(Disclaimer: I have marked in every way possible the inclusion of spoilers in this post. Please, if you haven’t seen the special yet, don’t read this post. You WILL see spoilers, and I don’t want to be responsible for that. This post is also quite long and long-winded: Apologies)
First off, it was never a foregone conclusion that I would be able to see the 50th anniversary special here by legal means. Back in October, I realised that no TV channel in Sweden was showing Dr Who, and I sent emails to the BBC and to the Sci-Fi Bokhandeln, who sell a lot of Dr Who merchandise, to ask whether it was being shown and if not, would they please make sure it was shown. Sci-fi Bokhandeln sent my message out across their facebook group, and it was shown that indeed, it appeared that it wasn’t going to be possible to see Dr Who in Sweden. People had given petitions to SVT, and all sorts, but it wasn’t going to be on TV. I heard nothing more about this for a while.
Flash forward a few weeks and I find out that BioRoy is showing the special, and Sci-Fi Bokhandeln were involved in making it happen. I also find out that the only 3 places in Sweden showing it are in Malmo, Stockholm and Gothenburg, and Gothenburg appears to have been the first to announce it was showing Dr Who. It may, or may not be a coincidence that those are the 3 cities with SFbokhandelns – those also happen to be the biggest 3 cities in Gothenburg, but it’s always possible that maybe, maybe I had a small part to play in getting the ball rolling regarding getting it shown here in the cinema.
Anyhow: We went to the 11pm showing, and we arrived at the cinema at 10.15 to find the waiting area already rather on the packed side. Everywhere were people in fezzes or scarves, with tallies on their arms and mops in their hands and sonic screwdrivers were the order of the day. I can honestly say that the atmosphere was buzzing. I haven’t been waiting to see something at a cinema surrounded by so much excitement since the release of the first Harry Potter film when I was 11.
It was all rather on the chaotic side: There wasn’t really a queue, but everyone was buzzing. All of a sudden the crowds parted and disappeared into each doorway like water down a plughole. We entered the cinema and found some seats, our suspiciously posh 3D glasses in hand. The people from Sci-fi bokhandeln threw out packs of jelly babies to audience-members who got the right answers to questions ( I knew all the answers but seeing as i had to have it translated I was too slow).
Let me take a moment to appreciate the Whovians of Gothenburg and surrounding districts. Watching the episode with them was an absolute pleasure. They cheered at a movie screen. They clapped at a movie screen. They went wild when Tom Baker appeared out of the blue. They laughed at all the little things that were tantamount to fanservice. Seeing one of your most beloved TV Series with such a group of die-hard fans is quite possibly the best way to watch anything.
And so: the actual episode itself? I would give it a 4/5. The preamble was wonderful – absolutely hilarious with the screaming popcorn and suchlike. It definitely made me happy. I also enjoyed the various references to Whos-past as well as present. For example, the scarf made its appearance, as well as the daleks and a few friendly faces from the past (OH MY GOD TOM BAKER THE CURATOR AAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!)
It did seem to pose as many questions as it answered, though: How did Clara and the Doctor get out of his own time-stream in Trensilore? Why did this event trigger all three of them to begin their regenerations( I loved the fact that Hurt’s Doctor uses the first doctor’s last words as his own). Also, is the fandom going to move to calling Hurt the Ninth now? Or is he going to become 8.5? All these questions. So many thoughts!
In conclusion, I thought it was a really good episode. I’m not sure I’d say it was the best, but it was a good celebration of the show from its beginning, even if the show today bears little resemblance to the original show of the 1960s. I loved seeing what they did with it, and I most importantly felt happy whilst watching it, awed even. I squee’d with the best of ’em, and even though I’m a thousand miles from home, an alien in my own way, Doctor Who has the ability to make even the most depressed homesick person feel at home, to make them fit in. And that’s part of the beauty of it all.