What’s next for Doctor Who?

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With a Christmas Special “The Return of Dr. Mysterio” almost upon us and a new season looming, the rumors are coming in regarding what fans can expect next for Doctor Who.

One popular rumor is that Chris Chibnall will be changing the creative process and using a team of writers to construct the season rather than individual scripts. The rumor goes on to state that in the 11th series after Moffat’s departure, Chris Chibnall will be getting a ‘clean slate,’ meaning a different direction, a new face for The Doctor and a new companion along with a new but familiar tone hearkening back to the the Tennant era.

Via DoctorWhoTV:

Insiders say the Broadchurch writer will have a “clean slate” to start afresh for his first series – rather bad news for actress Pearl Mackie, who plays new assistant Bill in Steven Moffat’s last run, currently filming for next year.

Pearl, 29, yet to be seen by viewers, is said to have been signed on a one-year contract and is expected to depart with Peter Capaldi , 58, and Moffat after 2017’s Christmas special.

The replacement Time Lord is likely to be played by a younger actor in a bid to help boost the flagging sales of dolls, books, DVDs and toys.

Our source says: “BBC management wants a return to the format from the David Tennant era, when you had a dashing male lead and young female companion.

“Merchandising has dropped off sharply in recent years and there is a strong desire to boost the show’s popularity among kids.”

One way to do that, of course, is by returning to its traditional tea-time slot, rather than the post-Strictly position it languished in last year.

Next year’s show is expected to air in spring rather than autumn, to avoid the Saturday clash with Strictly.

Chibnall, putting the finishes to the third and final series of ITV’s Broadchurch, will very soon put together his own team of writers and producers for Doctor Who. They are expected to work in parallel with Moffat’s unit, who finish up in the late spring of next year.

BBC chiefs have also stressed that they want a full series every year (there hasn’t been one at all in 2016) and more accessible story arcs than those seen in recent times.

Each time the classic series underwent a change that involved a new producer, there were more often than not massive changes. The problem in predicting the course of modern Doctor Who is that the pop culture landscape has changed so drastically. Whereas the constant change was once a strength of Doctor Who’s appeal it is now something of a detriment. dten-crying

Each time the modern Doctor regenerates, the internet weeps with agony as viewers swear they will never watch now that ‘their Doctor’ is gone. This was especially true during the transition from Tennant to Smith but soon the viewers came back or were replaced with an even larger group of fans.

tumblr_inline_mwjez7uh6q1qz53j7During the Matt Smith era, Doctor Who became a true international phenomena and (I wager to say) garnered more attention than the series had ever seen before. Video games, home video releases and streaming media along with special showings and 3D trailers in cinemas made Doctor Who a mega blockbuster. The 50th anniversary special was the pinnacle of this popularity. Anyone unfamiliar with Doctor Who before 2013 found that it had become inescapable (for good or ill).

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Then showrunner Steven Moffat made a bold choice following this period by changing the character, who had been a mad adventurer and heart-throb into a cranky and moody alien who worked within his own morality. This softened some then took a massive twist in the ninth season when the previously pensive and streamlined ‘thin white duke’ no nonsense Time Lord entered playing electric guitar atop a tank dressed in baggy trousers, a hoodie and Raybans in place of his signature sonic screwdriver.

DoctorWho_MagiciansApprentice_Doctor_ShadesThis was a sign of a troubled series.

Now I am a fan of the previous season and think that without the usual gimmicks and events, Moffat rose to the occasion and crafted a (more or less) stronger season. The writing was sharper, the aliens more interesting and the flow of the season more unpredictable. However, the Doctor had become whimsical and catered to a younger audience in a rather embarrassing way. The program gambled on change and got nervous when rating slipped. That may be the case again as Moffat, whom the BBC may view as having a golden touch, leaves.

But to imitate the Tennant era will not fool anyone, even the fans of that period. I have every hope that Doctor Who will continue to evolve and change (even when I don’t like the changes) as it moves forward. Further, I hope it takes greater risks and embraces more unusual storytelling techniques rather than the standard ‘Bill and Ted’ time travel formula that it has enjoyed for the past five years.

Flux aeterna.

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Once More Unto the Breach – The War Doctor Returns

A secret incarnation of the Doctor forgotten after the horrors of the Time War, the era of the ‘War Doctor,’ as he became known, is still a mysterious chapter in Doctor Who’s long history.

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Played by Sir John Hurt, CBE, the War Doctor was invented by Steven Moffat after he was unable to obtain the services of Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor. This left a new avenue open to the program that seemed contrived in the lead-in story ‘Name of the Doctor,’ but blossomed into one of the most unexpected and fantastic casting moments. A knight became a Doctor!

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This scraggly angry incarnation of the Time Lord was forged in the fires of war, a persona chosen by the Doctor’s eighth incarnation as he lay dying on the planet Karn during the Time War. Stricken from the Doctor’s personal history, he redeemed himself in the 50th anniversary episode when he teamed up with twelve other incarnations to end the Time War and save his home world of Gallifrey rather than destroy it. He of course quickly forgot this cooperative encounter before transforming into the grief-stricken and traumatized Ninth Doctor.

