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We're in the midst of November, and pretty soon we'll be gathered around for that most joyous of occasions. Thanksgiving. Nah, I'm just joking. I hate my family. I'm talking about the 50th Anniversary Doctor Who Special, "The Day of the Doctor," that will be airing November 23. For a long time now, Doctor Who has been a very important part of my life. I don't even consider it to be a TV show anymore; it's just something that is, and something that is almost a part of me, rather than something I merely watch for entertainment. There's only one other show like that (Game of Thrones, FYI), and doesn't have specials. Nor has it been been around for 50 years. But Doctor Who has accomplished both of these things, and "The Day of the Doctor" promises to be a mammoth of a special, with multiple incarnations of the Doctor interacting with each other (this has happened before, but it's been a while). For all we know, it could be the biggest and greatest Doctor Who special of all time.

But, what does that mean exactly? What about "The Day of the Doctor" could make it absolutely brilliant? Well, I'll tell you. Or at least, I'll tell you what I want to see in this special. Below are a list of the main things that I want to see in less than a week. And yes, they go to eleven.

1. Answers

Call me crazy, but I find answers to questions posed on a TV show very important. Especially for a show I care about like Doctor Who. I despise unexplained MacGuffins, and I don't like it when important questions go unanswered for seasons at a time. So first and foremost on this list, I want some answers.

Now, Steven Moffat is brilliant. There's no way around that. He is an incredible writer and show-runner who has taken our beloved series to some absolutely fantastic places. Moffat has also engineered some of the greatest twists and surprises that this show has ever seen. He creates intricate plotlines which will break off, diverge, and seem to spin about out of control, before suddenly swooping in on each other in one glorious moment.

I love it when this happens, but ultimately Moffat's run has seen more questions unanswered than not; or at least, there have been too many questions left cruelly hanging for my taste. In many cases, we the viewer can take some pretty educated stabs at answering these questions, and it would certainly seem as if we've found the right answer. But there isn't the same resolution that we'd get if they were answered in some spectacular manner on the show itself.

Take the example of Room 11. If you recall, in "The God Complex" the Doctor enters a room that houses his greatest fear. We don't see what's in there, but we hear the chimes of a clock and the Doctor says: "Of course; who else?" So the Doctor's fear is some sort of person. Surely it can't be The Master, because he's dead (supposedly). Until recently, there wasn't one particular character that stood as being the Doctor's greatest fear. But with John Hurt's introduction in last season's finale, now there is. It seems right that the Doctor saw the War Doctor incarnation of himself in that room. After all, who else would he fear but the worst version of himself? This is the guy who's stared down the actual devil and kept his ground, so his fear would lie inward.





But while this answer fits, and makes sense, we don't have confirmation that it is the right one (I don't know if Moffat or anyone has said in an interview that this is the case, but it really doesn't matter since it needs to happen on the show to count). While we just met Hurt's character, the question has been hanging there for a while.

And what about the question that started Moffat's reign? Who created the cracks in time? We know that they all originated from a crack in the TARDIS/it being blown up, but who/what created that first crack and blew it to pieces. Whose voice said "silence will fall" and took control from River? Was it a member of the Silence? Was it the Great Intelligence? Was it the Whisper Men? Who even are the whisper men, other than all being the Great Intelligence in some strange unexplained way? Who are the Silence, for that matter? We know that they're an order/military/religion/cult thing that if fighting a war that the Doctor started. And we know that in the Season 7 finale their central belief/commandment was shattered. But what/who/why are they exactly?

There are so many questions that have been left hanging for a while. And the moment we are given one answer, there are two questions that spiral out into the void. Hopefully, this special will provide a lot, or at least some, answers. And who knows, it may even shell out more answers than questions. It's a good sign that in "The Night of the Doctor" we finally learned how the 8th Doctor shuffled off. I'd like to see much more of this on Saturday.

