Why Tom Ellis? He’s known (but not too well-known) to US audiences from his guest spots on Once Upon A Time, and his stint in short-lived BBC supernatural drama The Fades showed that he’s adept at playing roles other than eye candy. Diving into US pilot territory showed that he’s ambitious and keen to move out of Miranda‘s shadow. Plus, he’s Welsh so will obviously love filming back in Cardiff!
Hey, Whovians, have you heard? Just when you’ll be at the end of your giving-stuff-up-for-Lent tether, a tasty treat: Doctor Who is back on Saturday 30 March.
As if that wasn’t enough excitement, showrunner Steven Moffat promises that in the Series/Season Finale, “the Doctor’s greatest secret will at last be revealed! If this wasn’t already our most exciting year it would be anyway!”
Series/Season 7 picks up again with “The Bells of St John,” a modern-day thriller set in London. Penned by Moffat it features such landmarks as The Eye of Sauron Shard, The Gherkin and Westminster Bridge.
And intriguing new villains, The Spoonheads, will make their debut battling the Doctor (Matt Smith) as he discovers that something sinister is lurking in the Wi-Fi.
The episode also officially marks the debut of the Doctor’s newest companion, Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman). Yes, yes, she’s already popped up twice now, but this time Moffat’s promised that this time she’s here to stay. (Or, at least, here for the next eight episodes.)
The rest of Doctor Who Series/Season 7 will bring some familiar (evil) faces with a new twist, and boasts an impressive line-up of guest stars including Richard E. Grant, Warwick Davies, Celia Imrie and Dougray Scott. Plus, the first-ever on-screen pairing of Diana Rigg and her daughter Rachael Stirling.
Here’s the gossip straight from The Moff himself: “It’s the 50th year of Doctor Who and look what’s going on! We’re up in the sky and under the sea! We’re running round the rings of an alien world and then a haunted house. There’s new Cybermen, new Ice Warriors and a never before attempted journey to the centre of the TARDIS. And in the finale, the Doctor’s greatest secret will at last be revealed! If this wasn’t already our most exciting year it would be anyway!”
In the UK:Doctor Who premieres Saturday, March 30, on BBC One
In the US:Doctor Who premieres Saturday, March 30, 8pm ET on BBC America
What have the Weeping Angels got against the outer boroughs anyway? This mid-series/season Doctor Who Finale had a Manhattan-centric view of New York City.
The island was colonised and policed by a vengeful group of Weeping Angels who’d managed to not only remain in 1938 in perpetuity, but had also managed to turn the NYU dorms in the West Village into a time prison for anyone unlucky enough to catch their eye.
Freshers beware! Those eyes that look as if they’re following you around the room? That’s not just the Jäger-bombs taking effect … they are.
Now, obviously, let’s address the giant elephant in the room. This was the final outing for Amy and Rory. I interviewed Matt Smith and Karen Gillan the day after they’d had their first read-through of the script for this episode, and she said everyone was in floods of tears throughout.
Steven Moffat then promised me that the Ponds’/Williams’ exit would be heartbreaking. And it was. (But, he also said he wasn’t tweaking Doctor Who to make it more America-friendly, and now I’m not so sure I believe him.)
As for the rest of the episode, I’m torn. Yes, it’s always awesome to see my old home town featured so prominently, but it felt redundant. If having the action take place on an island was the most important bit of the plot then obviously it works better for the larger audience than using the Isles of Wight, Man or Sheppy, but still …
If Lady Liberty had been seen and not just heard stomping across the Hudson River to claim her victims it might have been more effective. But then again, it could also have come across as a low-budget Stay Puft Marshmallow Man moment.
Let’s face it: if Russell T. Davies was still running the show, this episode would have been filmed in Cardiff and the argh!-dive-behind-the-sofa! moment would have featured Ivor Novello. And personally, I think I would have preferred it.
It was great to see the always superb Alex Kingston back as River Song, and to have her relationship status confirmed with all the other TARDIS residents, but the Doctor healing the sick? Come on … I’m a Doctor Who fan, not a super-fan, so it’s entirely possible the Doctor has done it before, but it seemed to me that Moffat simply used this plot device as a way of not having Smith and Kingston snog each other’s faces off.
