Across the Universe: The 'Doctor' Is In
'Who' premieres this week with big changes afoot
By Don Kaye
Special to MSN Movies
Spoiler alert, just in case the show is still sitting on your DVR: When we last left the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) at the end of the sixth season of the modern “Doctor Who,” the Time Lord had fooled his enemies – the history-manipulating Silence – into thinking he was dead, at least for the time being, while admitting that he had gotten “too big” and was prepared to slip back into the “shadows” for a while. Perhaps, like James Bond – who is celebrating his 50th anniversary in 2012 as a big screen hero, just one year ahead of the Doctor’s own 50th on the small screen – the Doctor has realized that he can work much more effectively if less people know who he is.
That may be a difficult task, because the Doctor’s popularity has grown to new heights over the past few years. While the original incarnation of the show – which started all the way back in 1963 on the BBC, where it ran until 1989 – was nothing more than a cult oddity in the U.S., glimpsed fleetingly on PBS stations, the modern version launched in 2005 has become more popular than ever both in its native U.K. and here in the States, where it is one of the crown jewels of the BBC America cable channel (“Who” panels at the annual Comic-Con are regularly jam-packed).
With the premiere of the seventh season finally set for this Saturday (Sept. 1) after being kept a mystery for quite a while, anticipation for the Doctor’s next set of adventures is reaching new heights. The show actually appeared on the cover of a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly, surprising for a cable series with ratings that, while impressive, are still relatively small compared to major network series. The other huge buzz happening around the new season (which will air its first five episodes this fall, with the rest coming in 2013) is a significant change in the regular cast: The Doctor’s husband-and-wife companions, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill), will exit the show in the fifth episode, titled “The Angels Take Manhattan.”
Cast changes are nothing new for “Who,” of course: The ancient Doctor himself changes bodies every few years – that is, a new actor takes over the role when the current one decides he’s had enough. When the hugely popular David Tennant left as the 10th Doctor in 2009, fans wondered how the show would survive this time, but Matt Smith has proved to be a worthy successor. When Amy and Rory say farewell – in what is being billed as a “heartbreaking” story that takes place in Manhattan (a first for the series) and features the frightening Weeping Angels – they will be followed by a new companion, played by Jenna-Louise Coleman, who will make her debut in the 2012 Christmas Special.
Fans have loved Amy – the spunky, red-headed Scot has been more than up to the task of following the madcap Doctor – but have been less enamored with her somewhat passive yet good-hearted and ultimately courageous hubby. Two of the Doctor’s last three companions before them, Rose (Billie Piper) and Martha (Freema Agyeman), had unresolved romantic feelings for the Doctor, which gave the new series a fresh emotional underpinning (Catherine Tate as Donna, Tennant’s final companion before he left, had a strictly platonic view of the Time Lord). Although it seemed Amy might head in the same direction as Rose and Martha, the rise of Rory threw a wrench in the works, although any hints of a romantic “triangle,” as far as it could go, were more or less downplayed.
What path will the new companion (rumored to be named Clara) take? Will she, too, develop feelings for the 900-year-old alien who looks like a 29-year-old man? Showrunner Steven Moffat has promised she’ll be different from previous traveling buddies. Meanwhile, the new season will also feature, in its premiere episode, the return of the dreaded robotic race the Daleks – and this time, it will reportedly feature Daleks from across the show’s entire run. That itself may foreshadow 2013, the show’s 50th anniversary, where plans are afoot for some kind of celebratory event. Could all the surviving Doctors – which include Smith/Tennant predecessor Christopher Eccleston, Paul McGann (the eighth Doctor), Sylvester McCoy (the seventh), Colin Baker (the sixth), Peter Davison (the fifth) and the legendary Tom Baker (the fourth and still, with seven seasons, the longest-serving Doctor) -- be assembled for this extraordinary milestone?
We’ve still got a year to go before that happens. In the meantime, “Doctor Who” – the longest running TV series of its kind, and in all of science fiction -- will no doubt keep surprising, scaring and delighting us. All aboard the TARDIS, everyone …
"When Amy and Rory say farewell – in what is being billed as a “heartbreaking” story that takes place in Manhattan (a first for the series) "
I feel I need to point out that if you are referring to Manhattan as the place setting for the series, this is wrong. In season three of the current run of the show, episode 5 "Daleks in Manhattan" and 6 "Evolution of the Daleks" both take place in Manhattan. If you are referring to the filming taking place in Manhattan, then you are correct, though it would be appreicated if you were more specific (espiecally for us fanatic, get-everything-right-or-else-types).
Can't say I am entralled with the present incarnation of the Doctor or the character Amy. Amy seemed too flirtateous, full of herself, willful and somewhat vacuuous and a bit of a twit, while this Doctor seemed as...come to think of it Amy and the Doctor seemed to be so much alike, like twins really from the look of things. If it was not for River Song and Rory who were the two more interesting and likable characters, it would be just about 2 willful people doing stupid things trying to play clever and adult imho.
Having watched Dr Who including the early episodes from the first Doctor Who which started as an old professor and his grand-daughter on through all the various incarnation of the Doctor, -including that full length movie with an American Dr Who several years back, - there have been only 2 Dr Who's that were uninteresting to me, the one that was so arrogant he was boorish (he may have been the 2nd to last Doc before the series ended back in the 1980s if I am not mistaken) and this one. Probably trying too hard to attract the 10-39 or whatever demographics. LOL All glitz and glam and confusion.
Wish some station or other would show the series from the start in 1963 and on... instead of the constant repeats of the episodes of the past few years. It would be great to see those other doctors and their companions, the old tardis, and to be able to see how technology and the series have progressed from then on.
In one episode the doc was cloned resulting in the doctors daughter...... the doc and Martha thought the young woman had died but she lived and left the colony....what happened to her? What and who was that young girl that seemed to be of time lord heritage that frightened that homeless man few episodes back?
Is Captain Jack the Face of Boes? How did Martha and Mickey end up together and hunting aliens? Who was the woman of the Time Lord race who kept appearing to Donna's grandfather when the previous Doctor was fighting the Master? Was Donna the incarnation of that woman?
With the last 2 doctors they were popular because the stories were interesting, riviting, made sense, and not as over convoluted like the present series imo. River Song was saved by that computer in the Library and was supposedly living as a data generated person....so how is it that she is now supposedly living in a prison for killing the Doctor when she supposedly died in another life? The Daleks have now mutated into both machine and human form, is this from the work of that other Dalek in that Pigmen episode... where he was trying to create a new species of Daleks who could walk and have a conscience which resulted in the creation of a new species of humans? But wasn't that Dalek and those humans killed by the other Daleks? Have the Oods evolved? What happened to the other companions or even Mary-Jane's son who was an alien himself? What happened to Earth, England in particular? What happened to Rose and her now human Doctor and /or Torchwood? Did Captain Jack return and rebuild Torchwood? Will the Torchwood series return?
Last question would be... how is it that Rory and Amy are now getting divorced and why?
Why wouldn't the Doctor return to earth considering that there are aliens living and burrowing underground?
Do hope the Dr Who series remain or return to being a British syfi series.There is or was something quitentially British about the series that made it unique and hope that that is not lost or will not be lost about it. Just having actors and actresses from the UK in it will not be enough to keep its uniqueness or maintain it's endearing qualities resulting in its demise. Just saying....