Announced just hours before the series premiere this evening, the BBC confirmed the first casting information for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, and they started big. David Tennant will make his return to the series, as will Billie Piper, reprising her role as Rose.
Tennant’s Doctor regenerated into Matt Smith on January 1, 2010; Billie was last seen in a cameo as Rose on the same adventure. Rose left the Doctor two years previous, on “Pete’s World” a parallel Earth, in the company of a human clone of The Doctor, created as a result of the fight with the Daleks in The Stolen Planet / Journey’s End. At this point, there’s no definite verification whether Tennant will return as The (original) Doctor or his Pete’s World clone.
Also announced as a member of the cast is John Hurt, British acting icon with quite a long resume in genre work, including Merlin, V For Vendetta, Elephant Man, Harry Potter, and 1984.
Tennant and Piper have spent much of the past months denying vehemently and whimsically their appearance in the series. David reported in a recent appearance on The Graham Norton Show that a representative arrived backstage to remind him not to talk about the special, “…and I don’t even know anything!”
Other actors associated with the show have been equally reticent about their appearance, and the few that have dropped tidbits have been rapped on the proverbial knuckles. John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness) announced that he was “talking” to the BBC to appear, only to have to retract that comment, followed by a tweet some weeks later stating definitively that he would not be appearing.
Filming for the new special begins this week, directed by Nick Hurran and written by Steven Moffat. Odds are that news of additional casting will filter out over the next weeks, either officially or via the hordes of fans which will certainly descend on each location shoot.
Oh, Steven Moffat, you magnificent bastard. The return of a villain before it and The Doctor have ever met, a reunion with a character The Doctor’s never actually met, the team-up of three characters, one of whom died in the far future, and a couple of surprise guests. A nice little Christmas present, and what’s Christmas without…
By Steven Moffat
Directed by Saul Metzstein
A young boy is met by a talking snowman, one who promises he can help him. Fifty years later, and Dr. Walter Simeon has become quite a successful man, head of a prestigious institute, and still working with the sentient snowstorm to prepare for a coming assault on the earth. Madame Vastra and Jenny are curious as to Dr. Simeon’s plans, but get nowhere. Meanwhile, a young barmaid named Clara has noticed a snowman pop up out of nowhere, and though the man she asks randomly about it seems disinterested, his curiosity is piqued, something The Doctor has been trying to avoid.
Clara is quite a mystery – she’s living a double life as the Governess for two young children. Their previous governess drowned in a pond outside their manor last winter, which froze over so quickly and thickly they never even found the body for a month. During that time, the Snow had time to analyze her DNA, providing them a perfect blueprint with which they plan to use to create more sturdy and permanent forms for itself. The challenge is not for The Doctor to defeat the Snowmen and its secret leader…but to get The Doctor interested enough to care.
Brilliant episode from head to toe. The chemistry between Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman is positively captivating, as we saw in Asylum of the Daleks, but here, with both on screen at once, it’s explosive. Dan Starkey pulls in a leaves-you-breathless comedic performance as Strax, one so good it’ll be hard to take him seriously if (when?) he appears again. Unlike most of the previous Christmas specials, this one has a more direct connection to the narrative of the show. They’re usually a rather done-in-one story that can be enjoyed on its own. But here, as with The Christmas Invasion, the story leads right into the start of the new semi-season this Spring/Summer.
Once again, Moffat has created a character rippling with mystery. Why was she working for Captain Latimer, and more importantly, why does her face seem to be spread across time?
THE MONSTER FILES
The Great Intelligence has been rumored for a return to the show for at least two years. Of course, so has damn near every other villain. Appearing twice during the Troughton era, it was a disembodied consciousness that was able to remotely animate constructs, created with the help of wiling human compatriots. Its favorite form in past battles have been giant robotic Yeti, also know as Abominable Snowmen, which was also the title of their first adventure. It appeared again in London in The Web of Fear, the adventure that also introduced us to then-Colonel Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, who would soon receive a promotion, and assignment to U.N.I.T.
