Doctor Who’s 50th Birthday – How did I do?

Over a year ago, I wrote about fifty different things that I wanted to see in Doctor Who‘s 50th year.  Well, with The Time of the Doctor behind us, that year is now officially over.  And so of course, I wanted to look back at my wish list and see how well the show met my hopes and dreams for the year.

I posted the article on November 23, 2012, so I’m counting that 50th anniversary year as everything that came out between then and now – basically from The Snowmen until The Time of the Doctor.

In some cases, I can see that I didn’t get what I asked for, but what I actually got was just as good or better.  In those cases, I’m counting it as  “win” for me.

(Just as with the original post, there are spoilers contained herein for the series up to this point.)

1. A resolution to the whole “first question” thing!  √Win!
2. An actual resolution to the whole “first question thing”  √Win!
Steven Moffat’s attitude toward Matt Smith’s departure from the show seems to have been something like, “Hmm, it’s about time to wrap this story up, I guess,” and so after years of hints and deferred promises, we got a pretty clear and detailed answer to this whole plotline.

3. A resolution to the whole “Silence will fall!” thing.thing” √Win!
See above, although this was given pretty glibly, also in the last episode of the year.  The baddies from Season Six were responsible for the Tardis exploding at the end of the Season Five–which of course was all of our assumptions until they gave us reason to doubt it by never making a reveal out of it.  They just didn’t know that doing so would cause the universe to be destroyed.  So nobody was out to destroy the universe – it was just a big, stupid accident.

On the other hand, there’s no explanation for how the phrase “Silence must fall,” became associated with the idea that “the Pandorica opens”.  It’s like two myths that became intertwined, to the convenience of the narrative.

4. An explanation as to why the Silence wanted Amy to tell the Doctor that she was pregnant X Lose!
And that one is likely to never be revisited.

5. An explanation of why the Silence kidnapped Amy in The Day of the Moon in the first place X Lose!
Well, I’ve since realized that Amy had her first vision of Madame Kovarian before she was kidnapped in The Day of the Moon, so the idea I called “obvious”, that it was during this period that Amy was replaced, doesn’t actually work.  So basically, no, no explanation for this was given.  Not surprising, really.

6. A conclusion to the River Song story   √Win!
Although it was sort of unsatisfying, so maybe this is really a X Lose!  The potential conclusion was seen in The Name of the Doctor.  Certainly, the episode functioned as a farewell between River and the Doctor she’s most associated with, Number Eleven. But it wasn’t a very satisfying conclusion.  It implies that the Doctor never saw or interacted with River after he “saved” her to the Library computer in Forest of the Dead, which makes him pretty cowardly, really.  Especially since it seem to be pretty easy for him to just download her into a flesh duplicate (see The Rebel Flesh) and give her some extra years of real life.  So, I’d still like to see this someday.

7. William Russell returning as Ian Chesterton   X Lose!
Sadly, no.  Although William Russell did show up in a brief cameo in An Adventure in Space and Time.  But it’s not the same thing.  Luckily, I discovered during this year that Big Finish produced a bonus adventure a while back called The Five Companions which includes Russell as Ian Chesterton in a starring role, so that might just have to satisfy me.

8. No Daleks.  X Lose!
Um, no.  And by that, I mean that there were plenty of Daleks.  Lots of them.  They were indeed the major enemy for the last two stories of the year.  But fortunately, neither story spent time trying to deal with the Daleks as characters, so there actually screen time was still kind of limited.

9. And definitely no Master.  √Win!
Yes!  And by that, I mean, there was no Master.  And no Rani either.

10. A cool new recurring villain   X Lose!
Well, there was no Benedict Cumberbatch (unless you count this).  And no debut of anyone that I’d assume was a new recurring villain.  There was the Great Intelligence, I guess, who doesn’t count as a new villain, but is certainly a new take on one.  But still, no.

11. A decent amount of episodes  X Lose!
Well, not really.  Certainly nothing more than we expected.  We had the Christmas special, and then the remaining 8 episodes of Season 7, then the 50th Anniversary Special and then the other Christmas specials.  So kind of par for the course.  But we did have An Adventure in Space and Time, The Five (ish) Doctors Reboot, and the mini-episode Night of the Doctor to flesh things out.  So that helped.

12. No more snarky comments about religion  X Lose!
I haven’t been keeping strict track but I didn’t notice anything until The Time of the Doctor when the church with their unscheduled faith change became a major plot point.  Still, it wasn’t too bad, aside from the absurdity of genetically engineering priests whom you cannot remember talking to.  What’s the point of that?  It would make more sense if the priests couldn’t remember what you told them.

13. A companion without strong ties to home  X Lose!
Um…not really.  What’s going on with the show being reluctant now to have a companion who actually lives on the Tardis?  So even though Clara’s family didn’t really come into it until this past Christmas, we still had her “regular” life that she kept going back to, that regular babysitting job, and those annoying kids she was looking after cropping up from time to time.

