Doctor Who Returns…

Less than a week to go until Season 8 of Doctor Who (that’s Season 34 if you count from the very beginning)! This coming Saturday we’ll see Peter Capaldi make his debut as the Twelfth Doctor. Of course, those who have attended World Premier events have already seen the episode. My brother, for example, was at the premier in Cardiff a few weeks ago, and he assures me the story is awesome and Capaldi is even awesomer. It seems the TARDIS is in safe hands. Should my brother be reading, feel free to elaborate on this assessment in the comments!

Rumors are circulating that this will be Jenna Coleman’s last season (she plays Clara, the Doctor’s companion). Tabloid stories suggest she will be bowing out at Christmas. Naturally, we take such rumors with a pinch of salt until confirmed, but to be honest, a lot of these kinds of stories tend to lean toward truth. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jenna wants to move on to other things. Doctor Who is such an international phenomenon, it can only promote the careers of its leading actors. Part of Matt Smith’s reasons for moving on was the huge attention he was getting as a result of Who. And I’m sure we’ll soon see current show-runner Steven Moffat step down as bigger opportunities tempt him away. We’ll see about that.

Here’s the list of episode titles for this season, as reported in Doctor Who Magazine:

  • Deep Breath by Steven Moffat
  • Into the Dalek by Phil Ford and Steven Moffat
  • Robot of Sherwood by Mark Gatiss
  • Listen by Steven Moffat
  • Time Heist by Stephen Thompson and Steven Moffat
  • The Caretaker by Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat
  • Kill the Moon by Peter Harness
  • Mummy on the Orient Express by Jamie Mathieson
  • Flatline by Jaime Mathieson
  • The Forest of the Night by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • Dark Water  by Steven Moffat
  • Death in Heaven by Steven Moffat

This will be a full 13-episode season, so it’s possible one of these is the title to a two-parter. We know the finale is a two-parter, so maybe it’ll be “Death in Heaven Part 1″ and “Death in Heaven Part 2,” or perhaps the title for episode 13 has yet to be revealed…?

UPDATE: The BBC Blog released the above list, and they indicate that “Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven” are episodes 11 and 12, the two-part finale. This means there are only 12 episodes this season, one shorter than usual. What’s up with that? I don’t know. Perhaps things will become clearer as the year progresses…

“Deep Breath” will be broadcast on Saturday, August 23rd at 7:50 pm on BBC1 (simulcast in Australia on ABC1 on Sunday, August 24th), and at 8:15 pm (ET) on BBC America.

Finally, there will be a new title sequence for the new Doctor. It seems Steven Moffat came across a fan-made sequence on YouTube and liked it so much, he contacted the creator and asked him to collaborate with BBC Wales on the official sequence. Here’s Billy Hanshaw’s original version:

We’ll see the final official version on Saturday.

Are you looking forward to the new season of Doctor Who?

Who Review: The Time of the Doctor

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A mysterious, untranslatable message is being broadcast from an unknown planet around which some of the Doctor’s most fearsome enemies have gathered. Upon further investigation, it appears to be coming from a crack in the fabric of the universe left over from Series Five (“The Eleventh Hour” – “The Big Bang”), located in a town called Christmas. With help from his cyberman-head side-kick, Handles, The Doctor determines the message originates from the Time Lords in their pocket universe. He is then able to translate the message, and it’s a very old question: Doctor Who? All the Doctor has to do is answer that question, and the Time Lords will return to that planet. When that happens, the fleets of ships surrounding the planet will then attack, renewing the Time War. When the Doctor learns the real name of the planet, the true horror of the situation hits home. With the planet under siege, the Doctor decides to stay and fend off insurgent attacks, and try to negotiate peace. But the centuries are passing, and the Doctor is at the end of his regeneration cycle. Facing certain death, how can he save the planet, the universe, and himself from what seems inevitable…?

SPOILER ALERT!! My comments may (and likely will) contain spoilers for those that haven’t seen the episode. If you want to stay spoiler-free, please watch the story before you continue reading!

