I’m a doctor. But probably not the one you’re expecting.
Those were the first uttered by the 8th Doctor since his 17 year screen absence after the 1996 movie.
The show has put up a lot of punches for its 50th anniversary during 2013. Not only did it have the special “The Day of the Doctor”, but they also have documentary specials, a TV movie about the creation of the show, and other specials in the UK. And one of the things the show did was making a short of the long awaited explanation of what happened to the 8th Doctor and who the mysterious Doctor that was portrayed by the great John Hurt was with “The Night of the Doctor”.
The plot of the short is fairly simple. As the Doctor tries to save a space pilot named Cass as her ship is crashing, Cass became enraged once she learned that the Doctor is a Time Lord. The reason for heranger is because the Time War has caused a lot of damages across the universe due to the extreme warfare of both the Time Lords and the Daleks. After failing to try and reason with her the ship crashed, killing both Cass and the Doctor.
The planet that they crashed into was Karn, a planet that the Doctor previously. Karn’s inhabitants, The Sisterhood of Karn, rescued The Doctor from the wreckage before his regeneration could kick in. The Sisterhood of Karn advises the Doctor that only he can end the Time War. The Doctor refuses their advise at first, but once they showed him Cass’ body the Doctor painfully agrees. They the give him a potion that can help him regenerate into a “warrior”. Once the 8th Doctor finally regenerates, the War Doctor told the Sisterhood of Karn that he is the “Doctor no more”.
Even though it was short, “The Night of the Doctor” managed to be a great episode. Not only do we Doctor Who fans know what happened to the 8th Doctor between the 1996 movie and the 2005 revival, but we also know who the mysterious John Hurt Doctor was when he was revealed at the Series 7 finale “The Name of the Doctor”. Although he was considered as a last minute edition when it became apparent to the producers that Christopher Eccelston isn’t going to be in the 50th anniversary special, the War Doctor was still great in the special. And “The Night of the Doctor” is a great way to explore his origins and why the 11th Doctor feels eager of trying to forget this incarnation.
“The Night of the Doctor” was also great to hear a Doctor from the Classic Era talk about something from the revival. Up to that point it feels like both the Classic Era and the revival are two different shows and the only time the revival mentions anything from the Classic Era are to either mention the Doctor’s past selves and few of the monsters back then. It was also great that this short just made the Big Finish Audio stories canon. By making it canon, they are now endless possibilities for where take Doctor Who.
My only criticism is that I wish it could’ve been longer, but it still manage to make a coherent story in its 8 minute runtime. Honestly, I thought that the 8th Doctor saying his final line “Physician heal thyself” felt a little bit force in my opinion. I guess Moffat wanted to make the 8th Doctor’s exit grand the same way as the 9th and 10th Doctors did with their final words.
“The Night of the Doctor” is both a great episode of bridging the Classic Era and the Revival , and also a great prequel to the 50th anniversary special as well.
Final Score: 9/10
You can watch “The Night of the Doctor” for free on YouTube.