The insinuation that the Doctor only likes ’em young seemed a bit mean-spirited. Yes, we all know that the Doctor’s forever travelling with younger women but hey, that’s part of the schtick. (Frankly, no one’s going to watch his adventures with old women or other men, so get over it naysayers.) To now write the Doctor as a creepy old misogynist was like a poke in the eye with a sharp stick to Moffat’s Who predecessors.
The Weeping Angels have long been in my pantheon of best Doctor Who villains, and I think their creepy putti progeny will be getting their own niche there in due course. However, there were so many dead ends and so much misdirection in this episode that even the introduction of these sinister toddlers was somehow lost in the mix.
Who were the statues watching Grayle’s house? His wife and child? Amy and a pint-sized Rory?
Just how did he capture a Weeping Angel in the first place?
Do basic Yale locks really work against intergalactic alien time vampires?
Why single out Rory when Central Park was packed with people, including a Time Lord?
Why on earth would Rory get into that creepy lift/elevator in the first place? (Is he really supposed to still be that stupid?)
There were also some nice touches.
Amy finally admitted to everyone that she loves Rory. Properly. At last: some loooong overdue payback for the aeons of time he stood outside the Pandorica.
I *think* that was the Calvary Cemetery in Queen’s (you know, the one you can see from the BQE on the way to and from JFK), so there was at least a nod to the outer boroughs. UPDATE: According to the “Doctor Who Official” production notes for the episode, all of Alex Kingston’s scenes were shot in Wales, not New York City, so I’m presumably wrong about the cemetery. Sorry, Queen’s residents. Maybe next time …
The TARDIS-washing made me smile. Yes, we’re an old married couple and we avoid snogging in front of the kids by washing like to wash the car TARDIS together of a weekend. (But, sidebar: have they gone and done a TARDIS equivalent of a loft conversion? Check out the spacious new interior.)
So now Doctor Who is on hiatus until the Christmas Special. To tide you over until then, here are some glimpses of what we can expect. Snow! Victorians! Withnail! Richard E. Grant! New companion Jenna-Louise Coleman!
So that’s why they call New York the city that never sleeps …
As Doctor Who viewers brace themselves for Amy and Rory’s swansong, the BBC have released a number of trailers ahead of Saturday’s episode, which was shot on location in New York City.
Say hello sweetie to River Song (Alex Kingston) as the Doctor and his companions face off against the Weeping Angels.
Steven Moffat wrote “The Angels take Manhattan” and, judging from the trailers, it promises to live up to what he told me about Series/Season 7 back in March 2012: “There’ll be utter heartbreaking tragedy to knock about, silly fun … But if you’re laughing one minute, expect to be crying in five minutes.”
The cast had their first read-through of “The Angels Take Manhattan” the night before I interviewed Matt Smith and Karen Gillan at WhoCon, and Gillan especially was very moved by the manner of the Ponds’ departure.
She wouldn’t tell me exactly what happens to Amy (natch), but said “I want her to go out in all her sort of glory.”
The trailers have echoes of the classic David Tennant–Carey Mulligan episode “Blink,” which saw the first outing of the Weeping Angels. Check out the way Amy seems to be reading or writing a letter a la Kathy Nightingale.
One fanmade trailer caught my eye. Made by angelsblink2, it is a superb piece of editing and scoring. Watch it and remember all the best bits of the Matt Smith–Karen Gillan—Arthur Darvill triumvirate. (And yes, don’t they look young?)
So here’s the BBC1 trailer:
And here’s the BBC America trailer:
Doctor Who Series 7 airs in the UK on Saturdays on BBC1 (transmission times keep changing so check local listings).
Doctor Who Season 7 airs in the US on Saturdays, 9pm ET on BBC America.
Bradley most recently made Games of Thrones viewers’ flesh creep as the lecherous Walder Frey, and he’s due to hit the small screen in the television adaptation of Ken Follett’s World Without End later on this year.
The Doctor (Matt Smith) is battling to save an unmanned spaceship and its cargo of dinosaurs, so he puts together a band of rather unlikely helpers, including former Queen of Egypt, Nefertiti (Riann Steele) and a big game hunter named Riddell (Rupert Graves).