Bleeding Cool showed you the new Doctor Who trailer earlier today. But that was just the half of the Doctor Who panel at San Diego. Peter Svensson writes;
Clips from future episodes were shown at the final day of Comic Con, giving glimpses of the second half of season six. Stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, writer Toby Whitehouse and producers Piers and Beth spoke about the show to a standing room only crowd, disappointing many who couldn’t make it to the panel due to gigantic lines.
Spoilers for upcoming episodes follow.
Karen was asked her opinion on the revelation that Alex Kingston as River Song is her daughter. “I love it. My mom is happy about being Alex Kingston’s grandmother!” said Gillan. She then elaborated that while Kingston knew of the secret from day one, the cast didn’t find out for some time. The initial cast reading of the script had a false ending, and only later did producer Steven Moffat give them the real script. Moffat’s tendency to give the cast and crew curveballs was mentioned on more than one occasion, with Beth mentioning that she had been told to prepare shooting in a desert in Utah before ever being told what the story of the episode would be. Toby Whitehouse mentioned that he knew about River’s identity months before anyone else did, as that information was crucial to a line in his next script, “The God Complex” will be airing as the eleventh episode of the season, or the
fourth of the second half.
The idea that Karen’s generation didn’t grow up on Who, but still knew of it was brought up. Gillan’s mother was a big fan, so she grew up with some knowledge of the show. Toby and Matt got to research the show by simply growing up and being devoted to it.
Whitehouse then spoke about what it took to write the monsters in Who. “Humanity. Sympathy.” He mentioned how the villain in “Vampires of Venice” had her own motives and in her way was benign. Whitehouse explained the idea that Doctor Who is an detective story with a new mystery each week, that the cast comes across a situation and resolves it without just killing things.
A selection of short clips from “The God Complex” were shown. Set in a modern day hotel, where a mysterious Minotaur-esque monster lurks. A man chants “Bring me death!” The Doctor says “I’m going to catch a monster.” We see the shadow of the monster. Rory being as much of a badass as possible while holding a mop. The Doctor is extremely frantic, screaming something about “The name is the last!” Amy and other woman barricading a door. The Doctor as a sad clown sitting on a bed. A man tied up to a chair, talking into a microphone. Elsewhere, the Doctor yanking out a cord, having heard enough.
The episode is themed on the classic Greek myth of the Labyrinth and the Minotaur.
Matt Smith joked that in regards to the whole “Astronaut killing the Doctor” plot left unresolved from the season premiere, they’d “Address it, I suppose.”
The new season will premiere on BBC America on the 27th of August. 9:00/8:00 Central. Matt Smith admitted he had no idea what that meant beyond the generic concept of time zones. “We have Greenwich mean time.” he joked.
The next clip, encompassing the entire season was shown. BBC America should have it up soon.
The hotel from God Complex. Amy and Rory on a motorcycle, 1940s vintage. Amy looking onto an alien garden. The Doctor dressed as Charlie Chaplin, in a Nazi building. Eyepatch. Weeping Angels. Silence. Marionettes. Robots with unfolding cybernetic faces. Cybermen holding the Doctor captive.”I’m going to die!” screams the Doctor, desperately. Voice over: “Something is wrong with time.” Hitler congratulates Amy, Rory and the Doctor for quite possibly saving his life. Cybermen with their heads exploding. The eyepatch woman. River with an eyepatch. The crew of a spaceship. Tardis flying threw a window. Viking-esque alien at a bar. A group of three aliens teleport into a warehouse. Rory punches out Hitler. The Doctor looking at an info screen that lists the time and place of his demise. Eyepatch woman telling the tale of how the Astronaut rose from the waters and killed the Timelord. The Doctor’s response “Haven’t you figured that out yet?”
More Daleks in upcoming season? That would be spoilers, said Matt Smith.
A fan asked if the success of the recent Who-themed album, Chameleon Circuit had impacted them. Smith didn’t know what it was, but knew the artist responsible and was very happy to hear of its success.
A Russian fan asked if the Tardis would land there, and what scares the cast? Gillan explained that Smith likes to hide in her trailer and scare her. The playful nature of filming in Cardiff was mentioned, leading the crowd to cheer at the mention of the city. Matt Smith commented “I love that Cardiff got a Woo-Hoo. You’ve never been.”
There are no plans that can be discussed for another Five Doctors-esque special. “I just heard Steven screaming from across the Atlantic.” said Piers. Beth responded that those were screams of ecstasy.
Only Moffat would know if the Doctor’s Daughter is coming back. Smith had to remind Gillan that she survived the episode. “And married the Doctor!”
Smith also wants to see a return of the Dreamlord, being a major fan of the actor who played him and wanting to delve into the concept that the Doctor has so much blood on his hands, so much tragedy and loss, that there’s a great darkness to the Doctor that he and Moffat hope to explore.
