The Day of the Doctor

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Doctor_Who_50th_AnniversaryIt’s been a long time since I’ve written about anything other than the comics I’m buying each week, but it feels like even longer that I’ve been waiting for today’s Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special. A worldwide commercial-free simulcast of the anniversary episode at 2:40PM this afternoon is enough to break the silence.

A commercial-free feature-length version of Doctor Who is exactly how I want to watch. It’s a throwback to the way the show aired back in its PBS days in the United States. Amazingly, the show’s popularity has grown so much in recent years the anniversary episode is even being shown in movie theaters throughout the weekend. Honestly, I can’t imagine watching Doctor Who in a crowded theater. The lonely 8 year old version of me is just accustomed to watching Doctor Who in relative isolation.

The haunting words “I’m looking for The Doctor” coming from John Hurt in the trailer for the anniversary show send chills down my spine. We learned in the final moments of last season’s finale that Hurt would be joining the list of actors to play The Doctor, but it’s clear that his incarnation is one best forgotten and hidden away. So much so that Matt Smith’s Doctor even indicated that he’s lost the right to be called The Doctor. Why this is the case is a big question, but Hurt’s introduction also raised a number of possibilities about where exactly he fit into The Doctor’s timeline.

  • Was he an incarnation prior to the First Doctor, Willaim Hartnell, who first appeared on television back in 1963? Perhaps before he took on the name of The Doctor?
  • Is he from later in The Doctor’s life? Possibly the last Doctor? After all, there’s no need for things to be linear in this story. 
  • Is he an aged version of the human meta-crisis Doctor created in 2008’s Journey’s End? 
  • Is he an incarnation fitting between the classic series and the current? The regeneration(s) leading from Paul McGann’s Doctor to Christopher Eccleston’s have never been shown and represents a critical missing link of the show’s past and present.

All are interesting possibilities among many others, but Hurt’s in The Doctor’s history was revealed while we waited for the anniversary in a mini-episode called The Night of the Doctor.

While this was a big question, it’s honestly not the part that I’m most excited about. Whatever part John Hurt plays, I believe in the end we’ll see him sacrifice something that allows The Doctor to be free of whatever he’s been running from/toward his entire life. It may even be his very existence, essentially looping Hurt’s Doctor out of his timeline completely though the memories will remain. In other words, instead of a progression from McGann to Hurt to Eccleston, Hurt’s sacrifice would result in a direct transition from McGann to Eccleston. It would fit perfectly with many of show runner Steven Moffat’s themes of resetting the universe so that events aren’t entirely linear, but the characters on the show remembered that they happened.

We know that The Doctor gave up something unimaginable to end the Time War, and it seems we’ll finally see what it is if the another mini-episode called The Last Day is any indication.

My good friend KevinMLD once said he wished he loved anything as much as I love Doctor Who. I can’t speak to any relative levels of loving one thing over another, but I do know that Doctor Who has been a big part of my life for nearly as long as I can remember. This special promises to be a huge chapter in something that I’ve been watching build my entire life. Like The Doctor himself, it’s a culmination of many lives from the show’s long list creators, actors, and fans.

The latest trailer for The Day of the Doctor:

A clip from The Day of the Doctor from the 2013 Children in Need Special:

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is a scientist by trade and a fan by nature. Born and raised in Philadelphia, he has spent a lifetime attending local educational institutions, collecting comic books, and watching professional wrestling. He is the founder of Break Even, an independent microlabel that specializes in releasing music from unknown artists.

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