It seems that coming into this story, writer (and show-runner) Steven Moffat had a couple of objectives: tie up some loose story-ends from Matt Smith’s era, and send the Eleventh Doctor off with a bang. I think he certainly delivered on both of these, giving us a story that may be somewhat satisfying from a “grand story-arc” perspective (though I still want to know how the Doctor rescued Clara from his time stream), but falls a little flat, I think, in the “great story” department. Don’t get me wrong–I enjoyed the episode, and all involved put forth stellar performances (particularly Matt Smith–one of his best, I think). However, after the triumph of “The Day of the Doctor,” my expectations for a magnificent closing to the anniversary year were high. From that perspective, I was disappointed. But, as I said, I still enjoyed it, and it was, overall, a good story.

Some specifics I liked: Handles! With Clara not on the TARDIS 24/7 (a new development with the companions I’m not sure I like), the Doctor makes himself a companion out of a cyberman head. The interaction between them is wonderful, and Handles’ passing is possibly the saddest part of the whole episode–even more than the Eleventh Doctor’s parting speech! I also liked the Doctor’s explanation of why he’s at the end of his regeneration cycle. Perhaps those who didn’t get Moffat’s explanation are still confused, but as someone who already understood the idea, I found it to be a nice, succinct summing up of the situation. Matt’s performance as an old man was very good also. Some may have felt the middle part, where we see the Doctor living in Christmas, defending the town, and getting older, to drag a bit. Maybe it did, but I didn’t think it slowed the pace enough to make me lose interest.

Some specifics I didn’t like: The whole “naked” thing at the beginning. Sorry, but to me that’s just uncomfortable–perhaps some shock/smile value, but it doesn’t serve a purpose. Likewise the sultry scenes between the Doctor and Tasha Lem were a bit over the top and unnecessary. I can handle the idea that the Doctor has had “involvement” with people in the past (Madame de Pompadour, Elizabeth I, etc.), but Moffat likes to inject way too much lust into these kinds of scenes, and it’s just not necessary. I don’t even think it’s funny. It’s just… uncomfortable. Especially given that it’s the Doctor.

As for Peter Capaldi’s first scene as the Doctor… really not much to go on. And you can never truly assess what a Doctor will be like on their initial post-regeneration scene. The wild, amnesiac character is probably only temporary. Yes, he may crash the TARDIS, but that seems standard for new Doctors (the 10th and 11th Doctors both started out crashing the TARDIS). I daresay, once he recovers, that’s when his new persona will start to shine. But Capaldi looked convincing and at home in the part already. There was that look of mania, but also that twinkle. It’ll be interesting to see what he becomes. The first hint of that will be when the BBC releases pictures of him in his new outfit, which should happen within the next month or so.

My predictions for the coming season? First, it will be different–a reboot of sorts. Moffat has indicated as much, but with a new Doctor, that’s inevitable. Also, given the Doctor’s new big story arc (the hunt for Gallifrey), there’s a new purpose and direction for the show. This is all good, and I look forward to seeing how it plays out. I’ll also go out on a limb and say that Jenna Coleman will be in this series, but it’ll be her last. And I wouldn’t be surprised if we start hearing murmurs about Steven Moffat moving on to bigger things. When you get a new Doctor on board, it’s not uncommon for these kinds of changes to happen. Now that Moffat has made Doctor Who the international success it is, I’m sure he’s getting some high-profile, big-money offers, and he won’t want to be saying “no” much longer, otherwise, as Jon Pertwee feared, they may stop asking. As for Jenna, Who has no doubt boosted her young career, so I’m sure she’s not short of offers either. While she may enjoy Who, she developed a relationship with Matt Smith that may be hard to replicate with Peter Capaldi. I’m not saying they won’t get along, but it’ll be different, and that may be enough to make her consider some of those other offers.

So, there are my thoughts. What did you think? Do you have any predictions for the coming year in Who?

