Is Michelle Gomez the Rani? Of course, say rumours.

Mary Poppins meets Charles Dickens
Michelle Gomez as the Nethersphere Gatekeeper

The BBC have a policy of only revealing information when it becomes relevant. In the case of Doctor Who, this means when an episode’s being filmed and a guest star will be seen in public.

Earlier today, it was confirmed Michelle Gomez will feature in Series 8, as the Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere, alongside Cybermen. Or I suppose I should really say “Cyberiad”. Not that such information tells us anything, but it’s so soon after the Deep Breath infodump it’s easy to impress me.

“Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere” certainly sounds exciting. Maybe she’ll fulfil a position similar to that of Heimdallr, keeper of the Bifrost. Or maybe the controller of a device that can access other dimensions? The void, maybe?

As it’s the finale, it’s likely to have something to do with Gallifrey. What with rumours of the Master being cast and all, it would make sense. The Nethersphere could simply be the Statis Cubes that were used to seal the planet in a pocket dimension? But then they’d just call it a what it is, wouldn’t they? Unless it’s a modified version. Or maybe it’s something similar that the Time Lords hijack.

A lot of people have been suggesting the Rani should make a return. A lot of people have also been saying the Rani will be coming back. Steven Moffat, who – let’s be honest – lies constantly, has said that nobody knows who the Rani is and therefore shouldn’t be brought back. But then, nobody knew who the Zygons were. Or the Silurians. Or the Great Intelligence. Or the Ice Warriors. Nobody remembering something shouldn’t be the reason it doesn’t come back.

When it comes to the Rani, I haven’t yet seen The Mark Of The Rani or Time And The Rani, I’m told they’re quite awful, and scored very lowly on Doctor Who Magazine’s First 50 Years poll, but I’m having a marathon in August to celebrate Series 8, so I could throw them in there I suppose. Even then, just because Pip & Jane Baker wrote those apparent atrocities, Steven Moffat didn’t. Admittedly, he did handle the return of the Great Intelligence not particularly well, and it did seem that he only did so just because The Web Of Fear had been recovered. And while I’m sceptical of a Classic villain making a return in the current state of the show, or indeed this particular villain anyway, the evidence is there for me to use as I wish. Gallifrey’s back, and the finale has a female villain. Just like every other finale.

Walks into Mordor. Offers Sauron a jellybaby.
FEMALE VILLAIN IN SERIES 8 CLEARLY THE RANI

One thing I hope is that whoever this Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere turns out to be, she isn’t just another Moffat Villainess. I’m not assuming she’s a villain, since filming with Capaldi shows she and the Doctor seem to be on good terms. It’s just that female characters other than the companions seem to be lacking distinguishing features. But this next model (as it seems to be) could potentially have more meaning, since she’s included in the finale. But then again, so was Kovarian and we barely know anything about her other than what was said by Tasha Lem, who’s almost an exact copy of River Song

Doctor Who is maybe the only thing I give infinite chances to, and looking at this news, I’m still optimistic that what we’ve got is an interesting character that will become important to the ongoing story. I just don’t know whether the Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere will be able to deliver on that.

I think Eight speaks for all of us.
I LOVE HUMANS. ALWAYS SEEING PATTERS IN THINGS THAT AREN’T THERE.

BBC release Series 8 infodump

One of the less bullshitty conventions of being a Doctor Who fan is the last day before a major announcement. But you never know it’s the last day when you’ve having it. At the time, it’s just another decent day.

It’s time…. to wax sensational. (Might want to hum yourself some Murray Gold, shit’s happening this time. Out of the way bitches, I’m fangirling.)

"Look at all the fucks I give."
The new Doctor lands August 23rd.

I spent my evening watching Pointless on Challenge at 8 PM today, when I should have really been watching BBC One. Because MY GOD. What a trailer! Dear Heavens. Dear. Heavens. That’s it, I’m done. I don’t need to see anything else now. That’s enough for me until 23rd August. That being said, when another trailer’s released, of course I’m going to watch it. Don’t be daft.

