Doctor Who has come a long way from those late nights on PBS when fans were at the mercy of Lionheart to determine what episodes were available for viewing. Now thanks to our modern age, almost everything is instantaneously available.
For longtime fans the dead period of the 1990s and early 2000s when the program was not on television seem like the Dark Ages. That is why we appreciate this new success. The achievements of the new series t marks a great time of exuberance, excitement and anticipation for fans of both the classic and new series.
As further proof that it has a gained a universal appeal around the globe, 2012 saw Doctor Who filming in Spain and America. The current season also attracted an amazing group of guest stars including David Warner, Liam Cunningham, Ian McClellan, Diana Rigg, David Bradley, Richard E. Grant, Mark Williams, Rupert Graves and a few more. Plus Neil Gaiman is doing another story. Not too shabby.
All of this is why 2012 was so remarkable. The year marked an apex for the popularity of the show both on these shores and around the world. It also proved that great science fiction can be presented weekly on television.
If all of that is not cool enough just think back to this summer when Matt Smith carried the Olympic Torch. In doing so Smith brought even more to the mythos of playing Doctor Who. By the end of the summer one could argue that Matt Smith was one of the most famous people on television. In carrying the torch Smith extinguished any nonsense that Doctor Who was a cult program.
Smith’s ascension to leading man status combined with BBC America’s ratings and Steven Moffat’s masterplan means that coming into 2013 the future of time and space is in good hands.
They have their work cut out for them, 2012 was pretty amazing and 2013 will certainly be most excellent.
A LOOK AT 2012
As much as is to look forward to in 2013 there were some great things about Doctor Who in 2012. The show was a massive ratings success. It also landed on the cover of Entertainment Weekly and TV Guide. This means that the show that many of us loved in our youth has finally been noticed as one of the planet’s most successful programs.
Since you are undoubtedly tired of lists by now I have tried to be brief.
Okay this was a real pain in the ass to sort out. Hence there is no way I can win this one since every fan has a unique attachment to any of the six stories screened so far. Therefore, I can only speak for myself.
I thought Asylum Of The Daleks was a great way to hit the ground running and inject some energy into the start of the new season. It also set the table nicely for some things down the line.
Personally, I think Dinosaurs On A Spaceship was my favorite. It did a lot of clever things and felt like a classic Who episode. The story introduced us to some new great new characters and did featured The Doctor in some fun situations. Matt Smith was at his most Troughtonish here and I really think he nailed the character in this story by adding a new layer of levity to his Doctor that was refreshing amidst all the darkness of recent stories.
Arthur Darvill and Karen Gillan had perfect symmetry and each was allow to expand their characters. Mark Williams was perfectly cast as Rory’s dad and I think he added a new twist to the program.
The scenes between Matt Smith and Riann Steele (as Queen Nefertiti) were awesome. David Bradley’s Solomon was really a nasty fellow. he was a delightful old school villain.
I also liked having Mitchell and Webb involved . That was a sublimely cool touch. At the end of everything though I really wanted to see more of John Riddell. He was a rich character with a lot of potential. Rupert Graves chewed up scenery and gave one of the best guest performances of the Eleventh Doctor era.
I chose this episode since overall it had the most number of things I enjoyed in the first six stories. I liked the story, the comedic flourishes, the intriguing way The Doctor went from whimsical to serious. It was nicely cast and it flowed well and had some really nice musical scoring in it as well. It also let Matt Smith roam free with his acting range more than some other stories. I also liked how it didn’t take itself too seriously.
I also enjoyed the Wild West antics of A Town Called Mercy. It was a great romp. The Power of Three was very inventive and the return of UNIT was good to see. I liked how it was paced and really did something with the fish out of water concept of The Doctor in a domestic situation.
The Snowmen served as the perfect bookend to the first part of Season Seven. It had some convoluted elements in it but overall it accomplished its goal of introducing a new companion and setting up the second half of the series.
Best Guest Star
There were lots of great guests for the first part of Season Seven.As previously stated, I loved Rupert Graves in Dinosaurs On A Spaceship. Graves brought a bravado and cheekiness to Riddell that made likable.
He narrowly beat out Richard E. Grant as Doctor Simeon as my favorite guest for the year. Mark Williams was also aces. I wish he had more screen time.
I expected The Weeping Angels to win this but their story felt a bit flat to me. This paves the way for The Daleks to win. Their appearance in Asylum Of The Daleks was scary and really did make you fear them a bit more than in recent episodes.