Yes, one of the greatest incarnations of the Doctor is without a number and is known only as ‘The War Doctor.’

Glimpses of the War Doctor have been seen since he was last on screen (such as the flashback in ‘Listen’) but he has not enjoyed any further adventures… until now.

Thanks to Big Finish, fans will be getting more of the John Hurt in the TARDIS with a special audio adventure box set and a preview was just revealed.

Via The Radio Times:

doctor-who-day-of-the-doctor-john-hurtExactly two years after John Hurt stole the Doctor Who 50th anniversary show, we have the very first clip of his return as the War Doctor.
Hurt is coming back to Who for a series of 12 all-new episodes from audio drama producers Big Finish. The first box set, Only the Monstrous, is set to be released this December.

This exclusive clip comes from the first episode of the new run, titled The Innocent, which finds the War Doctor in the midst of the Time War, before the events of 50th anniversary episode The Day of the Doctor.

“I’ve seen too much of this war already,” Hurt’s weary voice says in the clip – although by the sound of it, he has plenty of tricks (OK, explosives) up his sleeve to help him in the Time Lords’ battle against the Daleks.

And for all the fighting, the War Doctor clearly still has a touch of humanity, saving two “patsies” from approaching Daleks.

Hurt’s character has not been seen since the episode marking the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, where the War Doctor (or ‘Captain Grumpy’, whichever you prefer), appeared alongside Matt Smith and David Tennant’s Doctors.

The new audio dramas are written and directed by Nicholas Briggs, who says he couldn’t wait to explore Who’s 50th anniversary back story in more detail.

“The story of the Doctor who refuses to call himself the Doctor in order to do the unthinkable upon the ultimate battlefield — all of space and time — was irresistible to me,” he said.

“Such a deeply disturbing and engaging character created by the formidable talents of writer Steven Moffat and actor John Hurt. It’s such a privilege to be working on this.”

Doctor Who explores the Web Planet and meets the Zarbi

The Web Planet

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Written by Bill Strutton
Transmitted 13 February 1965 to 20 March 1965

Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction TV series. A cult phenomenon today, it was transmitted to over 80 countries back in the 1960’s and revered as a unique program combining the elements of fantasy, high adventure and sci-fi. In comparison to the series as it stands today, Doctor Who was geared as an educational program for children back when it first aired with entertainment a secondary concern or means to an end.

Sydney Newman’s team of writers performed extensive research before the first script was even commissioned. But in its second year, Doctor Who was a runaway hit (thanks in large part to the popularity of the Daleks).

Celebrating its 52nd anniversary this week, I decided to take an in-depth look at an often-forgotten adventure, the ‘one with the giant insects.’ Not just overlooked, the Web Planet was believed to be lost until prints were discovered in the 70’s.

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Phew!

Bill Strutton’s script came at a time when Doctor Who was very experimental and looking to stretch its creative muscles. Some say that The Web Planet was too ambitious and given the thrown together nature of some episodes (such as an entire race of grubs introduced to extend the story some more) in comparison to the inspired brilliance of others, I am inclined to agree.

Director Richard Martin, who had previously worked with the Daleks in their first televised appearance, excels at crafting bizarre captivating alien worlds. The costumes designed by Daphne Dare who worked on over 87 episodes of Doctor Who are outstanding. Additionally, the music (performed on glass tubes) is otherworldly and the camera effects make the studio filming unique. All of these creative factors combine to produce an adventure that stupefies the viewer and demands to be watched. This is a classic that does indeed push the boundaries of what Doctor Who can accomplish.

However… it’s all a bit of a mess.

The TARDIS crew arrive on Vortis after a fun romp in ancient Rome. The Doctor and Ian don what appear to be designer atmosphere suits and explore the planet while the TARDIS is hijacked by an unknown force and dragged across the lunar-like terrain.

They are soon drawn into a battle between the butterfly people called Menoptera and the ant people called Zarbi. Things get weird when it is revealed that the Zarbi are only operating under the control of a disembodied evil consciousness called ‘the Animus,’ represented by a tangled mass of tendrils and a creepy voice.

The plot stumbles along through SIX episodes with some truly hilarious (though unintentionally so) moments such as William Russell struggling to act with William Hartnell who is at a loss for his lines (bless the man, I know he wasn’t well but this occasion is a side-ripper in which Russell just stares at the elder actor saying “Hmm?” several times), a rogue Zarbi who rams headlong into a camera and a giggling crew member who interrupts a dramatic cave-in. I can just imagine the cast wondering aloud ‘What are we doing??!!’ Having lost his patience, Hartnell even calls out the absurdity of the situation, referring to a communication device as a ‘hair dryer.’


All that accepted, I have to admit that I have a great fondness for the Web Planet. It explores the fantastical side of children’s entertainment and sure, the giant ants are goofy but the Animus is spine-tingling. The cast is (with some exceptions) in fine form and the Menoptera are just awe-inspiring. Hardly as graceful as a butterfly, but fascinating.