Who Review: The Day of the Doctor

The 50th Anniversary Special opens with Clara working as a teacher in the same Coal Hill school that Susan, the Doctor’s granddaughter, attended in the very first episode in 1963. Of course, this is 2013, so the school has changed. But it seems Clara’s life goes on, albeit with the occasional calls from the Doctor. A note after class summons her to the TARDIS, which is then transported to UNIT headquarters, where Kate Stewart, daughter of Brigadier Leithbridge-Stewart, hands the Doctor a note from Queen Elizabeth I directing him to a secret vault containing Time Lord three-dimensional art. The glass on these paintings has been broken from the inside, and people are missing from them. It seems the shape-shifting Zygons have found a way to use these paintings as a way to enter Earth…

Meanwhile, at the Fall of Arcadia, on the last day of the Time War, the War Doctor is on the verge of making that fateful decision to destroy both the Time Lords and the Daleks. The device he has stolen for this purpose is unique. Not only is it an instrument of devastating mass destruction, but it has sentience, and can stand in judgement of the person using it. As the Doctor prepares to activate the device, its sentience appears to him in the form of his future companion, Rose Tyler. “Rose” opens a rift in time and allows the Doctor to see his future selves, so he might know how his decision will affect the man he is to become…

The War Doctor and the Eleventh Doctor are thrown into Elizabethan England, where they meet the Tenth Doctor, Queen Elizabeth I, and the Zygon invaders. However, as Clara and Kate discover, the Zygon threat is not only in Elizabethan England; Zygons have managed to use the paintings to enter UNIT headquarters, where they plan to access UNIT’s most secret vault and exploit the deadly weaponry there to achieve their deadly goals…

SPOILER ALERT!! My comments may (and likely will) contain spoilers for those that haven’t seen the episode. If you want to stay spoiler-free, please watch the story before you continue reading!

In my review of the previous episode, The Name of the Doctor, I speculated that the Doctor and Clara being trapped in the Doctor’s time line was the setup for the Anniversary Special. How better to feature Doctor Who history, than having the Doctor and Clara wandering the Doctor’s past trying to escape? Clearly this wasn’t Steven Moffat’s intention. The episode starts with us assuming they managed to escape. Perhaps the Doctor rescuing Clara at the end of “The Name of the Doctor” was all we needed to know. It certainly seems that the purpose of “The Name of the Doctor” was to introduce us to the War Doctor, and to Trenzalore. The former was important to this episode, and the latter will be important at Christmas (according to the trailer we saw…). In other words, it seems that as much as Moffat wanted this episode to be a huge nod toward Doctor Who’s past, he has his sights fixed firmly on Doctor Who’s future. While I understand and appreciate this, the fact that how the Doctor and Clara got back from the Doctor’s time stream was never resolved, bothered me and still does. Jumping into the Doctor’s time stream is no small matter, and much was made of how doing such a thing would tear a person to shreds. I would have liked at least some explanation of how they got out. However, I’m willing to wait and see if this is addressed at Christmas. Maybe the consequences will be what triggers the regeneration…?

The rest of the episode was, in my opinion, wonderful, with a good, strong story, and excellent performances by all involved. Moffat must have been feeling the pressure to create an episode worthy of the moment, and I think he delivered. I liked the way the three Doctors’ stories intersected, the way the three personalities interacted with each other, and the way the final solution for the War Doctor’s dilemma came about through trying to resolve the Zygon threat.

As you might expect, I have some favorite moments (as I’m sure we all do). Mine include the Tenth Doctor using the “I see you’ve redecorated” line, used by the Second Doctor in “The Three Doctors,” the appearance of Peter Capaldi (at least his eyes and hands), the inclusion of a War Doctor-to-Ninth Doctor regeneration (albeit without Christopher Eccleston, which would have made that more-than-awesome), and Tom Baker’s cameo at the end.

