It’s a big year for fans of the Doctor, seeing how the beloved BBC television series Doctor Who – which details the (mis)adventures of a wayward time-traveler (i.e. Time Lord) with self-regeneration capabilities and a propensity for bringing young attractive ladies along for the ride – will celebrate it 50th year of existence this November; that is, before the bids farewell to the eleventh iteration of the Doctor (played by Matt Smith), in the next Christmas special.
However, despite all the excitement on the horizon, the Doctor Who cast and show-runners kept quite tight-lipped about the future of the show, during the panel at the 2013 International Comic-Con in San Diego. Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson – a longtime self-proclaimed Doctor Who fanatic – moderated the event, with a lineup that included producer Marcus Wilson, actor/writer Mark Gatiss, and head show-runner Steven Moffat, along with Smith, his current costar Jenna Louise-Coleman and David Bradely (who’s starring in the TV docudrama about the creation of Doctor Who, titled An Adventure in Time and Space).
The panel opened with a remix video showing the different versions of the Doctor – as well as the actors who played them – over the past five decades, in addition to a recap video for the second half of series 7 (ending with the conclusion to “The Name of the Doctor”). We then got to see a trailer for An Adventure in Time and Space, before the time came for the big treat: the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special trailer.
The trailer started off with a closeup of feet walking, followed by glimpses at Smith as Doctor #11 and Clara (Coleman). Smith (via voice-over) says that he’s had many faces, but there’s one face that he’s tried to keep buried. This was followed by a shot of a shadowy man, standing in the background of what appears to be a dimly-lit cavernous room (the interior of the TARDIS?), along with a shot of Daleks shrieking “Exterminate!”
This was followed shortly thereafter by a closeup of John Hurt as “The Doctor.” We then got a couple more clips of Hurt while he pilots the TARDIS, in addition to saying (via voice-over) “Great men are forged in fire.”
Thereafter, the trailer shifted into a pure montage of brief shots, which included a ragged-haired Rose (Billie Piper), Smith yelling “Geronimo!” and David Tennant as (Doctor #10? The half-human Doctor clone?) in the TARDIS yelling “Allons-y!”, in addition to Tennant and Smith’s Doctors meeting for the first time (they show one another their sonic screwdrivers and pull on their respective glasses).
We also saw Tennant in Smith’s TARDIS, saying “You’ve redecorated… I don’t like it!”, multiple shots of Tennant, Smith and Hurt walking together, a brief glimpse at a hellish-red rough-skinned monster, an exploding wall that sends Dalek toppling over, and Rose warning (Doctor #11? Clara?) that they are in danger.
The final shot had Hurt saying “I’m looking for the Doctor,” then we cut to Tennant and Smith exchanging significant glances in response. That was followed by the 50th anniversary logo and the official air date.
Overall, the 50th anniversary special felt like just about every other preview released during Moffat’s tenure as head show-runner on Doctor Who: intriguing bits of plot, but nothing that paints a clear-cut picture of what to expect. The concern at this point is that the episode will suffer from excess back-patting and fan service (given the number of callbacks to past gags in the trailer), and that the Doctor-meeting-Doctor angle could feel too much like a gimmick.
Here’s to hoping that the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special manages to avoid stepping into those potholes and, instead, proves to be a fun and exhilarating reminder of everything that makes Doctor Who great. That way, we can start off the next 50 years of the show’s existence – beginning with series 8 in Summer 2014 – off on the right foot (knock on wood).
Look for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special to air on the BBC on November 23rd, 2013.