Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor Blu-ray Review: Celebrating 50 Years

Previously reviewed by Todd Karella, The Day of the Doctor is the 50th Anniversary Special of Doctor Who, the British television series that has gone on to become such a global phenomenon the special was simultaneiusly broadcast in 94 countries across six continents.  Like past anniversary specials (The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors), The Day of the Doctor brings together various incarnations of the Time Lord to take on a great menace and have a bit of fun as the different personalities of the character interact.  

Writer and executive producer Steven Moffat delivers quite a story, as not only do three Doctors unite to defeat the shape-shifting Zygons, last seen in Terror of the Zygons, from taking over the Earth, they also deal with their action in the Great Time War, which saw the War Doctor (John Hurt) destroy both the Time Lords and the Daleks.  The grief of this has shaped the character throughout the modern version of the series, but before he detonates the device, known as the Moment, the device’s AI, which takes the form of future companion Rose (Billie Piper), gives him the opportunity to see the effect it will have on him by meeting the Tenth (David Tennant) and Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith).

Moffat strikes gold for the most part.  He delivers an action-packed adventure and alters the series’ history in way that makes sense.  While the stakes are dire, he also creates plenty of laughs, which the trio of actors playing the Doctor pulls off quite well as they go after each other teasingly like brothers.  I still haven’t connected with companion Clara (Jenna Coleman) nor understand how she understands so much.  Also, the Moment offers a suggestion on how to get the Doctors out of a cell, but surely the three of them could have figured out for themselves.   

Moffat also took the anniversary to heart, paying great tribute throughout the special to all the versions of the Doctor.  It is filled with many nods and does so right at the outset by using the original opening credits.  Some are subtle, like Clara teaching at a school near where First Doctor appeared in the very first episode, “An Unearthly Child”.  Others are obvious, like a lab assistant wearing a long colorful scarf similar to the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker).  Speaking of another Doctor, the Eleventh Doctor closes the special talking about one day becoming a curator.  He then meets the Museum Curator who hints they are the same person in a scene that should delight long-time fans of Doctor Who.

The Blu-ray comes with a 3D and 2D version as well as a DVD.  The 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer is displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1.  The image delivers bright colors, deep blacks, and fine texture detail.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 offers an engaging experience.  The dialogue is clear and comes from the front.  Effects, which get great support from the LFE, fill the surrounds and are positioned well.

All the Special Features are in HD.  Two prequel Mini-Episodes take place during The Great Time War.  “The Night of the Doctor” (7 min), viewable on the site, is an integral chapter of the story as the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) prepares for battle and with the help of the Sisterhood of Karn, previously seen in The Brain of Morbius, becomes the War Doctor.  “The Last Day” (4 min) is a non-essential short about a fighter who briefly witnesses war coming to Gallifrey. 

Narrated by Sixth Doctor Colin Baker, “Behind the Scenes” (14 min) begins a the script read-through and takes the viewer to the production.  “Doctor Who Explained” (47 min) is a special that does it’s best to tell the story of the series and character that has been around for 50 years.  Among the interview subjects are the actors who played Doctors Fourth through Eleventh sans Eighth and Ninth.  Subjects also covered include companions, villains, and UNIT.  There is also the Comic Con Trailer (2 min) and the Teaser Trailer (1 min).  The set also comes with a Limited Edition of 12 trading cards from Topps.

The Day of the Doctor does the series proud and makes a great anniversary present for Whovians no matter when they first started watching. 

Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site.

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