Sure, that means a lot of nice things. The Holidays are starting up. That pathological delusion that we call Daylight Savings Time is over. The weather is cooler. The Playstation 4 is almost here. For us Whovians, though, what it really means is that that the long-awaited 50th anniversary special, "The Day of the Doctor" is finally less than three weeks away.
Rumors and theories and hints have surrounded the golden anniversary of the longest running science fiction series ever, but Steven Moffat and the BBC have kept the tightest lid possible on the whole thing. Yet, from the tiny little threads that have been allowed out I think a very good case can be made for the special taking place on Pete's World, the alternate Earth first seen in "Rise of the Cybermen" in 2006.
5. It's The Easiest Explanation for Ten and Rose's Return: The problem with multi-Doctor specials is how to rectify meeting yourself. Theoretically, the older Doctor should always know exactly what's going to happen because the younger one saw it. That was actually the exact premise of the one classic Doctor appearance in "Time Crash," when Ten used knowledge learned from Five to separate their crashed and melded Tardises.
"Time Crash" works because it's only a few minutes long. "Day of the Doctor" is 75. By returning the Meta-Crisis Tenth Doctor and Rose from their home in the parallel dimension, where they have been living in a concurrent but separate timeline, it eliminates all the questions we might have about why Eleven doesn't remember anything done in the adventure by Ten. Simply put, the Tenth Doctor never really experienced it. It was only his Meta-Clone.
4. It Saves Us the Regeneration Question: Of course, we are getting another Doctor in the special... John Hurt's mysterious and previously unknown incarnation. Since Steven Moffat has stated that he intends to stick with the idea that a Time Lord has only 12 regenerations this causes a problem pretty soon. With Hurt now a Doctor, and Peter Capaldi cast as the next Doctor for when Matt Smith leaves in December that means we now have the full life of The Doctor accounted for. What happens in four or five years when Capaldi moves on?
But what if John Hurt's Doctor isn't The Doctor of our world, but of Pete's World? There's no reason to assume that universe doesn't also have a Gallifrey and Time Lords and other staples of the show. By introducing Hurt as a just one of a whole new line of Doctors the regeneration question is effectively tabled for years, maybe decades.
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3. We've Seen One Parallel Universe Hint So Far: As of the time of this writing the only trailer that's been shown to the public is the awesome look back at 50 years of history that we already thoroughly dissected. It contained little information on what is to come, and instead focused on the path that led us here. However, there is one unexplained piece of the puzzle that offers a clue to the alternative world theory.
As we swoosh past the Tenth Doctor in the trailer, he is facing a man whose back is to us in a clearly combative stance. Some people believe that the man is the Hurt Doctor, but his outfit doesn't seem to resemble anything that's been leaked so far.
The person it most looks like is an evil version of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart seen in the first alternate dimension story "Inferno" way back in Jon Pertwee's time. Though much of that world was destroyed in that adventure, pockets survived on space stations and on the moon, including the main leadership of the planet. It's already been established in the modern series that alternative universe UNITs separately develop dimension-crossing technology, so there's no reason why evil Lethbridge-Stewart might not have survived and sought a new home in another dimension like Pete's World. At the very least, the figure in the trailer's appearance put such theories in mind.
2. The Cybermen are Returning: It gets downplayed because of the Daleks and the Zygon, who are making a much-anticipated comeback, but all the early press releases specifically mentioned the Cybermen also returning in "Day of the Doctor."
You have to remember that in the modern series the Cybermen are almost entirely a Pete's World institution. The classic Mondasian Cybermen appear in non-cameo roles in only in two episodes ("Closing Time" and "Nightmare in Silver") and in both cases they were the scattered remnants of their once-mighty empire. By far most of the time in the modern series that the Cybermen get involved ties in with Pete's World, and so I believe that their return is another clue. However...
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1. If It's True, Why Does Eleven Know What the Hurt Doctor Did?: Even though Hurt as the proper Doctor of Pete's World makes loads of sense and easily solves several twisty continuity problems, there is a major problem. Clearly, the Eleventh Doctor recognizes this incarnation in "The Name of the Doctor", or at least knows of him. Since the meeting occurs within The Doctor's personal timeline, it's heavily implied that only true incarnations appear there, giving more credit to the idea of Hurt as conventional Doctor that occurred off-screen.
If he was The Doctor of Pete's World, there's no real way he would already know about him or whatever terrible thing that he did that earned him the scorn of the other Doctors. It's the big hole on an otherwise pretty compelling theory, I feel, but we'll know for sure on November 23. See you then.