The time has come, Whovians! As I write this we’re about 20 minutes away from the premiere of Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor. As we reported earlier this week, this special will introduce us to the actor next taking the mantle of the iconic Time Lord, and will feature interviews with executive producer Steven Moffat, Eleventh Doctor actor Matt Smith, and whoever the new guy is. Place your last-minute bets, people!
12:54 CST – I tune in early, BBC America is showing “The End of Time.” Apparently I’ll be kicking this thing off while sobbing uncontrollably.
12:59 – “Geronimo!”
1:02 – Here we go!
1:03 – A quick history lesson plays up the legacy. Doctors and companions, Daleks and Cybermen. The introducer greets the “citizens of the universe!” It’s hell getting a work visa in the universe.
1:06 – Fifth Doctor Peter Davison is on the stage! Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t know who the new guy is either, but they still take the time to ask him about it.
1:07 – Davison touches on one of the show’s funny coincidences: his daughter Georgia is married to former Tenth Doctor David Tennant, and she played the Doctor’s daughter in the episode called…well, “The Doctor’s Daughter.” It’s the sort of twisty lineage the Doctor himself would appreciate.
1:11 – We get a look back on Matt Smith’s tenure via a pre-packaged bit. He talks about the controversy of his age when he was cast. Smith says he always wanted to play up the physical comedy of the role (he’s the Kramer of Doctor Who), and points out that Steven Moffat wasn’t crazy about the bow tie at first. Bow ties/fezes/stetsons are cool.
1:14 – I was one of those skeptical about Smith at the beginning, but he’s won me over over the years, even when the show itself has stumbled a bit in recent seasons. Here’s hoping he gets a send-off half as epic as Tennant’s.
1:15 – “The next Doctor has entered the building!”
1:16 – They obviously had no idea it would survive this long back in the day, but the concept of regeneration really is a brilliant narrative hook. Talk about how much of a crazy idea it was the first time…would the audience stick around when their hero suddenly became somebody else?
1:18 – Good to see them spending some time exploring the show’s long legacy. This could easily have been focused just on the news guy. If you’re going to keep us in suspense, celebrating the Doctors who came before is a good way to do it.
1:20 – Wilf! Host lady mentions that he inadvertently killed Eleven, he jokingly threatens to leave. Wilf actor Bernard Cribbins apparently could have been the Doctor back in the day, but Tom Baker got the role instead. Also, dude was a paratrooper. #TeamWilf
1:24 – They keep twisting the screws of anticipation…by talking about how much everybody is anticipating this. Moffat reveals that he made a video tape of the new guy in order to try and win over the Powers That BeBC.
1:25 – Stephen Hawking wants a lady Doctor, with a dude companion.
1:26 – Moffat’s three words to describe the new Doctor: “Different. From. Matt.”
1:27 – It’s Peter Capaldi!
1:29 – Capaldi says he prepared for the role by playing scenes from earlier episodes. He was actually filming when he got — or rather missed — the call to tell him he got the role. When he called back, they greeted him with, “Hello, Doctor.”
1:31 – Capaldi previously appeared in Doctor Who in the episode “The Fires of Pompeii”…alongside Karen Gillan, who eventually went on to play the companion Amy Pond.
1:32 – Matt wishes Capaldi good luck and says the casting news made him really excited. “Good luck, man. It’s gonna be a thrill.”
All in all, a very solid choice. After casting such a young actor to play Eleven, it’ll be nice to hand the show off to an older gent for a while. And as Moffat said, he is a very different actor from Smith, so that should placate some of the more vocal “Matt Smith sux” crowd.