It is a week of anticipation for Whovians as the season winds to a close. The oncoming storm promised from the Cybermen plus the mystery of whom this other Doctor is has left fans on the edge of their seats. My biggest hope is that the payoff is worth all the hype.
Overall, I thought The Haunting of Villa Diodati had some terrific moments of pure horror that worked well. However, like many stories this year, it tried to do an awful lot and get a bit muddled. I do appreciate having a historical story in the mix as I think it keeps the show true to its roots. The Shelley/Byron angle was really clever but it needed more time to really play out within the context of the story.
The atmospherics were effective and Cole, Gill, Walsh, and Whittaker were again enjoyable to watch. As the season has progressed you can see the relationships between them more defined and drawn out. With this in mind, I appreciate how the Doctor remains sort of aloof and distant. It retains another aspect of the early seasons of the classic series and keeps the character enigmatic.
With the end in sight, one hopes that the remainder of Season 12 offers fans some decent scripts and character development. There is a real opportunity here to capitalize on the momentum surrounding this season’s conclusion. Hopefully, the production team delivers on everything it is promising for the finale. With ratings down, lethargic writing and a sense of malaise around many long-term fans the show really needs to fire on all cylinders as the TARDIS continues its adventures in time and space.
ASCENSION OF THE CYBERMEN
The first half of the season finale is being billed as epic. Ascension of the Cybermen was written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Jamie Magnus Stone. In addition to featuring Cybermen from different eras of the show it also (hopefully) ties up a lot of the Timeless Child story arc, the destruction of Gallifrey and how Jo Martin’s Doctor fits into everything and will the companions really being turned into Cybermen?
Guest stars include Patrick O’ Kane as Ashad, the Lone Cybermen, Julie Graham as a freedom fighter named Ravio and Rhiannon Clements as a character named Bescot.
Here are some preview videos and pictures for the episode.
In the far future, the Doctor and her friends face a brutal battle across the farthest reaches of space to protect the last of the human race against the deadly Cybermen. The aftermath of the Great CyberWar. The Doctor arrives in the far future, intent on protecting the last of the human race from the deadly Cybermen. But in the face of such a relentless enemy, has she put her best friends at risk? What terrors lie hiding in the depths of space, and what is Ko Sharmus?
No matter where this story goes, one thing is pretty clear. The human race is in a very bad way. Thus, it appears things will be getting even grimmer from here on out.
THE TIMELESS CHILDREN
Details have been released about the final serial of the season, The Timeless Children. Episode 9 was written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Jamie Magnus Stone. Keeping true to its billing as a massively epic story, it has a longer running run time than other stories, clocking in at sixty-five minutes.
The Cybermen are still around but it would not be shocking if the Master didn’t turn up somewhere in the finale. This rumor has been circulating for a long time and seems to have come to a head with the announcement that a character in Episode 10 named Fakout would be played by an actor named Barack Stemis. If you mess with that ‘name’ you will find it is an anagram, “Master is back.’
It also is possible that the season-ender concludes with a cliffhanger, forcing viewers to wait months for a conclusion. Based on the alleged scope of the impending narrative this is certainly within the realm of possibilities.
In the epic and emotional series finale, the Cybermen are on the march. As the last remaining humans are ruthlessly hunted down, Graham, Ryan and Yaz face a terrifying fight to survive. Civilisations fall. Others rise anew. Lies are exposed, truths are revealed, battles are fought, and for the Doctor, trapped and alone, nothing will ever be the same again.
Showrunner Chris Chibnall spoke about the episode with Entertainment Weekly.
The Timeless Children-plural!-will pay off a lot of the strands that we’ve set running both last year and this year. I’m going to do classic British understatement here: It’s a relatively seismic episode for the Doctor, and for the show. You will get some answers, but you will also be left with a whole load of new questions in true Doctor Who style.
He added. It’s big, it’s action-packed, it’s very, very epic and very, very emotional, and there is a blistering performance from Jodie Whittaker in that final episode. People, I think, are going to feel wrung-out and possibly a little bit open-mouthed.
We shall see if it truly is a game-changing story that shreds canon or something really new and different that takes the program to new spaces.
SEASON 13 NEWS
Here is what we know about Season 13.
Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker are confirmed as returning and some of the season’s major plot developments will manifest themselves in the series 12 finale. While there has been no official confirmation from the BBC, it is expected that either or both Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill are leaving the show. Bradley Walsh is believed to have signed on for another season. But this too is not confirmed. In an interview with The Radio Times, Mandip Gill claimed that she does not know if Yaz is returning. Clearly she knows but cannot say.
It is possible that the companions survive the trauma of the season’s cyberfinale and leave after the New Year’s special.
Speaking at last week’s Gallifrey One convention in Los Angeles, producer Tracie Simpson confirmed that pre-production on Series 13 is slated to begin in June of 2020, with filming starting around September. Under this schedule, it is likely that new episodes would air in 2021.
Chibnail has also intimated that some planning for the next season has already begun. With that in mind, it is likely that the Master, the Daleks, and Captain Jack will show up somewhere in the season. Although Captain Jack could be returning in the New Year’s special.
No information on writers, guest stars and directors has been disclosed.
NEW JACQUELINE HILL BIOGRAPHY PUBLISHED
Louise Bremner has written a new biography about the late Jacqueline Hill. Published by Fantom Publishing, A Future In Five Minutes chronicles the actress’s life from her early years in Birmingham to her time at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts) to her professional career beforehand after Doctor Who.
The book stands as the definitive biography of the woman who brought Barbara Wright to TV screens.
THE FACELESS ONES ON DVD
March sees the release of The Faceless Ones on DVD in the UK. Incomplete in the BBC archives, it is the eighth story of Season Four and stars Patrick Troughton, Anneke Wills, Frazer Hines, and Michael Craze. Written by David Ellis and Malcolm Hulke with direction by Gerry Mill, this six-parter, (filmed partially on location at Gatwick airport) saw the departure of Ben and Polly from the series.
Although no North American release date has been announced, the BBC has released information on extras and bonus features found on the DVD. Presented in fully animated form, it also includes both surviving episodes (1 & 3) of the story along with telesnap reconstructions of missing episodes. Animated both in color and black and white,The Faceless Ones also includes restored audio from Mark Ayres and PDFs of the serial’s original camera scripts.
Also included is stock footage from the original production and surviving Film Fragments from the missing episodes. Audio commentaries are included for three animated episodes (4, 5 and 6) as well as the surviving episodes (1 & 3). Moderated by Toby Hadoke, the commentaries include recollections from Frazer Hines (Jamie), Anneke Wills (Polly), Chris Tranchell (Jenkins) and vision mixer Clive Doig.
Hadoke also has produced a documentary, Face to Face with the Faceless Ones, about the animation process used in making these restored versions. In an Anglotopia exclusive, he commented on how his spotlight on the animation process came about.
Well, the feature for The Faceless Ones was really supposed to be a featurette just to shine a spotlight on the animation process. It had less budget for the whole thing than you would allocate for half a day’s editing on a normal feature. But we got a little creative and I got some of the animating team to do video diaries and, as luck would have it, two key personnel, Anne Marie Walsh the producer and Martin Geraghty, who does the character design, live not far from me so we all piled into Martin’s and did some guerrilla filming. So hopefully it’ll be a step-by-step guide to the animation process which will illuminate how the work is done.
If all of this was not enough, there also is a preview clip of the forthcoming DVD release of Fury From the Deep,
Clips from The Faceless Ones and Fury From the Deep were both shown at Gallifrey 31 in Los Angles last weekend.
ECCLESTON AND PIPER FOR MEGACON
Christopher Eccleston is following his appearance at Gallifrey 31 and his forthcoming gig at Planet Comic-Con by reuniting with Billie Piper at MegaCon, held from April 16-19 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.
Eccleston will be appearing on Saturday and Piper will be in attendance on Saturday and Sunday. For more information visit https://www.megaconorlando.com
MARTHA JONES RETURNS FOR BIG FINISH
Freema Agyeman is coming to Big Finish for Torchwood: Dissected, a new audio written by Tim Foley and directed by Scott Handcock. It also co-stars Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper.
Gwen Cooper turns up on Martha Jones’s doorstep with a dead body in tow. She needs to ask one final favour of her. And to find out why they stopped being friends. A lot’s happened to Torchwood since Martha left. A lot’s happened to Martha since she left Torchwood. And there’s something very odd about the dead body Gwen’s brought with her. Tonight Gwen’s going to be getting more answers than she bargained for.