Today marks 50 years since Doctor Who first aired on BBC. To celebrate, BBC America has been taken over by the Doctor for the week (Monday through Sunday), but the magic day was today. At 12:50 pm, here in Colorado, The Day of the Doctor aired simultaneously around the world. (if you care, here is your only spoiler warning)
Very fitting for the occasion, the opening Titles were the original 1963 titles and that set the tone for the entire event. John Hurt, as the War Doctor, is faced with how to end the Time War. He steals an ancient artifact called the Moment. It has consciousness and it manifests in the form of Rose Tyler. If the War Doctor wants to use the Moment, there is a price. The War Doctor does not want to survive so the price is to survive and see what using the Moment will shape his future.
The rest of the story is the Eleventh Doctor in the 21st century, the Tenth Doctor in the 16th century, in a plot by the Zygons (whose planet was destroyed in the time war - Terror of the Zygons never mentioned what war). In the Tenth and Eleventh foiling the Zygon plot, John Hurt sees that his actions will mold his future selves into a crusader to save lives. He goes to use the moment and as he prepares to do it, he is joined by 10 and 11 who do not want him to do it alone.
Then inspiration strikes - a way to save Gallifrey. The Doctor calls all of his selves to use their Tardis's to save Gallifrey. Not just three, but all thirteen (and we get a glimpse of the face of the Twelfth). Gallifrey vanishes and the Dalek fleet is destroyed in the process. Gallifrey is saved, but only the Eleveth Doctor will remember due to the crossed time streams. For the 400 years he lives after the fall of Gallifrey he will continue to think it burned. But now he can try to find it.
And then we are given a sweet epilogue. The Eleventh Doctor is sitting in the gallery looking at the painting of the fall of Gallifrey when the curator comes in. That voice was instantly familiar and the conversation neither confirmed or denied who the actor was playing (was it the Doctor or just a batty old curator). But having Tom Baker, the oldest living Doctor, take part was priceless. And then we were given a shot of all twelve (up to now) incarnations, Second through Eleventh in a V with the First at the center behind them.
Not only was the story complexly woven, it was up to Steven Moffat's normal standard - absolutely excellent. The man did not disappoint. He reshaped the series, removed some of the darkness and opened a new chapter for the Doctor. None of the actors who have been so perfect as the Doctor could have pulled off the role that John Hurt had. It required a different persona and the story weaves perfectly into what we know.
It does, however, remove a regeneration. He has one left that he will use up at Christmas to become Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor. And that leads us back to the last two episodes of The Trial of a Timelord and the Valyard - said to be extracted during the Doctor's final regeneration. Are we about to see a piece of history return? The Valyard was mention in The Name of the Doctor, so it is possible, but we shall see in just over a month.
This whovian has nothing but thanks toward Steven Moffat for crafting one of the most epic and outstanding Doctor Who episodes of the last 50 years. Bravo.