It’s fair to say that script supremo Steven Moffat faced an almost impossible task when it came to the 50th anniversary celebrations of Doctor Who. He had to deliver a script that summed up everything that was great about the last half century, whilst paving the way for the future, whilst catering for the casual viewer, whilst delivering a good adventure in its own right. No easy task!
Since last November’s The Day of the Doctor, I’ve met several fans with polarised opinions of Steven Moffat’s final script. Some felt that it was a ripping yarn that didn’t need to dwell in its own history in order to serve as a compelling piece of science fiction. Others have been more critical, stating that the absence of (most) previous Doctors made it an ineffective 50th anniversary special.
As much as it pains me to say it – and as much as I do actually like The Day of the Doctor – I would have liked a little more ‘past Doctor’ action, even if it had been done using CGI, or even in the style of The Name of the Doctor‘s opening scene, where Clara interacted with the Time Lord’s past incarnations thanks to some clever inter-splicing of archive footage. Alas, all we had in the end were some brief shots of past adventures, along with a rather good Hartnell impersonation from John Guilor, and Tom Baker as… someone else, possibly. Where was the digitally-recreated Jon Pertwee, fighting a rabid pterodactyl courtesy of The Mill?!
Presumably, I’m not the only fan who feels this way, as a whole plethora of ‘alternate’ 50th anniversary videos have wormed their way into the webosphere. And they’re rather good!
Take a look…
The 12 Doctors
Of course, one of the major hurdles the production team faced with regards to previous Doctors was their age. It’s fair to say that Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy all look slightly different these days, and it would have been very hard to explain their more ‘mature’ complexions! But as we know, in the Whoniverse all things are possible, and just as an older Peter Davison can waltz into the TARDIS in Time Crash – thanks to a handy shorting of the time differential - so too can Doctors Six and Seven, brainy specs and all.
Hence, in this video, we have Colin Baker moaning about the console room’s “atmospheric lighting” and Sylvester McCoy bemoaning the new “helicopter” blades on the time rotor, with clips borrowed from the recent The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Keep your eyes peeled for Christopher Eccleston and Paul McGann as well, along with a rather amusing moment in which Doctor Number Five meets Captain Jack Harkness! Belgium-sized explosions aplenty, then!
Nine Recalls The Time War
This next video best fits Steven Moffat’s original idea for The Day of the Doctor, which was rumoured to feature Christopher Eccleston’s incarnation as opposed to John Hurt’s – until Eccleston declined the role, that is. It may not feature a CGI Jon Pertwee or even a pterodactyl, but I will forgive it anything because it has been so beautifully put together.
It features the Ninth Doctor reading Wilfred Owen’s ‘Dulce et Decorum Est,’ a poem which was originally written to describe the horrors of the First World War. In this video, though, the piece is given a new slant, being used instead as the Doctor’s emotional account of the final battle between the Time Lords and the Dalek race, with Flavia’s dulcet tones resonating in the time vortex. That’s more like it! Where was Flavia when The Day of the Doctor was going down?
So if, like me, you were slightly disappointed after last year’s anniversary spectacular, do not despair – these videos exist. Yes, in a parallel universe, David Bradley went back in time to collect Susan from the year 2164, and Eccleston finally got to interact with his ‘New Who‘ successors!
We can all sleep easy – at least until you tell us which of these you liked best, or better still, how YOU would reimagine The Day of the Doctor.