I was a day late getting to see this episode. All I can say is... good things come to those who wait.
This is a tale not just to celebrate fifty years of storytelling. It doesn't just celebrate a staple of British Television and Popular Culture. It celebrates everything we all hold dear in our hearts. The horrors of war giving way to the beauty of peace. The darkness of the abyss, laid bare before the light of hope. In essence this is a story that shows all of us that which we see in the best of ourselves.
I've always been a fan of Doctor Who. I grew up watching it on PBS back in the 80's. I was hopeful when the Movie with McGann was broadcast back in the 90's. I was watching every episode every week it came on on Sci-Fi when it started up again in 2005 and I haven't missed an episode yet. And this episode delivers in spades.
One of the major events prior to the restart of the series that we've always heard bits and pieces about has been the Time War. How the Time Lords and the Daleks engaged each other in a war across the whole of time and space. How Gallefry was destroyed, and how it all ended in fire. And we've always known, that it was the Doctor who lit the flames.
However, we get a good long look at the last day of the war. When the Doctor has The Moment, the ultimate weapon of mass destruction ever created. But unlike other weapons this one has a conscious. Not many weapons around that would actually make you really think about what you are about to use it for.
I won't go into the rest of this episodes plot and storyline. As the Doctor and River like to say, Spoilers. But I will go into the performances. John Hurt plays a different Doctor, one tired from fighting a long war against the Daleks. He has seen horrors and has decided No More. Hurt's portrayal is exemplary, as would be expected from an actor of his caliber.
The return of David Tennant and what his Doctor is up to in England 1530 was already sort of foretold. If you go back to the beginning of “The End of Time Part 1” you'll hear him tell Ood Sigma what he was doing. For him this happens some point in time prior to The End of Time.
Matt Smith to me has grown in his character over his run as The Doctor and has a place up there among the best of them. He and Tennant worked extremely well together. Their portrayal as different lives of the same man reminds me of how Troughten and Pertwee interacted in the episodes where they acted together. The Sonic Screwdriver showdown was especially funny. Especially when Tennant asks if Smith is compensating for something. Regeneration, it's a bit of a lottery.
This all leads up to a wonderful romp along many different lines back and forth across past present and future. Leading up to a surprise gift at the end. Even the next Doctor, now in my book number thirteen Peter Capideli has a brief cameo in this episode. Even if it is only an intense eye shot.
Being a fan of this series I can only say that this is what the celebration of Fifty Years of broadcasting should be. It inspires us on a personal level, leads us all back on to dream up new stories, both literary and literal. To be the best of our kind and do what we can to save even one person. Even when all hope is lost.
One of the best lines in this episode is actually Hurt's, “Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.” This sums up everything in a perfectly delivered line from the perfect actor to say so.
The episode ends with the Doctor given a new mission. A new lease on his own lives. And a promise renewed to everyone in the universe. If you haven't seen this episode I urge you to get a hold of it as soon as possible and watch. It is Fantastic!