Over the last few days, Steven Moffat has made some comments that have turned a few heads. Most notably, he has indicated that both the Eighth’s regeneration into the War Doctor, AND the Tenth Doctor’s aborted regeneration at the end of “The Stolen Earth” in season 4, count as regenerations. This means that the Eleventh Doctor is the Doctor’s last. Two questions that naturally come to mind are: 1) Does that mean we have to re-number the Doctors from the Ninth on? and 2) If the Doctor only has twelve regenerations (and hence 13 lives), how can Matt Smith regenerate into Peter Capaldi?

I think 1) is easy to answer, mostly because Moffat has explained it. To the Doctor, he’s just “the Doctor”–he doesn’t think of himself in terms of a number count (though, since his life depends on it, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s keeping count). As explained in “The Name of the Doctor,” that name, “the Doctor” is not his real name; it’s a name he gave himself. The John-Hurt-Doctor, or “the War Doctor” did what he did (i.e., destroying Gallifrey, the Time Lords, etc.), “not in the name of the Doctor.” So, he was the same person, but not “the Doctor.” Perhaps a way to explain it is like this. We don’t know the Doctor’s real name, but let’s call him John Smith. This Time Lord called John Smith adopted the name “the Doctor,” and for Eight of his lives, he acted under that name. When Eight regenerated, he took a different name, so John Smith number nine was NOT “the Doctor.” He reclaimed that name for life number ten, making John Smith #10 Doctor #9. John Smith #11 (Doctor #10) used up two regeneration cycles: one when he was shot by the Dalek, and one when he soaked up all that radiation at the end of “The End of Time, Part 2.” So Doctor #10 used up John Smith #11 and John Smith #12. This means, Doctor #11 is actually John Smith #13, leaving us with the crisis he will face at the end of the Christmas episode, since Time Lords can only have 13 incarnations. Got it?

As for 2), my guess is that since the Time Lords still exist, they could grant the Doctor a new cycle of regenerations, which they might do as a reward for saving them from the Time War. How that will come about, I’m not sure. Originally, I thought Peter Capaldi would be John Smith #13, and he would spend the next few seasons searching for Gallifrey, and end his time bringing back the Time Lords and receiving his reward. If, however, Matt Smith is John Smith #13, this means the return of Gallifrey would have to happen at Christmas. But the trailers for Christmas take us back to Trenzalore… so I’m not as sure now as I was on Saturday! It’ll be interesting to see how Moffat gets out of this, but one thing’s for certain: the Doctor will be back. There will be a resolution. Peter Capaldi will be taking over, somehow, and the show will go on.

Did you see “The Day of the Doctor”? What did you think? Let’s discuss…!

Happy Birthday, Doctor Who!!

[Image Source: http://www.doctorwhotv.co.uk/]

On Saturday, November 23rd, 1963, at 5:16 in the afternoon (GMT), British television viewers were introduced to Doctor Who. The launch of the new series was, however, overshadowed by the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas the day before, so the first episode was repeated before the second episode the following week. The inaugural story, known to fans as “An Unearthly Child” after the title of the first episode, introduced us to the Doctor, played by William Hartnell, his granddaughter, Susan, and two of her teachers, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright. Intrigued, and somewhat concerned by their student’s strange behavior, the teachers follow her “home” one night, and find her living in a junkyard with a crotchety old man who appears to have her trapped in an old police box. Refusing to walk away, Ian and Barbara find themselves in the TARDIS, and whisked away by the time travelers to 10,000 BC.

This first adventure was well-received. But it was the second story, featuring a race of mutant aliens called “Daleks,” that captured the imaginations of children across the country, and earned Doctor Who its place in the hearts of millions. Fifty years later, Doctor Who, the TARDIS, the Daleks, and the sonic screwdriver have become cultural icons. By the time it went on “hiatus” in 1989, it was already a British institution. Today, in 2013, with worldwide viewing figures upward of 77 million, and getting ready to simulcast a special episode in over 75 countries, Doctor Who is an international phenomenon.

So, take a seat with the world at 7:50pm GMT, 2:50pm EST, 11:50am PST, 3:50am (11/24) AWST, 6:50am (11/24) AEDT, and various other time zones in between, and celebrate with us fifty years of the best television on the planet!

