Discussion and critique of The Day of the Doctor:
From 2005, Doctor Who has been the story of a man who did something terrible and lost everything, and learns to recover thanks to the friends he makes and by never giving up and saving lives and bringing peace where he can. In the 50th anniversary episode that was changed to be the story of a man that never actually lost anything or did anything terrible, though wouldn't realise this until after a few years upon which he'd get everything he mourned back.
For Series Five of Doctor Who, Steven Moffat wrote a story that ended in a woman declaring to a room full of adults that she still believes in her childhood dreams, and being validated for it. It's a lovely, personal sentiment coming from a man who loved Doctor Who since childhood, had it taken from him for a while, and now revels more than anyone in it being back.
But that can't be the only story he tells, because not everybody's lives turn out as well as his. Some people lose things that can never come back, and those people need stories that give them hope more than anyone else.
In The Writer's Tale, Russell T Davies often speaks of people who are now dead. He's a gay man that witnessed the AIDS crisis, and lost many friends. His mother died of cancer. The Doctor's story of loss, of being a lone survivor, must have come from somewhere personal for him too. He wrote an inspiring story of a man recovering from that, stumbling into many pitfalls on the way, showing the viewer the mistakes to avoid in their own life, or to reassure them that it's natural to make mistakes, but it doesn't mean one should give up. It's inspiring. It's cathartic. It's true to life.
Saying that all that was for nothing, that the loss never really happened in the first place and would never be something the doctor would ever have to live with again, is not.
'Everybody lives' was magical because it was 'just this once'. It loses its meaning once everybody lives every time, and even the preceding times when you thought they hadn't.
So where does it end? Should the Doctor go back to Pompeii and make sure all its inhabitants are safely transported to a pocket universe so that to history it looks like they all died, when in fact they didn't? How disrespectful would that be to the real-life deaths of all those people?
I refer you once more to the paragraph about Russell T Davies and loss. Sometimes, the Doctor needs to make hard decisions, he needs to suffer loss, because that is what happens in real life. And in real-life there is no takesies-backsies. There is just your choices going forward.
Ah, but Doctor Who is escapism! Of course fiction should be a way to explore the things you wish would happen in real life!
Twilight and Harry Potter are both escapism too. However, in Harry Potter there is a cost, consequences and death, but thanks to hope and love a happy ending is possible. In Twilight there is no cost, things always turn out for the protagonists exactly as they wanted. It's cowardly storytelling, and this is what i believe Steven Moffat suffers from as well.
There is another issue entirely on the logic and lack of continuity of it all. We've been shown time and time again that Time Lord society is awful and the Doctor much prefers to break away from all that, so the idea that he's always been heading home, towards Gallifrey, is ridiculous. Also, at the end of the Time War it wasn't just Time Lords on Gallifrey vs. Daleks, it sprawled across time and space and involved third-party entities beyond one's imagination like the Skaro Degradations, the Nightmare Child, the Could've-been-King and his Army of Meanwhiles and Neverweres. So even if presumably in the last instant the entire battle had somehow conveniently converged around Gallifrey, and the stupid crossfire plan miraculously succeeds in destroying all the Daleks except the Emperor and the Void Ship, what about all those things? Knowing that the Doctor is heading towards a planet full of evil monstrosities and Time Lords willing to disintegrate the cosmos, his hopeful smile at the end is hard to swallow. But I wanted to concentrate on the issue of loss in storytelling.
Any thoughts welcome!