2012-07-16 14:48:37 UTC
Doctor Who shows us something weve never seen before
Charlie Jane Anders View ProfileEmailFacebookTwitterAIMGoogle
PlusRSSIf you thought Doctor Who was out of surprises, today's panel
at San Diego Comic Con would change your mind. We saw two clips from
the upcoming seventh season of the British time-travel classic and
one of them contained something we've never, ever, seen before. Let's
just say it's Doctor Who's answer to Snakes on a Plane.
So the first clip we saw was just from the third episode, tentatively
called "The Gunslinger," where the Doctor visits the Old West. (We
already saw footage from that episode a while back.) The Doctor, Amy
and Rory walk into a saloon in the Old West town of Mercy and it
looks like the usual bit where everybody stops playing cards and the
piano stops playing, as everyone stares. The Doctor bellies up to the
bar and asks for a tea the strongest possible, with the teabag still
in there. The undertaker comes and starts measuring him for a coffin
and then something truly surprising happens. Someone asks the Doctor
if he's an alien.
The Doctor says that it's all a matter of perspective from his
standpoint, all of them are aliens. But yes, as far as they're
concerned, he is an alien. And they all mob him.
But the second clip was a lot more exciting because it was from an
episode called "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," the season's second
episode, written by Chris Chibnall. It was one of those "the Doctor
rounds up a bunch of allies" things the show has made its trademark
lately. We start out with the Doctor in Ancient Egypt, where Nefertiti
has fallen in love with him and doesn't want to let him leave. Then
the Doctor gets a sudden alert (like a car horn honking) and so he
takes Nefertiti with him to the future, where a mysterious spaceship
is going to crash into Earth.
The Earth defense leader tells the Doctor that if the ship comes
within 10,000 kilometers of Earth, they're going to have to shoot it
down and that's six hours from now. So the Doctor decides to round
up a gang to investigate it.
FIrst, he lands in 1901, where Riddell, a big game hunter on Safari
has been waiting ten months for the Doctor to return with some sweets.
The big game hunter (played by Rupert Graves from Sherlock) hears that
the Doctor has a big adventure afoot, and at first pretends not to be
interested in getting dragged in again but then he quickly relents
and goes with the Doctor.
Then we look in on the Ponds, where Rory's father Brian (played by
Mark Williams, aka Arthur Weasley) is fixing a light socket. And then
the TARDIS materializes at the worst possible moment right around
Amy, Rory and Brian. The Doctor doesn't even notice that he's taken
Rory's dad along for the ride... until they've materialized on the
mysterious spaceship, and then he yells at Rory for bringing his
father without asking first. Because the TARDIS is not a taxi service,
etc. etc. Until Rory finally explains that the Doctor materialized
around his father, and the Doctor sort of apologizes. And then Rory's
left to explain to his dad that he and Amy didn't go traveling in
Thailand after all... it was a bit further than that.
And then we're investigating the spaceship, and there are spider webs
everywhere which, as the Doctor says, is unusual in space.
Eventually, the Doctor and his "gang" (Riddell, Nefertiti, Rory, Amy
and Brian) come to a huge ominous door... which slowly opens,
revealing two huge, massive dinosaurs. They look huge and spiky,
possibly like stegosauruses. The Doctor tells everybody to run and
they do. But he doesn't, because he's too busy staring excitedly at
the dinosaurs on a spaceship.
As showrunner Steven Moffat explained happily, the secret to success
on television isn't really a mystery, as he's claimed in the past. The
secret is to put dinosaurs on a spaceship.
What to expect from season seven
Moffat promises "more Daleks than you've ever seen in one place and
every generation of Dalek." And it looks fantastic, now that the
visual effects are just being completed. "Lots and lots and lots of
Daleks. All the things you see when you close your eyes," Moffat
exults. And there's tragedy, comedy, a Western, adventures and more
variety of adventures than you've ever seen before.
Matt Smith talks up the Ponds' farewell episode, featuring the Weeping
Angels. Moffat has "done a great job, it's a climactic, and fitting
and I think a brilliant end to what have been my favorite companions
Producer Caroline Skinner says the new season is "absolutely
incredible," with more variety of episodes than ever, and the biggest
episodes yet. "We've had Daleks. We've had Weeping Angels. We've shot
episodes in New York and in Spain." (The aforementioned gunfighting
episode was shot in Spain, in the great tradition of Westerns shot in
As for the Ponds' farewell, Moffat says, "that episode was a tough one
to write. I think I was relieved when I finished writing it, and it
kind of made sense. I've written my last words ever for Amy and Rory.
Of course I hadn't, there's always something else. But it was
genuinely very sad."
But later, when moderator Chris Hardwick says there's no way to write
the Ponds out permanently, Moffat hints he may have done just that.
Hardwick, in turn, says we all trust Moffat not to break our hearts
for too long, and he replies: "Why did you trust me? What have I ever
done to earn that?"
The cast is joking about how good friends they've become. "We've
gotten to the point where don't have conversations," says Darvill.
"Just noises and silly phrases," says Smith. "We like to call them
episodes," jokes Moffat. Later, Darvill and Gillan do impressions of
each other, and it's supercute.
Someone brings up the idea that the Doctor leaves the brakes (the
"blue boringers") on when he flies the TARDIS and Moffat notes that
River Song was probably winding the Doctor up about that because you
might notice that when she flies the TARDIS, it still makes that same
wheezing, groaning materialization noise.
Someone in a cute shiny Dalek costume asks if there will be a
multi-Doctor episode. "I'm not going to tell you," says Moffat.
How did Moffat come up with the idea that the Doctor's name was "the
first question?" someone asks. "To be honest, it's been there from a
start. He never gives his name. Other Time Lords do, but he doesn't.
Clearly, his name is very important. Only I know why. We actually find
out the truth" about the importance of the Doctor's name.
"Have I found out the Doctor's real name? Yes." Moffat says. He won't
say what it is, but he jokes that it's "Patrick" or "Jeff."
Dame Diana Rigg is "totally wonderful" in Doctor Who, says Smith.
Someone asks if there will be another villain alliance, like in "The
Pandorica Opens." Absolutely not. "Can you imagine how long the
meeting must have been to get the Pandorica alliance together?" Moffat
says. The Weeping Angels would have refused to come in to the
conference room because the lights were on. "I think such a useless
alliance of readily defeatable foes will be repeated. And what was the
end result? They blew up the universe!"
Someone asks what sort of stories the cast would like to do. Smith
says he'd like to see an episode about Atlantis, but he's not sure
they can afford it. "Tragically, there have been at least three
versions of Atlantis in Doctor Who," says Moffat. "We could do it
again. To hell with continuity."
And Gillan says she really likes pianos, so maybe something about a
piano that shrinks people and they get trapped inside the piano and
have to dodge the hammers.
Smith mentions that they "sang" their way through "Bohemian Rhapsody"
last night. Or rather, they shouted it. Or maybe barked it. (Check out
the video at left!)
Smith says his trademark "flicking" open of the sonic screwdriver
happened by accident it was designed just to be opened normally, but
he was playing around with it and found that he could open it by
flicking it. And he thought it looked cool, so he went with it.