While there was a lot to love about Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary spectacular, The Day of the Doctor, there were a few things that could have been better. Most noticeable was the absence of Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston, the dude who helped bring the show to its current heights by kicking off a new era of Doctor Who (along with executive producer Russell T Davies). There has been tons of speculation since his single season aired as to why he has distanced himself from the show, but the bottom line is that, for whatever reason, that wasn’t a road he was interested in returning to. So it wasn’t surprising that he opted not to participate in the special, but it was disappointing, and you could often feel scenes where the Ninth Doctor really should have been there, especially since he was the closest of the three modern Doctors to the new guy, John Hurt’s so-called “War Doctor.” But while The Day of the Doctor feels somewhat lacking without Nine, showrunner Steven Moffat has gone on the record to give us some hints of how Eccleston’s Doctor would have figured into the special — and the truth might surprise you.
In this age of social media and a near constant barrage of information, it’s exceedingly rare to be genuinely surprised by pop culture these days. Especially when it’s your job to cover such things, I can’t remember the last time a show or movie caught me completely by surprise. I shared that all-too-rare experience with Doctor Who fans around the world last week when I loaded up The Night of the Doctor, the special mini-episode prequel that would set the stage for this week’s 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor. In the days since, the show’s executive producer Steven Moffat has addressed the minisode’s big stunner, and its implications for the show’s mythology.
WARNING: SPOILERS IF YOU STILL HAVEN’T SEEN THE NIGHT OF THE DOCTOR!
I like Doctor Who, quite a bit in fact, though I’ll be the first to admit that I’m far from an expert. As a kid I watched the classic Tim Lords on PBS when I could, though that was always a hit and miss proposition, and I was lucky to get a random all day marathon a couple of times a year. That said, even with my relatively limited knowledge of the franchise, I know that this mini episode, The Night of the Doctor, is something of a game changer. Watch it for yourself, and we’ll discuss the matter further.
Building up towards the 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor, later this month, we knew that the BBC was going to release this six-minute episode, but we didn’t expect it until this weekend. The title keeps the string of similarly themed titles intact. When we last saw the Time Lord in the final episode of series seven, “The Name of the Doctor.”
Is it November 23 yet? I don’t seem to be watching The Day of the Doctor at the moment, or talking about how I watched The Day of the Doctor earlier, or rewatching The Day of the Doctor on my DVR. So I must reluctantly conclude that no, it is not November 23. Still, the fine folks at the BBC are here to give us poor Doctor Who fans a balm to soothe our impatient, overworked anticipation glands. We may not have gotten to see the upcoming 50th anniversary special just yet, but we can at least enjoy the picture above of the Doctors testing the old adage (that I just made up) about how the sonic screwdriver is mightier than the halberd.