Now that Doctor Who season 7.5 has officially premiered (read our episode review), BBC has been releasing a steady stream of new details for the highly-anticipated 50th anniversary special. Recent reports confirm that fan-favorite Doctor (number 10), David Tennant, along with companion Rose, played by Billie Piper, are set to return for the episode – which will be presented in 3D, according to showrunner Steven Moffat.
New photos of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special table read show Tennant along with eleventh Doctor Matt Smith, freshly minted companion Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman), as well as newcomer Joanna Page – scripts in hand. But what secrets and surprises lay inside those pages? For one thing, Classic Who-villains, the Zygons.
The BBC has officially confirmed that the shape-shifting extra-terrestrials will be featured in the anniversary special – though it’s unclear if they’ll be the only enemy the Doctor will face. Longtime Who fans will remember the Zygons from the fourth Doctor episode, “Terror of the Zygons” – which presented the aliens as malevolent refugees bent on conquering Earth after a stellar explosion destroyed their home planet. The Zygons crash-landed in Loch Ness along with a Skarasen - a large reptile with cybernetic augmentations (commonly referred to by unknowing locales as “Nessie”) whose milk was essential for Zygon survival. As mentioned, Zygons utilize a shape-shifting technology that allows them to take the form of another person – so long as the individual is alive (and plugged into their body-printing machine).
Check out a picture of the 50th Anniversary Special Zygon below (click to enlarge):
The “Terror of the Zygons” was thwarted by the Doctor, companion Sarah Jane, with the help of UNIT (Unified Intelligence Taskforce) and serves as the only Zygon-centric storyline in a Doctor Who episode. That said, the characters have been referenced in further classic and modern Doctor Who installments – not to mention books and audio dramas.
Now that they are set for return, we can only speculate how they fit into the 50th Anniversary Special storyline. While nothing is definitive, given the recent news of Tennant and Piper’s return (along with the Zygon UNIT connection), it seems increasingly likely that the special will take place in the parallel universe – and feature Tennant as the half-human, half-Time Lord clone (instead of a time-bending Tenth Doctor arc). While, the gap between the universes was repaired, there’s no reason to think Moffat couldn’t come up with a wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey explanation for one brief adventure.
Maybe the Zygons capture the Doctor clone and Rose, take their forms, then broadcast a distress signal through universes to the eleventh Doctor and Clara? Maybe not, it’s equally possible that Rose and the Doctor clone could come to us – since Rose returned from the parallel universe back in season 4 of the modern series. Still, as indicated, given that Doctor Who criss-crosses through space and time, another storyline could easily see the eleventh Doctor and Clara bumping into the tenth Doctor and Rose – while both pairs are still traveling (prior to Tennant and Piper’s exit from the series).
Either way, while we expect UNIT to factor into the plot, it’s unlikely that the organization will play a major part – given that the episode is set to feature several fan-favorite characters. Unfortunately, John Borrowman, Captain Jack Harkness of Doctor Who and Torchwood fame, isn’t likely to be one of them – even after confirming Anniversary Special talks with BBC producers. Since the actor is a fan of the franchise and was interested in returning, it’s possible that his role (which could have been creatively intertwined through a UNIT team-up), wasn’t big enough to justify altering his schedule – given that Barrowman is keeping busy on the set of Arrow (along with several other projects). Of course, there’s a chance that, even after meeting with Barrowman, BBC decided not to include his character (or any Torchwood references) in the special. The same goes for UNIT – just because the task force played a role in defeating the Zygons once, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be needed this time around.
It might be awhile before we have a clear picture of what’s in store for the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special but it’s looking as though Moffat is set to deliver a more focused multi-Doctor mash-up adventure – as opposed to cramming a host of Doctor versions into a single episode. Fans will likely be divided on the idea, especially if their favorite Doctor doesn’t make the cut, but the tighter storyline should provide more meaningful interaction with any of the characters who are set for return – instead of a gimmicky attempt to cram as many Doctors into an episode as possible.
We’ll keep you updated as more details surface. In the meantime, check out our Doctor Who Viewing Guide: Tips, Suggestions & Complete Episode List!
Doctor Who airs Saturday @8pm on BBC America. The 50th Anniversary Special is set to air sometime in 2013.
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