Random Thoughts on the Day of the Doctor and 3D

Spoilers follow, of course. Mind you, at this point, if you haven’t seen this episode yet, you’re probably not interested or you deserve to be spoiled.


It took me three tries, but I finally wrapped my head around Tom Baker’s cameo appearance at the end of The Day of the Doctor. It was Baker’s line that (paraphrased) “in years to come, you may find yourself revisiting some old faces. Well, some of the old favourites, at least (wink!).”

That’s when it hit me (on the third time, anyway): the Curator explicitly tells the Doctor who he is: he’s his future self. Sometime in the future, the Doctor will regenerate into an older version of the fourth Doctor — at least, in terms of appearance.

Of course, fans who know the mythology of Doctor Who know that Time Lords are only supposed to be able to regenerate twelve times. We saw thirteen Doctors freeze Gallifrey moments ago (including the War Doctor and Peter Capaldi’s Doctor). This point was emphasized by the Time Lord high command themselves when one of them said, “no, Commander: all thirteen!” It’s a big moment: the Doctor’s entire life is on display here. Every single Doctor that can be gathered has been gathered for this monumental undertaking.


Tom Baker’s cameo as the Curator hints that the twelve regeneration limit isn’t just going to be sneaked past, it’s going to be blown past. We are presented with a universe hinted at by Matt Smith in the funny teaser at the beginning of the episode’s theatrical release: the hundredth anniversary special will have guest appearances by “all 57 Doctors.”

And while we’ve no idea, yet, how Moffat or whoever will rewrite this rule (not that I’m surprised that this rule will be rewritten), the thought still gives me comfort: that, no matter who, and no matter what, the Doctor is still out there.

All 57 of them.

Quite by accident, Erin and I have ended up seeing two movies in 3D this past month. There was the theatrical release of Doctor Who’s The Day of the Doctor, and there was Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. Neither was by choice. In the case of Doctor Who, we were looking at a one-time release, and we took what we got. In the case of Gravity, Cuarón’s film is on the way out of the theatres. It was down to a single showing a night when we saw it, and only in 3D.

I’m no fan of 3D. I consider it a gimmick, and the glasses are annoying if you already have glasses. But between the two films, it’s clear that not all 3D was created equally. The Day of the Doctor is a 2D movie that the producers quickly rendered 3D for the sake of anniversary hype. Cuarón clearly built 3D into the production and design of Gravity.

Still, I was surprised at how much Doctor Who’s 3D made previously believable special effects look… fake. The helicopter scene at the beginning was a prime example. In 2D, it’s integrated in the vista. In 3D, it stands out and looks like a toy. This is partly the result of a lack of time to render everything in 3D; the buildings in the background seem to occupy one plane. But still, it’s ironic that a technology that’s supposed to produce an immersive movie-going experience ended up kicking me out of my suspension of disbelief.

On the other hand, the 3D wasn’t so blatantly obvious in Cuarón’s Gravity. It was multi-layered, and individual things didn’t stick out at us. It was, I think, the best use of the technology I’ve yet seen. It didn’t kick me out of my suspension of disbelief, which means that it might have worked in enhancing the immersive experience.

Might. Given that others have told me that Gravity works just fine as a 2D movie, I’m not convinced that I can call 3D as anything more than a gimmick. And we still have those darn annoying glasses.

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