14. No attention given to the possibility of a romantic connection between the Doctor and his companion  X Lose!
Not too bad, but it was definitely there.  Clara was definitely attracted to the Doctor.  But fortunately, even though it was mostly one-sided, it wasn’t a Martha-esque plot point.

15. No regeneration   X Lose!
Um, no.  In fact, we had three Doctor regenerations this season.  None of them were the one I said I’d like to see, but of course a couple came pretty close, or were even better.

16. A backing off on timey-wimey mechanics, where things happen just because “they’re supposed to.”   √Win!
Well, there was that comment about the Kovarian Chapter causing the very cracks they were concerned about in a “predestination paradox”. But at least they hung a lampshade on it.  And the time travel shenanigans with Clara’s “Impossible Girl” storyline, as well as all that happened in the 50th Special, managed to avoid this sort of trap.

17. A visit in on Luke Smith    X Lose!
No, no Luke Smith.  No Sarah Jane Smith reference, aside from her being on that wall in the Black Archives along with all the other companions of the Doctor.

18. UNIT and Kate Stewart   √Win!
Yes!  A major role in the 50th.

19. The Ice Warriors   √Win!
Yes!  But not really used for any cool space-politics, as I’d hoped.  Instead, he just took the position of the week’s scary monster picking off the guest cast one at a time.

20. The Sontaran-Rutan War   X Lose!
Nope.  The only Sontarans that appeared was Strax, being amusingly ignorant in a couple of stories, and a couple of dopey look-a-likes in the last Christmas special.  No Rutans, no war, and nothing to show us how these guys could possibly manage a major galactic empire.

21. An enemy who is “interfering” with the Doctor’s past   √Win!
Amazingly, yes!  But not in the way I’d hoped.  It wasn’t a method for exploring the Doctor’s past, but rather just part of the explanation for the whole Clara / Impossible Girl storyline.  The culprit turned out to be the Great Intelligence.

22. A return to the Land of Fiction    X Lose!
Nope.

23. Sutekh the Destroyer  X Lose!
Also nope, although for a moment when I was watching The Rings of Akhaten, I thought that’s where they were going.

24. The Return of the Silurians    X Lose!
No, although they were some references in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.  And of course, Madame Vastra showed up a couple of times.

25. The Valeyard   X Lose!
No, although he was name-checked in The Name of the Doctor.

26. More Sherlock   X Lose!
No!  Although now that we’re into 2014, there are new episodes (for UK residents, anyway).

27. Paul Cornell writing an episode  X Lose!
No, sadly.

28. For Matt Smith to go Forrest Gumping his way through previous adventures   √Win!
Well, technically no, since it wasn’t Matt Smith.  Instead we had Jenna Coleman as Clara, interacting, albeit briefly, with Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton and more, including best of all, William Hartnell, in The Name of the Doctor.

29. A purely historical story   X Lose!
No, unless you count An Adventure in Space and Time as an 11th Doctor historical adventure, just one in which he is mainly watching from the sidelines until the end.

30. Kelvington’s Five Doctors with five Doctors in it!  X Lose!
Unfortunately, no.  It seems that Kelvington has gone sour on both the BBC and Youtube, pulled a lot of his videos from the site, and cancelled this project.  Which is too bad.

31. The rest of Richard Morris & Richard Brackin’s A Time To Kill    X Lose!
Well, they got about five more pages of the comic out this last year, but that’s it.  Lately, the site has focused more on an uninteresting (to me) mash-up between Stargate and Young Avengers.  There have also been a few pages of a new Doctor Who series called The 23 Doctors, but it’s hard to judge how that’s panning out at this point.

32. And while we’re at it, let’s see the conclusion of Josh M’s The Four Doctors.    X Lose!
Another seven or so chapters have come out, but it’s not at all complete.  Of course, the story is purported to be about the Last Great Time War.  Now that we’ve actually seen important aspects of the Time War, some story changes might be required.

33. More Minisodes!   √Win!
One of the highlights of the year was the surprises inherent in the prologue mini-episode to the 50th Anniversary special, entitled The Night of the Doctor.  Talk about “filling in the gaps” in the narrative.  Amazing.  There were also some bonus scenes on one of the DVD releases featuring Jenna-Louise Coleman, which I haven’t seen, and the ho-hum The Last Day.

34. Animated versions of more missing episodes   √Win!
I haven’t actually seen any of them, but in 2013, we had the DVD releases of the missing episodes from The Reign of Terror, The Tenth Planet, and The Ice Warriors.  Hoping to check them all out someday, and hope they continue to do more.

35. Complete copies of Marco Polo, The Dalek Masterplan, The Tenth Planet, The Power of the Daleks, The Evil of the Daleks, The Web of Fear, and Fury from the Deep to be discovered and released.   √Win!
Well, okay, we didn’t get all of that.  But they did recover all of The Enemy of the World and most of The Web of Fear!  That was a good day.

