The Collective gals have been dreading this episode ever since the BBC’s announcement that Matt Smith was leaving Doctor Who back in June. For those of us who fell in love with Eleven fairly soon after he and his bumbling TARDIS crashed into Amelia Pond’s garden shed back in April 2010, the Timelord’s regeneration proved to be as emotional and as satisfying as we knew it would be. While I have enjoyed watching many different faces play the time traveling alien, Matt Smith was my Doctor. The Doctor with whom I began the journey through the time vortex and the one who sparked my interest in the wide Who-niverse of this brilliant television show. Matt Smith played Eleven as an ancient god; fierce and fun, sad and sweet, knowledgeable and knowingly forgetful all at the same time. He protected the innocent, never forgot a face and believed that everyone mattered. This is what led him to Trenzalore. (Spoilers ahead, sweetie!)
Alright, Whovians, it’s happened. “The Day of the Doctor” has aired, and, boy, it has changed everything. Well, almost. Out of courtesy for those who have not yet watched the episode, I will try to keep the spoilers to a minimum (I’ll leave the spoilers to Collectiva Diva–she’s better at them anyway.)
Armed with jammy dodgers and hot cuppas, the Collectiva Diva and I sat down with some of our Whovian friends to watch the special–which was simulcast world wide (a very special thank to the BBC for making it possible for all Whovians to enjoy it at the same time). I meant to live tweet throughout the special, I really did, but once we heard the “doo we oooooo” I completely forgot anything else and went on another adventure through time and space with the Doctor.
Although the Zygons have been touted as the villains of “The Day of the Doctor,” the true conflict lies within the Doctor himself. In the final episode of series 7, “The Name of the Doctor,” we met the War Doctor, played by John Hurt–the incarnation of the Doctor that the Time Lord keeps secret, even from himself it seems. We saw in short “The Night of the Doctor” how the War Doctor came to exist. The crux of the plot rests on the War Doctor’s shoulders rather than fan-favorites Ten and Eleven. Will the War Doctor use the weapon to destroy the Time War–and therefore Gallifrey–or will he not?
Well, if you’ve seen all the episodes of New Who, you know he is responsible for ending the Time War.
For those of our readers who follow my weekly fanfiction recs, you may have noticed that I’m been a bit remiss in my recs for the past month or so. I can explain in two words: Terminal Decay. Five weeks ago, I made it my mission to finish reading this fic by the airing of “The Day of the Doctor.” I’m still not finished.
“Terminal Decay” by unslinky is a monstrous fic. I don’t mean that it’s horrid and large and ugly like a kraken, but rather, it’s HUGE. Don’t believe me? Well, take a look at this…
Yes, it really does say 1002 chapters and 3,065,944 words.
Or to put it another way, since I’ve been reading for 5 weeks that’s:
28 chapters per day (if I had finished…which I haven’t quite)
over 80,000 words read per day (about 160 pages)
If you account that the typical single-spaced page is about 500 words, that’s 6,132 pages.
To put that into even more perspective:
the Harry Potter series is 1,084, 170 words, so reading “Terminal Decay” is like reading the HP series 3 times.
the Guinness world record holder for longest novel is A le recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust. The novel is 1,267,069 words. “Terminal Decay” is almost 2.5 times that length.
Can you blame me for not quite finishing in time for this rec? I’m on chapter 800, with almost a million words to go before I reach the conclusion.
So why put myself through this? Why read almost an entire novel every day just to rec one fic?
Well, if you’ve read any of my previous DW fic recs, you would probably remember my bitching about the lack of quality Whovian fanfiction. Even though I’m fairly good at sussing out good fics, I had to turn to my fairy fanfic godmother for help with the DW fandom. “Terminal Decay” was her #1 rec, and boy, I had no idea what I was getting into. So, my Whovian friends, if you want a fic that’s more like an odyssey, then this one’s for you.
What is a fobwatch to a Time Lord? A device that holds his memories safely tucked away, hidden from danger, even from himself? We see the Gallifreyan time piece throughout the Classic Who series, but we really get concrete information about the device in series 3, starting with “Human Nature” S03E07.
According to the story, Time Lord science developed the Chameleon Arch, which allowed the user to change the biology of himself, with the help of a perception filter, a headset that scrambled one’s brain and a fob watch, to keep the memories tucked safely away. The user will not remember any part of himself while the Chameleon Arch is in place, and that in itself can be problematic, as we see with Ten and, later, the Master. Audiences first see the fob watch outside of Classic Who in “Human nature/The Family of Blood” S03E08&09, when the Doctor uses the Chameleon Arch to become a fully human John Smith, with Martha as his maid. In 1914. Yeah, I’ve got issues with the turn-of-the-century racism, but that’s not the point of this post…
What does a nine-hundred-year-old Time Lord have faith in?
Turns out, not much.
After destroying the Daleks and the Time Lords in the Time War, the Doctor is left to roam the galaxies and timelines without any ties, any anchors, other than his companions. By the time Ten and Rose Tyler find “The Impossible Planet,” we’ve seen that the Doctor relies on facts and logic and data–if there isn’t an explanation then it must be impossible. And if we had seen as much of the universe as the Doctor, we would probably feel the same way. However, on this impossible planet on the brink of a black hole, the Doctor is repeatedly faced with the impossible and is forced to question everything he believes in.
On this planet, the laws of physics are declared impossible; there’s a language on the wall that is so old that the TARDIS can’t translate it (which is impossible); and there’s something possessing the Ood which claims to be the Devil. All impossible, according to the Doctor.
In the spring of 2009, I’d run out of Battlestar Galactica episodes to watch, and I was desperate for more sci-fi television. I’d seen the new series of Doctor Who around Netflix, and as a fan of Classic Who, I was immediately wary of the new series’ quality. But one night I got bored, and I clicked on an episode titled “Rose.” Four years later, and I’ve never been so glad to be wrong in my whole life.
As the Collectiva Diva and I countdown to the 50th Anniversary special of DW in our Doctor Who Week, we will be taking a look back at some of our favorite moments, characters and episodes in the rebooted and classic series. To start with, the Doctor who I feel needs a little more appreciation from the fandom (see what I did there?).