It’s been four years since the Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary episode saw Matt Smith and David Tennant team up with John Hurt and watching it again made me realise what we’ve been missing…
THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR
I saw the seventy-five minute episode at a cinema in Düsseldorf (yes, I was in Germany in November for some bizarre reason – living there with an ex-girlfriend) where a few Germans had even turned up in long scarves and hats.
Seeing all of twelve Doctors working together to save Gallifrey made me blubb like a baby both times, especially when Tom Baker showed up as The Curator.
T’was great to see some other familiar blasts from the pasts (futures?) too – the mesmerising Billy Piper as Rose (or The War Doctor’s conscience, to be more precise) the Lethbridge-Stewarts and, of course, beautiful, amazing, kind, funny, wonderful Clara.
Admittedly, the Queen Elizabeth I storyline was silly (but fun for kids) and mostly didn’t work due to the terrible miscasting of Joana Page as The Virgin Queen. Similarly, the Zygon storyline was a letdown as this anniversary episode shoud have pitted The Doctors against a more worthy opponent.
But what struck me most was how much is now missing from the show. The chemistry between Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor and Clara Oswald is electric.
The second she skids her motorbike through the TARDIS doors, you’re smiling. And when they touch hands and hug, their genuine shared excitement at seeing each other again positively oozes through our screens and into our hearts. The Doctor hanging out of the TARDIS door, suspended from a helicopter is daft, but it just… feels right.
The same goes for David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor whose charisma lights up the screen. It all made me realise that just a few years ago Doctor Who was fun.
There were jokes, and Fez’s and nervous energy and pacing and plans and cameraderie.
It was exciting. There were huge stakes, plans came to fruition, proud slow motion walking ellicited air-punching reactions and whoops of delight.
But most of all, it was grand, bold, ambitious, confident and stirring storytelling with the ability to make you sit up, take notice – laughing one minute and crying the next as The Doctor carried his genocide of 2.4 billion Gallifreyan children with him for four hundred years.
This is what is missing from Doctor Who nowadays. This is what I pine for.
Granted,“The Day of the Doctor” was a special anniversary episode with a higher budget, longer shoot, feature-legth runtime and three Doctors but Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman approached every one of their episodes together as if they really were about to embark on a time-travelling adventure.
SO WHERE DID IT ALL GO WRONG?
Well, it’s hard to say. The same EP is still running the show but I fear its down to a combination of Steven Moffat running out of ideas and the fact that Capaldi was never right for the role.
I read reports that the fifty-nine year old is “exhausted” after three seasons. Great actor as he is, I just feel that like David Moyes succeeding Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, the choice was down to nepotism. Scottish nepotism.
He doesn’t have that child-like excitement in his eyes that Matt Smith had. The Doctor is meant to be both young and old but I fear Capaldi’s excitement is as fake as his guitar playing. Capaldi wanted The Doctor to play the guitar, so the showrunner incorporating this idea is again, sadly down to nepotism.
The Twelfth Doctor simply isn’t genuine. He’s a pretender to the throne – and his replacement can’t come soon enough. With two episodes of season ten to go, I’m getting really nervous that the Thirteenth Doctor is going to be another misstep.
The first part of a two-part season finalé airs Saturday 24th June on BBC1