Story

Dr Who: The Day of the Doctor was made to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Dr Who TV series.

The movie has three interconnected storylines. It begins in the present where we find the most recent version of Doctor Who (Matt Smith) reunited with his assistant Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman). They’re hijacked by UNIT (a secret British government agency) led by scientific advisor Kate Steward (Jemma Redgrave). She takes the Doctor and Clara to the tower of London, where she shows the Doctor a 3D Time Lord painting, hidden by Queen Elizabeth I. The painting shows the city of Arcadia in flames because of a war between the Daleks and the Time Lords of Gallifrey.

The movie’s second storyline is set in 1568. The 10th Doctor (David Tennant) is having a romantic interlude with Queen Elizabeth I, which is interrupted by shape-shifting aliens called Zygons. The Zygons want to replicate the Queen so that they can take her place and take over the world.

The third storyline revolves around the Time Wars between the Time Lords of Gallifrey and the Daleks. The War Doctor (John Hurt) is trying to steal a forbidden Gallifreyan weapon of mass destruction, with which he intends to destroy the Daleks and Gallifrey. This will kill many innocent people. The Doctor escapes with the weapon and takes it to a deserted planet. When he tries to activate the weapon, he finds it has a consciousness that takes the form of one of the Doctor’s past companions, Rose Tyler (Billie Piper). She makes the Doctor question his conscience and the consequences of his actions.

The rest of the movie connects the three Doctors. They join forces to stop the Zygons from taking over the Earth and the War Doctor from using his stolen weapon of mass destruction.

Themes

Time travel; aliens; sacrificing lives to save others

Violence

Dr Who: The Day of the Doctor contains science fiction action violence, peril and threats of violence that relate to the use of weapons of mass destruction. For example:

  • One scene shows a helicopter airlifting the TARDIS (the Doctor’s police box shaped transport). The Doctor falls through the door of the TARDIS and hangs on to the bottom as the TARDIS dangles on the end of a line while being lifted high above the ground.
  • One scene repeated several times shows science fiction battle violence in which armoured soldiers with laser guns battle against Dalek robots with lasers. They fire their lasers at each other. Space craft firing lasers at a city cause buildings to explode in smoke and flames, and then the craft explode in flames themselves. Explosions hurl soldiers through the air, and flame engulfs one soldier. Families with young children run through battle violence and dodge laser fire and debris from exploding buildings. Dalek robots point laser weapons at families and children, and parents plead for their lives. A body lies motionless on the ground. Dalek robots explode in pieces. Each violent image is shown only briefly, without any blood and gore.
  • People talk about the Doctor having ‘killed them all’, ‘having more blood on his hands than any other’ and being ‘the man who committed a crime that silenced the universe’.
  • One scene has a reference to the War Doctor being responsible for the deaths of 2.47 billion children.
  • Zygon aliens attack a human woman and man. They chase the woman, and a Zygon smothers the man with a tentacle-like hand.
  • One scene shows a woman activating a nuclear device that will kill millions of people. The device is deactivated before it detonates.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Dr Who: The Day of the Doctor has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • Several scenes show alien creatures called Zygons that can transform into any creature they wish. The aliens have large red bloated humanoid bodies, faces covered in tentacle-like suckers and mouths full of yellow fangs.
  • A Zygon alien transforms suddenly from human to Zygon form. The creature vomits a red goo-like substance while the flesh of her face ripples and partially transforms and then bursts into an alien creature.
  • The Daleks have metal casings and distorted voices. They’re likely to scare this age group.
  • A woman is encased in a red blistery jelly cocoon and has web-like tentacles that attach her cocoon to the wall behind her.
  • When the Doctor regenerates, beams of yellow light radiate out of his body. 

From 5-8

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above. 

From 8-13

Children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.  

Over 13

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in Dr Who: The Day of the Doctor

Sexual references

Dr Who: The Day of the Doctor contains some occasional low-level sexual references and innuendo designed to be funny. For example:

  • When a weapon with consciousness projects the form of one of the Doctor’s past female companions, the Doctor says, ‘The interface is hot’. The weapon replies, ‘Well I do my best’.
  • In one scene the Doctor says, ‘Stuck between a girl and a box’. The Doctor’s female companion responds, ‘That’s the story of your life’.
  • Queen Elizabeth says to the Doctor, ‘My love, I’m not done with you yet’. Then she kisses him on the mouth.  

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

Dr Who: The Day of the Doctor has no nudity. It does have occasional scenes that show brief low-level sexual activity. For example:

  • The Doctor and Queen Elizabeth I lie on the ground together. The Queen asks the doctor if he will marry her.
  • A few scenes show the Queen kissing the Doctor passionately on the mouth. 

Product placement

There is no product placement of concern in Dr Who: The Day of the Doctor, but plenty of merchandise associated with the movie is on the market. 

Coarse language

Dr Who: The Day of the Doctor has some very mild coarse language. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

Dr Who: The Day of the Doctor is a science fiction action movie. It targets a wide audience, particularly fans of the Doctor Who TV series, who will enjoy seeing several Doctors on the screen at once. It celebrates the 50th anniversary of the TV series and has the series’ usual mixture of drama and humour. Fans won’t be disappointed.

Younger children are likely to find the movie’s multiple storylines and characters confusing. The movie also has some scary scenes and characters. The scenes of transformation from human to alien are likely to be particularly disturbing for children under eight years. These scenes are more intense in the 3D version.

These are main messages from this movie:

  • Only by working together to solve differences can people from different cultures and with different beliefs get a winning outcome. Everybody loses when people fight.
  • Working together as a team can achieve far more than individuals working alone.

You could talk with your children about whether there are any situations where sacrificing the life of one individual to save many people is justified. Is this a no-win situation? What would the real-life consequences be for the person who had to make such a choice?