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To make matters more interesting, the Animus is one of many disembodied evil entities called the Great Old Ones who survived the death of a previous universe. The pantheon of Great Old Ones include the Great Intelligence, the Fendhal, Fenric, the Nestene Consciousness and the Celestial Toymaker (check out this amazing resource for more in-depth information). See what you can do with a presumably silly idea and some imagination? Make it akin to HP Lovecraft’s mythology.

In case you’re wondering why anyone would be even remotely interested in this story, keep in mind that it had the highest viewing figures of the program in the 60’s with 13.5 million tuning in. Yes, the Zarbi gave the Daleks a run for their money back in the day. Writers were so enamored by the killer ants that the Doctor returned to Vortis six more times in other guises.

Given current leading man Peter Capaldi’s fondness for the classics, don’t be surprised if you see a return trip to Vortis in the near future. And after reading this, you’ll be in the more-informed cool kid club.

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The Fifth Doctor Who returned to the Web Planet in this Big Finish audio adventure.

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The Zarbi and Menoptera appear in the Dr Who comic strip

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Doctor Who and the Web Planet book cover for Portuguese release

Doctor Who ‘Sleep No More’

“Sleep, that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care. The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath. Balm of hurt minds, chief nourisher in life’s great feast. Congratulations, Professor. You’ve revolutionised the labour market. You’ve conquered nature… You’ve also created an abomination.”
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Written by Mark Gattis
Transmitted 14 November

In sharp contrast to previous sequences, Clara and the Doctor are not the centerpiece of this week’s story. Sleep No More is an experimental episode told via ‘found footage’using a first-person point of view.

Sleep No More has been getting damning reviews from fans, but I quite like it. Even though this is essentially ‘Attack of the Eye Boogers,’ it’s just a spin on the traditional ‘base under siege’ story that has been used since the 1960’s. The added flair is that the monsters win in the end in a way that doesn’t really make sense. Quite a change of pace from the Doctor defeating the monster in a way that makes no sense!

For the uninitiated, Doctor Who is a long-running science fiction series that screened for 26 years from 1963-89 with a triumphant return in 2005. Doctor Who’s greatest strength is its variety and outlandish style.  The leading man (referred to only as ‘The Doctor’) has changed twelve times over its 50 years with more to come and each time this change occurs, the character of the Doctor has altered.

2QTV3FnAided (and often hampered) by young travelling companions, the Doctor faces dangerous obstacles and bizarre aliens throughout the entirety of time and space (but usually England). Whereas the 1963-89 program had limited success that tapered off toward the end, the current series has obtained a strong following. The program is a cult phenomenon combining elements of science fiction, fantasy, history, comedy, action and drama. It really is like no other TV program and as such it’s an acquired taste.

In this week’s installment ‘Sleep No More,’ the time travelers are aimlessly wandering about before being discovered by a rescue operation to a space station orbiting Neptune. The station appears to be empty and as the exploration continues, a series of sleep pods, called Morpheus, are found. Clara gets snared into one of the pods and is immediately placed into a sleep state with a hologram of dancing girls hovering over the lid. The cloned ‘grunt’ notices that one of the pods is occupied and Gagan Rassmussen, the man who opened this episode explaining the unusual nature of the narrative.

After much prodding, Rassmussen explains that he has been enhancing the Morpheus pods which compress sleep into 5 minute bursts allowing the surviving members of the human race to be more productive. The Doctor is horrified by this revelation and explains the importance of sleep for the quality of life, citing poets and playwrights from human history to back this up.

In no time, strange horrific monsters attack the survivor, rescue team and the TARDIS crew. To add to the confusion, the creatures are reduced to sand-like granules when under stress. Then the satellite begins a drastic fall from orbit and a loss of heat shielding. Using his sonic sunglasses and the helmets worn by the soldiers, the Doctor defuses the situation but cannot understand how or why the creatures (dubbed ‘Sandmen’ by Clara) could do this.

After Rassmussen is devoured by a Sandman, the Doctor and Clara lead a daring chase through the satellite with the only surviving member of the rescue squad, Nagata. Befuddled, the Doctor pieces together that the entire affair is being masterminded by Rassmussen but cannot understand why. The scientist gladly explains that a side-effect of the Morpheus’ ability to compress sleep is the creation of a new, superior, life form. He endeavors to aid this new life form which can find its way into a victim’s body through the corner of one’s eye with dreams of galactic conquest. The Doctor defies Rassmussen and manages an explosive escape.

Even after defeating a monster made of five years’s worth of Sandman material, the Doctor is not convinced that he has succeeded in foiling Rassmussen’s scheme. In a video that only the viewer can see, Rassmussen reveals that the invasion is through the video itself and that if it is being viewed, the Sandmen are already on the move.

Sleep No More is the second foray into first person point of view as a mode of storytelling (previously used in Love & Monsters), but this attempt was far more in-depth with only footage via headcams and security footage used, eventually including Clara and Nagata’s point of view sans camera.