I remember receiving an email from WordPress linking me to a new post by user Geekritique. I didn’t need to read the body, since the subject read “Doctor Who Series 8 Teaser #2”, at which point I had a bit of a moment, and immediately raced to digitalspy, whereupon I saw It. The Twelfth Doctor, standing alone, uncertain of his own morality, while the TARDIS comes crashing-down around him.

Many people have speculated that the Twelfth Doctor will be fierce, or intimidating, but this trailer shows a side I never expected to see: anxiety. The Doctor, knowing his power, is terrified that this is the incarnation which goes overboard. And why shouldn’t it? He’s the fourteenth incarnation of The Doctor, maybe the first Time Lord to live that long. Do any of them even know what happens at that point? The trailer doesn’t seem to bode well. But we can be sure about one thing: the TARDIS is well and truly screwed. Perhaps that’s why it looks a tad different in the new Series 8 images. Which I love by the way (just imagine me making an effeminate gesture at that point). I was listening to The Majestic Tale on iTunes when I saw them and then I realised… this is Classic Doctor Who. The Doctor is now striking a protective pose, with a both old and wise face, but with a stare that will make you wish you’d never been born with a simple “Hai!”. And a companion that’s inquisitive but naive. The old team.  Third Doctor and Sarah. Not the mention the sort-of new TARDIS. Maybe that’s related to the explosivity of the trailer. Or at least it would had I not just invented that word no less than a minute ago.

Also: the episode title. Deep Breath. I like it. I like it a lot. A lot of post-regeneration stories have good titles, but a lot of them have some truly excruciating ones. Deep Breath is both exciting and ambiguous. The reason one may need to take a deep breath is because of brilliant danger or jeopardy, while there are rumours about a spaceship being crashed beneath the Thames, and the Doctor investigating it. That could be why he’s wearing his nightclothes then. There are also rumours of Clockwork Droids, which I choose to deny. I just don’t think they’re likely to return. Unless they’re other kinds of clockwork droids, but completely unrelated to those built specifically for one particular space station. Given Silurian Vastra’s featured, one can only hope the Sea Devils make a return. Just not in the style of Warriors Of The Deep. But then I’m a fan; finding patterns in things that aren’t there is kind of my thing.

The episode is “feature length”, according to the BBC, which is already controversial. These are the people that called The Day Of The Doctor feature-length, which was 76 minutes. The British Film Institute considers feature length 40 minutes/2400 seconds, so every televised episode since Survival part three is feature-length. Going by their definition, this doesn’t change anything. As the average length of an episode is 42 minutes, with three minutes for advertising, I’m assuming Deep Breath is probably about 57 minutes. The Eleventh Hour was 62 minutes in a 65-minute timeslot. That also creates a 5 minute window of possibility. (Nice title for a novel.)

All that’s left to wonder is whether BBC America and FOX Germany will manage to simulcast the episode.

Am I a good man? The Twelfth Doctor lands 23rd August in feature-length Deep Breath.

Doctor Who Experience – there’s still time

2cufk0je0az1000

In anticipation of the Rise of the Twelfth, the Doctor Who Experience has announced a closure from 1st September for about six weeks until the beginning of the school holidays at the end of October. Which means there’s not much time to actually experience the Doctor Who Experience as it currently stands, before it’s updated to include the Twelfth Doctor and Series 8 items of display.

The Doctor Who Experience should be compulsory visiting for all Whovians. Though the show’s produced at Roath Lock Studios, the show’s cultural significance is stored at the Experience. The Celebration was just a weekend, whereas the Experience is always there. If you missed the Celebration, the Experience is the next best thing.

It’s really divided in two. After the Experience, there’s an exhibition, which holds its own surprises for you to discover (see if you can name each artefact’s story), but the actual Experience is the main part, and is the single place that combines physical space and artistic design to create a place which contains the single, umbrella answer to the question of why I’m a fan.

The reason I’ve always loved Doctor Who is because it’s entertainment. And entertainment is about taking you into new worlds and fantastic stories. Many episodes have done this. The episode that triggered the strongest reaction from me is The Day Of The Doctor, which many fans at the Celebration chose to experience on a big screen in 3D. That’s the most immersing version of an episode yet. And the Experience is like that, but better. This time, you’re in it. You experience the adventure. After a short video presentation, Series 5’s Time Fields become the cleverest use of a plot device yet: it brings you into the Doctor’s world, and you begin. Of course, what kind of a fan would I be if I revealed everything? Do you fly the TARDIS? Do you meet the Daleks? How exactly are you taken on an adventure with the Doctor without actually going anywhere? Let’s just say it’s a bit like virtual reality, especially the highlight of it all involving some tremendous visual effects. The whole thing is a magnificent tour-de-force of deception with a storyline that makes you wish the BBC had the budget to produce themselves. I went round again.

