Doctor Who held its first ever New York Comic Con panel this weekend, bringing along stars Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, and Matt Lucas, as well as showrunner Steven Moffat and producer Brian Minchin. During the panel, some behind-the-scenes footage from this year's superhero-themed Christmas special was screened (and shared online for those us not in attendance), teasing what might just be their most unusual Christmas special yet.
Not to suggest Doctor Who doesn't already tend to be quite unusual; it is, after all, a series that can be set in any time and/or place imaginable with at its center a character who can look and act vastly different given the decade, performer, episodic details, etc. Reinvention is a key element of Doctor Who, allowing it to outlast so many other television series of its kind - and that itself is pretty unusual.
After this year's Christmas special, Doctor Who won't return with season 10 until Spring 2017. When it does, it'll be another season of reinvention as the Twelfth Doctor finds a new companion (having literally forgotten all about his last). But as Capaldi suggests during an interview Screen Rant participated in while at NYCC, a new companion isn't the only change - because next season will feature more of The Doctor's "alienness":
"The great thing about playing Doctor Who is you actually have a whole life cycle, y'know? So you can start off quite being born, y'know, in season 1 and not quite knowing who you are and struggling to find who you are. And then find who you are and you discover, 'Oh, I'm good with this. This is quite fun. I like this character,' and then you discover there's more to Doctor Who than you thought.
"The important thing about Doctor Who is there's always a mystery to him. There's always a Doctor Who you don't know because he's alien, he's not a human being. So, I think we're going to see some more of his alienness."
That The Doctor looks human but isn't has been a sticking point of the series since day one, and it has led to both humorous and distasteful confrontations. The quirky nature of The Doctor can certainly be amusing, but there are other times it can be off putting for his human companions to see The Doctor acting in what they consider a callous manner. Say for example, by having a more nonchalant reaction to the loss of a life or not understanding why someone would feel hurt by his actions.
But there have also been times when The Doctor does act more human, with more feeling, if you will. Those times usually happen due to the influence of his human companions, so Capaldi suggesting that season 10 features a more alien Doctor might be implying he won't have quite the same relationship with new companion, Bill, that The Doctor has had with say Rose, Amy, or most recently, Clara.
Normally, after losing one companion there's a period where The Doctor refuses to travel with anyone ever again, not wanting to again experience that loss. But unless something happens in the Christmas special to reverse the blanking of all his memories of Clara, then The Doctor shouldn't in quite the same melancholy. But then, perhaps wiping his memory had other effects, leading The Doctor to begin acting in more strange and alien ways.
Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio will air in December on BBC1 and BBC America. Doctor Who season 10 is set to air in 2017, though dates have yet to be confirmed.