Anniversary episode airs on TV, in theatres
By Cheryl Minns, Arts Editor
Grab your fez and put on your thinking glasses because The Day of the Doctor has arrived. The long-awaited 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who premiered simultaneously at various movie theatres and on television screens around the world on November 23.
The 75-minute episode follows the Doctor (currently played by Matt Smith), a Time Lord who travels the universe in a blue police box, as he and his former incarnations (David Tennant and John Hurt) go on an adventure through time and space to save the Earth and maybe even their soon-to-be-destroyed home planet, Gallifrey.
With an interesting plot set between present day and the Elizabethan era and featuring special effects that rival blockbuster movie hits, the episode seems more like a cinematic film than a season opener for a television show.
In Vancouver, the televised broadcast and theatre showings began at 11:50 a.m. to coincide with England’s 7:50 p.m. showtime. Dedicated fans sold out the theatre shows as soon as tickets became available while others loyally sat by their televisions for the commercial-free broadcast.
But how did a low-budget, black and white, children’s show that debuted on November 23, 1963 gain such a devoted fan following?
Many of the recent fans attribute their passion for the show to its 2005 reboot with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, the fan-voted number one companion of all time. The new series embraced the sci-fi genre and filled the show with special effects while sending the Doctor and Rose across the universe and through time from the Victorian era to the end of the world, battling foes and putting their lives in peril for the greater good.
The reboot also went for darker episodes than its predecessor and featured the deaths of lead characters—such as the Doctor, who regenerates instead of dying to allow for recasting—and the departure of companions Amy Pond and Rory Williams, who were attacked by Weeping Angel monsters.
Speculation over which former characters and guest stars would appear in the 50th anniversary episode ran rampant among fans over the last year. They predicted former companions like Rose and the actors who previously played the Doctor would appear in the episode.
Piper returns, as many expected, and plays a variation of her original Rose character. Tom Baker, who played the Doctor in the 1970s, also makes an appearance in the episode.
The Day of the Doctor is an instant fan favourite with solid writing and special effects, entertaining guest appearances and inside jokes, and fantastic comedic timing between Doctor actors Smith and Tennant. Doctor Who is an excellent example of what classic British television can achieve when people believe in it and support it.