PS: Check out this page to find out how to watch “The Day of the Doctor” where you live.

PPS: This might well end up being the world’s biggest drama simulcast, so be sure to watch and be a part of history!

PPPS: If you’re still confused about Doctor Who, check out this really cool infographic from HalloweenCostumes.com.

PPPPS: Check out Google today–how cool is that?!

The Hiatus: Doctor Who’s Most Prolific Period?

vlcsnap-2013-11-20-19h17m11s149As every Whovian knows, Doctor Who is chock full of paradoxes and reality-twisting concepts. It seems only fitting, then, that the 16 years between episode three of “Survival” and “Rose,” a time when Doctor Who was not on the television and, according to the BBC, “on hiatus,” turned out to be some of the most productive years for the show. Indeed, one could argue that it’s because of the hiatus that the BBC even entertained the idea of bringing the show back in 2005.

The reasons why Doctor Who was, effectively, canceled in 1989 differ depending on who you talk to. They include the fact that the ratings were slipping, the Director General of the BBC hated the show, the scripts weren’t good, it was competing against the long-running soap opera Coronation Street (and losing), and a whole myriad of other reasons. The fact is, when the Seventh Doctor and Ace walked off into the sunset, many at the BBC thought that was the last they’d seen of the old Time Lord. And many thought no-one would care, except for a few “anoraks” (i.e., spotty geeks who like that weird kind of sci-fi stuff).

What happened between 1989 and 2005, however, was something quite remarkable. First, Doctor Who Magazine, a magazine tied to the TV show, didn’t stop. People kept buying it, and so, even though there wasn’t a Doctor Who show being produced, they kept publishing. In 1991, Virgin Publishing started a series of “New Adventures” novels featuring the Seventh Doctor, and a series of “Missing Adventures” stories, featuring previous incarnations of the Time Lord.

In 1996, Who fans were delighted to see the Doctor return in a TV movie, starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. This was a co-production between the BBC and Fox in the US, and was supposed to pilot a new series. Ratings in the UK were very encouraging; but not so much in the US. The series didn’t happen, but even this didn’t put an end to Doctor Who. BBC Books reclaimed the publishing license, and began producing a series of Eighth Doctor novels. They also published “Past Doctor” adventures, which meant that while the show was off the air, at least two new Doctor Who stories would be available to fans every month.

If that wasn’t enough, in 1999, a company called Big Finish started making radio plays, under license from the BBC, starring past incarnations of the Doctor, and his companions. In 2001, the Eighth Doctor joined the ranks of the audio Doctors. These adventures, both with the Eighth Doctor and other Doctors continue to this day, with CDs coming out every month. Indeed, if you combine the books and the Big Finish audios, the Eighth Doctor is by far the most prolific, and the longest-serving of all the Doctors–even though he has spent little more than an hour on our TV screens.

To get a good idea of how many Doctor Who stories have been released since 1989, check out these lists:

I haven’t mentioned the webcasts, the fan productions, the DVD range of classic stories, and all the other merchandising that went on during those 16 “dark” years. I’m convinced that when the Head of Drama approached Russell T. Davies in 2003 about bringing back Doctor Who, the fact that the show was very much alive in the consciousness of thousands, if not millions, was a big factor.

Have you read any Doctor Who original novels (i.e., not novelizations of TV stories), or heard any of the Big Finish audios? Your thoughts on these, or the hiatus? Let’s talk…!

Slightly off-topic: CNN is running a story today about Doctor Who, the fans, and the 50th anniversary. See HERE.

What’s Up Wednesday: Doctor Who Edition

This coming Saturday, Doctor Who, the longest-running sci-fi series, and the only reason for having a television, turns fifty. So there’s a distinctly Whovian turn to this week’s WUW, if you don’t mind. For those who don’t know, What’s Up Wednesday was devised by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk as a way for reader/writer buddies to keep up with each other. Find out how to join in the WUW fun and visit other WUW participants on Jaime’s blog (Erin’s taking a blog break for a while).

