I’ve been thinking I would write a post about Russian Doll, a funny and addictive new series on Netflix that I watched in two sittings on consecutive days at the beginning of this week, but it is a popular topic and one I don’t think I have an original take on (except maybe that it is like The Good Place done properly).
What I’m here to talk about is having rediscovered just how wonderful the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who is. The Blu-Ray has been sitting out in front of my TV for a few weeks as I had reached that episode in my on-again-off-again rewatch of Matt Smith’s episodes and thought I’d make sure I watched the highest quality version of it. The ease of Netflix was fine for the normal run episodes (no discs to change) but even in that form I had watched a couple of episodes in my PlayStation VR headset. It lets you watch on a cinema sized screen all of your own, though obviously unlike a cinema there is a large plastic headset gripping a little too tightly to be fully immersed. One major benefit is that you can’t be distracted by the beep of a phone or any other parts of the real world. The other benefit I discovered today is that it can display 3D Blu-Rays in 3D, which the Day of the Doctor disc is.
I saw The Day of the Doctor in 3D when it was broadcast in cinemas alongside the TV premiere and have never been quite so excited for Doctor Who before or since. The TV movie in 1996 was exciting, but it was more local in scale and the Thirteenth Doctor’s first episode was a slight disappointment due to the deficits of Chris Chibnall’s writing.
Back in November 2013 I’d been lucky enough to visit the Doctor Who Exhibition in Cardiff while in downtime on an education tour of the UK, and that excellent attraction helped a lot with the growing excitement.
The Day of the Doctor got a multi-Doctor story just right, even throwing in two extra majorly unexpected Doctors. It also gave the three we knew about something to do without sidelining the current incarnation and having a fully realised story (in fact, two parallel ones that inform each other) that I cared about and couldn’t predict. It was also very funny. It is Steven Moffat’s best episode in my opinion, and was the one with the most expectation.
Today’s re-watch let me immerse myself fully again and feel the joy of Doctor Who done very well indeed. I’ve been lucky enough in the past six months or so to be involved in an official Doctor Who project through my work. But seeing how things actually happen behind the curtain can somewhat take the magic out of it. The reality of making something always dilutes it, sometimes making it hard to see the value in the final product. Or to get excited about my part in it.
With perspective though, the view behind the curtain is fascinating, as I found out in watching the Doctor Who The Collection Season 19 boxset. I watched every serial (most of which were completely new to me) followed by all of the extras. They chart a turbulent time for Doctor Who in the early 1980’s and the endless difficulties of making a show with the grandest of possibilities on a short timescale and tiny budget.
So basically, 3D Day of the Doctor reminded me of the best Doctor Who can be and the Season 19 boxset reminded me that creating something is never easy and to see the final product in context. Thanks, Doctor!