When Smith first entered the Tardis set, he was given a manual and consistently pilots the Tardis in the same way. He’s even taught Gillan how to do it. “The Tardis never gets boring.” said Smith.
Gillain’s favorite alien race from the show are the “Sisters of Plentitude. You know, the nurse cats?!” Smith responded with the Weeping Angels as his favorites.
The panelists were all asked who their favorite Doctor, besides Matt Smith was. Piers and Beth chose Tom Baker. Whitehouse couldn’t choose between Baker or Tennant. Gillain proudly chose Eccelston. Smith picked Troughton and Baker. The moderator noted that there was no love for Sylvester McCoy…
A little girl dressed as a weeping angel wondered if the Doctor would ever regenerate into a woman. Beth answered that while the idea is brought up whenever casting occurs, the casting is based on finding the right actor or actress more than anything else. She believes it’s possible. Piers posited the idea that River Song is very much a female Doctor.
Piers confirmed that in reality, Matt Smith is pretty much exactly the same as the Doctor, only less competent. “I’m nowhere near as cool as the Doctor” said Smith in agreement. Beth mentioned that after a few drinks, Moffat will say that “He just IS the Doctor!” in reference to how much Smith nails the role. And that as Moffat begins to tailor the role for the actor, the line between Smith and Doctor begins to blur. Piers pointed out that Smith was the first actor to play the Doctor to ever be nominated for a BAFTA award, which given how previous actors had defined the character so strongly was amazing.
Smith spoke about the audition process, and how he didn’t get a script until the day before. Upon hearing that David Tennant would be leaving the show, his mother asked him to audition. Piers said that it was the easiest casting decision he’s ever been involved with. Moffat sent an e-mail to the staff after the second round of auditions stating: “It’s him. It’s always been him.” Beth agreed, and said that casting Karen Gillan as Amy was almost as easy. The first batch of auditioners failed to impress Piers, but Beth knew that Gillan would be auditioning and told everyone to wait for her. And indeed, Moffat leaped up and down after the auditioners left the room, knowing that she was the one.
Toby Whitehouse doesn’t do scientific research for the show, because if he properly understood science he probably wouldn’t have to be a writer. For “The God Complex” he did study Greek Mythology for reasons that will become very apparent.
The Fez was a prank pulled on Moffat to try and get Smith to shut up about constantly asking for hats, by giving him the worst hat possible for the briefest amount of time. That it took off so well was a shock to all involved. Beth reminded everyone that Smith did design his costume, from tweed to bow-tie, and thus they probably should trust his judgment on these issues. Smith said that he’d hold her to that statement in the future.
In response to a question about why the Tardis makes that distinctive vhoomp-vhoomp noise, Piers acknowledged that so much of the show’s iconography is due to the crew of the first season back in the 1960s, a lot of proper, visionary people.
A fan asked why they keep on killing Rory. Gillan answered “He dies really well!” Smith elaborated that it’s okay as they keep on bringing him back.
Karen has been given yet another secret about future plots by Moffat, one that while Smith knows the topic of, he doesn’t know the specifics. Gillan gloated about the power she had over him. Smith explained that Moffat’s practice of having actors keep secrets helps with their acting, especially since so much of the Doctor is defined by his knowing the most in every situation.
Smith breaks tons of props, and an average of one Sonic Screwdriver a day, as well as a few chunks of the Tardis which need repairing after he’s done with them.
If the show could crossover with any other series, besides Torchwood (and presumably Sarah Jane Adventures or that new K-9 series), Matt Smith would like to see them meet up with True Blood. Gillan rabidly screamed out for Star Trek: the Next Generation. She spoke about recently meeting Brent Spiner who played Data, and how she gushed at meeting him. Smith joked about how last night, she did such gushing to his former castmate Wil Wheaton without realizing the implications of that. He also thought that a short cameo in Big Bang Theory would be
The question of River’s future sonic screwdriver from her first appearance was brought up. Smith answered that the Doctor is so upset that River even has one that he doesn’t even acknowledge it and writes it off as a poor imitation. The red setting on that version of the screwdriver, he joked, turns you into an orangutan.
If the show could get another guest writer ala Neil Gaiman, Matt Smith would like to see JJ Abrams or Edgar Wright. Karen would like Paul Cornell. Toby Whitehouse would like Roald Dahl, Beth couldn’t think of anything to match that, and Piers would like to have Russell T. Davies return.
Matt then took the time to congratulate the departing producers Beth and Piers for all their hard work, and got the crowd to give them a proper sendoff.
Peter S. Svensson is a Bleeding Cool Foreign Correspondent, currently embedded in Comic-Con.