What I’m Reading

I finished the Doctor Who book I was reading, and I reviewed it on Goodreads. It was a good story, but the writing left a bit to be desired. I contemplated diving into another Doctor Who book, but in the end I chose NIGHT SHIFT by Stephen King. I’ve been saying for a while that I need to write some short stories that I could submit to publications and/or competitions, which is primarily why I picked this as my next read. NIGHT SHIFT is a collection of short stories, written by King between 1970 and 1977. The first, “Jerusalem’s Lot,” appears to be a prequel to ‘SALEM’S LOT. Again, horror’s not my genre of choice, but King is an excellent writer, and I hope to pick up some tips on how to structure a good short story.

What I’m Writing

Again, work on the revisions is slow, but while my Mum’s here, that’s fine. I wrote a piece of flash fiction for the YA Buccaneers’ “Walk the Plank” challenge yesterday that was fun to do. While revisions are slow, it’s good to do things like this that stir the creative juices and remind me that I can still write.

What Inspires Me Right Now

Doctor Who. What particularly inspires me about Doctor Who is how this show that I remember watching as a child on TV in England is still going, and has become such a worldwide phenomenon. The 50th Anniversary Special is being simulcast on television stations in at least 75 countries. It’s being shown in 3D in movie theaters around the world (including this little corner of Eastern North Carolina!). And the Eleventh Doctor graces the cover of this week’s TV Guide magazine here in the States. For all the Radio Times covers the Doctor has appeared on over the years, to land a place on the US’s most prestigious listing guide just shows how far it’s come.

The amazing thing, though, is the fact that all this success is not just due the show itself (though, of course, that is a big factor–it’s an awesome show), but the incredible, loyal fandom the show has. There are people watching today who were sat in front of their TVs that Saturday night in 1963. The people who make the new, rebooted Doctor Who are among some of the biggest fans of the show, and watched it religiously as children. The Tenth Doctor, David Tennant, was (and still is) a complete Doctor Who geek, as is the actor who will become the Twelfth Doctor at Christmas, Peter Capaldi. Even the team of sound and video engineers who restore classic Doctor Who stories for DVD release are all long-time fans of the show. There is such a lot of love for this program both inside and outside the television industry, it’s breathtaking. And that’s the power of a great idea, and what can happen when great ideas capture the imagination. You see a similar kind of thing with the Harry Potter fandom, and I don’t doubt in 2047, people will be celebrating 50 years since HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE was released in the UK.

You might be interested in the following list of celebrities who are fans of Doctor Who (pulled from Wikipedia)–some of these names surprised me!:

  • Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
  • The Prince of Wales
  • Mark Gatiss
  • Benedict Cumberbatch
  • Stephen Fry
  • David Duchovny
  • Tom Hanks
  • Eric McCormack
  • Simon Pegg
  • Rob Lowe
  • Anthony Stewart Head
  • Steve Martin
  • Scott Bakula
  • Noah Wyle
  • Simpsons creator Matt Groening
  • Inheritance Cycle author Christopher Paolini
  • Firefly creator Joss Whedon
  • Science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer
  • Horror writer Stephen King
  • Graphic novelist and fantasy writer Neil Gaiman
  • Star Trek star Patrick Stewart
  • Craig Ferguson of the Late Late show
  • Author Rick Riordan
  • Director Peter Jackson
  • “Star Wars” creator George Lucas
  • Director Steven Spielberg (at least a fan of the classic series)

What Else I’ve Been Up To

This past weekend, SecondBorn turned 18. I am now the father of two adult children. I feel old. We had a fun time celebrating, though. And, of course, this Saturday, we’ll be joining with friends to watch the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special. FirstBorn says she’ll make Dalek cupcakes, and wifey’s trying to think of an appropriate supper to fix. We’re all looking forward to that.

If you’re not a fan of Doctor Who, or have heard of it but never watched it, and you feel like you’re missing out on something… well, yes, you are. :)

What’s your week been like?