The prose novels added a great deal to the history of the Intelligence, as it did for many of the villains of the series. In them it was revealed that it is in fact Yog-Sothoth, one of the Old Ones chronicled in the H.P. Lovecraft stories. Neil Gaiman revealed in an interview that he had initially intended House, the villain from his previous episode The Doctor’s Wife, was to have been the Great Intelligence, or at least was to have been heavily hinted as such. While none of those allusions remained, its modus operandi is sufficiently similar as to still make the connection possible.
Madame Vastra is a Silurian, an ancient lizard race who escaped under the Earth’s crust to save themselves from what they saw as an extinction-level threat in the form of an asteroid heading for the planet. When the asteroid was instead captured by the Earth’s gravity and became our moon, it allowed other races to rise to planetary dominance, namely Humanity. The Doctor has faced the Silurians several times both in the new and original series. Madame Vastra and her human partner Jenny, were introduced in A Good Man Goes to War, as was Strax, the Sontaran clone warrior, sentenced to the ultimate shame, to serve as a nurse.
GUEST STAR REPORT
Richard Grant (Dr. Simeon) has been a staple of British comedy and drama for years. He first came to note in Withnail and I, co-starring with the future Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann. He’s been in mad satiric comedies like How to Get Ahead in Advertising and Hudson Hawk, has played the Scarlet Pimpernel, starred in the underrated Warlock, and been in far too many more to list. He has also had quite a history with Doctor Who. He’s played The Doctor twice, once in Moffat’s oft-referenced Comic Relief sketch The Curse Of Fatal Death, and once in an animated adventure The Scream of the Shalka. That had been intended as a sort of pilot for a new Who series that never materialized. It was quiet shuffled out of continuity when the new series started with a different ninth Doctor.
Ian McKellen (voice of the Intelligence) is Magneto and Gandalf. Get Over It.
Juliet Cadzow (voice of the ice governess) has had a long career on British television and on film, but is likely best known as Edie McCredie from the cult favorite children’s show Balamory.
BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS – Trivia and production details
CREDITS WHERE CREDITS ARE DUE – New credit sequence, and a new mix of the theme, but even then, a return of some old motifs. The Doctor’s face has been missing from the opening sequence ever since the new series began, but its made a happy return here. Also, The TARDIS seems to traveling through space for more of the sequence than through time. The vortex has gone through some changes as well. In the initial credits sequence it seems made of energy, much resembling a “laser tunnel” effect. In the first Matt Smith sequence, the vortex took on a more smoky look, one that became progressively more violent in the episodes of this season. Now it’s taken a look of a column of flame. One theoy has suggested that the change represented a change in The Doctor’s mood and experiences, rather than mere a change in the vortex itself.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION – The episode was filmed in Bristol, which features a number of Victorian style locales, and makes for easy conversion.
THE ROSE AND CROWN – well, “Rose” is rather obvious, but one could also argue that a Crown is worn by someone who is…Noble.
YOU DON’T NEED THEM, YOU JUST THINK THEY MAKE YOU LOOK CLEVER – The Doctor is wearing Amy Pond’s glasses, last seen in The Angels Take Manhattan. It’s the only bit of clothing or accessories remaining from his previous costume. Even the bow tie is different.
DON’T KNOW WHERE, DON’T KNOW WHEN… Note Clara’s birthday – November 23rd, same day Doctor Who premiered in 1963.
“Those were the days” – What’s interesting is that we have NO clue exactly how long The Doctor has been out of the Saving The Universe business. Take a look at the TARDIS – the exterior is a weather-beaten mess. And even though the interior has a brand new design, I’ve already suggested that it is in fact the ship’s “default” setting, indicating that he didn’t care if it had any character anymore.
‘You realize Dr. Doyle is almost certainly basing his fantastical tales on your own exploits” – And that sound you hear is reality folding in upon itself. Moffat is, of course, also the showrunner on the new Sherlock series starring Smaug and Bilbo Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, and fans have been doing crossovers between the two series for some time now.