The Snow Men had their moments but also didn’t really deliver on the same level as The Daleks. Besides what would they do when spring came?
Richard E. Grant could be a winner for villainy in the latter half of the season. I have a feeling that Simeon will get more vulgar as the season plays out. Grant was terrific in The Snowmen but his screen time was diminished by the large amount of supporting cast. I definitely want to see more of him.
Best Returning Character
Another tough choice. I was expecting Alex Kingston to win this but her appearance in The Angels Take Manhattan was a muddled mess. She was terrific but the episode was sloppy from a writing standpoint. Plus the Statue of Liberty parts were dreadful.
I also loved Neve McIntosh returning as Madame Vastra. She is really taking the character to interesting places. However Dan Starkey stole The Snowmen as Strax. His comedic timing lightened things up and provided some of the best moments of the special. I am looking forward to seeing more of him as the season continues.
Best Moment Of Surprise
There is no real surprise here.The completely stunning debut of Jenna-Louise Coleman as Oswin in Episode One runs away with it. Although the return of the Great Intelligence was also quite a stunner. I suspect that the GI will play a very big role in the latter half of Season Seven and the situation with Oswin will only get weirder.
Coleman’s appearance came out of left field and really surprised fans of the show. Her appearance added a totally different dimension to Asylum Of The Daleks.
After months of build up The Angels Take Manhattan just sort of fizzled. It can be argued that it have benefitted from another episode since it tried to do an awful lot in one serial. So much in fact that it ended up a bit of a jumble. Arthur Darvill was amazing in it and Karen Gillan made sure Amy went out with emotion and sadness. Both of these actors carried the story. The script pushed The Doctor into the back a bit but this did not stop Matt Smith from delivering a performance that resonated with overwhelming helplessness. I really wanted to like this story but unfortunately it just seemed rushed in that same way that the Tennant finale was.
All of the companions were great in the first half of the season and I think we are in for a really wild ride with Clara/Oswin. Karen Gillan continued to make Amy an interesting Companion and you really did feel for her at the end of The Angels Take Manhattan. However from the very start it was clear that Rory had developed far more than anyone could have expected. Arthur Darvill was exceptional in every episode and his scenes with Matt Smith and Mark Williams were highlights. Watching him interact with Oswin was also pretty cool. Darvill mixed the right doses of compassion, action, concern, melancholy, loss and rage to give Rory even more depth then he had previously. From start to finish Darvill was rock solid and made the most of every performance.
In general The Any/Rory dynamic continued to break boundaries and shatter the traditional paradigm of how companions are perceived. Their departure tugged on emotions and really affected the audience. Both actors were phenomenal.
Completely restored The Invasion Of The Dinosaurs was a better story then I ever expected it to be. I cannot remember ever seeing a fully completed version of the story, much less one that restored the black and white bits so that they almost seamlessly fit in with the remainder of the episode. Jon Pertwee is perfect in it and the story sees UNIT at the top of its game, except for Mike Yates who is kind of a prat in it.
The Ambassadors of Death was restored far beyond anyone’s expectations. A round of applause should go to The Restoration Team for doing the impossible; getting a great color copy of an episode that present almost insurmountable challenges to fix. The DVD also a commentary from the late Caroline John and Nicholas Courtney.
I also liked the The Claws of Axos Special Edition DVD. It featured Living with Levine, the best DVD extra of the year. Toby Hadoke’s profile of the enigmatic actor ended up becoming a taut and emotional exercise in reality television.
Best Thing To Look Forward Yo In 2013
In 2012 Shada was released both as an animated adventure from Ian Levine and as a novelization from Gareth Roberts. While these both are pretty interesting it is the BBC release of Tom Baker’s lost classic on DVD that has classic Whovians excited. They are eagerly awaiting its January 8th release in North America.
I also am looking forward to seeing The Mind Of Evil and Terror of The Zygons on DVD. Both stories are long overdue for release.
IDW should also get a shout out. They have done some really great things with their Doctor Who comics in the last year. They have big plans for 2013!
Part Two of Season Seven also offers some tantalizing possibilities. The return of River Song and the Ice Warriors are just two things I am excited about. Throw in the return of Vastra, Jenny and Strax and a Cyberman story from Neil Gaiman and you have a partay!
I am also looking forward to seeing more of the new TARDIS interior. I think the new console is a perfect blend between the old and new series. As the anniversary gets nearer we will learn a lot more about the TARDIS. The new set gives the actors more room to move about while also offering a retro shout out to the classic series.