Doctor Who feels so accessible to me because of its format. By entering the TARDIS, you can be taken away to see the awesomeness of the Universe. When I watch the show, I forget I’m here and don’t know where I am (most of the time). The Doctor Who Experience did all of that, but even more realistically than ever before. For just once, I got to enter an episode and assist the Doctor.

And, of course, his next incarnation will soon be calling me. And I shall be there to answer his call.

On a Cartesian coordinate system, the Doctor Who Experience, during the entirety of my first time, is represented by 00000. The show’s format had transcended itself to become almost real for just that moment in time. The lines between reality and fiction became broken down, and the climax almost literally does send you into a parallel universe. It’s more real than the show will ever be, and it’s mandatory that you understand that by going there yourself. Because that story’s about to change. Soon, there’ll be something new to experience. And I’ll be there. But if you don’t see the first one, you’ll be missing the chance to be in an episode you might not even see again. And you wouldn’t want to create your own, personal missing episode, do you?

People say to me, “What’s your favourite episode?”. Well, actually they don’t. Never have. But if they did, I’d say this one. The one you’re reading about right now. But it’s very unique in that you can only see it in Cardiff.

Look, it’s a magical place far away where Doctor Who is real, okay! What else do I need to do to convince you? A place like that could potentially be the most wonderful in the world, and it certainly is for me.  And if it’s going to be updated, I may as well go along. The Doctor’s like my elderly-est relative. Every now and again, it’s good to visit him and see how he’s doing. Does he still have the same body? And what kind of trouble has he got himself into now?

 

It comes as a rather round-about way of saying it, but just go to the Doctor Who Experience cause you won’t regret it. Ever.

Doctor Who Wins Yet Another Award

Think of this article as a sort of follow-up to my very first, Doctor Who BAFTA TV Success. I try to publish articles shortly after the announcement of news from the BBC itself, although “shortly” seems to mean “two weeks”. But anyway, Doctor Who has won yet another award.

Given Wikipedia needs an entire article to list its victories, it’s no surprise it’s been given something else. Awards are becoming so common for the show that one can now only feel less impressed every time it does so, especially as it seems the BBC don’t appear to feel this way. And why should they? If Doctor Who wins an award, it deserves announcing. It is, after all, their flagship show, and it’s only right to inform the fans when it’s honoured by an organisation, even if nobody’s heard of this one. It’s slowly becoming the case that nobody cares what award the show wins, just if it wins one.

And from a previous post, regarding the announcement of a world tour, it’s important to publicise the show as much as possible. The Day Of The Doctor won the British Academy of Television’s Radio Times Audience Award (not really very prestigious, but that’s the opposite of the point being made here), as well as a Guinness World Record for Largest Ever Simulcast of a TV Drama (it should be “Widest” Ever, but it’s not). And so if an award is won now, the BBC may as well mention it just to add to the kudos they’ve already achieved. But such is the price of success.

The award in question is a Banff World Media Festival’s 2014 Rockie Award for Best Science Fiction And Action, plus Best Scripted.

Interestingly, the press release barely goes into any detail. Everything I just told you there was spread across three sentences, and the rest of the article reminded everybody of the previous recent awards it’s won from BAFTA and Guinness. Which only proves that there’s not really much to say, but they want to say it for the publicity and figure nobody will mind if that’s not even the main focus of the article – if you’re wondering what is, it’s the show’s continued existence.

