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article imageReview: Day of the Doctor and An Adventure in Space & Time

By Paul Wallis     Nov 24, 2013 in Entertainment
Sydney - Two shows back to back, and the Dr. Who team is back in business with a vengeance. I’ve been watching Dr. Who since the very beginning, and the new lease of life has really allowed the creativity to take off. These shows are true tributes.
Screened around the world in 2D and 3D, Day of the Doctor is perhaps the most fitting tribute to British creative talent in a very long time. This is quintessential Dr. Who, fun, fascinating, and truly intriguing.
Day of the Doctor is a true epic, with multiple doctors and fittingly, an impossible plot line which I’m not going to spoil for those who haven’t seen it yet. The crisis of crises, the final Dalek attack on Gallifrey, is combined with Elizabethan intrigues, a rather unexpected marriage, a Zygon attack, and streaks of humor that could be a show of themselves. Sound good? It is.
Billie Piper reappears in a role which is likely to have people rethinking the whole idea of companions for some time. Jenna Coleman manages to continue to be the Impossible Girl, and I don’t give a damn what anyone says, she has the presence of Lalla Ward, the sexiness of Katy Manning, and the genuine, deeply appealing touch of Elisabeth Sladen.
Matt Smith continues to be a great Dr. Who. It’s a real pity to see him go, because he can carry any storyline like a weightlifter. Other doctors make their appearances in different ways, including one favorite who the BBC quite rightly makes hard to recognize, even when he first speaks. It’s a truly Dr. Who storyline right from the start.
An Adventure in Space & Time is about the beginning of Dr. Who with William Hartnell, Carole Ann Ford and the original Daleks. Behind the scenes, Dr. Who was plagued with doubters and total disbelievers. There’s some very authentic scene setting, with the truly bitchy, "shopkeeper" side of the early, pre-Beatles 1960s British media shining through like a zit on a teenager.
The original Dr. Who producer, Verity Lambert, is promoted from production assistant to producer for Dr. Who’s first shows. She faces skepticism, total disbelief that she’s the producer, and much more. Appointed by Sydney Newman, the head of BBC Drama, she’s producing what’s considered to be a “kid’s show”.
A brief cultural note: In those days, the sheer lack of appreciation of creativity was worse, if you can believe it, than today. Star Trek had to be sold to Paramount as “Wagon Train to the Stars”, for example. Dr. Who, therefore, had to be pigeonholed as something, and as a kid’s show was stuck in a broom closet-sized studio in the depths of London with a stage which could barely take the Tardis console. Every expense was spared.
Lambert, Hartnell and Ford, with their pariah show, made it work. Lambert fought, hard, and was vindicated. It wasn’t exactly a promising beginning. Senior management didn’t get it to start with. The first show coincided with the assassination of JFK. Ratings were crawling around in the bottom. The gallows was being built around Dr. Who.
Enter the Daleks
The Daleks, ironically enough for anyone’s taste, made the show. They made their appearance and put the word "Exterminate!" into the language. Lambert was on a bus after the show and saw kids playing Daleks. This was a pleasure to watch. She'd defended the whole idea of the Daleks. She went to see Newman, who’d threatened to cancel the show. He admitted they got 10 million viewers for the Daleks.
The guts of this show is really in the acting. It’s exceptionally good. Jessica Raine, who plays Lambert, absolutely nailed the part. She has real strength in this part, and she knows how to play a woman who must have been a real power plant on the set. The actor playing Hartnell, (David Bradley of Harry Potter fame) is nearly as good as Hartnell himself, very sensitive, and able to play a particularly hard part very well. An actor playing an actor is like a painting trying to be another painting, and this impossible job was done exceptionally well.
When I tell you that this review barely outlines the story, be advised that this show is a real trip. It’s excruciating, in parts, and very funny in others. A don’t miss show, like Day of the Doctor.
According to the BBC, millions of viewers tuned in to The Day of the Doctor. I hope as many watched An Adventure in Space and Time, because it deserved to be watched.
A search of Dr. Who on BBC will give you all the series information. Just don’t check out the info on Day of the Doctor until you see it.
See also the BBC’s page 50 years of memories.
Let’s face it:
50 years simply isn’t enough.
More about Dr Who, Verity Lambert, William hartnell, BBC, day of the doctor
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