Friday, May 10, 2013

And a Wreath of Gold: thoughts on the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who

This article title says it all, really: Is Enough Being Done for the 50th Special?

As far as we know,  the  "special" is one hour-long episode, filmed in 3D that will be aired on TV and released in some theaters for those who do not have 3D television.  David Tennant and Billie Piper's returns have been confirmed, as well as the character of Katie Steward, canon immigrant and daughter of the Brigadier.  Big Finish is producing a multi-doctor audio adventure called "Light at the End of the Tunnel;" there are also comics and short stories being written for all the Doctors, but I'm focusing on the TV events.
In my opinion, a fiftieth anniversary for a TV show should have certain aspects in common with a 50th wedding anniversary: looking back at favorite moments and setting the stage for new adventures.

In a perfect world, this would involve bringing back iconic characters from previous series--the Brig and Sarah Jane Smith immediately spring to mine as ones most fans, NuWho and Classic, have probably heard of, if not seen. Unfortunately, that is not an option. The Brig's death was mentioned in Wedding of River Song, and followed up on in Power of Three with the introduction of his daughter.  I am excited to see more of Katie and feel this is an appropriate way to celebrate the character and the actor's legacy. However, I'm not sure how I'd want them to reference Sarah Jane Smith.  Because the Sarah Jane Adventures'  primary audience was younger kids, the character did not die with the actor--the last episode ended with a montage of clips and the caption "and the adventure continues...forever."

On one hand, I really, really, want Sarah Jane's son Luke to come back. I was even (fruitlessly) pulling for him as the next companion for Eleven after the Ponds' departure.  His involvement would not only honor  Sarah Jane's long history in the show, but has more basis than Kate Stewart's sudden appearance--he actually appeared in Journey's End and Stolen Earth, so even those who haven't seen the Sarah Jane Adventures would have something to refer to. The problem is, it's pretty hard to involve him without risking a "Say, what's your mom up to?" In that case, we'd get either a glossed-over explanation, or they'd acknowledge Sarah Jane's death, as well as Elisabeth Sladen's. I don't want that--I'd be a mess again, and the Doctor wouldn't take it well either. If they did have the character die, I'd want it to be the focus of its' own episode, with all the Sarah Jane Adventures characters....who am I kidding, that'll never happen.

Likewise, I have mixed feelings about bringing back past Doctors. It can be done well--Time Crash was delightful--or can make a mess of the plot.  I'm not too concerned about them aging--just add some technobabble about time differentials, throw a lampshade over it  and move on with the story.  But having only Ten come back? Seriously, all the other living actors (except Eccleston) said they were available. If age was an issue, only use McGann. Or cast them in different roles with one or two quirks like the Doctor they played. And then Eleven could be like, "Everyone looks strangely familiar;" Big Finish used the same tactic in their 40th anniversary special Zagreus.

As for monsters, I think the Zygons are interesting and have a lot of potential, so I'm not too worried about that.  But I think I'd be more comfortable if we had more specials, instead of just the one.  I guess one way to explain my feelings is to look at the season four finale and the End of Time.  Both--especially the former--are the closest things to anniversary specials/reunions the new series has currently produced,  and they did a fair job of it.  I think some of the characters got the short shaft in the season finale, but the plot had a viable reason for them to end up together, and there were some good interactions between those who had not previously met.

And now for the highly controversial SPOILER of John Hurt's role:
Seriously, stop reading  if you don't want to be going crazy until November 23

So, you have surrendered your sanity?

The actor has said he plays a "part of the Doctor" in a  "kind of trinity" that involves David Tennant.  Some sources have extrapolated that Hurt will be an incarnation between McGann and Eccleston,  and this Doctor, not Eight, ended the Time War, but was forgotten afterwards.
WHATTTT! No. No no no. McGann is the mysterious Doctor, the one who we will never  really know. We do not need another Doctor in that position.  Not to mention how it would mess up the numbering of the NuWho Doctors--would Smith be Eleven or Twelve?, no no, it's too gimmicky.  I refuse to accept this rumor.

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