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How do you celebrate 50 years?
That's the question that Steven Moffat had to answer with this TV movie and boy was he successful. The film begins with the original Delia Derbyshire opening titles and it's amazing how well they hold up today, even on a big screen (this was shown in cinemas as well as on TV). The opening features many homages to the William Hartnell era of the show, including a policeman walking past a familiar junkyard sign and Coal Hill School. My only criticism of this sequence is that they missed a trick in not having William Russell as Ian Chesterton be the one who leaves Clara with the Doctor's current address.
The plot feels like a wonderful blend of the classic and new series. On one hand, you've got Zygons trying to populate the Earth as their new home by taking on the forms of others. On the other, the end of the Time War and debate over whether the Moment is the only option or if there is another way. What is great about both of these elements is how they not only look to the past but also set future elements in motion. The Zygon plot sets up Invasion/Inversion of the Zygons and the Time War segments set up whenever they decide to return to the 12th Doctor's appearance alongside the other Doctors (and isn't that a great sequence? 'All 12 of them', 'No sir, all THIRTEEN').
Talking of the Doctors, all three of the main ones are as great as you would expect from such brilliant actors. John Hurt is incredible as the War Doctor, David Tennant shows why he is truly the greatest Doctor so far (in my opinion, of course) and Matt Smith is on top form as the current Doctor of the time the 11th Doctor. Whilst the other Doctors do appear, it is as archival footage towards the end (apart from the 12th Doctor, who appears in new footage albeit with just his killer eyebrows in shot).
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Oh, and Tom Baker is magnificent as the Curator. His voice sends shivers down any Whovian's spine when you first hear it before he appears. What's especially good here is how it is not outright stated he is a future incarnation of the Curator (although it is hinted), it is left mainly up to individual interpretation so if you want to say it's the 4th Doctor aged due to time differential (my preferred theory), you can.
The writing is possibly Steven Moffat's best also. Day of the Doctor features some of the best lines in any film I've seen (not just in Doctor Who, although admittedly I am a bit biased) including 'Great men are forged in fire. It takes the privilege of a lesser man to light the flame' and 'Clara sometimes asks me if I dream. Of course I dream, I say. But what do you dream about, she'll ask. The same thing everybody dreams about, I'll tell her. I dream about where I'm going. She always laughs at that. But you’re not going anywhere, you’re just wandering about.That’s not true. Not anymore. I have a new destination. My journey is the same as yours, the same as anyone’s. It’s taken me so many years, so many lifetimes, but at last I know where I’m going. Where I’ve always been going. Home. The long way around.'.
Overall, Day of the Doctor is a brilliant celebration of 50 years from 1963-2013 and essential viewing for anybody, not just Whovians. My only complaint is no Ian Chesterton.