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BBC's Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special: "Day of the Doctor" Trailer Analysis

Faith D’Isa ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff

There’s something to be said about any show that lasts more than a couple seasons, especially now when it seems like a good, original show is hard to come by. In particular, it seems as if sci-fi programs come and go with the years, only one in a batch has an innovative concept and universe that’ll survive.

So it’s impossible not to note Doctor Who, a show that’s not only withstood the test of time, but also an “indefinite hiatus,” and a failed relaunch through a TV movie. A TV movie.

Doctor Who started as a cult British sci-fi program in 1963, and since has gained critical and commercial success. Now coming on its 50th anniversary, the show, known for anniversary specials bringing back characters and setting off the plot with a bang, has been gaining more hype than ever.

Doctor 1

The 50th Anniversary Special, titled “The Day of the Doctor”, has been shrouded with secrecy, from the return of Tenth Doctor David Tennant and his companion, Rose Tyler (played by 90’s pop sensation Billie Piper) to the casting of veteran actor John Hurt in a mystery role. Even the filming was ambiguous and fairly closed to the public. When the trailer for the episode was released and the crowd sworn to secrecy at this year’s San Diego Comic Con, the fandom exploded, and has since been awaiting the wide release of the trailer.

This past Saturday, the wait came to an end.

After a 30 second teaser, the BBC released the official trailer for “The Day of the Doctor”. At 1 minute and 20 seconds long, they managed to pack a lot of information and possibilities–so pay attention!

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!

As months have passed since the initial casting announcement, the major question at play here is who exactly is John Hurt playing? The series 7 finale, “The Name of the Doctor” revealed that, in some incarnation, he was joining the likes of David Tennant and Matt Smith as “the Doctor”. But how?

“I’ve had many faces, many lives. I don’t admit to all of them. There’s one life I’ve tried very hard to forget.”
“I’ve had many faces, many lives. I don’t admit to all of them. There’s one life I’ve tried very hard to forget.”

This trailer sets up the entire special for us, centering around something called “the moment”, mentioned several times in correlation to the infamous Time War that set off Doctor Who when it came back to television in 2005. All we know about the Time War is that it was fought between the Doctor’s people, the Time Lords, and their sworn enemies, the Daleks, and that the Doctor, having to be the one to end it, was the only survivor, the rest being set in a time lock.

Doctor 3

We see Gallifrey, the Doctor’s home planet, under siege. The Time War plays out before us: panicked Time Lords chased by Daleks, complete with explosions and the catchphrase—“exterminate!”

“Great men are forged it fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.”
“Great men are forged it fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.”

It’s heavily assumed by the fandom that John Hurt’s Doctor is the Doctor who ended the Time War and locked away all of the Time Lords and Daleks, doing something “unspeakable” that lead him to denounce the name “the Doctor”. This theory is highly supported by the trailer, both by the dialogue spoken by Hurt and the war-like surroundings he seems to be in. He also seems to say to David Tennant and Matt Smith’s Doctors later in the trailer that he’s looking for the Doctor, obviously not knowing who they both are. Because the Time War happened before Tennant and Smith’s time on the show, Hurt’s Doctor would not know who they were.

This also discredits the theory of Hurt being the Valeyard, a Classic Doctor Who villain who was an amalgamation of the Doctor’s regenerations, and a twist on his “evil side”.

Allons-y!
Allons-y!

The other main speculation going on around the special is the return of fan favorite Doctor, David Tennant. Tennant left the show in 2010 when his Doctor regenerated into Smith’s. Since then, the community at large has been waiting for his return. This summer, it was announced that he and his companion, Rose Tyler (portrayed by Billie Piper), would be returning for the much-anticipated special; the fan communities immediately set to work, trying to determine what this time would be the cause of the Doctor meeting his past self. After all, it isn’t the first time this has happened; “The Three Doctors” and “The Five Doctors” were both anniversary specials back in the early days of the show.

The murmur’s also gone around whether or not Tennant will be portraying his own Time Lord Doctor, or the human Metacrisis Doctor that Rose was left with at the end of her story, even down to research on the hairstyles and sideburns Tennant sported during filming. The trailer points directly to Time Lord, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Billie Piper as Rose Tyler
Billie Piper as Rose Tyler

The same goes for actress Billie Piper’s return as Rose Tyler, the Doctor’s companion and love from the reboot in 2005 until 2010. With a number of gaps in her plotline, it’s hard to place exactly where Rose fits in. It’s possible this is somehow related to Rose’s role as the “Bad Wolf”, started in the first series finale, “Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways” in which she took in the Time Vortex to save the Doctor. In that moment, she was able to see everything that was and would be, and in the trailer, her eyes glow, much like they did when she’d been the Bad Wolf.

Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald

Rounding out the spectacular team of leading players is Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald, the Doctor’s current companion and love interest. The past season has primarily focused on the Doctor trying to “figure out” Clara; a girl he’s seemingly met twice before—two times she’s died during to save him. In the Series 7 finale, “The Name of the Doctor”, it was revealed that Clara wasn’t anything special persay; she was faced with a choice to save him, jumping into his time stream to save his life, thousands of times, from the Great Intelligence.

The last footage we have from that episode puts the Doctor and Clara inside his time stream, confronted by Hurt, who Clara does not recognize, although she’s seen all of his life. It’s obvious that Clara’s connection with the Doctor will change drastically in “The Day of the Doctor” considering all that’s occurred, but it’s just a matter of time before the effects come into play in what’s expected to be a significant way. Clara parallels Rose very well, and it’s exciting to see how they’ll interact.

"Lovely!"
“Lovely!”

“The Day of the Doctor” has been a long time coming, and this trailer had everything we could have wanted. From the interaction between popular Doctors Smith and Tennant, but also newcomer Hurt, to the stunning visuals of the Time War and the TARDIS flying over London, this trailer gave us a great taste of what’s to come—now all we’ve got to do is wait until the worldwide simulcast at 2:50 p.m. on the 23rd to get the whole story!

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