I’ve never been to the cinema to watch TV before.
Eldest Weasel is a Whovian, in a big way. She quickly latched on to the fact that our lack of cable meant she would have to go elsewhere to watch the episode celebrating the 50th anniversary of the series beginning, and researched some alternatives. Our local cinema was one of those showing the two hour special, but we couldn’t get tickets until Monday 25th, two whole days after the show was being shown on tv. She managed to get together with some like-minded friends with cable and enjoyed the whole show as it was broadcast, then watched it all again. She’s seen it twice more since then.
I’d picked up some minor spoilers from the online fallout in the day or two that followed, but was still excited about the cinema trip. I’ve enjoyed the renewed Doctor Who (because it’s NOT a reboot, you know – just the same series….) but often felt that Stephen Moffat’s storylines needed more legroom than a tv episode offered.
The auditorium was small – our local cinema is a multiplex, and they had given over two screens to the Day of the Doctor. Each was sold out. We were nearly forty five minutes early for the showing, but the place was almost full. Most people were wearing t-shirts or hats with Whovian logos, and there were more than a couple in full costume – a Ninth Doctor and a Tenth, and at least one Rose Tyler. No Daleks…
When the lights went down the excitement was palpable. It was great to see that the warnings about cell phone usage and talking during the show were given by Strax, the Sontaran. This was followed by an introduction and reminder about the 3d glasses delivered by Matt Smith and David Tennant, both in character. These familiar faces were greeted with cheers and whistles, which died away as the pair turned to reveal the back of John Hurt, the mysterious War Doctor we would finally learn about when the show started.
There have been plenty of reviews and analyses of the show itself online, and I’m sure I wouldn’t have anything new to add. There were nods to the fans in every nook and cranny of the film, eliciting gasps, giggles and the occasional tear. As I had hoped, the longer time frame really suited Moffat’s convoluted storyline, allowing him the space to stretch out and fill in all the corners. Though, as befits a story dealing with time travel, the plot swoops back and forth across different time lines , it was never wildly confusing. Nothing needed to be explained in great detail. The crescendo was surprise and delight piled on top of each other, as extra guest appearances and beautifully staged shots crowded the screen.
We’d been warned ahead of time that a featurette would follow the titles, and when the names began to roll, no one moved. Everyone stayed put for the featurette, cheering the actors again and applauding as their favourite parts of the episode were mentioned.
It’s not compulsory to like Doctor Who, even if you’re British. Just as you can’t fool all the people all the time, you can’t PLEASE all the people all the time either. At times it’s silly, and it often takes itself a little too seriously, but the fundamentals of the programme are very worthwhile. The Doctor doesn’t carry a weapon. He stands up for oppressed people and encourages them to stand up for themselves too. He works best when he has friends with him, as we all do. Time and again we are shown that, wonderful as the Doctor is, his regular, human companions play a vital part in saving the day.
Not so long ago, Mrs Dim and I went to watch Man of Steel. In that movie, Superman has a range of abilities, but most important seems to be his human nature, given to him by his adoptive parents. Yet in the final, endless scenes of the movie, he does nothing but pound away, pointlessly, with super-strength. The movie seems to say “Hey, we don’t care about brains, it’s brawn that’s important here! Sure, his first three hundred and seventy punches haven’t done any good, but you never know, the next one might do it…”
The Doctor’s adventures show that thinking is key. That problems may look insoluble, but they WON’T be solved if you don’t step up and TRY. The courage to try and the application of intelligence are worth more than huge muscles or a big gun. I hope that’s an idea that spreads.