Season Seven also gives The Doctor an opportunity to face his biggest and darkest fears. As we lead into the 50th Anniversary things are going to get really dark very quickly and that brings a new dimension to the show.
With regard to the 50th anniversary, I cannot help but be excited. No one is talking on the record about what to expect which means something is up. There are lots of rumors and nothing seems to be a safe bet. Personally I hope they blend the classic series into the mix, I would love to see William Russell and Carole Ann Ford come back. If there is a multi-Doctor story I suspect it may only feature Doctors 9-11. I also am in the minority that still thinks Eccleston could sign on for it. All I know is that it will be epic and big and action packed. I also expect The Master to be back.
So as we raise the curtain on 2013 I think the best thing to do is sit back and enjoy what is undoubtedly going to be the wildest and most nervy ride in the history of Doctor Who.
THE SNOWMEN SCORES BIG FOR BBC AMERICA
The Snowmen was not only a hit with American fans it was a ratings juggernaut for BBC America.
From the BBC America press release…
Doctor Who: The Snowmen delivered record ratings for BBC AMERICA, rounding out a year of success. The Christmas Day special was the channel’s best ever telecast in demo, delivering 1.434 million total viewers.
BBC AMERICA General Manager, Perry Simon, said: It feels exactly right to be ending the year on a ratings high with Doctor Who. The show has really delivered for us this year on every level. Cinematic scale, superb acting, cracking storylines and a growing band of dedicated fans – we can’t wait for the next series in spring 2013.
Doctor Who also claimed some firsts in the publishing world. It became the first British show to claim the front cover of Entertainment Weekly in August and won TV Guide Magazine’s Fan Favorite cover in December, beating out The Walking Dead and Vampire Diaries among others.
MOFFAT ON THAT PESKY DOCTOR WHO MOVIE
No matter how hard he tries Steven Moffat can’t get people to dispense with the idea of a Doctor Who feature film. Moffat discussed the chances of a film being made in a recent interview with Vulture.
Harry Potter director David Yates has previously stated that he was working to develop a Doctor Who film. Since that announcement Moffat has been at odds with him on the subject.
The thing that I would find intolerable is that you get a film instead of the TV series because the TV series is more important…I don’t think any showrunner or future showrunner of Doctor Who would tolerate the idea that David Yates was talking about, of rebooting it and having a second continuity.
I think it could be incredibly exciting to see that TARDIS fly on the big screen. It would just be how do we arrange it. And how do we make sure we have… no offense, but you suddenly take American money and they expect to tell you what to do and all that. I wouldn’t be happy with that. But it will happen someday, I’m reasonably confident.
MOFFAT ON CHRISTMAS
Steven Moffat wrote about what Christmas was like at his house in a December 21st piece for The Evening Standard.
Christmas, for us, begins with Santa Claus. Now, my kids are ten and 13, but somehow they haven’t suspected the truth yet. No, in some enchanted extension of childhood innocence they still think it’s my wife Sue and I who fill their stockings with presents. Time and again I’ve tried to explain that it’s really a magic man called Santa, who lives at the North Pole, mass-producing pirate copies of commercial brands and distributing them worldwide for free, as a protest against capitalism. But they’re having none of it. Aw, sweet.
By mid-morning I will have developed a new obsession. Wrapping paper! The whole house will be drowning in wrapping paper and I will have an overpowering need to dispose of it. Everyone else will be laughing and opening presents — I’ll be wandering around with a bin liner, stuffing endless paper into it. This generally means I dispose of all the newly arrived ties, scarves and instruction manuals, and we spend the rest of the year with a selection of gadgets we don’t have a clue how to use, and cold necks.
My next obsession starts as a grim duty. Sue will tell me to assemble something. Maybe just put batteries into some toys. And I’ll sit on the floor with a screwdriver, and do my Daddy thing. Slowly, by degrees, it becomes a compulsion. I find more and more things to assemble. And then I need more and more! I’m rummaging in the bins, trying to find the instruction manuals among all the scarves and Sue’s new jewellery. They start calling me for Christmas lunch, but ‘No!’ I cry. ‘Just one more thing. I need to assemble just one more thing!’ Then I’m breaking into the boys’ Lego kits and putting them together like a crazed junkie, destroying weeks of fun at a stroke. Somehow, though, before I can make it to Ikea to demand flatpacks at gunpoint, Sue will manage to get me to the dinner table to eat with the family.
