First the bad news: the awesome-sounding 50th Anniversary Doctor Who trailer that was screened at Comic-Con last yesterday has not yet been posted/leaked to the Internet. That’s one of the biggest reasons to go to Comic-Con: even in this digital age, there’s still a bunch of stuff that you can only see there. And even if the footage does eventually get a larger release, it’s just not the same as being in the room with hundreds of other fans, all getting to see something new and amazing. For the meantime, we’ll just have to make do with a second-hand account, courtesy of the folks over at io9.
IF YOU WANT TO STAY SPOILER-FREE, STAY NORTH OF THE DOCTORS!
The trailer was screened for fans yesterday during the Doctor Who panel in Comic-Con’s massie Hall H. Given what we know about the special, there’s no surprise that one of the first things io9’s Charlie Jane Anders says about the trailer is that it has some very dark moments. While the rumors were stirring for weeks beforehand, the final moments of Who’s recent season finale confirmed what many already suspected: that John Hurt is playing a previously unknown incarnation of the Doctor, one Nine through Eleven– or possibly Ten through Twelve — seem to have gone to great lengths to forget about. Pitting two of the Doctors, Matt Smith as Eleven and David Tennant as Ten, against their earlier self is bound to be an epic showdown, and one that I’m betting won’t leave any of the Doctors without scars.
The trailer begins with Smith’s Doctor inside the TARDIS, delivering an appropriately foreboding voiceover: “I’ve had many faces. Many lives. I don’t admit to all of them. There’s one life I’ve tried very hard to forget.” That again confirms that Hurt is playing a past incarnation of the Doctor, rather than a future one, which jibes with both the end of the finale and recent comments by one of the show’s costume designers. I also note his specific wording: “I don’t admit to all of them.” That plural wording intrigues me: “I don’t admit to all of them.” Could that be hinting at other incarnations we don’t know about beyond just the Hurt character? Or is it just a figure of speech not intended to be taken literally?
Another big bullet point backs up what many fans have assumed from the moment Hurt’s character was revealed: the trailer serves up footage of Daleks and Time Lords in battle against each other. That’s pretty much got to be the Time War, right? It’s a segment of Doctor Who history that has been referenced over and over in the modern incarnation of the Doctor, and Christopher Eccleston’s run as the Ninth Doctor in particular showed the guilt and post-traumatic stress he carries around after the war. It would certainly make sense if most of that guilt stems directly from the actions of his previous incarnation.
The season finale had Hurt’s Doctor declaring, “What I did, I did without choice, in the name of peace and sanity.” In the new trailer, he says, “Great men are forged in fire.” In this case, it sounds like we’ll finally get to see the fire that made the Doctor the man we’ve known in his modern adventures. That being said, it makes me wish that Eccleston had agreed to participate. Given how the special is so focused on the history of the modern Doctors, it just feels wrong that Nine isn’t along for the ride as well.
The trailer isn’t all gloom and doom, however. io9 describes a couple of great moments featuring Smith and Tennant, and the interplay between them is the single thing I’m most excited to see in the anniversary episode. We’ll get to see both Doctors in their respective TARDISes (TARDii?), each delivering their respective enthusiastic catchphrase (that’s be “Allons-y!” for Tennant and “Geronimo!” for Smith). We’ll get to see them comparing sonic screwdrivers. We’ll get to see Tennant criticizing Smith’s TARDIS interior decorating skills, and there will be at least one fez (was there ever any doubt?).
There’s also a great moment where someone says, “I’m looking for the Doctor.” Cut to Hurt, Tennant, and Smith all lined up in a row, and then Smith replies, “Well, you’ve certainly come to the right place.”
We’ve still got a long wait until the anniversary episode airs on November 23rd. In the meantime, here’s a video of Matt Smith being sneaky and wandering the floor at Comic-Con disguised as Bart Simpson. I wonder if any GFR readers bumped into him… (Thanks to Mindy for the link!)