As much fun as it’s been to concentrate almost exclusively on memes, videos and photos since the ‘Snowmen’ review I did at Christmas that just about burned me out, I think I need to get back to some serious writing for this blog. There are a number of things I’ve been mulling over, but it’s a question of tack. To go in and brazenly attack Moffat for the ‘First Question’ obsession is going to be my undoing, because either way I think he’s going to sidestep the issue (more on that later).
Anyway, I’m currently reading this.
As academic guides go it’s not bad – readable, accessible and fluidly written. There are some decent observations and a nice bit of forewarning by Paul Cornell, who writes in the foreword that “Works like this often get a rough ride from fandom…it still comes as a shock to me that an audience that’s meant to be ready to embrace the future and the alien, when encountering the everyday vocabulary of critical thought, sometimes doesn’t reach for the dictionary, but instead pillories the author for making them feel stupid”.
He’s absolutely right, and we’ll come back to that over the next few weeks, but that wasn’t the quote that stuck out for me. No, what stuck out was this one from Mr Moffat himself, speaking in 2008.
“Time travel is, I think, the magic element of Doctor Who…People witter on about going to other planets – but the magic of Doctor Who is that he travels in time. Travelling in space is just engineering, but travelling in time is witchcraft.
“There has been a tendency to regard his time travelling as just a delivery system…and I think that’s absolutely right and proper 99% of the time, to be honest. I think if you carried on doing tricksy things with time, all the time, then it would get tedious very fast. But now and then, I think it’s a good thing to exploit that…That, I think, is a fun idea – it’s oe that’s got to be rationed, but we could turn it up a bit. A bit more of that would be fun.”
Yes, but Steven, these days THAT’S ALL YOU EVER DO.
We’ve had several trailers for the new series that tell us comparatively little, but among other things we know the following:
1. The Doctor’s going to be facing creatures called the Spoonheads, who are leeching the Wifi signal.
2. The Ice Warriors have been redesigned, a bit.
3. Strax is back.
4. Clara Oswin takes centre stage.
5. “The Doctor’s greatest secret is under threat”.
I have no images of the Spoonheads as they’ll appear in the show, but this is pretty cool.
Here are my predictions.
1. The Spoonheads will be visually impressive but colossally forgettable in an episode that’s actually about solidifying the Doctor’s relationship with Clara, and while the kids will love them, there’ll be a lot of sneering on the Guardian TV blogs.
2. The Ice Warriors will be dreadful (because it’s a Gatiss episode, and because he has already used up any token goodwill he might have had by describing them as “iconic”).
3. There will be at least one potato gag, and it still won’t be funny.
4. Clara Oswin will turn out to be Susan Foreman, who will turn out to be Michael Foreman, who will turn out to be Michael Sheen, who will turn out to be Martin Sheen, who will turn out to be Martin Freeman, who will turn out to be Kevin Bacon (because eventually, everything leads back to Kevin Bacon).
5. We won’t get to find out the Doctor’s real name. Someone else will, but it’ll be whispered and inaudible to the audience, like Bill Murray’s last words at the end of Lost in Translation. How do I know this? First, because any such revelation would kill the show stone dead (no arguing about this, I’m right), and Moffat knows it. Secondly, because if you look at the press release, what he actually said was that “the Doctor’s greatest secret will at last be revealed”. Crucially, he didn’t say who to. (See my ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ review for another example of this garden path-leading.)
Anyway, stay tuned, gentle reader. Tomorrow – or the day after, depending on when I get round to writing it – I will be detailing exactly why you shouldn’t be listening to me at all…