“And remember…” Clara is another woman that The Doctor is meeting out of order. Like River Song, there’s clearly much more going on with her than any average woman. Unlike Amy Pond, she’s got a very inquisitive nature, and was involved in her own little mysteries before the Doctor even arrived. She lives a double life, as the governess of the two children, who just happen to be in the middle of a dangerous situation. Rather like how Sarah jane and Donna Noble were inspired to investigate and help people after they met The Doctor. But Clara hadn’t MET The Doctor yet. Or has she?
BIG BAD WOLF REPORT – There’s two possibilities here. Rumors abound that the Great Intelligence will return throughout the back end of the season as the Big Bad. This story works perfectly as a stand-alone origin story for the entity, but could also serve as the start of a “You created me” story that could wind up in the season finale.
It seems very clear that one theme of at least the beginning of the semi-season will be the search for Clara. The clips in the Coming Soon teaser show that Clara’s influence is all across time – note the painting, and the fact that she seems to be wearing many different outfits. Yes, she could certainly be just changing clothes…but who’s to say it’s not a different Clara in each episode?
NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO – As is traditional at these points, that’s quite up in the air. We know we’ll be seeing…
A Cyberman episode by Neil Gaiman
Diana Rigg and her daughter in another Victorian era adventure
Last Saturday was a busy day if you were a Doctor Who fan in New York City. The first episode of the new series, Asylum of the Daleks, had its US premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater, the largest single-screen theater in the city they could lay their hands on. After a minor frenzy to obtain tickets, fans were treated to an hour-long thrill ride as The Doctor and his friends Amy and Rory fought against more Daleks than you could shake an eye-stalk at. But the activity began earlier in the day, as the folks at BBC America made stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, as well as co-producer Caroline Skinner available for interviews to the appreciative hordes of the working press.
Matt Smith (The Doctor) is currently shooting the Christmas special (“Which you have to shoot in August, because what could be more silly” explained Caro Skinner) and arranged a break in his schedule so he could fly to New York specifically to attend the premiere. “I want to film every single episode in New York, I want to get that out there right now. I absolutely love this place. Any way you point a camera, there’s something wonderful and beautiful to look at. The Light here sort of falls between the grids of the buildings so wonderfully. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’d like to come live here one day. And it’s great to do a sort of periody piece here – the locations afford you so much.”
In the aforementioned special, “[The Doctor] meets his new chum…or someone he thinks is his new chum”, played by newcomer to the series, Jenna-Louise Coleman. When asked about how The Doctor acts when he hasn’t got a companion, Matt admits he’s “really interested by the time he spends on his own. I think he gets more dangerous when he’s on his own. I think he needs that sort of human moral compass, that human sensibility. He needs that, he doesn’t have the same grasp of it. It’s interesting to think about the character becoming more reclusive, and on his own. Just this old man, wandering around the universe, trying to put things right…killing loads of innocent people along the way. when you look at it, there’s a lot of clerics that die in certain episodes.”
This season of thirteen regular episodes is broken into a short set of five, the final eight coming in 2013, after the Christmas special. The only “arc” in this five is what matt calls “The fall of the Ponds”. “We start off exactly where we left him,” Matt explains, “a man who is trying to step back a bit, into the shadows, and be less prominent, less famous, less apparent, less destructive. less of all those things that he started to struggle with. We see him trying to deal with that, as a character, or personality trait, it’s absolutely something he’s trying to deal with. Perhaps it does make his soul a bit darker, because he’s alone a lot more. As Amy says, it’s unhealthy for him, I think, ultimately, to be alone too long.”