There has been outcry over this episode with viewers claiming that it is incomplete and incomprehensible. Interviews with Gattis have revealed that the initial script was two-parter, but maintained the open ending. A devoted fan and scribe of novels, audio adventures and several episodes for the new program, Gatiss added nods to the classic era. The Doctor casually mentions The Silurians (from the 1972 story, the Sea Devils), the Great Catastrophe (introduced in the underrated 1984 story Frontios), and even a ‘When I say run, run!’ command dating back to the Troughton era. Gatiss was influenced by classic adventures that hinted at a vast future at war and strove the leave hints at this in his script, but due to the truncated length of the story from two to one parts, these details get muddied and confuse the action.

The visuals of Sleep No More are quite striking and the stellar acting ability of Capaldi (whose face fills the screen much of the 45 minutes) is top notch. After a foray into decidedly wacky behavior earlier in the year, it appears that the ‘Thin White Duke’ of old is back. From next week’s preview images, it seems be seen that he has ditched the disheveled hoodie and check trousers for a more refined look including a red velvet jacket that would be at home with Third Doctor Who, Jon Pertwee.

The ninth series of Doctor Who has been controversial with fans. As any regular reader of my blog will attest, I am much more critical of the new series in comparison to the 1963-89 program. However, I have been re-watching the past few years with a much more casual eye and recognized the strength of the new series lies in its ability to fascinate viewers with bizarre situations and visuals that cannot be found elsewhere. From a room full of ventriloquist’s dummies in an alien hotel to graffiti that comes to life and a lion-headed fire-breathing alien… Doctor Who excels at leaving viewers scratching their heads wondering what they just witnessed.

… and hopefully come back for more.

The 2005-present Doctor Who program has added a new element of melodrama which more often than not hampered my enjoyment but was still an essential part of its success. Just mention Rose Tyler to a fan and they will tear up. The past few years has seen a departure from the ‘Doctor in love’ angle as well as a less hug-able leading man. I applaud these changes, but as the viewing figures and outcry indicates, I could be in the minority. The 9th series has been incredibly ambitious with all two-part stories with the exception of two episodes (this week and next). This year’s 9 installments are wildly diverse in tone, use time travel in new ways, explore topical subjects using fantastical characters and introduce a new layer of absurdity to the program.

After seeing the negative reception it received online, I entered this week’s episode with low expectations but was pleasantly surprised. While not a classic, Sleep No More is chilling and weird with a threat so deadly that even the Doctor cannot fathom it. And we could use more of that. Open endings have been used before in Idiot’s Lantern (where did the Wire come from?) Impossible Planet (was the Beast really the Devil? Was it Sutekh? Did the Doctor defeat it) and even Listen (what was that thing knocking at the door and hiding under the bedding?), but fans seem to be furious that this story was not resolved.

Personally, I think that the muddy nature of a script crammed with too many ideas due to a reduced running time and a monster essentially made from grit that you scrape out of the corner of your eye are the main problems preventing enjoyment of this story. But even accepting those limitations, it moves quickly and introduces a new scary monster as well as clever tech and some positively unsettling moments. Even the Doctor admits to being scared!

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Note- Mark Gatiss has confirmed that Steven Moffat has already asked him to write a sequel to this story.

The 2015 ratings so far (via DrWhoTV):

The Magician’s Apprentice 4.58m (overnight) 6.54m (final) AI 84
The Witch’s Familiar 3.7m (overnight) 5.71m (final) AI 83
Under the Lake 3.7m (overnight) 5.63m (final) AI 84
Before the Flood 4.38m (overnight) 6.05m (final) AI 83
The Girl Who Died 4.85m (overnight) 6.56m (final) AI 82
The Woman Who Lived 4.34m (overnight) 6.11m (final) AI 81
The Zygon Invasion 3.87m (overnight) 5.76m (final) AI 82
The Zygon Inversion 4.13m (overnight) 6.03m (final) AI 84
Sleep No More 4.0m (overnight) TBC (final) AI 78

The complete 2014 ratings: show

Overnight figures only include those who watched it live and those who recorded and watched it later that night.

Final figures includes those who recorded and watched within a week, making them a more accurate measure of how many were watching.

Live Plus 7 (L+7) counts those who watched live and all repeats, including iPlayer, within seven days following broadcast.

The Audience Appreciation Index (AI) is a score out of 100 which is used as an indicator of the public’s appreciation for a show. Over 90 is considered exceptional, 85 or over is excellent, 60 or less is poor, and less than 55 is very poor.

Next time: Face the Raven

Time to say goodbye

Time to say goodbye

Read more Doctor Who reviews

Read more Doctor Who reviews

The Doctor to make a special visit this Holiday

Since its return in 2005, the Doctor Who Christmas Special has been traditional. Some are better than others, but this year, fans will see the return of roguish time travelling flirt (and Roger Daltrey impersonator), River Song. The time line of River Song is so convoluted that this could be the time that the Doctor hands her a specially designed sonic screwdriver or teaches her to drive the TARDIS. Or not. We have seen River’s death, her birth, regeneration, her wedding and even her ghost, so I’m unclear on what is left for her to do… but the special guest star isn’t the only reason to get excited.

The 2015 Doctor Who Christmas Special will also be shown on the big screen on December 28th!

Doctor-Who-Christmas-2015

Via BBC America:

Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston together on the big screen? Where do we sign up?

