Australian Council on Children and the Media

Dr Who: The Day of the Doctor

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Not recommended under 9, PG to 13 (Violence; Disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Dr Who: The Day of the Doctor
  • a review of Dr Who: The Day of the Doctor completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 28 November 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 9 Not recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children 9 to 13 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children 13 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Dr Who: The Day of the Doctor
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild science fiction themes and violence
Length 86 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This film was made to commemorate the Dr Who series’ 50th anniversary. 

The story follows three interconnected time lines. 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). The Pair are hijacked by UNIT (British secret government agency) led by scientific advisor Kate Steward (Jemma Redgrave), who takes The Doctor and Clara to the tower of London. The Doctor is shown a 3D Time Lord painting, secreted away by Queen Elizabeth I, depicting the city of Arcadia in flames a result of a war between the Daleks and the Time Lords of Gallifrey.

The film’s second timeline set in 1568 finds the tenth Doctor (David Tennant) having a romantic interlude with Queen Elizabeth I. Their romance is interrupted when shape-shifting aliens called Zygons arrive on the scene intent on replicating the Queen of England so that they can take her place and take over the world.

The third timeline revolves around the Time Wars between the Time Lords of Gallifrey and the Daleks where we find yet another incarnation of the Doctor, the War Doctor (John Hurt). He is in the process of stealing a forbidden Gallifreyan weapon, capable of mass destruction, which he intends to use to destroy the Daleks, and Gallifrey with them, thus killing many innocent people. The Doctor escapes with the weapon, taking it to a deserted planet, but when he attempts to activate the weapon he finds it has a sentient consciousness that represents itself in the form of one of the Doctor’s past companions Rose Tyler (Billie Piper). She causes the Doctor the question his conscience and the consequences of his actions.

The remainder of the film revolves around the three separate timelines connecting with the three Doctors joining forces to find a solution that will prevent the Zygons from taking over the Earth and the War Doctor from using his stolen weapon of mass destruction.                        

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Time travel; alien beings; sacrificing lives to save others

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains science fiction action violence, peril, and threats of violence relating to the use of weapons of mass destruction: Examples include:

  • The TARDIS (the Doctor’s police box shaped transport ) is forcefully air lifted by a helicopter. The Doctor falls through the door of the TARDIS to hang on to the bottom in a perilous manner as the TARDIS dangles on the end of a line while being lifted high above the ground. 
  • A scene repeated several times throughout the film depicts science fiction battle violence in which laser gun wielding soldiers dressed  in armour battle against laser wielding Dalek robots. There are exchanges of laser fire between soldiers and Daleks; space craft firing lasers at a city causing buildings to explode in smoke and flames; space craft exploding in flames; explosions that hurl soldiers through the air; one soldier engulfed in a ball of flame; civilian families in peril with young children running through battle violence, dodging laser fire and debris raining down on them from exploding buildings; civilian families and children threatened by Dalek robots pointing laser weapons at them with parents pleading for the lives; we see a civilian body lying motionless on the ground; and  explosions that cause Dalek robots to explode in pieces. Each of the violent images is depicted for a brief period only and no blood and gore is depicted.
  • Zygon aliens attack a human woman and man. They chase the woman while a Zygon smothers the man with a tentacle-like hand.
  • We hear reference made to the Doctor having “killed them all”; “having more blood on his hands than any other”; and “The man who committed a crime that silenced the universe”.
  • The War Doctor is talked about as being responsible for the deaths of 2.47 billion children.
  • One scene depicts a woman activating a nuclear device and we hear that it will kill millions of people; the device is deactivated before it detonates.           

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Several scenes depict 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.
  • One scene depicts a Zygon alien transforming suddenly from human to Zygon form. The creature vomits a red goo-like substance while the flesh of her face ripples and partially transforms to then burst into an alien creature.  
  • The well-known Daleks with their metal casing and distorted voices are likely to be scary for this age group.
  • One scene depicts a woman encased in a red blistery jelly like cocoon with spider web-like tentacles attaching her cocoon to the wall behind her.
  • One scene depicts the Doctor regenerating;  beams of yellow light radiate out of the Doctor’s body.  

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

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

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film

Product placement

Nothing of concern in the movie but plenty of associated merchandise

Sexual references

The film contains some occasional low-level sexual references and innuendo designed to have comical intent. Examples include:

  • When a weapon with sentient conscience projects the form of one of the Doctor’s past female companions, the Doctor makes the comment, “The interface is hot”, to which she replies, “Well I do my best”.
  • In one scene the Doctor makes the comment “Stuck between a girl and a box” to which the Doctor’s female companion responds “That’s the story of your life”.
  • Queen Elizabeth tells the Doctor “My Love I’m not done with you yet” before kissing the doctor on the mouth.

Nudity and sexual activity

The film contains no nudity and occasional scenes depicting brief low-level sexual activity. Examples include:

  • The Doctor and Queen Elizabeth I lie on the ground together and we hear the Queen asking the doctor if she will marry her.
  • A few scenes of the Queen kissing the Doctor passionately on the mouth.

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

Very mild. Examples include:

  • O my god; for god’s sake. 

In a nutshell

Dr Who: The Day of the Doctor is a science fiction action film targeting a wide ranging audience, particularly fans of the Doctor Who TV series who will enjoy seeing several “Doctors” on the screen at once. It celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the TV series with the usual mixture of drama and humour, and fans will not be disappointed.  

Younger children are likely to find the film’s multiple story lines and characters confusing and there are some scary scenes and characters. The scenes of transformation from human to alien are likely to be particularly disturbing for under 8s and the intensity is increased in the 3D version.          

The main messages from this movie are:

  • People from different cultures, who have different beliefs will all loose if they fight each other to achieve their aims, only by working together to solve differences can both side have a winning outcome. 
  • Working together as a team can achieve far more than individual working alone.
  • Sacrificing the few to save the many may not be justified

Parents may wish to discuss with their children the concept of sacrificing the few to save the many. Are there any situations when sacrificing the life of one individual to save a greater number is justified?  Is it a no-win situation? What would the real-life consequences be to the person who had to make such a choice?

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