When discussing the new episode, everyone has said the Daleks are “scary again”. “We’ve got the design of them better,” says Matt. “We’ve drawn from every Dalek, every one ever on its…well, you can’t say ‘legs’, can you? On their…space wheels. And The Asylum, you’ll see tonight, it’s…Dalek-Land. Like a perfect theme park – everything’s made for Daleks, it’s sort of ridiculous. The doors all go like that (makes a triangle shape with his hands) cause they’re all fat at the bottom. The world is really sort of gruesome and frightening. The design, and the tone, and the way it’s lit, I think we’ve achieved our intention with their nature.”
Karen Gillan (Amy Pond Williams) admitted something fairly major – “I’ve never found the Daleks…all that scary. I’ve loved them, cause they’re so iconic. But in this episode, they’re properly frightening.
I wondered if this “asylum” was more in the sense of a place where you keep mad people, of a place where dangerous people beg to be kept safe. Matt surmised, “I think it is [the first], but I rather like the idea of Daleks SO mad, they’re asking, ‘don’t let me out’. If they had more of a human consciousness, the latter could apply, but the Daleks don’t have that, it’s just not there. It’s just alien evil, encased in a tank. That’s why The Doctor has had this life-long war, that’s why they are his greatest foe, there’s nothing redemptive about them. They are only evil, and that’s the way he sees them; only evil.”
“This is an interesting episode for the nature of the Daleks”, Matt thinks. “We learn a lot, Steven cleverly reveals. As I think you have to with any villain that comes back. They have to have moved on somehow. And I think Steven’s done that here, he’s explored their nature in a very interesting way.”
The recurring theme of meeting historical figures will come round again, in an odd way. “In episode four, we encounter someone’s feet. He was a king, and he’s chasing us…and I’m not gonna give anything else away.” When asked what figure he might like to see appear, Matt was introspective. “Was Tarzan real? He wasn’t real was he? I kind of like the idea of The Doctor swinging from the branches, but being really bad at it.”
Gillan had a rather definite opinion about her character, specifically about the possibility of a return after this season’s assuredly dramatic departure. “I’ve always said that when I go, I want it to be for good. Because I want that final scene to have that same impact, maybe ten years on. I want people to be able to revisit it and still have the same emotion. That’s really important for me, so for that reason, I think I’m going to rule out any returns.” However, when I quietly complimented her on her ability to lie, she replied, “I learned it from the best!”
This season will start with a five-part webisode prequel, Pond Life, which will be made available on the BBC’s You Tube channel. “That was really interesting,” Karen recalls. “Cause you never get to see the snippets in between their adventures with The Doctor. And that’s what Pond Life is all about. And the in episode four (The Power of Three) that’s what the whole episode is about – these two people trying to deal with their domestic life, with this time-traveler popping in and out of their lives, whisking them off into these crazy adventures.”
“Steven (Moffat) and I wanted to do a fairly substantial piece about the Ponds and their relationship with The Doctor,” explained Executive producer Caroline Skinner, “kind of in general, and in between series six and seven. And one of the exciting thing about this series of episodes is you’ve got Amy and Rory as a married couple, and The Doctor popping in and out of their life, and taking them on adventures, and then dropping them off again. And we wanted something to set up that context, and really let people get an emotional sense of their relationship. And to see what The Doctor popping in and out meant from their point of view. You’ve got him coming in like that crazy little child, and throwing everything up in the air.”
“We were working at the time with brilliant writer Chris Chibnall (writer of 42 and The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood for Who, and numerous episodes of Torchwood), and he’s just got the most beautiful way for writing for Amy and Rory, and we asked him to put pen to paper, and that’s what we got.”
In this, her first full season producing the show, Caro brings to the table “A huge amount of passion for [the series], I’ve always loved it, and massive enthusiasm and ambition to make this the biggest series ever. And so does Steven. I sat down on day minus-one, just before I got the job, and he pitched me what he wanted to do with the series. And miraculously, in fifteen minutes, he’d pitched me all 13 stories for each episode, and I was just sat there saying ‘Wow, that’s quite a lot.’ And it was just so exciting to hear, to be honest, and I just wanted to bring my enthusiasm to bear to make all those ideas come to life, in the most ambitious way that we could.”
