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50 Years of Doctor Who

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Calling all sci-fi fans. British T.V. show Doctor Who celebrated its fiftieth anniversary on Saturday, November 23rd. The show, which was first broadcast on November 23, 1963, commemorated the day with a special fiftieth anniversary episode entitled “The Day of the Doctor”.

The show aired at 2:50 pm on televisions across the world and was broadcast live in theaters in 94 countries earning the Guinness World Record for largest simulcast of a television drama.

Doctor Who is about an alien who travels through space and time in a spaceship called the TARDIS saving the world with the help of traveling companions and a sonic screwdriver. The Doctor looks like a human but he has two hearts, regenerates into another person instead of dying, and has a much higher tolerance for radiation, suffocation, electrocution, and extreme temperatures. To date, there have been twelve actors to portray the Doctor, seventy four companions, seven TARDIS designs, eight sonic screwdrivers, and eight hundred episodes spanning four hundred eighty seven planets and galaxies.

The fiftieth anniversary special featured current Doctor, Matt Smith, returning Doctor, David Tennant, current companion, Jenna Coleman, returning companion, Billie Piper, and guest star, John Hurt. The episode saw Matt Smith’s Doctor, David Tennant’s Doctor, and John Hurt as the War Doctor returning to the mysterious events of the Time War, where the Doctor committed mass genocide and killed off his species, the Time Lords, as well as the Daleks.

The special kicked off with the original title sequence, which was not the only reference to the show’s history. The sign marking the lot where the TARDIS was parked during the first season made a reappearance, as well as the “round things” from the first TARDIS, the machine that goes “ding”, the fez, Amelia Pond’s glasses, River Song’s shoes, the magnetic clamps from the episode “Doomsday”, Jack Harkness’ Vortex Manipulator, Arthur the horse, and previous Doctor Tom Baker. The show also made a few things clearer, the War Doctor ‘s (John Hurt’s) role in the Time War, the Doctor’s relationship with Queen Elizabeth I, and a glimpse at the future Doctor, Peter Capaldi. Most references were verbal though, and echoed the expressions of the past Doctors.

However, many fans were disappointed by some of the missing faces. Those hoping to catch a glimpse of the ninth Doctor portrayed by Christopher Eccleston when John Hurt’s War Doctor regenerated were let down. Also, fans longing for the reunion of the tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) were shocked to find that Piper’s reappearance was in the form of an interface that only resembled Rose. In fact, the only reference to their relationship was the look of surprise on the tenth Doctor’s face when Hurt’s Doctor thanked “Bad Wolf girl”.

Most fans worries were forgotten as the episode reached its climax. The mysterious events of the Time War were clarified as the Doctors travelled back to their home planet, Gallifray. The show’s popular saying, “Time can be rewritten”, was actualized. As the painting’s title, “Gallifray Falls No More”, conveys, the Doctors managed to save the planet and all its inhabitants by tucking it away in a pocket, which is hidden somewhere in the universe.

At the end of “The Day of the Doctor”, all the Doctors were gathered together, in what is sure to become an iconic image, to discuss the future direction of the show. After spending four hundred years running from the past, the Doctor will be going home. Now that Gallifray stands, there will be plenty of conflict and mayhem from other Time Lords and Ladies.

Will it be enough to sustain the show for another fifty years? Tune in to the Christmas special on December 25th to bid farewell to current Doctor Matt Smith and welcome the new Doctor Peter Capaldi to find out.