The Moon”
12) “Robot Of Sherwood”

And just so you know, One to Six I all loved, Seven and Eight I though were great but flawed, and Nine to Twelve I had severe problems with. Poor old Gatiss, going from writing my two my favourite episodes of series seven B (though “Hide” remains my fave) to penning my wooden spoon winner for series eight.

See you tomorrow!

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