But never-mind that. Now that I’ve already said why such posts as these are released by the BBC, and that I’ve already acknowledged its lack of new information, what information we have been given is still interesting. First, the Banff World Media Festival. Honestly? Never heard of it. But that’s not important. Nobody’s supposed to care who’s given the award, just that it’s been given. It sounds important, since it’s comprised of media journalists and has “world” in the name. Is it some sort of lesser-known global academy awards? Let’s say yes for now. Second, the “Rockie Award”. One of my problems with the show’s official website is that it’s a publicity machine. But that we know. I’ve already ranted about that enough in this post. But if there’s another reason for me thinking it, I’m going to mention it. And there is. And it is thus: it tells you nothing. After getting the most basic of information out of the way, it begins to monologue about its previous greats, rather than telling the reader anything else about what they’ve already said. We get it, it’s won other awards before now, tell me about this one. The problem is that awards are so meaningless now that they don’t really have a good reason to give much information about it, but if that’s what they think, why bother mentioning it at all? Oh, yeah, the kudos. Sorry.

So given that they don’t explain what the Banff World Media Festival or the Rockie Award is, at least the awards given still make perfect sense… except they don’t! They also tell us nothing. For example, “Best Science Fiction and Action”. What’s that, then? I mean, obviously, sci-fi is pretty flaming obvious given the show’s of that genre. But action? I’d hardly call it that. It’s a bit action-y at times. The Doctor hanging from the TARDIS, suspended by a helicopter is action, I guess, but nothing else really springs to mind. But still! It won the award, so let’s not argue.

Then there’s the other one: Best Scripted. Since the press release didn’t specify whether a specific episode or writer had won that or just the show itself, it’s a bit difficult to judge.The Day Of The Doctor may have the best script of any episode, yes. Steven Moffat may have written some of the New Series’ best episodes (albeit none as Head Writer). And if it were that episode that were nominated, then I can understand why it would win. But the show on a whole? i don’t know when the nomination window is, but assuming it’s any-time between this year’s festival and the last one, only that and The Time Of The Doctor would be nominated. And well, the latter had a pretty weak script if I’m honest. And if it means anything from last year… maybe even more so. The Rings Of Akhaten is my personal Worst Episode, although the general consensus seems to be that belongs to The Twin Dilemma. Then there’s The Crimson Horror and Hide. While I liked The Bells Of Saint John a bit, it seemed on the whole too “live in the moment-y” and didn’t manage to be anything good in the context of itself. There’s Cold War, which is underrated and is an example of an episode that isn’t bad being considered bad anyway for not being particularly good. Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS, which is an atrocity in itself and Nightmare In Silver, while having dark moments, was an embarrassment to the Cybermen as it did entirely the opposite that it had been advertised as doing: making them scary. Did it? No. If anything, it made them into teddy bears. Oh, the rant I haven’t written yet! Trust me, if I ever decide to post a rant about that episode, you’ll know about it. There is of course The Name Of The Doctor but that’s like every other Moffatsode (I, too, am a fan of making fake words) in that it doesn’t manage to be anything inside its own story. It only becomes better with the assistance of further narrative.

But I’m not going to argue. I mustn’t do that. While it’s hard to believe, I’m not bitter. If those people thought Doctor Who is this year’s best-scripted action/sci-fi, I’m not going to take that away from them. There’s nothing better than liking something, and I never criticise someone for doing it. And, hey – it’s another award. And awards are good, right? I’m sure BBC Cymru|Wales will have a room entirely for Doctor Who‘s awards over the years, and if so, they’ll almost definitely be adding this one to the cabinet. I just wonder if they’ll be able to see it over all the others…

 

Regarding Legacy

2ckqq0je0az1000

One aspect of the Doctor Who fan-base is the fact that I will always have an incomplete experience of it. I’ll never be able to have read every comic, novel or magazine article. I’ll never hear every Big Finish production or audio reconstruction. I’ll never own every collectible and I’ll never be familiar with every possible thing.

There’s an app, Doctor Who: Legacy, and it’s critically acclaimed. The Guardian named it one of the 50 best iOS and Android games of 2013, while Digital Spy called it  “one of the more moral free-to-play games when it comes to how it treats its players”. And that’s where I come into things. As a fan, I’m one of the potential players. I have an in-depth knowledge of every Doctor and companion, and the idea of building up my perfect team in a free-to-play game is a dream come true. Minecraft developer Markus Persson called FTP a “con”, which it mostly does seem to be. Facebook is free to use, and that’s filled with ads, since any free service will always mean its users are the product that are instead being advertised to investors, rather than the other way around. But based on DS’ review, Doctor Who: Legacy sounds like one of the more decent examples of free gaming. And trust me, I’m a sucker for free gaming. I change my MC skin every month to resemble one of the Doctors, and I’m a regular on the Doctor Who Online server.