Now I don’t know about you, but normally, at meal times, I sit down in a state of mild hunger, eat till it goes away, then wander off to watch the telly. But on Christmas Day, I sit down after a couple of selection boxes, and eat till there is heart pain, dots dance in front of my eyes, and a heavenly voice commands me to go into the light. Then I eat a Christmas pudding and a trifle.
The rest of the day passes in a blur of more presents, relatives, and heart massage, until I find myself tottering up the stairs at midnight, wondering if I could just go to sleep in my clothes. Then Sue will call me back down again, on the basis that it’s only three o’clock in the afternoon and Doctor Who hasn’t been on yet.
Ah, yes, Doctor Who. I can’t wait to find out what he’s up to this year! Yes, I know I’m supposed to have written it, but as I’m sure you realise, the Doctor is a real person, having real adventures and I have no more idea of what’s going to happen than you do. But I hear there’s a scary new villain, killer snowmen and a lizard detective. The Doctor is grieving for the loss of his glorious Amy Pond, so I’m pretty sure he won’t be running off with the next girl he meets. Again.
There will be other television programmes, of course — I can’t help that — all of which I fully intend to watch. I’ll be as disappointed as anyone when I find myself waking up on the sofa at one in the morning, having slept through the lot. I’ll watch them all on Boxing Day, because that’s what Boxing Day is for. Well, that and never, ever, eating again.
JENNA-LOUISE COLEMAN ON 50TH ANNIVERSARY
Jenna-Louise Coleman was profiled in The Sun last week where she spoke enthusiastically about the upcoming anniversary of Doctor Who. She was interviewed in the TV supplement of the paper and discussed many things, including the upcoming anniversary.
Fifty years of Doctor Who and still going strong. It was amazing to see the response over in the US. The fans are mega-fans and its really rocketed in popularity over the past few years. I’ve been walking past the news stands in New York with Matt’s face gracing the covers of magazines. Steven texted me saying this will be something we will talk about in our dotage and he is right, we will. So watch this space!
JENNA-LOUISE COLEMAN ON CLARA
Jenna-Louise also was interviewed by The Telegraph where she talked about the challenges of bringing Clara to our screens. She also mentioned that she had not watched the show before taking on the role.
She also talked about the appeal of a companion that is being presented in a completely different way which puzzles The Doctor to no end.
The Doctor really wants to find out about her. She is obviously very clever, possibly more clever than he is, so she’s a challenge. I really liked that about the role.
THE DAVROS MISSION
Terry Molloy returns as the creator of The Daleks in The Davros Mission. This 2007 adventure was written and directed by Nicholas Briggs and is scheduled for release later this month. Molloy is supported by guest stars Miranda Raison, Sean Connolly and Gregg Newton. Briggs also voices The Daleks.
After his capture on Necros, Davros is destined to face the justice of the Daleks. He sits alone, isolated in his cell. His creations will no longer listen to him. But out of the darkness comes a voice…
Davros is no longer alone in his torment. Before he faces trial on the planet Skaro, he must go through an ordeal that will force him to the very limits of his sanity.
But where do his true loyalties lie? How will he face the future?
The Davros Mission was originally produced as part of the UK DVD boxset release of The Complete Davros Collection.
BUY YOUR OWN TARDIS
Maybe you didn’t get what you wanted for Christmas and it is time for you to treat yourself to something really awesome. Well be warned this is cool but expensive….
THE REIGN OF TERROR ON DVD
Final details have ben confirmed for The Reign of Terror DVD coming Britain on January 28th and North America on February 12th. This 1964 First Doctor story has been greatly reconstructed using animation to link two missing episodes.
Toby Hadoke is moderating an audio commentary for all six episodes featuring actors Carole Ann Ford (Susan), Neville Smith ( D’Argenson), Jeffrey Wickham (Webster), Caroline Hunt (Danielle) and Patrick Marley (Soldier). The production team is represented by Timothy Coombe (production assistant). Also on hand with insightful information on the ongoing search for missing Doctor Who episodes are Paul Vanezis and Philip Morris.
DVD extras also include:
Robespierre’s Domain Set Tour: A look inside the animation process of rebuilding the story.
Don’t Lose Your Head: A documentary that examines at making of The Reign of Terror.
Reign of Terror Trailer
MCCOY MEETS ROYALTY
Sylvester McCoy has been enjoying his moment n the Sun with his role in The Hobbit.
The role has not only made him scads of money and introduced him to an entirely new generation it also has led to him meeting the future King of England. With all this new attention he seems to have held up well.
Next Time…Fun with the First Doctor!