So that’s awesome. The Doctor Who Facebook page told us to wait for something c. 22:30 BST, and they generally delivered. I even wrote a previous post speculating what it could be. I would have preferred less hype for something like a trailer, as that’s what’s expected from Comic-Con. But the trailer is still damn good.
It doesn’t give anything away that we don’t already know, and it’s difficult to place when different episodes take place in the season, which is good. This is a television season trailer, not a feature trailer. But it’s in cinemascope, which is an interesting change. While I think it’ll take time to adjust to this, it’s a good sign – the BBC are taking the show to another level by making episodes more cinematic. Some of Series 9’s directors have done cinema: The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar are directed by Hettie MacDonald, who directed Beautiful Thing and Lily and the Secret Planting, and episodes eleven and twelve are directed by Rachel Talalay, who directed Freddy’s Dead: the Final Nightmare, Ghost in the Machine, Tank Girl, The Borrowers, A Tale of Two Wives and The Wind in the Willows. MacDonald directed the award winning Blink. Of course, one episode alone can’t be a different aspect ratio, so this was most likely an executive decision.
The tone of this is definitely “the good old days”. Whereas Series 8 was being surrounded by things you didn’t understand and consequently not being sure of yourself, this is that this season is the peak era of The Doctor and Clara. They run into danger and get into trouble, but he’s always there to get them out of it with his adventurous spirit, wit, sunglasses and mad skills guitar. This could be an era not seen since the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith.
The inclusion of The Master is also something that surprised me by how much it works. Initially, I was skeptical that she’s even here, since I find her a weak character. What she does tends to consist of acknowledging how “evil” she is and playing it up for the audience like a Victorian pantomime villain. But what we see of her in this trailer is good – she seems to have reigned herself in and is being more subtle. Even if the “I want to kiss it to death” line that played over her was a bit too gratuitous.
One thing that’s interesting is that we see Oswald and The Master together. After she kept them together through Series 7 Part 2 to 8, it’s not so much a surprise that they’re together, but it likely will be as to why. Has The Master hypnotised her? Are they working together for some reason? I just hope that when it happens, I’ll be able to believe it and that it makes sense for those characters.
But it’s perhaps slightly more interesting that Osgood and Kate Stewart aren’t here, despite being carry-overs from the previous season, especially when their storyline directly clashed with The Master. I guess there wasn’t conceptual space in the style and tone of the trailer for them to be there. But there’s probably going to be a second, so they might be in that one. And that’s a good thing if, like The Master, I find myself actually liking them. When will that next one will be? Who can say.
Another thing to really like: the music. Some have criticised it for not being the theme, but the only trailer to actually use that was for The day of the Doctor. This definitely contains my favourite music of the trailers. It’s so optimistic and adventurous and exciting! Plus, it’s electronic. It combines the medium of the Classic Series and the style of the New Series. And it’s AWESOME! I hope it’s composed by Murray Gold, and not taken from somewhere else. Because if it is Murray Gold, he needs to stay. And make more music like this. His best track so far is the Gallifrey motif, but Series 9 has the capacity to have a soundtrack even cooler than what’s come before.
Peter Capaldi really looks like he’s come into his own, and seems much less anxious than before. Now, he just owns the part. Effortlessly. I still don’t think he’s the best actor to have been The Doctor, but he manages to be everything the character is; bumbling, idiotic, but still badass. “I am The Doctor… and I save people” could potentially, if it’s in the right context and isn’t just written to be in this trailer, beat the “The man who stops the monsters!” moment. In fact, by putting that at the climactic end to this trailer, they’re wrapping it up in a bow that sums-up everything Doctor Who is about.
Doctor Who itself is already a familiar property. This was unveiled at Comic-Con, it gets very high ratings on BBC One HD, and it’s important to keep it fresh. Narratively, this is going to be the change of format by making Series 9 a season of two-parters. Then there’s the aspect ratio change. Does this trailer look generic? Well… yes. It’s like most trailers in that it’s a montage of things with a few other things we recognise. But it doesn’t look worn-out. When this is broadcast between programmes, it makes Doctor Who look still as exciting as it should be. All the British public cares about is that there’s a new season. And visually, from how much you can process, it looks interesting enough. I just hope Series 9 is as good as its trailer makes it look, because if it isn’t, that could turn-off a lot of casual viewers by making them think it’s been overhyped. Which it will have been in that case.
But I don’t, at this stage, believe that it will be. After I’d seen this trailer, I literally punched the air. I had actual tears in my eyes. And I had to take a moment outside. I just feel so disenchanted with Doctor Who right now that something which looks this promising is a shot of anticipation that I’ve needed over these past few months. It has everything; a swagger, a darkness, adventure but it’s cool and glitzy. This could be the season in-which Steven Moffat gets his drive back and delivers on the potential this show’s had. I just hope Series 9 doesn’t suck.
Oh, and did anyone else spot that Classic Series Dalek?