Big night for British sci-fi fans – and for fans across the world, too – last night as the BBC aired the latest trailer for the new series of Dr Who, which returns “at Easter”. I missed seeing it live because I was at work, but I caught up on it this morning, on YouTube and various fan sites, and it’s left me thinking, I have to say…
…but before I say any more about it, I really need to get something off my chest about the whole “Dr Who” thing.
I am a fan of the series, a huge fan, always have been (well, apart from those horrific Sylvester McCoy years, which, like many Who fans, I still shudder at the very thought of… WTF were they thinking?!?!?!?!?!) and always will be, and I’m not ashamed or embarrassed to admit that. Many people look down on Dr Who, dismissing it as a “kids programme”, or as “silly” or worse, and even make snide “grow up” comments to people like me who express an interest in or a passion for it. That really, really hacks me off, to be honest, because those people just don’t “get” that it’s simply meant to be entertaining and fun. It’s not for kids, its a family show, with monsters and romances and adventure and aliens and weird creatures and bizarre planets and more. What’s wrong with that?
People who don’t like it because it’s sci-fi generally don’t like ANY sci-fi; they seem to think that, at best, sci-fi shows are too light and fluffy and at worst it’s simply beneath them and their planet-sized intellectual brains. That may be the case, but why do they insist on being sniffy and snobby about it? Why can’t they just let the fans enjoy it and not bother them? I don’t “get” TOP GEAR, or cookery programmes, or property programmes, but I don’t rant and rave about it; I realise and accept that many people do “get” them, so fair enough, they can watch them.
Me? I like – no, I love – shows that take me to fantastic places with larger than life people, crazy storylines and adventure! I love Dr Who because of the relationship between the Doctor and his companion; I love it for its own history, which is actually quite epic and dark when you look into it; I love it for its writing, which is pure genius sometimes, (“Blink” is an absolute masterclass in dramatic writing, as is “The Girl in The Fireplace”, and anyone ‘into’ drama who is sniffy about sci-fi really should watch them, just to see how good TV sci-fi can be).
Most of all, I love Dr Who because it’s pure, unashamed fun. For pity’s sake, real life is often dark and wearying enough without having to watch it on TV, too. When I come back from work – and I work in a care home, so you can imagine that’s often chellenging, upsetting and very difficult – I like to kick off my boots, rip the ring pull off a can of Strongbow and plop myself down on the sofa and BE ENTERTAINED. I don’t want to think too much, or ponder the mysteries of life, or relationships, or politics; I want to forget about the real world for half an hour, or an hour, and Be Somewhere Else, you know? And Dr Who is perfect, absolutely perfect, for that.
I don’t know why sci-fi shows attract such hostility. No-one has a go at the fanatical and passionate viewers of “24”, or “The “Wire”, or “Coronation Street”, they’re somehow accepted. But say you’re a fan of Dr Who, or Star Trek and eyes roll, mouths twist into a smirk and the tittering and sneering begins. It’s a bit pathetic really. Each to their own, and all that…
So, if anyone’s tempted or moved to write a comment after this slagging off Dr Who, or me for being “into it”, then of course you’re free to, but seriously, save your time, I won’t care. Dr Who Isn’t For You, okay? Live with it. Move on. Go watch something else, and leave Dr Who – and Star Trek, and BSG, and Stargate, etc – to the people who find joy in them. Thanks! -)
Now, if you’re still reading then that means you’re either a) a Who fan, or b) a Who hater who is determined to write something nasty at the end of this post, so wants to read it all so you have lots of material to use. Fair enough. Here are my thoughts, for what they’re worth, on the new trailer.
First of all, it’s important to remember that it’s essentially a cinema-style trailer being shown on TV, so it looks and feels very different to the trailers we’re used to seeing. You also have to bear in mind that the trailer will be shown in 3D when it’s shown in the cinema (before the new Tim Burton “Alice In Wonderland” movie, I think?), so the screen is VERY busy, with lots of shrapnel and sparks flying about, and the Dr’s and Amy’s arms and legs flailing about in that old-style wooooo-poke-a-stick-out-of-the-screen way. I can’t wait to see it in 3D!