But I don’t actually know anything about Legacy. I’ve seen its trailers on YouTube, but nothing seems to give any information about its features other than assembling a team of characters such as James Cordon to battle monsters such as Peg Dolls. But I don’t care, I’ve always wanted to be able to give a go, but I don’t have iOS or Android.

2cu7j0je0az1000

But what’s this? A very exciting slice of information at the conclusion of a new announcement. It seems portrait costumes are being offered, not something I really care about as much as I could, but that article claims “A Facebook browser version is coming later this month”. Between browser gaming and app gaming, I’ll always prefer browsers, just ’cause. Since reviews claim the game will satisfy all fans, rather than being an advertising space, it makes perfect sense that it’s becoming accessible in a third way. Soon, I’ll be able to play as well, and join in the fun in a way that suits me. It sounds like the critics are right, and I want in. And I’ll soon be able to do so.

Soon, I’ll no longer be mystified by what it is and why it’s so successful. Soon, I’ll be blogging about why I love it so much and I expect it will become another obsession entirely on its own. I can’t wait to play.

Doctor Who “World Tour” announced

2cuc20je0az1000

I’ve always said Doctor Who is television’s rock star, and I’m not the only one. It’s lasted longer than any other sci-fi series, its last episode was watched by eleven million viewers, and waiting for a new season is like waiting for a new album, with episode shoots being music videos and the ever-changing line-up being easily comparable with a certain other band.

The world tour is the final confirmation, and the only one we need. For it to be loved in so many areas of the world (The Day Of The Doctor was transmitted in 98 countries), it makes a lot of marketing sense. And it seems like the natural development of Steven Moffat’s showrunner-ship. Before Series 5 began, The Eleventh Hour toured Matt Smith and Karen Gillan’s old schools. Before Series 6, The Impossible Astronaut was marketed in the United States and publicity was heavy on the newly-created BBC America (who’ll now transmit episode one on the same day as its UK premiere). So Series 8 being advertised around the world is completely expected. For someone who started Internet blogging at the birth of the Eleventh, I feel like the fan of an underground band suddenly getting a lot of attention from a lot of places.

They’re striking while the iron’s hot. With the last episodes getting unusually high ratings, and the world’s last exposure to the show being anticipated worldwide, this is the perfect time to promote a new season. There’s a pre-established actor for a start, and the show’s now been around long enough for potential audiences to take it seriously.

 

Which makes the guest list of particular note. Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Moffat. The two regulars, and the showrunner. Where’s the new producer? Where’s the new actors? While Moffat and Coleman have been present in the show already, for a tour advertising the newest season, we’re only really getting one example of a new “feature”, and that’s Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor. What about Samuel Anderson? He won’t be able to answer any questions about his character, Danny Pink,’s role in the season – that goes without saying – but there’ll be an increased awareness for him if he were to attend.

I can only assume it’s a scheduling thing. Or that there’s a specific plan for what’s being promoted. Or that the organisers intend for the attention to be specifically focused on those three elements for a different reason. Given that there’s to be reports and updates regularly published, I assume we’ll find-out in time.

But I still want to go. I’ve never made it to Comic Con, and didn’t get to the Doctor Who Celebration. I’ve been to the Exhibition and Experience, but that’s it. I don’t want to miss out where I could hit in, and the show touring doesn’t really give me an excuse not to go, especially as it’s coming to London, and I’ve already been there. It’s not as if it’s a place I’ve never been before.

From the 7th to the 12th, the world tour will take the show to Cardiff, London, Seoul, Sydney, New York, Mexico City and Rio de Janerio. In an event spanning such a wide area over an almost two-week period, I’ll need a pretty good reason not to go to the one nearest to me at a time I know I’ll be available.

