Night of the Doctor and the Element of Surprise
It’s been just over a year since that short was released and I recently rewatched it to see how I feel about it now. When I first saw it, I experienced an emotion I have never felt before, I have no idea what it was, but it was kind of thrilling. It’s no secret to anyone who even vaguely knows me that I adore the Eighth Doctor and I remember coming home one day to find my Facebook flooded with messages asking me if I had seen something called “Night of the Doctor” and what did I think? Thankfully none of them said anything more detailed than that. Curious but assuming it was just another minisode or teaser for Day of the Doctor, I looked it up and started to watch.
Okay, space, crashing ship, some girl, yep whatever- “I’m a doctor but probably not the one you were expecting.”
I literally climbed on my chair, then fell off, stumbled back and staggered around a bit while my eyes were glued to the screen. It was like sensory overload, I could neither absorb nor believe what I was seeing. It was a physical reaction too, with a racing heart and wave of dizziness, I felt like I was going to pass out. I had long ago just come to terms with Eight being an audio Doctor, that I would never see him again on screen. So I guess what I was experiencing was actual, genuine surprise. There had been no rumors, no signs, absolutely none, which is a complete rarity in pop culture these days and it was great, it proved to me that spoilers really do ruin everything.
I was also surprised at my own reaction, I mean I’m a fan but I didn’t realise just how much he meant to me until that moment. I look at that 1996 movie now and I can see how cheesy it is, but I love it and it came out when I was just four-years-old, my family had moved from England to Australia and having something familiar like the Doctor travel with me meant a lot. I must have worn that VHS out entirely by the end.
Alright, but beyond the nostalgia, watching Night of the Doctor again with a clearer mind, what do I actually think? Honestly, it’s kind of confusing and disappointing from the point of view that Moffat brought this Doctor back only to kill him off and then create an entirely new Doctor-but-not-really, messing up the order of regenerations. As much as I love John Hurt I will be forever baffled as to why that role didn’t go to McGann.
But I can’t hate it, Moffat did a great job of making something that was under ten minutes long feel like a full length episode, it manages to keep the Big Finish feel, gave Eight a badass makeover and most importantly I simply got to see him again.
Now when are we going to see more?