Greetings and salutations, fellow Fridge Nukers! Bradfield here, reporting from the Christmas tree paddock outside of the Home Depot, in beautiful, scenic Downtown Irwindale…
New converts to Whovianism, here in the States at least, may be surprised to learn that the annual Doctor Who Christmas episode is bigger than any televised sporting event or Christmas movie. In the show’s home base of Great Britain, Doctor Who is practically synonymous with Christmas. And where Christmas episodes of average ongoing television programs are phoned in and relatively lifeless, Doctor Who always manages to deliver the same crazy stories and frantic action one expects from a more conventional episode – all wrapped in a Christmas sweater.
Daleks, Cybermen and Weeping Angels – Oh My!
For the second year in a row, the Christmas episode will mark the debut of a major character. Last year, we were introduced to The Doctor’s new companion – Clara Oswin Oswald, played by Jenna Coleman. In this year’s episode — titled The Time of the Doctor — while we will be saying, “farewell,” to the eleventh, and arguably most popular, Doctor, Matt Smith, we will see, for the first time (not counting a quick cutaway during November’s 50th Anniversary special), Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor…. well, unless you count John Hurt’s turn as the Lost Doctor in Day of the Doctor, which technically makes Capaldi the Thirteenth Doctor, but I’m trying to keep this simple.
[And for those who are new to the show, the reason there have been 12/13 Doctors since the show began in 1963 is that, in order to keep the show itself in mostly consistent production, after enough time in the role, the role is of The Doctor recast. The character regenerates a new body and personality.]
Though the trailer promises Smith will go out with a “bang” — quite literally — the show’s parent network on these shores, BBC America, is relatively tight-lipped about details for The Time of The Doctor:
“Orbiting a quiet backwater planet, the massed forces of the universe’s deadliest species gather, drawn to a mysterious message that echoes out to the stars. And amongst them – the Doctor. Rescuing Clara from a family Christmas dinner, the Time Lord and his best friend must learn what this enigmatic signal means for his own fate and that of the universe.”
And as you can see from the pictures and trailer, a virtual “Rogues Gallery” of The Doctors greatest adversaries will be on hand to make sure the transition is far from easy for both the outgoing Doctor, and the New Guy. In addition to the previously mentioned Daleks, Cybermen, and Weeping Angels, The Silence is briefly seen in the episode trailer. And who’s to say? With the Zygons now in contemporary continuity, and the words “universe’s deadliest species” in the description… We can hope, can’t we?
And A Bittersweet Goodbye
Have I mentioned that this is Matt Smith’s final episode? The fact that he is arguably the most popular Doctor to date is not lost on the network. To that end, prior to The Time of The Doctor, BBC Worldwide will be airing an hour long “thank you” and “farewell” to Smith, Doctor Who: Farewell to Matt Smith. It’s worth noting in that fans of Smith, regardless of the regeneration of The Doctor, are going to need a little closure. Without question, he is the Doctor who finally broke into the American market – a feat which no person in the role has really managed to do. There have been documentaries on all of the eleven Doctors. Farewell… is the first time an hour long special has been devoted to the departure of one actor.
According to BBC America: “[The] hour long retrospective documentary special [is] about Doctor Who series five, six and seven – “the Matt Smith Years.” This compelling documentary, narrated by Alex Kingston (Doctor Who’s River Song), features highlights from Smith’s run with interview footage from the man himself, his cast-mates, writers, producers, guest stars and celebrity Whovians.
So, once all the gifts have been opened, and all the hoopla has died down, it’s pretty safe to say that, especially this year, and just like the 50th Anniversary special, thousands upon thousands of American Whovians will be joining the International event. We here at Nuke the Fridge promise to keep you apprised of any new developments.
The Time of The Doctor airs on BBC America, Christmas Day at 9 p.m. Eastern time. It is preceded by Doctor Who: Farewell to Matt Smith at 8 p.m. The 50th Anniversary special, Day of the Doctor, is still available on BBC America OnDemand, as well as most of the BBC specials leading up to it.