2. Everyone who can fit

This is the 50th anniversary, so anyone who's anyone should be along for the ride. Now, it's been said that Christopher Eccleston will no longer be joining the fun, which is so very sad. And apparently none of the Doctors from the older series have been asked to be a part of it. We have already seen Paul McGann in the splendid "The Night of the Doctor." And we already know that there will be a lot of other return appearances (though presumably McGann won't make it to the actual special). I'm hoping that there will be a lot more that haven't been announced yet (in one interview with David Tennant and Matt Smith they mentioned one person who they filmed with that they weren't allowed to talk about). Bring back Captain Jack, Donna, Martha, and even Jackie and Mickey. Bring as many people as can comfortably fit. I want to see as many familiar faces as possible, provided of course...

3. Quality over Quantity

There is not always strength in numbers, especially if this special has more special guest stars than it knows what to do with. While I want to see as many familiar faces as possible, what I don't want is for those people to be standing around with nothing to do. I don't want Captain Jack to show up for five minutes just so that he can take a bullet for someone, die, come back to life, and then leave.

Similarly, I don't want there to be humorous banter for the sake of humorous banter, monologues for the sake of monologues, and monsters for the sake of monsters. Sure, "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" was phenomenal because there were...well...dinosaurs on a spaceship. But they were there for a reason that meant sense. And they did things, and were revealed in cool ways (like how they thought the pterodactyls were birds at first). They weren't just there for the sake of being there, solely so that the episode could have a cool name.

This special should be action-packed. There should be several guest stars. There should be humorous banter. There should be powerful monologues. And there should most certainly be monsters and creatures. But there should be a purpose and specificity to all of these things. They should mesh together well, and make the whole greater than its parts. Look at how they used McGann in "The Night of the Doctor." He appeared for less than six minutes, but those few minutes were incredibly important to the upcoming special, and the series as a whole. That brief appearance of his answered so many questions, and filled in one of the largest gaps that Whovians everywhere have been wondering about for almost a decade. This is a great use of a special guest star. What I don't want to see is what looks like a collection of barely related webisodes hastily slung together. If it's a choice between one brilliant moment and three mediocre ones, give me the brilliance.

4. Brilliant Moments

Speaking of which, I want this special to be chalk full of brilliant moments. If you're going to call it a special, then make it so. Preferably, every single scene should score high in a list of top 100 Doctor Who moments. Realistically, I know that this is asking for a lot. Still, we're talking about the 50th Anniversary here; there's very little room for fat. And while I realize that by necessity they'll have to write scenes with exposition, explanations, and all those things that can be tedious at times, there are still ways to insert them using brilliant moments.

For instance, remember the second scene in "The Wedding of River Song?" The Doctor has the line about imagining you were dying, and alone, and then you saw the face of the devil himself. Now, I'm guessing that most of you remember that scene, because it's one of those brilliant moments that I'm talking about. But if you think about it, the whole "point" of that scene is so that the Doctor can get information about The Silence. Him suddenly knowing who he needs to contact, in order to actually know who and what he is apparently fighting a war with, is one of those necessary things that needed to happen for the episode to move forward. However, the act of the Doctor gaining a file of information was delivered in one of the series's most memorable moments. So the best case scenario would naturally be for a complete lack of ordinary and mundane in the special. Every scene should be excellent, and more than a few should be brilliant.

5. An awful lot of running


We all know that the Doctor is a major proponent of exercise, and since we'll be dealing with at least two Doctors (three depending on how you classify Hurt's character; though, we're admittedly assuming that Tennant will appear in this special as "The Doctor," even though it could be his double, whom some may not classify as the Doctor. So there could actually be only one true Doctor in the special, but I digress), there should be quite a lot of running indeed. I don't know what it is about seeing the Doctor and those around him run, but it does tend to make everything going on more important and exciting. This one isn't as big as some of my other desires, and it's not one that I'm particularly worried about, but any running in the special will be taken as full of awe indeed.

6. Fleshed-out Villains

It seems to me, that lately on the show, the villains haven't been all that fleshed out. This applies mostly to this most recent season. It could have to do with the fact that there haven't been any two-parters, but we don't get quite the amount of backstory and understanding of the creepy-crawlies that we used to. Who exactly were those things in "Hide," what was the deal behind the "alarm clock" in "The Rings of Akhaten," and who are the Whispermen precisely? We know that they're the Great Intelligence according to "Clarence and the Whispermen," but...how? Why do they have that appearance, what are they made of, how do they do what they do, etc.