Who Review: The Night of the Doctor

It came as a surprise to everyone. And I mean everyone. This past Thursday, the BBC released a brand new mini episode of Doctor Who, called “The Night of the Doctor.” It’s a prequel to this Saturday’s 50th Anniversary episode, “The Day of the Doctor.” Barely an hour after the announcement, the episode went live on the BBC website, YouTube, and elsewhere. In case you missed it, here it is.

SPOILER WARNING: If you have not seen the series 7 finale, “The Name of the Doctor,” you might want to leave now, and come back when you have.

SPOILER WARNING: If you have not yet watched the above mini episode, the following comments (and any comments in the comments section) may spoil it for you.

My reaction. Jaw drop. Big stupid grin. Yes yes yes yes!!! How long have I (and countless other Who fans) waited for this moment? Steven Moffat, all is forgiven! Okay, maybe not quite all… MOST is forgiven!!

Seriously, though, one lesson to learn from this is to CHILL! Who fans are very proprietorial over their favorite Time Lord, and tend to have specific ideas of how things should be done. We can forget that the people who are currently running the show are some of the biggest Who fans on the planet. A lot of the things we want to see are things they would like to see. However, their responsibility is not fan wish-fulfillment, but creating top-notch television drama. They have to think of the story, and the show as a whole, above all the things they would love to do. This is why a moment like this has been a long time in the making. Will there be a repeat performance? I have no doubt that Moff would want that as much as any fan, but he has to consider the bigger picture: how would that affect the show as a whole? That’s not saying “never,” but saying to us fans, “if it’s right, we’ll do it.” And that’s the motive I believe is at work here.

To the mini episode itself, this is a return visit to Karn for the Doctor. He first went there in 1976′s “The Brain of Morbius,” where The Fourth Doctor helped the Sisterhood and defeated a renegade Time Lord. Also, the Doctor rattled off a list of companions that, if you’ve only watched the TV series, will be unfamiliar to you. Fans of the Big Finish audio range will recognize the names immediately. As far as I’m concerned (and I know other Who fans feel the same way), this not only validates this particular Doctor’s audio stories, but it canonizes them. That is, these stories are now part of the official Doctor Who timeline. I expect Big Finish will be inundated with orders; thankfully, most (if not all) of these stories are available as digital downloads (see HERE).

Since it’s only seven minutes long, it’s not really fair to critique this mini episode like a full story, but it is excellent. The dialog is spot-on for this Doctor, the continuity with what we know from previous Who stories, and what we understand to be coming on Saturday, works. All actors put in great performances; the Doctor particularly lives up to, and exceeds, all expectations.

In short, this is possibly the best thing to have happened in the 50th Anniversary year. If Saturday’s episode can top this, I’ll be very impressed. For now, I’m an extremely happy Who fan.

What did you think? I’ve given plenty of spoiler alerts, so while I’ve been cagey in my comments here, you may speak freely in the comments below…

Doctor Who Invasion!

BBC America has announced their schedule for Doctor Who Week (Monday, November 18 – Sunday, November 24). For the benefit of the U.S. Doctor Who fans (of which I am one), here is that schedule (all times are ET). You can find details at the BBC America website:

Monday, November 18

  • 9am – 9pm: The Doctors Revisited Marathon (1st – 10th Doctors)
  • 9pm – 10pm: Doctor Who: Tales from the TARDIS (interviews with cast and crew from the last 50 years of Who)
  • 10pm – 11pm: The Science of Doctor Who with Brian Cox

Tuesday, November 19

  • 10am – 11pm: The Ninth Doctor Marathon

Wednesday, November 20

  • 2am – 11pm: The Tenth Doctor Marathon

Thursday, November 21

  • 9am – 11pm: The Eleventh Doctor Marathon, Part 1

Friday, November 22

  • 9am – 8pm: The Eleventh Doctor Marathon, Part 2
  • 8pm – 9pm: Doctor Who Explained (interviews with old and new principal cast exploring the character of The Doctor)
  • 9pm: An Adventure in Space and Time (new docu-drama by Mark Gatiss charting the origins of Doctor Who; stars David Bradley, Brian Cox, Jessica Raine, et al.)