While chatting, Karen shared a problem she had with the many deaths of Rory Williams: “Each time, I have to invent a sort of new ‘death reaction.’ What am I going to do now?” She didn’t have any such problems filming her final scenes. “It not even acting, it’s just real. And it was honestly, just one of the most powerful feelings, and I just related it to how I genuinely felt. [that scene] was fairly far along in the shooting, but our very last scene was kind of an insignificant one, just us getting into the TARDIS, going ‘bye!’ But it became significant, cause it was the last time were going into the TARDIS together. So Matt closed the door, and we were in total darkness, and we all had a massive hug in the dark. And I cried, and milked it for all it was worth. It was amazing.”
Of all the episodes she’s filmed, Karen still considered The Eleventh Hour to be her favorite. “There was a particular magic to that episode. We were introducing the characters and establishing their relationship for the first time, and it was all so exciting. Actually, my favorite scene doesn’t even involve me at all, it’s the fish/custard scene, with my little cousin (Caitlin Blackwood) and Matt.”
Karen’s met some very wonderful fans, but had a couple stories about a couple that…stuck in her mind. One was a fellow who had actually had his name changed to “River Song”, and dressed as her for the convention, and a second fellow from Australia who had customized his house to a Doctor Who theme – “He had a TARDIS elevator, the gates had the logo – it had to cost some money.”
All three of the guests agreed that filming in New York City was a wonderful experience. “We filmed in Central Park and had hundreds of fans,” Matt recalls, “following us. It was remarkable, like nothing I’d ever witnessed before.” Karen agreed – ” Just to contain the excitement of being in Central Park was a challenge. We didn’t have any sort of security, we didn’t think anything like [hundreds of fans] was going to happen. But what was really nice is everybody respected the shooting, they were really quiet, and the they said ‘Cut,’ and it was all ‘Sign my TARDIS!'” Caroline explained, “When we shoot in the UK, we’ll get quite a few people following us around, and the fan base absolutely adore the show. But in my career, I’ve never known anything…I don’t think anyone had prepared themselves for what shooting in New York would be like. Least of all, our producers here in New York, who had done various movies here, and they’re all saying, ‘Caro, I don’t mean to be funny, but you’ve got twice as many people as Julia Roberts here!’ Just a wonderful experience. We had maybe twenty, thirty people in central park in the morning, and the crowd just grew, and by the end, we were shooting at a big fountain, and we could hardly hold the people back. And the sheer love and passion for the show was in the air, and it made the entire experience so special.
Indeed, Caroline called Angels in Manhattan the most challenging episode of this front half of the season. “Challenging for Steven because he’s written the most beautiful and heartbreaking exit story and there are some scenes in there that just so absolutely emotional. It’s an enormous thing to change companions, and you absolutely have to get that story right. And at the same time, we wanted to make the New York setting as resonant as we possibly could, and really make it feel to every detail, that we’d set it over here. And we did, we came here. We worked incredibly hard to get to get out and about to every New York landmark that we could, but more so to create that sort of noirish atmosphere that shooting in this city is so famous for. To make the story feel as beautiful as it possibly could do.
As for next year, which will of course be 2013, the fiftieth anniversary year for the series. “All I can say at this point”, said Caroline, guardedly, “Is that next year i going to be the biggest year of Doctor Who, bar none. I spent a lot of my time in strange underground rooms, with senior people at the BBC, and talking about what we might do. And not just on television; but other things, cause obviously Doctor Who has a lot of live events. So there are many plans afoot, which are all wonderful, and are all absolutely top secret.”
Writing for science fiction is always a challenge, as eventually someone has to ask how much things will cost, and that’s ultimately Caroline’s job. “We are treated very nicely by the BBC, but it’s always, whatever show you do, however big of small the budget is, you always want more. The thing we do on Doctor Who, as much as we possibly can do, is to let writers write exactly what they want, and then try not to cut anything, What you tend to get, in a Doctor Who script, is if it doesn’t, in terms of the production challenges, within it, in terms of location, in terms of special effects, just sheer story-based ambition…if it doesn’t scare you, as well as the monsters, we’re none of us are working hard enough.”