Do you remember how in two episodes we both understood The Silence (or at least, the creatures that were first referred to as the Silence), and feared what they represented. We didn't know everything about them, so they still retained a sense of mystery. But we knew what they could do, as well as how they evolved/existed as a species in relation to those around them. We feared them because we knew what they were capable of, not just because of what they looked like. The Whispermen, on the other hand, do look scary in a similar way, and they are born of a similar innate fear, but there's too much unknown about them for us (or at least me) to take them seriously.

The villains of this special need to be fleshed-out. We need to know what they can do, what they want, and why they want it. There needs to be nuance in every baddie the Doctor(s) and his/their companions come across, even the ones that are simply there to look weird/cool. Especially those ones.

7. Actual Stakes

I'm going to admit, this one will be very hard to pull off. For a long time on this show, the stakes haven't been that high at all. Or to put it better, they have been impossibly high. So high that there is no way that the dreaded possibility our heroes are faced with will every actually happen, at least not in the long-term. Since Season 4, the very existence of the Universe has been threatened in one way or another. The Universe has been destroyed and then re-created, time has stopped and started, reality itself has faded away into strange ramblings. And of course the Doctor has died. Oh, has the Doctor died. He has been shot twice in quick succession with a laser gun, almost poisoned to death (that one wasn't even in a finale), erased from time, and most recently his time-stream was violently violated by the Great Intelligence/Whispermen/seriously-what-is-going-on-with-those-things?

All of these things are such that, if they actually happened, the show would end. If the Universe were destroyed, or if the Doctor died (especially if the Doctor died), Doctor Who would be no more. Of course, I should clarify that the show would end if any of these things happened in a permanent way. In every single show besides Doctor Who (with the possible exception of Supernatural), the main character dying, or the Universe being destroyed, would be shocking. So extremely shocking, that some people might stop watching the show. But on Doctor Who, this has become business as usual. In fact, it almost wouldn't be a finale if everything didn't briefly end in some way or another.


It's gotten to the point where nothing on this show is shocking or surprising anymore. Or at least, these shocking, surprising things are only temporary. The Doctor dies...so what? We all know he'll be back up on his feet in ten minutes at most. The Universe ends...this again? Once again, give it ten minutes and everything will be fine. It is really hard to even have stakes on this show, because even when bad things happen we know they're only temporary. And when they aren't temporary, we already know they're going to happen. In fact, we've likely known about them for months. This show is lousy at keeping secrets when it comes to actors joining/leaving the cast. We always know well in advance when a companion is leaving, when a new one will be coming along (and who will be playing said companion), when the Doctor will be next regenerating, and who will be playing the next Doctor.

Essentially, things need to change. I would really like it if in this special there were actual stakes. They should preferably be introduced early on, and we should get the sense that the bad outcomes in question could actually happen, permanently, without being reversed. Once again, I think this is going to be the hardest item on my list for the writers to deliver. But I'd still like it.

8. Problems that are introduced and then immediately solved

Lately, this show has focused less on how the problems in a given episode are solved, and more on our heroes discovering just what is going on. Whether it's spending half the episode learning that a slow invasion is actually an invasion -- only to save everyone five minutes after the real danger has been discovered -- or saving Clara from the Doctor's time-stream two minutes after she's jumped into it, the show has tended of late to solve problems almost immediately after they're introduced.




I'm personally not a huge fan of this approach, because it requires that the bulk of the episode be vague and indecisive about the enemy/danger/bad thing that's going on. I mean, it's fine when a large part of the episode is spent trying to stumble through the maze of crazy that the Doctor and his companion(s) have found themselves in. In fact, it's preferable to everything being clear from the beginning. But this should only last for half the episode at most. If you've only met the real villain ten minutes before the end, then you don't really get enough time to fear this person/thing.

The same thing goes for obstacles. I've already listed examples where problems were solved almost immediately after they were introduced. These aren't good. We don't really have time to be worried about a planetary invasion which is killing off the entire populace, when five minutes after learning this fact the Doctor fixes everything with the press of a button. What's more, we the audience don't have time to try and solve these problems for ourselves, to empathize with the Doctor about how difficult the situation is that he is in. Especially when fixing it involves something that has only just been introduced. I mean, at least give us 10 minutes to start to worry about whatever terrible thing is happening, and possibly ponder the long-term ramifications of what would happen if it actually came to pass.