For once, this time, I’m actually going to make the effort to attend an event. This is, after all, the promotional tour to the season I’m anticipating the most, after Series 6 and Series 5. What I’m being offered is the chance to at least see Peter Capaldi, and I do not intend to let that pass. I’m told Steven Moffat won’t be there for every day due to production commitments, but if anybody has a problem with that, I say: he can either be on yet another tour, or he can spend time working on the show you’re here to celebrate. With that thought, I almost hope he won’t be there so I can be sure he’ll be working on the show.

The tour’s been described as a fan/press event – an event for fans to engage with the trio, and for press to ask questions. Which I’m going to interpret as meaning it’s a mix of the professional and the casual; interviews with cast and crew from qualified media journalists, as well as the opportunity to observe how beloved Doctor Who truly is as fans show that devotion through whatever means the tour will give. I imagine we’ll also be able to ask questions of our own (e.g.: “We all know Danny Pink’s The Master, right?” “Is Charles Dance The Master?” “Is the finale’s villain The Master?”).

 

Personally, I can’t wait. Since this is both a follow-up tour to the biggest year for the best show on television, and its biggest publicity tour anyway, we’ll be able to prove just how much we appreciate it, and why it would be a mistake not to take it into your own heart. It’s coming to one our your continents – so fly, my pretties! Show your local conglomerates how much you love this show! Prove it to them! Make us all proud! Find your way to the nearest venue and join in the sum total of the growing fan-base. Make this the best tour the show’s even had, and give them a reason to keep making it. Don’t miss-out on this opportunity to become one with the fans. All of us have a responsibility to attend our nearest destination. If you’re a fan, you have no reason not to go.

p020pzkv

 

I’m starting to get all preachy, but you get the picture.

Titan Comics release two Doctor Who comic book trailers

On 16th May, the Doctor Who YouTube channel premiered the trailers for Titan Comics’ new Doctor Who comic book lines, The Tenth Doctor and The Eleventh Doctor.

Which was odd at the time, since comic book trailers aren’t a thing I’ve ever seen before. And the first thing that I noticed about these trailers is that they seem to be made on iMovie, with composite images made from publicity shots to create new material overlaid with fast, close-up zooms of the covers and information about them flashing on-screen in the most “iMovie”-ish way I can think of.

10D_01_Cover_A_RGB_PREVIEWS_WEB_BC.jpg.size-600

And yet, I don’t mind. Because that still spurred my interest in the new lines. I’ve never been committed to any original comic book series before and mostly read graphic novels or anything I can pick-up on FCBD. The last one I must have read is Future’s End #1. But I’ve never subscribed myself to an ongoing publication.

Even though I’m not really a fan of the artwork in every shot, and feel quite skeptical about the new companions that have been introduced, what these trailers managed to do is make me interested in the most important thing – the story. The focus of these trailers is the new adventures, and horizons and possibilities, which is exactly what this Universe is about. Creating a new comic book line will allow new writers to tell their own stories in a medium that couldn’t resemble an episode more closely without being an episode. Plus, the new companions, Gabrielle Gonzalez and Alice Obiefune are new. That’s the point. Stories are character-driven and by creating new characters for a new line of stories, an entirely new dynamic is created that will make sure Titan Comics’ continuity feels and is different to BBC Cymru Wales’ as well as being an incentive – had Rose Tyler, Martha Jones, Donna Noble, Amelia Pond, Rory Williams or Clara Oswald been seen, I might not have been as enthusiastic, because that make them feel like unproduced episodes. But the way this has been approached creates the impression that this is taking place between hidden seasons, because they effectively are. Inserting Gonzalez and Obiefune into continuity means the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors can probably remember both of them.

 

11D_01_Cover_A_RGB_PREVIEWS_BC.jpg.size-600Which is a real testament to the way the Doctor Who universe works. Even when one Doctor has been and gone, we can still tell stories about them, and widen our understanding of the character as one. Now, the Eleventh Doctor retired not out of losing the Ponds, but from losing many potential friends. We give him new memories by adding new elements into his past, and we ourselves get new memories. Now, when watching The Snowmen, I’ll know more about his choice to resign than I did before.

And this is only one example. BBC Books, Big Finish and many others, even Doctor Who Magazine do the same. The possibilities really are endless, as we can tell stories from any point in his life we choose. Who knows… maybe these two new characters will also get a mention in the television show one day…