‘Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor’ Recap: The Doctor's New Mission (Video)

BBC's 50th Anniversary Special disposes of the very action that brought the Doctor to the Universe

Simulcast globally on Saturday, the world watched as the very mythology of the “Doctor Who” series was rewritten and a new mission was assigned to the famous Time Lord on the 50th Anniversary Special.

Plus, not three, but five Doctors appeared on the special.

(Spoiler alert: Do not read on if you don't want to know what happened on “The Day of the Doctor”)

“The Day of the Doctor” presented several game-changers as it united David Tennant, Matt Smith and John Hurt, who all play the role of Doctor. They were brought together to basically help the War Doctor (Hurt) decide if he would go through with destroying their home planet Gallifrey in order to end the Time War and save the Universe.

See video: Watch the ‘Doctor Who’ 50th Anniversary Pre-Show



Guided by the image of former companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), the War Doctor turned to his future selves for guidance and came to the same conclusion: He needed to destroy the planet. This time around, though, he would share the regretful action with the assistance of the 10th and 11th Doctors.

But, before current companion Clara (Jenna Coleman) could show her Doctor (Smith) that there is indeed another way, the crew had to rediscover an ancient Time Lord art form that could suspend someone in one moment of time.

For that, they had to revisit England in 1562 to learn how a race of alien doppelgangers, the Zygons from 1975-era “Doctor Who” episodes, were able to use paintings to travel from that time to the current day in order to capture Alien technology, destroy the earth and move on to find more comfortable dwellings.

See photos: 39 Spoiler-Tastic Images From the ‘Doctor Who’ 50th Anniversary Special

BBC America

BBC America

So, after the Doctors convince (Read: force via sonic screwdriver) the Zygons and humans to figure out how to work together without destroying one another, they return to the question at hand: To destroy or not destroy Gallifrey. This is where Clara comes back in.

She knows how much the Doctor regrets ever doing it and reminds him that he's not the Doctor who does it, nor the one who regrets doing it, he's the one who could fix it. So with the knowledge of the time suspension paintings, the three Doctors hatch a plan to combine forces and pull the entire planet into a painting. In its absence, the attacking Daleks will shoot each other down and end the war.

Earlier in their mission, they realized that since they all share the same sonic screwdriver that if the earliest doctor begins calculations, each following Doctor would have been calculating the same problem over thousands of years. This brings all known doctors together to help pull the planet into the painting, including the 12th, oops, 13th Doctor, the incoming Peter Capaldi.

See video: ‘Doctor Who’ 50th Anniversary Prequel Reveals Series’ Missing Link



Blink and you missed him. Capaldi's eyes were shown during the scenes that worked its way through all 12 Doctors. A Time Lord even said, “No, wait, 13!”

In a flash, the planet is gone. And the three Doctors bid each other farewell. But, the 11th, no 12th (it's so confusing), realizes he doesn't know for sure whether it all worked.

Cue the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, as museum curator (and possibly playing a Doctor, we can't know for sure), who reveals that a painting believed to either be titled “No More” or “Gallifrey Falls” is actually titled “Gallifrey Falls No More.” And thus, the Doctor is given his next mission: Find Gallifrey.

See video: ‘Doctor Who’ 50th Anniversary Special Trailer: Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt Collide



The special was packed full of treats for the diehard Whovian. Some of my favorites?

– The return of the fez: It was a big fascination for Smith's Doctor (though, I read that it originated with the Eighth Doctor) when he was first trying to establish his own unique style. On the episode, he grabbed the hat from one of the museum cases and Clara told him that he could just pass by a fez one of these times.

– Companion jokes: My favorite one was when the image of Rose Tyler, sitting upon the box that is the weapon that destroys Gallifrey, tells Hurt, “Stuck between a girl and a box, the story of your life, huh Doctor?”

– Ageism in the modern Doctor: Upon meeting the 10th and 11th Doctors, Hurt mistakes them for companions — a nod of course to this iteration of the Doctor as younger men.

See video: ‘Doctor Who’ 50th Anniversary Trailer Takes a Look Back in Time (Video)

– The hero shot: The three Doctors emerged from the time suspension painting side-by-side and walking in slow motion. Epic.

– Never forget: Baker nods to the series’ lack of reference to some of the less celebrated Doctors when he told Smith, “You might find yourself visiting a few, not just the old favorites.” Possibly a foreshadowing, as well, of what's to come.