I'm hoping that we learn about the big peril in this special preferably one fourth of the way into it. Fine, at least halfway in? Please?

9. Endings that aren't beginnings

Now, I'm fully aware that most of the Doctor Who reboot seasons have ended with beginnings. As a rule, this is fairly common with the show in general, seeing how a number of endings have contained a regeneration. And a regeneration is the definition of a beginning. However, usually these beginnings pop up only after the previous chapter has been fully closed. This last season didn't end with a closed chapter. The Doctor and Clara are still in his time-stream, and it didn't look like there was an exit sign anywhere nearby.

I honestly don't mind the fact that this show usually has a lead-in to whenever we'll see the Doctor next. The statements that the Doctor will return at whatever date are a reassuring reminder that even though we just saw the Universe end, or the Doctor we know change into someone else, or a beloved companion leave, it isn't over. Doctor Who will be back, and hopefully better than ever.

But I still want to feel as if something significant has just happened. I still want a nice, clear, decisive ending. One which is both memorable and meaningful. One that you'll want to tell your friend -- whom you're slowly turning into a Whovian -- "Oh, and you need to see this one. Yes, you have to see this one. You can't say you've seen Doctor Who unless you've seen the 50th Anniversary Special." I want an ending like the one we got in the Season 3 finale. Sure, the very end of the episode featured a ship called the Titanic crashing into the TARDIS, but the episode still had an ending. The Master died, and the Doctor was alone at his memorial/burning. We learned that Captain Jack is the Face of Boe. And the Doctor said goodbye to Martha. The episode ended in a manner that fully wrapped up the events that had taken place within that season.

Now, I'm fully aware that "The Day of the Doctor" is going to be a one-off more than anything. However, it will presumably take place after the events of the last season (though this being an episode about time travel, "after the events" doesn't really hold much meaning). So we should at least see Clara and the Doctor outside of his timestream, thereby better resolving the events at the end of last season. And as such, it would also be nice to see some emotional resolution between the two of them about what just happened. Then of course there will be the resolution of whatever is going to happen in the special, which I imagine will be a lot. So basically, I'm looking for a lot of the endings we didn't really get in "The Name of the Doctor," as well as a proper ending to the special, without having an equal number of beginnings introduced that it feels like we're still just as in the middle of events as we were before.

Once again, in the past there's always been a "here's a taste of what you'll be seeing next time with the Doctor" at the ends of finales. But there's always been a sense that the events we've just experienced happened, and were ended, so it's actually time to start looking forward to the Doctor's return, and to wonder what exactly we've just seen actually means for the future. I didn't feel that in this last finale, but I'd like to feel it at the end of "The Day of the Doctor."

10. Lasting Consequences

Doctor Who will never end. At least, we can only hope so. The day it goes off-air is the day that television technology fundamentally changes so that air is no longer required in broadcast entertainment, and the day it ends will be the day that humanity is no more. I honestly believe that this is possible, because 1. as we've seen, Doctor Who can switch out actors whenever anyone wants to leave, and the same goes for show-runners, and 2. the premise of a time traveler with one or more companion(s) in a time machine that can go anywhere is extremely open. The show can be whatever it wants to be, and often times it is several different things depending on where and when that blue box goes.

As such, it's very difficult to slow this show down. It rarely stops for even a few minutes to acknowledge when something big has happened. For instance, a companion will leave in one episode, but by the next one the Doctor will have found a new person to take along with him on adventures. Sure, there will oftentimes be a Christmas special in between these two events, in which the Doctor is still getting over the loss of a particular companion ("Voyage of the Damned" and "The Snowmen," for instance), but give it a few more episodes and we'll only have a few fleeting references to her/him henceforth (or they'll just appear in future specials). The point is; it's hard to slow the Doctor down for long. In fact; it's impossible.

