A few years ago, I did a series of 47 daily posts which all looked at different questions related to the revival series of Doctor Who, focusing on stuff I like about the show. I worked out a series of questions in advance and then picked one randomly for each day. I’ve decided to revisit the series to see how my opinions may or may not have changed, and to bring two of my daughters into the discussion, since they are both big fans and have recently finished watching the revival series.
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 are we looking back at this now? Because we’re on a 47 day countdown to November 23, the birthday of the show.
Check out Day #14 here.
When I first did this, it was September 2016, which means we were in between the Christmas episodes The Husbands of River Song and The Return of Dr. Mysterio, and were yet to debut Peter Capaldi’s last season on the show. Jodie Whittaker was even further away. How has the passage of time, evolution of opinions, and three further seasons of the program impacted my opinions?
Today is Day #15, and our theme is…
Most Awesome Victory
One of my favorite things about the greatest Doctor Who episodes is watching the Doctor pull out last minute super-clever victories against murderous monsters. Steven Moffat was especially good at wrapping up his stories with some cool moments of the Doctor winning by being smart. Most of my favorites, including my choice this time, are from stories that he wrote.
Last time, my pick for this was Season Six’s Day of the Moon, when the Doctor used images of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon to defeat the Silence and drive them off the earth. That’s still a great victory, but it’s not my pick this time around.
What is? Well…
Steven Moffat’s masterpiece is a nearly one-man show featuring Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor caught in a peculiar puzzle-box of a castle. He eventually realizes that he’s trapped in an artificial environment, and discovers the only way out is through a wall of “Azbantium” (a mineral many times harder than diamond). Unwilling to give up a secret that would release him more quickly, and pursued by the lethal Veil, the Doctor hits the wall a few times futilely before the monster catches up and he is killed.
But then the Doctor pulls himself back to a teleportation device and uses it to restart his time in the castle all over again, having had the realization that he has done this many times before. Without the benefit of his previous knowledge, he lives the same day again, once again dying at the hands of the Veil as he punches emptily at the Azbantium.
But we see that the Doctor does this again. And again. He punches that wall hundreds, thousands, millions of times…and slowly he begins to make his way through it. His progress is charted for us by the fact that the Doctor uses his last moments to tell a story–a fable which extols the virtues of perseverance–and the more progress he makes on the wall, the further into the story he gets before he dies.
Until finally, in one of the all time great victory moments that the show has ever given us, the Doctor is able to break through the last layers of the wall, and escape his prison back onto his home planet of Gallifrey itself.
Amazing stuff thanks to stellar writing, directing, acting, and everything else that goes into making a TV show.
What did my daughters say?
Both of them also picked episodes by Moffat, but I didn’t have time to get into the details of why with them.
Johanna (16) picks Forest of the Dead (part 2 of Silence of the Library) where the Tenth Doctor faces down the Vashta Narada, and reminds them that they are in the biggest library in the universe, so look him up. They do, and then quickly back off.
Laurelle (14) picks The Doctor Dances where the Ninth Doctor gleefully declares, “Everybody lives!” when he figures out how not only to defeat the gas-mask people, but to save them.