The project: BBC’s Doctor Who
The panel: Matt Smith (the Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara), showrunner Steven Moffat, producer Marcus Wilson. Plus – from upcoming docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time, which depicts the making of Doctor Who’s first episodes: star David Bradley (William Hartnell, who played the first Doctor), writer/executive producer Mark Gatiss, who also writes for Doctor Who
Footage screened: Everyone obsessively counting down to the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special got exactly the footage they’ve been dying to see: Smith and David Tennant, together at last. The crowd went nuts when the fan-favorite 10th Doctor appeared onscreen, but the volume level went even higher in Hall H when the two Doctors appeared side-by-side. There are some amusing in-sync moments – like Tennant and Smith crossing their legs at the same time – and they face off with their respective sonic screwdrivers. Of course, the 10th Doctor has an opinion about the TARDIS’ updated interior: “Oh, you’ve redecorated,” he says brightly, then, face souring, “I don’t like it.” Fans also saw a few glimpses of Billie Piper as Rose and of at least one foe the Doctors will face in the special: Daleks!
Two additional treats for the audience: A charming trailer for An Adventure in Space and Time and the song-and-dance cold open of a Smith-featuring episode of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson – the Scottish-born talk show host moderated the panel, which closed with his ode to the show about “the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.”
Snap judgment: Hall H was electrified throughout the panel for the sci-fi series, which continues to find a growing audience stateside. Cosplayers depicting various incarnations of the Doctor and girls in TARDIS dresses were legion in the crowd, which was also was sprinkled with fans who raised their own sonic screwdrivers in the air to welcome the panelists. Ferguson’s energy and quippy comments only added to an already lively and delightful panel, which also served as a goodbye to Smith, who recently announced that he’s coming to the end of his time as the Doctor.
The big revelations: With the script for the Christmas special not yet complete, and the search for Smith’s replacement still ongoing, teases for what’s ahead were in short supply. Ferguson did ask Moffat that big question of who will play the 12th Doctor, but there’s no news to report in that department yet. So aside from the footage screened, the panel featured no details on the Christmas or anniversary specials – although Smith did pitch where he’d like to shoot his final episode: “I would like to go on record and say I really want to shoot the Christmas special in America,” he said. “Is this a maybe? Can I get a definitely maybe?” he said, turning to his producers. Alas, he didn’t get his definitely maybe, but perhaps Comic-Conners saw the beginning of the negotiation process for getting the Doctor back on American soil.
Thought-provoking insights about the Doctor from Moffat: The showrunner is a lifelong Doctor Who fan. He knows this character really well. So it’s a real treat anytime Moffat eloquently discusses what makes this guy tick. One observation: “The doctor should be mysterious. He hasn’t told you everything. He’s gone 50 years without introducing himself properly.” Also: “There’s only one Doctor. He has lots of different faces, but he’s always the same. He lives in the moment all the time. He never really looks back. He’s a creature of the moment, right now. As a time traveler, I suppose everything is happening to him at once anyway. The other thing is that I also think he’s different ages at once. He’s a child, he’s a stroppy teenager, he’s a middle-aged bore, he’s a grumpy old man – all at once, all those things at the same time. And the actor that has done that the best to date is Matt.”