47 Days of Doctor Who–Day #38: Best Special Episode

Welcome to Day 38 of my 47-day series about the revival version of Doctor Who (2005-present). I’ve come up with 47 topics / questions to answer, all of them basically positive and upbeat about the program. Each day (or as often as I can actually write these–so far so good!) I’ll pick one of them at random (using this convenient random number generator) and then write up an answer.

Why 47? It’s my favorite number.
Why Doctor Who? It’s my favorite show.
Why the modern day Doctor Who only? Simply because I remember it better.
Why only positive stuff? Because really, I write enough snark.

So, today, we spin the Random Number Generator, and it lands on 3 , which means today’s topic is

“Best Special Episode”

Unless I’m counting wrong, over the years Doctor Who has had 14 special episodes:  10 Christmas episodes, 1 Easter Special, 1 Autumn Special, 1 New Years Special, and a 50th Anniversary Special.  There have been really good ones and some poor ones, but picking the best is not difficult.  Even though I really like The Christmas Invasion and The Time of the Doctor and Last Christmas, the Best Special Episode is

The Day of the Doctor

When I first saw the 50th anniversary special, I wasn’t sure what I thought of it.  I thought it was not a perfect special, but a very good celebration.  As I’ve gone back to it since then my appreciation for it has grown a lot.  It’s got the silliness that we see in a lot of the specials (with the TARDIS being brought in by helicopter while Matt Smith hangs out the door) but it goes way beyond that to deliver a good balance of high concepts, enormous spectacle and deeply personal drama.  The first full-on meeting of multiple Doctors in a loooong time is not only something that delivers smiles and laughs, but becomes a great exploration of the Doctor’s character.  We learn about the man as we also learn about one of the most significant events in his life, the end of the Last Great Time War.

Matt Smith and David Tennant are both good in the story, as is Jenna Coleman.  Billie Piper’s return becomes something of a non-event, but still it was nice she was included.  Only in the absence of Christopher Eccleston did the special disappoint, but John Hurt is so well utilized its actually hard to figure out how he would have fitted in.

So while I enjoyed the special when I first saw it (in the cinema, no less), I’ve grown to love it since then.

Click here for a master list for this series.

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