For the first time, the Doctor Who Christmas special, which will premiere Christmas Day on BBC AMERICA, will also hit U.S. cinemas, with BBC Worldwide North America and Fathom Events announcing a two-night special theatrical event. The event will be in theaters December 28 and 29 at 7:30 pm local time and feature an exclusive interview with Alex Kingston, who is returning as River Song for the special, as well as a 15-minute behind-the-scenes “making of” featurette starring Peter Capaldi, Steven Moffat and more.

The theatrical event is expected to screen in nearly 300 theaters, according to a press release. Tickets can be purchased starting Friday, November 13 by visiting the Fathom Events website or a participating theater’s box office. For a complete list of theater locations, visit the Fathom Events website (theaters and participants are subject to change).

Here’s the description of the Christmas special as announced:

It’s Christmas Day in the future and the TARDIS is parked on a snowy village street, covered in icicles, awaiting its next adventure. Time traveler River Song meets her husband’s new incarnation, in the form of Peter Capaldi, for the first time this Christmas.

Farewell, Impossible Girl

Since she first appeared in 2012’s Asylum of the Daleks, Jenna Coleman’s Clara Oswald has been a divisive character… and frankly it’s all Steven Moffat’s fault.

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Introduced as a recurring character who appeared throughout the Doctor’s timeline, cryptically oblivious to her previous appearances then dying before the Doctor could figure her out, Clara Oswald was the focus of the program… then she became even more important. She dove into the Doctor’s time line and saved him over and over, even influencing which TARDIS to steal when he left Gallifrey.

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This is a disturbing trend in the modern Doctor Who to place the emphasis on the companion rather than the Doctor. Moffat has even gone on record as saying the companion is more important than the Doctor, which indicates a flawed approach. To make matters worse, Moffat introduced a character with a definite arc, completed the arc, then had her remain. This isn’t the first time this has happened, of course. We had already seen Rose imbibe the time vortex and un-write the Daleks from history… then awkwardly stay as a companion, lose the Doctor then come back AGAIN. Amy Pond was another mystery the Doctor was obsessed with unraveling and after she was involved in the second Big Bang and getting to the wedding she was avoiding… she also rejoined the Doctor which made no sense.

Someone needs to explain to these award-winning writers that stories have beginnings, middle and ends. Not several staggering ends like a recurring prank phone call.

Nevertheless, Jenna Coleman has remained a pivotal companion through more key moments in the program’s history than any other character to date with the possible exception of the Brigadier! So it comes as no surprise that many fans do not like (or hate) Clara. She has also been portrayed as instrumental to any successful activity by UNIT yet remains a character whose greatest strength on the surface is being a ‘cute as a button’ school teacher.

Doctor Who – 50th Anniversary Special - The Day of the Doctor

Despite all this, I quite like Clara. She’s something of a throwback to Sarah Jane Smith, an everyday city dweller with a sassy attitude and remarkable fortitude in the face of danger. She has also greatly influenced the Doctor’s character, often in spite of his reluctance to accept her (as seen in last year’s adventures when the Doctor and Clara flat out did not get along at all).

Coleman has exhibited an unusually wide range of characteristics from comedic to dramatic, to adventurous. She is sometimes the most important person in the room and other times the brunt of a joke or an outright insult. She has charted the course of a story and been the victim of circumstance. She really is a stand out actress who holds her own against those who came before her, yet I can sympathize with the fact that she was thrust down our throats as important and the scripts continue to make this mistake. If Moffat had more faith in the Coleman, she would have been allowed to show us how great she is rather than reminding the viewer that she’s the *impossible girl* over and over, which is a shame.

Jenna Coleman is only listed as being on the cast list for the next two episodes and her fate has been hinted throughout this season. Moffat has also stated that it will be a tear-jerker (much the same way as the loss of the Ponds was).


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I predict that after she is gone, Clara will be remembered as an important and much-loved companion. After all, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

Doctor Who materializes in Lego Dimensions

who_legoThe day of the Doctor is finally here… in Legoland.

Lego Dimensions should be the most wanted gift for kids and kids-at-heart alike this year. With unique packs for DC Superheroes, The Wizard of Oz, the Simpsons, Back to the Future, Scooby Doo, Ghostbusters, The Lord of the Rings, Jurassic Park, Ninjago and much more. Using a special base to import characters from individual Lego kits, the multi-platform game allows almost limitless diversity.

In addition to new dialog recorded by current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, the pack will include all 12 previous incarnations- each with unique animations, abilities and sampled dialog from classic adventures. The First Doctor sports a cane, the Second Doctor frets and plays his flute, the Third Doctor brandishes a fencing sword. The DLC will obviously continue to expand throughout the hopefully long life of Lego Dimensions. Each Doctor will also have his own TARDIS console room that has been painstakingly reproduced, even down to the mock paper walls. Additionally, the background music will match each era that the Doctor is from.

It’s a holiday gift designed for the most devoted Whovian.

