As I write this post, I find myself quite envious of my TARDISblend co-host, Tom Cheredar, who was in attendance for the Doctor Who panel at San DIego Comic-Con this year.
In the famous Hall H, the panel began with grand fanfare, concluding with the Doctor Who theme blasting through the speakers as Matt Smith (the first ever Doctor to be nominated for a BAFTA Award) joined the stage — greeted with an almighty roar from the crowd… a beginning that gives a clear indication of how much bigger the 48-year old-series has become in the United States.
While David Tennant was a highly loved Doctor by U.S. fans, as a long-term fan I cannot recall a level of fandom appreciation for a current Doctor since the days of Tom Baker. It’s a clear indication that the series is currently in good hands, and that Smith is delivering not just to the expectations of showrunner Steven Moffat, but to fans on an international level as well.
Unfortunately Moffat was unavailable for the panel, but Smith was joined by his co-host Karen Gillan (who plays Amy Pond), producers Piers Wenger and Beth Willis, and writer Toby Whithouse.
First off, let’s get to some of the juicy tidbits about the upcoming episodes of Series 6 that was discussed by the panel…
Doctor Who Series 6 resumes on August 27 on BBC America, with episode 8, entitled Let’s Kill Hitler! The mid-series relaunch had initially been estimated during September, but fans were delighted with the news it would be returning at the end of August instead.
Matt Smith and Karen Gillan have confirmed that while there were some spectacular cliffhangers in the first half of Series 6, there are more HUGE cliffhangers to come during the second half.
Smith revealed that the Stetson hat is indeed coming back.
At the beginning of the series, Moffat made mention that the main characters have secrets… Gillan discussed during the panel that Amy Pond’s secret has not yet been revealed. Smith confirmed this revelation, but neither would discuss the details.
While technically not part of the second part of Series 6, the panel did discuss the major reveal of the identity of River Song (Alex Kingston). The revelation was kept very secret right up until the read-through of the script… and even then only Moffat told Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill privately. The lengths that the crew behind the scenes have gone to keep elements secret rivals that of the “I am your father” revelation in the Star Wars saga – which gives a really big indication of the amount of care the cast and crew are putting into Doctor Who with their efforts.
The dark side of the Doctor glimpsed in A Good Man Goes To War is seen again during the second half of Series 6, particularly during Episode 10, which is entitled The Girl Who Waited.
Karen hinted that the line “The Doctor lies” is relevant for the second half of Series 6.
The panel remained tight-lipped about the possibility of returning characters like previous Doctors, Daleks, Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) from Torchwood, and the Doctor’s Daughter; often deferring with “that’s up to Steven Moffat.” Smith, however, did elaborate on how much he would enjoy a return of the Dream Lord (Toby Jones)) as it would explore a lot of the guilt the Doctor harbors — and would enable the team to explore the darker side of the Time Lord.
The audience members at Hall H were treated to two special clips (which you can also view below). The first shown was a preview clip of episode 11, The God Complex, written by Toby Whithouse — which he said required a lot of research into classical mythology. The second clip was a fantastic trailer for the next part of Series 6, which is full of surprises.
Also of interest during the panel was when Smith was discussing the different cultural aspects of international fandom. While for UK Doctor Who fans it was more of a cultural phenomenon, for U.S. fans it seems to be a more focused group of fans, and in his words, “more committed.”
Another amusing anecdote was Smith discussing how he breaks stuff on set every day: he often breaks Sonic Screwdrivers, and bits of the TARDIS come off in his hands. One interesting fan question was who would the panel like to see do a Doctor Who episode. A few members of the panel pondered what it would have been like if Roald Dahl had written a show; but other suggestions included J. J. Abrams, Edgar Wright; and Piers Wenger suggested it would be interesting is Russell T. Davies came back to write an episode — a comment that was met with loud approval from the crowd.
One thing is sure — the audience had a blast at this panel, and it’s clear that the hype build-up for Series 6 Part 2 is on! You can check out all the other questions and discussions from the panel in the videos below, as well as the trailer clips that played at the Con.
Videos from SDCC
Official Trailers for Doctor Who Series 6 Part 2
[Sources: SDCC – Video footage from Tom Cheredar for Geeks of Doom | Trailer clips from BBC and BBC America]