It might surprise many people, but there are no clips of forthcoming episodes, nothing like that. Instead it sets up the new series by showing the new (still feels a bit weird writing that!) Doctor and his new companion, Amy Pond, cartwheeling and spinning through the air as they tumble into a whirly-swirly vortex thingy, encountering several Season 5 alien “baddies” along the way. And yaaay! Look who’s back…
The creepy Weeping Angels from “Blink” are back! The Daleks are back too (tho I guess we all saw THAT coming; the idea of a Dr Who series without an appearance by our favourite metallic monsters is unthinkable!), and, right at the end, there’s an appearace by a lizard-like creature which must be a Silurian (not heard of them? Google it, you’ll see you’re in for a treat when they appear in S5!)
What about the series’ two main characters?
Well, even though it’s barely a minute long, the trailer really does, I think, flesh out their characters a bit more, especially when you mentally add it to the trailers released already. Matt Smith is clearly going to play the new Doctor as a very enthusiastic, very wide-eyed-with-wonder traveller. Which will be something of a relief, to be honest, afterthe last season of Who which saw David Tennant’s Doctor becoming progressively more and more worlds-weary and depressed and sad. Which was great, don’t get me wrong, I loved him and loved the drama and the pathos of following the tortured soul of Tennant’s Doctor towards his death and rebirth, but it was sooo dark and soooo sad at times that it threatened to overwhelm the underlying joy of the show. Matt Smith is going to make Dr Who – the series and the character – feel young again, I think.
Having said that, I am a bit concerned about his gurning.
Matt Smith twists his face into all kinds of strange shapes, which might just edge a toe over that line between “quirky” and “b****y annoying” if he’s not careful. Yes, Tennant gurned a bit, but not as much as Smith appears to like to do. Watching the trailers so far, and the regeneration scene at the end of S4, I couldn’t help thinking of a floppy-haired younger version of Jim Carey, who simply can’t resist contorting his face into bewildering and unnatural expressions. Hopefully this won’t be the norm for the new Doctor, and he’ll keep the gurning to a minimum. We’ll see.
I don’t think anymore that Matt Smith’s age is going to be a big deal, tho. In the new trailer he looks young, yes, but there’s definitely a darker side to him, a shadow residing inside him. So, while he is obviously going to be a very ‘keen’ Doctor, very energetic and delighted to be on his great adventure, I think we’ll see other sides to him too.
But this trailer, I think, is stolen by Karen Gillan, who plays the new companion, Amy Pond. She looks absolutely stunning in it. It’s a bit twee to say that the two of them make “a lovely couple on screen”, but it’s true, they do…
They’re both good looking kids (which has led to many fans raising concerns that the BBC is “youth-ifying” Who and going for the younger market. “Whollyoaks”? I hope not… naah, they’d be stupid to go too far down that route) and even in the trailer there’s a real chemistry between them, which bodes very well for the series to come.
The Dr Who fan forums are already going into meltdown over Karen Gillan’s looks, and her fanbase is already huge and growing. She could be as big a hit as Billie Piper was when she played Rose. (Personally I am much more of a Martha fan, but you knew that already!) In the trailer she looks great, and the Beeb are obviously going to exploit take advantage of her looks during the series. Pictures taken during the filming of the new series are already all over the net, and show why she’s going to be so popular with the series’ male viewers…
(Are police women’s skirts really that short in real life? Not here in Kendal, they”re not!) No getting away from it – she’s a tall, gorgeous, long-legged redhead, and she is going to dominate the new series until Matt Smith settles into the role, and will be worshipped and adored by a whole new generation of young Who fans (whose parents will be, let’s say, ‘quite surprised’ if they walk in on their kids while they Google for pictures of Karen, and see screengrabs of her wearing high heels, basques and stockings and suspenders in C4’s “The Kevin Bishop Show” – um, apparently; obviously I’VE never seen them…)
So, there you are, the new trailer is out, and now we wait for the actual series to appear on our screens. If ou haven’t seen it yet, here’s a link to it on YouTube…
I think we’re in for quite a ride…!