Later that evening, Matt and Karen arrived at the Ziegfeld theater in twin DeLoreans, to the sound of the cheering crowds, and of reality folding in upon itself. The episode itself was met with delight by the audience, and as the trio were so earnest in their requests to keep it all a secret (especially the BIG where where…ok, sorry), well, who are we to refuse them. suffice to say we learn about a great deal more about how Daleks think, how they treat their failures, and what they see as beautiful. The question and answer session was filled with laughs as, among other things, we learned that Matt had to help Karen zip up her dress (“Twice!”), the cast think that Peter Sellers and Bill Nighy would make great Doctors, and in answer to a young girl who asked “Why does Amy always get in trouble?”, Karen simply answered “Well, she’s a risk-taker”. Matt shared a story about his Mum, who was with him at the premiere (and was received with great cheers). She’s quite the fan of the series herself, and when they were looking for the new Doctor, she sent him a text saying “You should be the new Doctor”, and he had already gotten cast, and couldn’t even tell her. So if he’s that good at keeping secrets, surely the 1,200 member of the audience can keep schtum for a week.
Asylum of the Daleks premieres September 1st at 9PM EDT on BBC America. Check you local listing, especially in HD as several major cable and satellite carries have recently added the BBC America HD channel to their lineups.
Doctor Who fans don’t have to hold it anymore. The Great Question has been answered. No, not the one about Life, The Universe and Everything, or even the one that will be asked on the Fields of Trenzilor at the Fall Of The Eleventh. The BIG question – “When will Doctor Who premiere?”
And the answer is, September 1st. And it’s the SAME answer whether you live in America or the UK, with only a slight variance in detail. In the UK, the premiere episode Asylum of the Daleks will broadcast at 7:20 PM, and in the states at 9 PM, EDT.
The episode has already seen its premiere in the UK via a gala celebration, and will see its US premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City on August 25th. Tickets for the NYC event sold out in under half an hour, the rush of hopeful fans crashing the Movietickets.com website.
Over and above the welcome news of the premiere, the big surprise was that the premiere will be preceded by a five-part webisode mini series. The story, entitled “Pond Life”, will feature Amy and Rory PondWilliams attempting to live a normal life, outside the TARDIS. The synopsis of Asylum suggests that said normal life may not be going too smoothly. Series stars Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill discuss the mini-adventure on the BBC Website.
The episodes, written by Chris Chibnall, will be released one day, starting Monday, August 27th on the BBC website. They’ll also be made available in the UK, via BBC’s interactive “Red Button” service. Plans are proceeding on how the episodes will be released by BBC America— look for an update soon.
These webisodes are a continuation of the episode prequels from the previous season, each of which featured a brief extra scene from several episodes of the series. These prequels were included on the later video releases, it’s presumed this mini-series will also appear in this season’s set.
In honor of this surprise, Your Humble Reporter has crafted a suggested logo for the mini-series, inspired by a popular Britcom which starred a number of actors who later appeared on Doctor Who:
(Update: yes, 9/1, not 8/1 as we originally had in the headline. We’re dumb.)
When BBC America teased Wednesday that tickets would be made available for New York City Premiere of this season’s premiere episode of Doctor Who, there was little doubt they would be highly coveted. But when the link was released shortly after 2PM on Thursday, it was not expected that the rush of fans would crash the channel’s link forwarding service. A direct link to the sales page at Movetickets.com was hastily released, and the crush of eager purchasers quickly brought that website to its knees as well.
In a mini-repeat of recent bottlenecks for the San Diego Comic-Con, the ticket purchase system slowed to a crawl, and access was severely limited almost immediately after the links were announced. The site’s customer service number was jammed to bursting for several hours after tickets sold out as people attempted to see if aborted transactions resulted in a sale or not.