This isn't really a bad thing; I certainly wouldn't enjoy this show as much if the Doctor just moped about and sulked for an hour onscreen. And it wouldn't be all that enjoyable if he were constantly telling his companions about all the people he'd lost, places he'd lost, times he'd lost, and universes he'd lost. No, it's certainly better when he only brings these things up occasionally, for maximum effect. But these things still need to exist to drive him forward, to shape who he is. I think we can all agree that the Time Lord who first appeared in a junkyard back in 1963, telling two teachers to take a hike and leave him alone, is most certainly not the same one who just recently jumped into his own time-stream to save a woman he's only just gotten to know and understand. This is because there have been lasting consequences that have shaped him along the way.

The most obvious of these, and a big part of the reason that his personality has changed since his first "mind your own business and leave me alone" incarnation, are the regenerations. Each time the Doctor changes form is a huge, monumental event for the show. Personally, I feel as if these aren't as big as they used to be (at least for me), because it's nigh impossible to not know who the Doctor will be transforming into by the time the next regeneration finally arrives. After all, it won't be until Christmas that Matt Smith leaves our screen as the Doctor, but it seems like forever ago that Peter Capaldi made his first-ever official appearance as the Doctor (at the event of his announcement as the next Doctor, not on the show itself). I personally didn't know that Matt Smith would be taking over for David Tennant until he appeared on my screen and thought he was a girl for a few seconds. And I didn't know that Tennant would be taking over for Christopher Eccleston, for that matter, until it happened. Still, these are massive events for the show which obviously have lasting consequences. While the Doctor never changes in spirit, or differ too much in terms of goals (it's not like the next incarnation will ever be evil. Well...the War Doctor might be a possible exception, but you know what I mean.), he has differed widely in both age, personality, and appearance.

But these changes don't happen often. Indeed, it wasn't long ago that you could still count all the Doctors on your fingers (if you still can, you might want to see a doctor), even though this show has been around for many, many, many years. However, there are other events that have happened on this show with massive lasting consequences. The most obvious one of these that comes to mind is the Time War, and especially the Doctor's involvement in its end. The fact that the Doctor lost his home planet of Gallifrey, the fact that he was the one to end the war, and the fact that he is responsible for "killing" all of the Time Lords is something that the writers have been able to do a lot with over the years. I for one get goose bumps every time a new companion comes along and the Doctor shoots them a monologue about how his home is destroyed and he's just lost in time and space as a wanderer searching for wonder in the universe, and for people to share this wonder with.

It's been a while since this show has had any lasting consequences, and it could certainly use them. This show is starting to seem a little like an anthology series, with arcs every season in which time, the universe, earth, etc. get destroyed and then brought back to normal, and then everything is fine until next season when a similarly destructive plot needs to be stopped by the Doctor after it's happened, or while it's happening. We need things like the Time War, and the consequences of said war ending, to tie this show together. Steven Moffat has said that "The Day of the Doctor" will change the narrative of the series somehow, and I'm looking forward to this. After all, this is the 50th anniversary of the show; you'd hope that at least something will happen that the Doctor won't easily forget, and that might change him in some way.


11. Death and Sacrifices

Of all of the items on this list, I'm sure that it is the most controversial. It will likely be the one that most people disagree with me on; I certainly wouldn't be surprised. But you see, the thing is, I'd like to see some actual death and sacrifices in "The Day of the Doctor." Let me clarify: I don't want to see any beloved characters die, but the show really needs it. I mean, this is a show that surrounds itself with death. Death is both a common topic, and a common occurrence. People die a lot: almost every episode, in fact. Indeed, "just this once, everybody lives" is a very famous line from "The Doctor Dances" for a reason. In all but a rare handful of episodes, characters die. But it's very rare for important characters on the show to die.