In one clip we see Davros berating his Dalek army, urging them to destroy his nemesis while the Doctor takes a trip to a very familiar setting: “Here we are. Victorian London. The Gelth. Weng Chiang. A giant dinosaur in the Thames…”

The Doctor Who level pack for Lego Dimensions is released November 6th.

You can find all that you need at the Lego Store on Amazon.com

Also, the Lego Ideas Doctor Who play set is coming on December 1st!

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“Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.”

Art by andydaroo

Art by andydaroo

The Time Lords and Daleks waged a war that nearly ripped reality apart. After being dragged into the fray, the Doctor nearly died then took a drastic action that forever changed the course of his history.

Finally, the story of the Time War is being told. The great people at Big Finish are launching a new series of adventures starring Paul McGann and John Hurt as the time travelling adventurer in his darkest hour.

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(Click on the cover image to pre-order from Big Finish)

In December 2015, the Time War will rage and only one man can save us. John Hurt is The War Doctor!

John Hurt, the world-renowned star of film and television, is returning to the role of The War Doctor, in twelve full-cast Doctor Who audio plays.

The War Doctor was introduced for Doctor Who’s Fiftieth Anniversary, and played a key part in the record-breaking television special The Day of the Doctor, alongside David Tennant and Matt Smith’s Doctors. He is the secret incarnation of the Time Lord — but he has shunned the title ‘Doctor’ in order to fight in the Time War against the Daleks.

“I have been a huge fan of John since first seeing him in the repeats of I, Claudius in the 1980s and in his Oscar-nominated role as the eponymous The Elephant Man,’ says Big Finish executive producer Jason Haigh-Ellery. ‘Watching his performance in The Day of the Doctor I did find myself fantasising that some far off day we might have the chance to work with him on the audio adventures of Doctor Who and now two short years later it’s happened! John wove a fantastic character together from a great script by Steven Moffat. Now we have the chance to get to know that character more and hear John stretch in the role. We’re all in for a hell of a ride as the War Doctor engages in battle. But who are the greater threat – the Daleks or the Time Lords?”

The audio adventures of The War Doctor will be told over four box sets, each containing three linked hour-long episodes. The first box set is entitled Only The Monstrous, and is written and directed by Nicholas Briggs, whose many successes for Big Finish include the BBC Audio Award-winning masterpiece Doctor Who: Dark Eyes.

“The story of the Doctor who refuses to call himself the Doctor in order to do the unthinkable upon the ultimate battlefield — all of space and time — was irresistible to me,” says Nicholas. “Such a deeply disturbing and engaging character created by the formidable talents of writer Steven Moffat and actor John Hurt. It’s such a privilege to be working on this.”

The cast of The War Doctor also includes Jacqueline Pearce, who plays Time Lord Cardinal Ollistra — an arch manipulator who is waging the Time War against the Daleks. Jacqueline’s work includes The Avengers, Callan, Doctor Who: Death Comes to Time, Moondial and Russell T Davies’ Dark Season, and she is known to many science fiction fans for her role as Servalan in the cult classic Blake’s 7.

Only The Monstrous will be released in December 2015, and will be followed in February 2016 by the second volume, Infernal Devices, which is written by John Dorney, Phil Mulryne and Matt Fitton. Volumes Three and Four are currently in pre-production.

“What an utter privilege it is to work with such an iconic actor, playing such a brilliantly devised role,” says producer David Richardson. “This is Doctor Who at its darkest — the era in which our hero casts aside his core values in order to try and save the galaxy in its most terrible hour. We promise bold and brilliant story-telling with gripping character drama, and epic and cinematic audio productions.”

DrWho_BF_TimeWar

(Click on the cover image to pre-order from Big Finish)

In addition to The War Doctor, November 2017 also sees a prequel box set to the saga, Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor — The Time War, which will follow the early stages of the Time War from the Eighth Doctor’s perspective. Paul McGann stars, alongside characters first introduced in the War Doctor box sets.

You can pre-order all four box sets of Doctor Who: The War Doctor, plus Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor – The Time War today from the Big Finish website, priced just £20 each on both CD and Download, or all five available in a single bundle for easy ordering. Pre-orders on CD have free UK postage, and anyone buying on CD through the Big Finish website gets access to the Download version on release.

As a bonus, here is a lovely documentary on Third Doctor Who, Jon Pertwee ‘Reverse the Polarity.’ Filmed in 1992 to coincide with the VHS release of the Pertwee Years (have you still got your copy??),it offers a lovely inside look at the charming actor as he looks back upon his career and shows no sign of slowing down.

Doctor Who and The Magician’s Apprentice

“This is the last will and testament of the Time Lord known as the Doctor.”

Art by Francesco Francavilla

Art by Francesco Francavilla

Story 9.01
Written by Steven Moffat
Transmitted 19 September

On far off Skaro, war has been waged between the Kaleds and Thals for so long that a weird blend of old and new technology from biological warfare to the bow and arrow are used by troops on the battlefield. A young boy finds himself in a ‘hand-mine field’ and is set for a grisly death until the Doctor arrives to save his life. However, when the Doctor asks the boy his name, he discovers that it is none other than the creator of the Daleks known as Davros.