Saturday, November 23

  • 1am – 2pm: The Eleventh Doctor Marathon, Part 3
  • 2:50pm: The Day of the Doctor (global simulcast of the 50th Anniversary Special, written by Steven Moffat).
  • 10pm: The Graham Norton Show with guests David Tennant and Matt Smith

Sunday, November 24

  • 9am – 8pm: Matt Smith Countdown (the top 11 Eleventh Doctor episodes, as voted by fans)
  • 8pm – 10:30pm: The Doctors Revisited: The Eleventh Doctor (the last in this monthly series)

Plenty to keep us U.S. Whovians happy for a week. I’ve highlighted in blue those things I consider “not-to-miss.”

And if that’s not enough, the BBC Doctor Who website has posted this sneak peek of the Anniversary Special!:

Be aware, also, that over the next two weeks, this blog is going to be doing its own Doctor Who celebration. I hope you enjoy, even if you’re not a fan. Indeed–maybe now’s a good time for you non-Whovians to check out what all the fuss is about…!

What are you most looking forward to during Who Week (aside from the 50th Anniversary Special)?

More Missing Doctor Who Episodes Found!

The BBC has announced the recovery of more Doctor Who episodes from the 1960s that have been missing from the archive for about 40 years. This is very exciting news for long-time Who fans (like me), some of whom had given up hope of ever seeing some of their favorite Doctor Who stories outside of telesnap reconstructions, animations, or novelizations. You might recall a couple of years ago I posted my own top five list of missing Doctor Who stories I’d like to see found (click here to see that article, which also briefly explains why there are missing Doctor Who stories).

Now to the burning question: What’s been found? At a press conference on Thursday, it was announced that nine “lost” episodes of Doctor Who have been recovered. These consist of four of the five missing episodes of The Web of Fear, and all five missing episodes of The Enemy of the World. If you read my top five article, you’ll know I listed The Enemy of the World as one I would love to see back in the archive, so I am really pleased!

All these episodes, remastered, and including a reconstructed episode three of The Web of Fear, are now available on iTunes for download. There will be formal DVD releases, The Enemy of the World on November 22, and The Web of Fear sometime early next year.

The Who fan community has been hoping for an announcement like this in the show’s 50th anniversary year, and we have not been disappointed. Far from it!

Okay, enough of my squee-ing. What do you think? Questions, comments, thoughts–fire away!

The Day of the Doctor

That’s the title of the upcoming Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special, as announced by the BBC. They also indicated that “The Day of the Doctor” will be 75 minutes long (that’s an hour and fifteen minutes for those who are a little slow at mathematics), which, as I recall, is about the length of the final episode of David Tennant’s era, “The End of Time, Part 2.” So, not quite feature length, but certainly a bit longer than the average episode.

There are some other goodies for BBC viewers to enjoy around that time, too, including Mark Gatiss’ docudrama “An Adventure in Space and Time,” which looks back at the show’s origins, as well as lectures, documentaries, and special programs. For those of us in the US, I’m not sure how much of this we will get. I’m fairly confident BBC America will make Saturday, November 23rd “Doctor Who Day,” but I hope there’s more to their celebration than re-runs of old episodes, the Special, then re-runs of the Special. I would like to think we’ll get the docudrama, and perhaps some other Who-related shows.

Whatever ends up happening, be sure to be watching at 7 pm GMT, 2 pm ET, 11 am PT on Saturday, November 23rd for THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR! As for my family, we’ll be watching with my Mum, who is planning on visiting us from the UK in November, which will make it even more special! Meanwhile, my younger brother will be in London watching at the official celebration, along with Matt Smith and all the other guests and hundreds of Who fans.

Do you have plans for celebrating Doctor Who’s Fiftieth?

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