36. No weeping angels    X Lose!
Just a bit of Angel cameo, showing up in The Time of the Doctor.  But at least it showed the Angel in the snow, which gave them a fresh opportunity to be scary and cool, if only for a minute.

37. For Clara to make Amy & Rory into a fond memory   X Lose!
I like Clara, but I can’t say I found her all that impressive, except for perhaps in The Snowmen.  When Amy turned up in her brief cameo in Matt Smith’s final scene, we were reminded that it was still her, and not Clara, who was the 11th Doctor’s primary companion.

38. The Doctor to go back  X Lose!
No Susan, no going back.  But I’d still like to see this.  And now that we’ve seen Claudia Grant so outstandingly portray Carole Ann Ford, it seems like there’d be such an opportunity to have her play Susan Foreman at the same age as when she first left the Tardis.

39. Georgia Moffett as Jenny   X Lose!
No, although Georgia Moffett appeared briefly as herself in The Five (ish) Doctor Reboot.

40. The “Season 6B” theory…confirmed!    X Lose!
Nope, not even that one line of dialog.

41. A story set in the Tower of London about Ravens   √Win!
Mindblowingly, yes!  The Day of the Doctor has significant amounts of story set in the Tower of London, and even features Kate Stewart making a comment about them which implies that the ravens are actually robots!  (Although a bit of further reading tells me that there were enough references to UNIT being in the Tower of London and even to the ravens that this should have not been such a surprise).

42. The Dark Dimension  √Win!
Of course, we didn’t actually get a recycling of this potential 30th anniversary special, and really we couldn’t have reasonably expected that.  But still, we had a very fun scene with an older Tom Baker in The Day of the Doctor, which satisfied the basic desire.

43. Liberal use of flashbacks / easter eggs  √Win!
This is one thing that this year was absolutely full of.  I didn’t keep track of them all, but there was a reference to the Doctor’s granddaughter in The Rings of Akhaten, an appearance by the Hostile Action Displacement System in Cold War, the seal of the Time Lords in The Time of the Doctor, flashbacks and re-creations of every Doctor in both The Name of and The Day of the Doctor, and something about every minute or so in the 50th Anniversary Special

44. The Headless Monks  X Lose!
No, but perhaps this was for the best.  It would have been obvious to have them appear in The Time of the Doctor, but that episode was already crowded enough.

45. Some reasonable excuse to include Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy
√Win!
Yes, and it was provided by Peter Davison himself in his short film The Five (ish) Doctors Reboot.  Amazing.

46. Solid scripts, strong direction, good acting, and lots of fun  √Win! / X Lose!
It’s hard to know how to judge this one.  The Snowmen started off strong, and The Bells of St. John had some promise, but then we got The Rings of Akhaten which I thought was a bit appalling, and Cold War which was very routine.  Things picked up slightly as the season went along, and we got some very fun stuff with the …of the Doctor trilogy (The Name…, The Day…, The Time…).  So, I’m not sure what to make of it for the whole year.  I guess on balance I’d have to say it’s a bit of a X Lose!, but the year ended well.

47. A one-off movie special airing on November 23, 2013…  √Win!
Of course, I didn’t see it on the 23rd, but that was fine.  Being able to catch it in the theatre certainly made up for that.

48. …starring Paul McGann…  √Win!
OK, Paul McGann didn’t star in The Day of the Doctor, but he did have a starring role in the mini-sode The Night of the Doctor.  Considering the creative choice to introduce the new, never-before-seen War Doctor into the Time War, I consider what we got to be the preferred option, so I’m counting this as a √Win!  That’s not to say I still wouldn’t mind getting to see more of McGann in the future.

49. …with a cameo by Christopher Eccleston…     X Lose!
All right, Christopher Eccleston did get a bit of a cameo in The Day of the Doctor using that trusty archive footage.  But in this case, that glimpse just made me miss the fact that he wasn’t participating in a more significant way, hence I count it as a Lose.

50. …in the Last Great Time War  √Win!
Absolutely, a Win.  Even though we didn’t get the full story with all the details, and actually the episode went a bit quiet about how terrible the Time Lord were acting and how destructive the war was on the rest of the universe.  So we could always see more.  But as far as what I’m expecting to ever catch on TV, I think I’m pretty satisfied.

So how did I do?  A quick calculation has it working out this way:

√Win!– 20
X Lose!– 30

Seems like I should be unhappy.  But when I take out the “Loses” that could just as easily turn up in the future, or that when I think about it don’t really matter all that much to me, or that turned out better than I’d hoped, it’s apparent I’m doing a lot better, and we get something more like only 12 real X Loses!  And that not too bad.

Here’s looking forward to Doctor Who’s 51st Year!

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