Skaro is presented with such wild abandon and inventive glee, giving life to the vision first presented in 1974’s Genesis of the Daleks with boy soldiers fighting a war that degraded a planet’s culture. As openers go, this was a jaw-dropper.

From there, we are given glimpses of Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat’s Star Wars-esque cantina where weird aliens listen to Nick Cave, then a quick trip to the super obscure Shadow Proclamation (remember them??) Visiting both is one of the most unintentionally hilarious aliens ever in Doctor Who, a man made of snakes who moves like he is wearing roller blades and wriggles ‘in thought’ as if he is either about to erupt into giggles or is secretly pleasuring himself under his robes. He is of course looking for the Doctor because, ‘Davros knows.’ The Doctor is uncharacteristically hiding out, though and no one can seem to find him.

On contemporary Earth, Clara Oswin is teaching at Coal Hill School when she notices a passenger jet hovering in the sky, as if frozen in time. She urges her class to check their phones, especially Twitter, for news. She is then drafted into active duty by U.N.I.T. who have apparently been searching Google (and Twitter) for clues and frantically waiting for a cute school teacher to arrive and point out the obvious.

The global security force tasked with protecting the human race from unusual menaces, U.N.I.T. has seen better days. They appear to be winging it with less ability than a lemonade stand thrown together by two puppies and a newt. The Master (sorry, Missy) appears with Toni Bail references and impractical special effects, holding humanity hostage… for tea with Clara.

Yes, everything revolves around the cute as a button Clara.

Missy is in possession of an unusual device, a disc containing the Doctor’s will, to be opened on the event of his death. She states at length that she and the Doctor are old friends and that Clara is ‘simply a pet dog’ in comparison. Yet even Missy cannot find the Doctor, but Clara, using a laptop, can.

This leads to one of the most embarrassing moments in Doctor Who as the scene shifts to a gladiatorial battle in Essex, 1138. To combat an axe-wielding barbarian, the Doctor arrives atop a tank playing electric guitar and wearing sunglasses. He then makes bad jokes and upon noticing Clara watching from the ramparts, plays Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman. There had been statements that there would be more comedy, especially after last year’s grimmer year of stories, but this is just taking it too far. Even Clara is flabbergasted by his behavior, and the Doctor states that he is celebrating his last day alive by honoring his many-faceted personality.

It appears that the Doctor has suffered a mental breakdown and is a shattered version of his former self. I’m reminded by a Bob Haney Brave and the Bold comic book in which Batman learns from Adam Strange that he is going to die. Rather than face his demise with expected stoic bravery, Batman turns into a nervous wreck, seeing conspiracy and danger around every turn. I suspect that given his experience encountering young Davros has bent his psyche and he is a demented mess.

In any case, The Doctor, Clara and Missy are all taken to Davros (played with aplomb by the brilliant Julian Bleach) who is also dying and wants the Doctor to bear witness.In another room, Clara and Missy attempt to escape in the TARDIS but are instead cornered by an army of Daleks. Davros watches with glee as his ‘children’ zap first Missy, then Clara and finally the TARDIS into smithereens.

With his friends dead and his ship destroyed, the Doctor returns to the fateful moment where he decided Davros’ future, this time armed with a Dalek weapon. With a wild look in his eyes, he fires…

I desperately wanted to enjoy this story. The design work is phenomenal and the varied Daleks look stunning. While they were not used much, the dreaded pepper pots are effective. Yet the humor is so off-key and absurd and the intelligence of the characters so dim that I find it difficult to get fully invested.

Last year, there was a definite decision to darken the tone of Doctor Who and introduce a colder, more alien and terse incarnation of our hero who willfully stood by while those around him died and referred to humans as ‘pudding brains.’ This year, it seems that Moffat and company have back pedaled to the world of whimsy and wacky humor that we have already seen in Matt Smith’s era.

I am hoping that this is all a red herring as Clara, Missy and even the sonic screwdriver (lost in this story) have all been seen in images from subsequent episodes. The Doctor, here dressed in baggy check trousers, a hoody and t-shirt has been presented as much slicker and more refined in a crushed red velvet jacket in other promotional material. Therefore, I am seeing a massive reset button waiting to be pressed next week.

Despite my grumbling, this is a beautiful looking story and a very outlandish Dalek adventure, the likes of which we have not seen to date. I am intrigued to see where the story can go, but a tale that deals with the consequences of actions is surely going to unravel those problems with magical timey-wimey nonsense as we have seen several times over. If I’m wrong, I will be happy as a mutant clam.


DW9.1

The 2015 ratings so far (via DrWhoTV):

While the UK overnights could have been stronger,The Magician’s Apprentice was the highest rated season premiere to date in the US on BBC America.

The premiere episode ranks as Doctor Who’s biggest season premiere ever overseas in the Adult 18-49 demo, which nearly doubled the Series 8 average. The season debut also saw increased social engagement versus last season’s premiere, and reigned as the most social drama of the night and week leading into the premiere.

“Doctor Who is unlike anything else on television, a storied franchise that is as fresh and contemporary as ever, with brilliant writing and superb performances,” said Sarah Barnett, President of BBC AMERICA. “We couldn’t be more thrilled that new and returning Doctor Who fans tuned into the live premiere in record numbers and we look forward to bringing more of the Doctor to this passionate audience.”