Those who could snag a connection and hold onto it for a full purchase session were able to secure ticket to the premiere of Asylum of the Daleks for the princely sum of eleven cents. The site would not allow them to give the tickets away for free, so the micro-fee (plus the website’s one-dollar service charge) was their way of tipping the hat to Matt Smith, the eleventh Doctor, while still granting almost free admission to the fans.
The site sold over 800 tickets in approximately twenty minutes, selling out New York’s Ziegfeld Theater, the largest theater they were able to secure.
BBC America has made it clear they’re very thankful that the event was so zealously accepted by the fans, and apologized that the process didn’t go as smoothly as it could have done. While there’s been no reports of a second showing, the site will be offering contests throughout the week to win tickets. Announcements will be made via their popular Twitter and Tumblr feeds.
During the information feeding frenzy of the (still unannounced) broadcast premiere of the show, BBC America has also been undertaking a massive publicity blitz for its first original series, the period police series Copper. Produced by Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana, it tells the tale of one of New York City’s honest policemen in the wild and chaotic year 1864. Copper premieres this Sunday, August 19th, at 10PM on BBC America.
The Doctor Who premiere will be on August 25th at 6PM at the Ziegfeld Theater. It is presumed the line has already started.
I discovered the Time Lord back in the late 1970s (I think), when WNET, the New York PBS station, started running the Tom Baker episodes. Baker’s Doctor, with his floppy-brimmed hat, outback duster, and loonnnng, multi-colored, scarf – did Granny Who knit it for him? – was the itinerant cosmic hobo. Only instead of hopping the rails, he “tripped the light fantastic” across the universe in the TARDIS. Companions Sara Jane Smith (the late Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) were – seen with the advantage of hindsight –sort of “Mulder/Scully” prototypes, with Sara Jane as the believing Mulder and Harry as the skeptic. I can’t say that the British military operations called UNIT – Unified Intelligence Taskforce – was the FBI, although Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart did sort of act like the Assistant Director Walter Skinner, walking the high-wire tightrope between helping the Doctor and answering to his superiors.
Like every other Whovian, I mourned – and was really pissed off – when the BBC stopped producing the series.
And like every other Whovian with Cablevision, I watched the relaunch of Doctor Who on Sci-Fi, with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Billy Piper – the call girl of The Secret Diary Of A Call Girl on Showtime – as his companion, Rose Tyler. I really got into Eccleston as the Doctor, and was incredibly disappointed when he chose to leave the role after only one season…until David Tennant took over the controls of the TARDIS and the wielding of the sonic screwdriver. Like Rose, I fell in love with Tennant’s Doctor.
And I was deeply upset when, after five years, Tennant left. The love story between the Doctor and Rose added new and deep emotional resonance to the series and I didn’t want their tale to end. So I was stubbornly anti-Matt Smith as the as romanticism and emotional I was not prepared to like Matt Smith as the Doctor’s eleventh reincarnation. I thought his introduction was stupid and boring, not funny, going though young Amy Pond’s refrigerator and kitchen pantry, tasting everything, spitting out everything.
Bow ties are cool. So are fezzes.
The absolute brilliance – imho – of Smith’s first season as the Time Lord, and the introduction of Amy Pond as, first, a young girl, and then as a grown woman (Karen Gillan), with the addition of Amy’s fiancée-now-husband Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) won me over by the second episode.
Last night I watched The Science Of Doctor Who, which, like its predecessors The Science Of Star Wars and The Science Of Star Trek, explored how the show has influenced the scientists of today in making the science fiction of the Doctor science reality. Today I trolled BBC America’s Doctor Whoweb pages, watching sneak previews and reading about catching up on all things Whovian. Including the news that Gillan and Darvill will be exiting the show, and that it may have something to do with the Weeping Angels – to my mind the scariest and creepiest aliens to ever appear on Doctor Who. Yes, much more than the Daleks or the Cybermen.
