Daleks, Time Lords & Limp Lettuce

Underwhelmed Face

Underwhelmed Face

“Totally underwhelming”.

There, I’ve said it. Don’t hate me. But that’s what I think about the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special. Let’s be honest, The Day of the Doctor was a bit like eating a salad with no vinaigrette – it was a bit lacklustre. And it’s a shame because it all started off so well…

Dumpa-de-dum, Dumpa-de-dum, Dumpa-de-dum, Diddley-dum…

First of all, we were treated to the original opening titles – the very same ones that introduced Doctor Who to world back in 1963. It was wonderful to see those iconic swirling patterns in all their black-and-white beauty flickering across the screen.

Likewise, hearing Ron Grainer’s eerie masterpiece made me do a little bit of a geek wee – that pulsing electronic baseline and swooping organ-like melody still stands the test of time 50 years on. It’s my all-time favourite TV theme tune, piping Juliet Bravo and Treasure Hunt to the post.

More nods to the past then followed with a knowing wink given to die-hard fans by way of references to the junkyard at Totter’s Lane and the Coal Hill School (both of which featured in the show’s first-ever episode, An Unearthly Child).

Gripping Stuff

We were then catapulted across the stars to the Doctor’s home-world. Here we got to see the oft-quoted Time War between the daleks and the Time Lords. And credit where credit’s due – the invasion of Gallifrey was spectacular. The shots of the dalek fleet pounding Arcadia and the Capitol were a veritable feast of pyrotechnics and CGI wizardry.

Let’s not forget the superb dialogue in the Time Lord high command which injected a real sense of foreboding, desperation and urgency – the likes of which I haven’t felt since I visited the Churchill Cabinet War Rooms in London.

The trailer really did showcase all the best bits…

Not So Hot

However, from there on in it all went a bit pear-shaped. What followed was about 30 minutes of padding which went something like this…

  •   Supposed light relief courtesy of an asthmatic boffin in comedy glasses and, for some strange reason, Tom Baker’s scarf
  • Lots of running around the bowels of a rather studio-looking art gallery 
  • Redundant appearances from old foes the Zygons who, let’s be honest, were far more menacing back in 1975
  • A distinctly wooden and Welsh-sounding portrayal of Elizabeth I which frankly should be consigned to the far reaches of Barry Island, never to be seen again

Perks Up Again

Fast-forward through all this fluff and you get to some good stuff towards the end of the episode. We discover that John Hurt (who out-acted Tennant and Smith with just a raise of an eyebrow) is actually the 9th Doctor, which I’m guessing means we need to shunt Messieurs Ecclestone, Tennant, Smith and Capaldi back a digit each. Plus we get to see all the incarnations of the Doctor come together to save Gallifrey via some rather cool computer trickery.

Would You Like A Jelly Baby?

One thing I’m sure most fans will be waxing lyrical about is the appearance of Tom Baker. While I appreciate this nod to the classic series, the cameo kind of left me cold. After all, my Doctor was Peter Davison and so I didn’t really feel the connection.

Feel the Peter Davison love...

Feel the Peter Davison love…

On A Level With American Life

In short, The Day of the Doctor is no Caves of Androzani, no Talons Weng Chiang, no Blink. It had its moments but in general felt a little bit flat. It reminded me how I felt when Madonna released her American Life album – I was desperate to like it but just couldn’t, try as I might. Testament to this is the fact I’m really not that bothered about watching The Day of the Doctor again on catch-up. Normally I would have seen it about five times by now.

Happy Birthday To Ya!

But it’s not all doom and gloom. The fact that Doctor Who is still going strong at 50 is one hell of an achievement. So, despite the rather limp lettuce outing ce soir, let’s raise a glass to everyone’s favourite time-travelling hero.

Happy birthday Doctor Who – here’s to the next 50!

(And hopefully some better scriptwriting)

PS: Did anyone see the embarrassment that was the Afterparty on BBC Three this evening? Stephan Moffat‘s face on the live link with One Direction in LA kind of said it all.

Mini-me, Closets & TV Gold

The Tardis

The Tardis

Note: Apologies for the radio silence for the past few months. I’m commuting between Paris and London at the mo and so don’t have quite as much time for blogging as I’d like. However, what with this weekend being super special and all, I’ve found the time to write a post about something very dear to my heart…

Grandma’s House

When I was a kid, I used to play in an odd little room in my grandma’s house. It was a kind of hallway that connected the lounge, the downstairs loo, the spare bedroom and the boiler room. When you shut all four doors, it created a sort of cupboard that you could stand in.

Air-raid Shelter vs Police Box

My gran used to seek refuge in this bizarre closet whenever there was a storm – she was scared stiff of thunder and lightning as the rumbles and flashes reminded her of the Blitz. While she viewed this hallway as a bomb shelter, I regarded it as something quite different. To my mind it was Doctor Who’s TARDIS.

My TARDIS

I spent whole summer holidays holed up in that strange space making ear-piercing ‘vworp-vworp’ noises. In my head, the kitchen stool I used to set in the centre of the room was actually a shiny six-sided console alive with twinkling lights and whirring dials. And it goes without saying that this wardrobe-like room was bigger on the inside than the outside.

Scroll to 0.46 for mini-me (well kind of…)

50th Anniversary

Fast forward 30 years and while I might not shut myself up in cubby-holes anymore, I’m still just as captivated by Doctor Who. And I’m incredibly excited about this weekend. In case you’ve been living under a stone for the past few weeks and failed to notice the BBC’s publicity juggernaut in action, this Saturday will mark the 50th anniversary of the sci-fi show.

All-star Cast

The one-off special, called The Day of the Doctor, will feature the present incumbent of the Doctor, Matt Smith, team up with his predecessor, David Tennant, and former companion Rose Tyler, AKA Billie Piper. As if that wasn’t enough, veteran actor John Hurt is set to play a version of the Time Lord known only as the War Doctor.

The Night of the Doctor

Last week, the Beeb gave us a little bit of an insight as to how Mr Hurt’s incarnation came into being thanks to an online mini-sode called The Night of the Doctor. It included none other than Doctor Who No.8, Paul McGann. I’ll be honest with you, when I watched it I squealed like a girl and a bit of wee came out. Here it is in case you missed it…

An Adventure In Space And Time

But that’s not all. Much like the ambassador, the BBC has been really spoiling us of late. Last night saw the screening of An Adventure In Space And Time – a drama that recounted the birth of the show back in 1963. The script was penned by Mark Gatiss of League of Gentlemen fame and starred the wonderful David Bradley as the late, great William Hartnell who was the original Doc. If you haven’t seen it yet I suggest you watch it on iPlayer pronto. Just make sure you have a hanky with you as it was really rather touching stuff.

Anyhow, that’s enough of my Whovian prattling for now. No doubt you’ll all be hearing from me again tomorrow once I’ve seen what’s billed to be the televisual event of the year!