What was your take on “The Day of the Doctor”? Was it blasphemy for showrunner Steven Moffat to rewrite the show's mythology or genius?

Watch Smith and Tennant talk about uniting on-screen above. And a deleted scene from the special below:

  • Bells

    Genius! And it seems as if most of the fans agree….another start for the doctor……

  • strongy


  • Phyllis K Twombly

    Loved it. Changing the timeline–”it's what we do.” And the shot of Peter's eyebrows, a brilliant way of including the future of the Doctor.

  • Norm Thompson

    Sorry, but I found the story line too confusing and a bit boring.

  • gejufan

    i quite enjoyed it.
    reinvention while still relaying on the basis building blocks is the only way a show can survive for decades upon decades (and i do not include any soap operas, since i do not consider it proper TV). reintroducing the time lords and giving the doctor a new mission: find his home plant, is a sure way of allowing the show to live on for at least another decade or so; moffat truly was thinking about the future of dr who. let's face the lone time lord story can only go for so long, and again a show like who has to find ways of rejuvenating itself.
    like smith doctor said, the show started with the doctor running from his home in the first 30something years, than 10 years of running from destroying his home and realizing how much he had missed it, and now we will have a decade or so of the doctor running to find his home.
    the question is: what happens when he finally does? what will become of the show then?

  • Skeptic

    I didn't like how Moffat brought Gallifrey back…by doing that, he essentially destroyed the darkness and gravity that anchored Smith's hyperactive Doctor to the ground.

    • Kerim Mejdoub

      They actually always meant to save Gallifrey. It always happened. The whole universe keeps thinking it was destroyed. And the doctor forgets saving it. Only Smith's doctor remembers, this will give a hope to his character

    • KelaRavenwood

      Good thing Smith's Doctor has only one Episode left then, Huh? Gallifrey was ALWAYS going to come back at some point, because the Doctor can't keep going the way he is the lone solder everyone is afraid of eventually he would need some balance, and with someone like Peter as the doctor I don't think you need that Darkness anymore to keep him grounded. I also like that Moffit decided to be the one to handle the 12 regeneration issue by turning Smith into regeneration 12 forcing him do deal with it before Peter can take over instead of leaving it to a successor.

      • Unimportant

        Ah, but now the prophecy of the Fall of the Eleventh from series 6 no longer makes sense.

        • lori

          not necessarily, i mean you could make the debate that John Hurts doctor was not acknowledged…because he was the doctor that the doctor himself didn't want to admit existed. So therefore the prophecy was made in another timeline before he changed time and met his past self, and through experience in the new changed timeline accepted his past self.

          • Thomas Healy

            In other words: Matt Smith has fallen as the 11th Doctor and canonically is now the 12th

  • JonDelfin

    Nerd nit. “each following Doctor would have been calculating the same problem over thousands of years” It's running on Doctor time, so only hundreds of years.

    • Krud

      Also, the calculations wouldn't have been from the 1st Doctor to the present, because 1.) Not every Doctor had/used a sonic screwdriver, and 2.) I seem to recall either Matt or David's Doctor having to replace their screwdriver due to a malfunction or something.

      • ken s

        2nd can be explained that he said ‘same software different hardware’ , its like installing a software with the same programming in different computers

  • Peter Davis

    Awesome job a fresh start yet classic in its heart moffat rocks

  • XPatriate

    I'm a bit of a Doctor Who nerd and I really enjoyed the 50th Anniversary special, but there are a couple of things that confused me –

    When last we saw the Doctor and Clara, they were trapped on Trenzalore, trapped inside the Doctor's time stream. It appeared as though “window” closed behind the Doctor as Clara reached him. The Valeyard was there too. Also, River Song's echo revealed to the Doctor that she was connected to Clara.

    At the end of “The Name of the Doctor” it reads that the story would be continued on November 23, 2013, but the anniversary special wasn't really a continuation. How did the 2 Doctors and Clara escape the time stream?

  • Thomas Healy

    Spoiler alert
    The only thing I disapproved of is in the Black Archive they had pictures of all the Doctors companions including Sara Kingdom (???) How would they even know her, let alone have a picture since she only appeared in the one story “The Dalek Master Plan” and dies at the end of it never leaving her own time period.

  • Steve

    I loved the special. I do not love the renumbering of the Doctors after Eight. I think everything John Hurt did could have been done by Eight or Nine if he agreed to do it. Eccleston declining to participate is the primary reason for John Hurt being added to the roster.