Live + Same Day Ratings Highlights:

  • The premiere telecast delivered 2 million total viewers and 1.1 million Adults 18-49.  Among A18-49, Doctor Who propelled BBC AMERICA to #3 in its timeslot, out-delivering the big 4 broadcast networks and ranking only behind college football on ESPN and the finale of Sábado Gigante on Univision.
  • In the A18-49 demo, Doctor Who is now one of just 14 dramas on TV this season to show any growth from its prior season premiere (out of 100+ returning dramas).
  • The A18-49 audience ranks as Doctor Who’s biggest season premiere ever on BBC AMERICA, nearly doubling the S8 average (+95%). In the demo, episode 901 ranks among the top 10 returning cable drama premieres this season, beating Homeland, Suits and The Strain, among others.
  • All tracked demos showed increases from the season 8 average with the most significant increases seen among the younger demos, most notably P12-24 (+186%) and P18-34 (+161%).
  • The episode reigned as the #1 most social drama of the night based on ListenFirst’s Digital Audience Ratings for Television.  It was the #1 TV brand on Tumblr, the #1 drama on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and the #2 drama on Instagram, following The Walking Dead.  It was also the #1 most social drama of the week.
  • Episode 901 garnered larger social engagement than the most recent season premieres of Scandal, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, True Detective, Outlander, Glee, and The Flash, among others.

Next time: The Witch’s Familiar

The 9th series of Doctor Who promises to be yet another in a long line of game changers with everything hanging in the balance. Steven Moffat has leaked numerous details regarding the stories for the year which hint at revelations regarding why the Doctor initially left Gallifrey.

The Radio Times has more details. 
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Doctor Who says goodbye to his impossible girl

Jenna Coleman is officially leaving. Get ready for news on a new companion. Since its return in 2005, the companions in Doctor Who have been the focus of the new program. From Rose resetting time to Martha using a satellite network to turn the Doctor into tinkerbell, the travelling companions have often served as the ultimate plot contrivance, allowing writers to get out of a corner or in some cases build said corner and follow it up with three more and a roof as was the case with Amy Pond and Clara Oswald.

Clara-Oswald-oswin-oswald-33196143-500-550Clara was introduced as a surprise in the opening episode of the 7th series in which she also died (no worries, no one ever really dies in Doctor Who). She was then revealed to be something like a sentient antibody, running throughout the Doctor’s timestream to not only save him from the Great Intelligence but even influence his actions as far back as which TARDIS to steal when he left Gallifrey.

doctor-who-the-name-of-the-doctor-colin-bakerClara became the ultimate companion, superseding the Doctor as the hero even in previous stories! That said, once Moffat got this out of his system. Clara became a much more nuanced and enjoyable companion alongside the new regenerated Doctor who needled her every chance he got. Whereas the previous incarnation doted on Clara, the new one implied that she needed makeup to cover the horrible lines on her face and pointed out her egomania. The two played off of each other so well that actress Coleman decided to stay on for another year, prompting rewrites to the Christmas Special which would have seen her die before the Doctor’s eyes.

DoctorWh0_Clara

The eight series redeemed Clara which is fortunate as Jenna Coleman is a delight to watch and of course as cute as a button. Even so, three years is optimum for a companion to stay on the program and it will be a pleasure to see how Moffat wraps up her story (for a third time).

Throughout the long history of Doctor Who on the screen and in print, there have been many companions that have been loved and derided. In the long run, I’m not sure where Clara Oswald’s legacy will fall but as she was the herald of a new wildly successful era of the series, I predict that she will remembered fondly.

Via BBC:

It’s been officially confirmed that Jenna Coleman, who plays Clara Oswald, will leave Doctor Who during the new series which starts tomorrow, Saturday 19 September.

However, it’s not been revealed exactly when Clara leaves and the question many are already asking is how will she part company with the Doctor?

Jenna Coleman made her Doctor Who debut on 1 September, 2012 as Oswin Oswald in Asylum of the Daleks. She returned on Christmas Day of that year, playing Clara and remained with the Eleventh Doctor from the following episode, The Bells of Saint John, onwards. She stayed on board the TARDIS for all of Peter Capaldi’s episodes to date and after filming for the last series finished, Peter commented, ‘Jenna has been absolutely brilliant. I think she’s wonderful in the show, and she’s my favourite companion.’

But Series 9 sees the Impossible Girl’s departure although the how, why and when are all questions we’ll have to watch the new adventures to find out…

Whatever happens, we’ll bring you the inside info first but for the time being we’ll prepare to say goodbye to Clara and good luck to Jenna. We’ll miss them both.

Who is your favorite companion?

Rose?

Amy?

Tegan?

Leela?

Ace?

Sarah Jane?

Kamelion?

Tardis_RedesignAdditional: Peter Capaldi has revealed that the TARDIS will be getting a facelift in the ninth series. Sixties design elements and roundels will be making a return much to the actor’s delight.

DrWho_Capaldi_Redesign