But I do have one question.
Can someone please, please tell me when Season 7 starts?
We’re still writing up all of our San Diego Comic-Con coverage, but this may already be the crowning event of this year’s convention, and it didn’t even happen at the convention center. This comes from the Nerd HQ “Conversations for a Cause” featuring Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill.
And if you can’t believe what the Doctor prescribes, who can you believe?
If this is true, the hearts of well over a million Doctor Who fans worldwide are about to beat just a little bit faster.
According to Slice of Scifi, Tom Baker will once again put on his mile-long multicolored scarf to reprise his role as the fourth Doctor in a 50th anniversary episode of the show, teaming up with eleventh Doctor Matt Smith. This is according to “a source close to the show.” Hmmm…
When Baker left the show back in 1981 as the series’ longest-running lead (a record held to this day), he said he wanted to put the part behind him. He was the only living Doctor who didn’t return for the 20th anniversary story, The Five Doctors. However, recently Baker came back to the role in a number of original full-cast audio adventures produced both by the BBC and by Big Finish Audio. The BBC episodes were set in contemporary time, and all co-starred other Doctor Who actors who had worked with Baker.
Is this the truth or is some well-placed hoser just jerking us around? Personally, I wouldn’t put the latter past show runner Steven Moffat – that seems to fit his whimsical public personna. But doing so would pretty much ruin the chances of Baker’s return to celebrate the 50th anniversary, and the BBC has confirmed they, and Steven, have “big plans.”
Doctor Who returned to TV last night and my household is thrilled. Big fans of the Doctor here; I once wrote and tried to produce a Doctor Who stage play with the idea that this was the only way I would ever get to play the Doctor. The play never got to production and, despite being the writer and the producer, I couldn’t get cast as the Doctor which tells you, right there, one of the big reasons I gave up acting.
There’s a lot to be done in this new series of episodes, including explaining how the Doctor, who was shot dead in the first episode of this season’s series of episodes, escapes (the Doctor who was killed was from 200 years down the time stream; did I mention that Doctor Who is about time travel?). If the show does not explain that by this end of this season, I will personally hunt down the show’s brilliant writer and show-runner, Stephen Moffat, and throw him into a Pandorica until he tells. (If you haven’t seen the show, don’t bother trying to understand the reference. In show in-joke.)
However, that’s not the point of this rant. When last seen, the current Doctor (Matt Smith) went to war to recover his companion, Amy Pond, and her newborn child who would grow up to become River Song who would become the Doctor’s wife at some point later in the time stream. The adult River is along for the adventure, by the way. Sound confusing, perhaps, I know; it’s a timey-wimey-wivey thing. It works. Trust me.
However, towards the end of the episode, River gives the Doctor crap about how his life is going, how he is becoming too much the warrior, and some such bilge. Excuse me? The Doctor goes up against nasty horrible bad guys that are trying to take over the Earth and/or destroy/enslave humanity and/or destroy the universe or time itself and the Doctor time and again defeats them armed with nothing but his wits and a sonic screwdriver.
This has happened before. The previous incarnation of the Doctor – David Tennant (The Doctor regenerates from time to time when they need to change the lead actor and it’s a wonderful idea that keeps the series fresh) – got taken to task by one of the worst of his enemies, a fiend called Davros who invented the Daleks who go around killing anything that isn’t a Dalek. Said fiend accuses the Doctor of manipulating his companions so that they do the dirty work so the Doctor doesn’t have to. And the Doctor appears to take him seriously! Where does the creator of the Daleks have any moral ground against the hero who has saved the universe time and again from the product of Davros’ invention?
Is the Doctor supposed to feel bad about being the hero? Am I supposed to think the Doctor is not the hero me thinks him is? The Doctor is the good guy here, folks; I don’t want him all angsty and doubting his own motives. I mean, c’mon – the next thing you know, he’ll be doubting that bow ties are cool!
I know bow ties are cool. The Doctor told me so. And I trust the Doctor.