Except, it isn't? As it turns out, this show is chalk full of important characters who have died, and who we have seen die, but aren't "really" dead. I mean, the Doctor has died several times but has always come back (even when he "died died" at Lake Silencio). Hell, everyone's died and come back several times what with the frequency of the universe, time, etc. ending and then coming back. But more than that, Amy and Rory "died" in "The Angels Take Manhattan," even though they really just went back in time to live a happy life, and presumably died of old age, which we thankfully didn't actually see on the show (besides the brief bit towards the beginning where a version of Rory died). Before that, Rory had been erased from time for a good chunk of a season, before being brought back as an Auton Roman soldier, and then brought back for real. Amy also was killed at an older age, and in a different time line, by the "kindness" of a robot. But both these characters are "currently fine." Rose "died" according to herself, even though she was just declared dead and instead traveled to another dimension where she lives "unable to return" (she returned once in Season 4 and will presumably return in "The Day of the Doctor") with the clone/copy/human/thing of the Doctor. Jenny (The Doctor's Daughter) "died" but then came back because she merely regenerated...back into her own form? We saw Captain Jack Harkness die as the Face of Boe, but the next time we see him (hopefully in this special, fingers crossed and all that) he'll be so alive that he really, really can't die. The Master "died" at the end of Season 3, even though he was brought back to life only to die "for real, though he could come back, but no he's almost certainly dead this time" in "The End of Time." River Song "died" the first time we met her, even though she was digitally stored in a library. But from what we saw in "The Name of the Doctor," it looks like she "died" again, or her "death" has caught up to her. It wasn't really clear, but even though she said that she "died," she certainly isn't dead. At least, not in the traditional sense. And speaking of recent events in the series, Clara Oswin Oswald (or just Clara) has died numerous times: two onscreen, and innumerably more offscreen given the fact that she's always protecting the Doctor and dying and living in every time and place he's been, etc. But at the same time, she's perfectly fine, and we know that she'll be a companion for at least another season.

You see that paragraph; it's a pretty big one. All of those people that I mentioned have died. Except none of them have. The only thing that will actually keep these people from reappearing on the show is whether or not the writers want them back on, and whether or not they want to come back/are available. In other words, it's hard to die and stay dead on this show, especially if you are/were a main or recurring character. I mean, Dorium had his head cut off, for crying out loud, and he's perfectly fine.




Now, for the most part, I'm fine with this approach that the show has taken to death. It's a way that the writers have devised for everyone involved to have their cake and eat it too. We get to both see beloved characters die and feel all those emotions, but then we get to see them come back to life, or at least see them again down the road, and we can be happy for that. We get to experience the full range of emotions in regards to the same character(s) constantly. However, once again, it's becoming harder and harder to really be invested in a character's death when we know that it's more than likely that they'll be fine in the next ten minutes. It's hard to allow yourself to mourn when you know that they could very likely be trading jokes with the Doctor, and running around having fun adventures, while your tears are still drying. Because in order for us to believe that a character, who's just died, could actually be dead, even if the odds are extremely in favor of them coming back, there needs to be at least a few somewhat-current examples that we can draw on of similar characters actually dying and not coming back.

Now, there have been a few important characters who have died, and who have stayed dead. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart officially died on the show in "The Wedding of River Song," and while the Doctor only heard the news over the phone, it was a pretty sad moment. Arguably more sad than when any of the above characters I mentioned have given epic monologues, died, and then come back two minutes later. I don't want to ruffle any feathers here, but in the same vein, it can reasonably be argued that Susan Foreman is dead, and that at some point she died on the show and won't be coming back. And while it's hard to pinpoint at what exact time this did (presumably) happen, it is an understatement to say that this is an important death in the series.

The thing is, these deaths happen to be of characters from the old series, or the series before 2005. They aren't really all that current, and there are a large number of fans who probably don't even know who they are. What this means is that we need at least one or two beloved characters from the recent show to die. I don't want it any more than you do, but it kinda needs to happen. Let's be honest, Harriet Jones doesn't really cut it. So while it pains me to say it, I would like to see one of our beloved characters actually die for good in "The Day of the Doctor," though this item is mainly for the good of the show, and not for me personally.

So yeah, there you have it. That's my list of eleven desires for you. Do you agree with all of them? Some of them? In the extremely likely event that you take issue with one or more of the things on my list, let me know? What's your list? Wow, it's only less than a week before "The Day of the Doctor!" Are you excited? Don't bother answering that; of course you are. How excited are you? And if you're not actually excited...you're a Dalek, right? Or a Cyberman, certainly. You have to be.
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