Comic-Con 2013: ‘Doctor Who’ Panel Report

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Late night TV host (and big time “Doctor Who” fan) Craig Ferguson was the moderator of this year’s annual “Doctor Who” panel in Hell Hall (Hall H) at Comic-Con International. Ferguson showed just how prepared he was when he made sure ahead of time that no one would boo David Bradley because of what his character, Walter Frey did on “Game of Thrones.”

And it worked! Bradley was widely cheered as he was introduced as the star of “An Adventure In Space and Time,” an upcoming BBC TV movie that dramatizes the creation of “Doctor Who.” Bradley will play William Hartnell, the first Doctor.

But the biggest cheers were reserved for the reigning Doctor, Matt Smith as he came out for his final Comic-Con panel in the iconic role. Joining Smith were his co-star, Jenna-Louise Coleman, showrunner Steven Moffat and writer/actor Mark Gatiss.

As expected, the first trailer for the “Doctor Who” 50th Anniversary Special was premiered as an exclusive for Comic-Con. However, Moffat told the crowd that if this trailer is leaked then there will be no more Comic-Con exclusive trailers from “Doctor Who” or “Sherlock” in the future. Similar warnings at the “Sherlock” panel were not heeded. Unfortunately, someone has probably already posted the trailer to Youtube.

The trailer itself was fantastic, as Smith’s Doctor seemed delighted to play off of David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor; who was equally enthusiastic about the team up. John Hurt’s mystery Doctor was also prominent during the footage that appeared to include the Daleks during the Time War, with Billie Piper as Rose Tyler in several scenes. And all three Doctors met during the closing seconds of the preview.

A recap video was also shown and fans in the audience were particularly saddened when Amy and Rory met their fate at the hands of the Weeping Angels. Afterwards, an exasperated Moffat said that they lived into their ‘80s and he asked “how much more merciful could I be?

The best joke of the panel came from Bradley, who said that invitations to weddings have dried up since “Game of Thrones” aired the Red Wedding episode. More seriously, Bradley recalled watching the first seasons of “Doctor Who” in the ‘60s when he was 20. He seemed honored to be stepping into Hartnell’s role as both the Doctor and the actor himself.

Gatiss said that he wanted to tell the origin of “Doctor Who” for a long time and “An Adventure In Space and Time” came about in part as a series of happy coincidences. The trailer for “An Adventure In Space and Time” was also screened and it was very impressively staged. Bradley had a few moments of pathos as Hartnell dealt with his apparent depression and as he tried to hang on to the role.

Back to “Doctor Who,” Smith pitched the idea of filming his final episode in America after being spurred on by a fan question. He also hopes that his final episode will be one of the best. Moffat said that he’s currently working on page 22 of Smith’s finale in the Christmas special, but he seemed to shoot down the idea of filming the episode in America.

The question of Captain Jack’s absence from the series was quickly brought up by a fan. And Moffat replied that Captain Jack’s return depends on the story. If they come up with a great way to bring him back then they will do it.

Ferguson touched upon the unresolved romantic feelings between the Doctor and his companions. Smith said that Tennant’s Doctor was more of a lady’s man while his Doctor was more awkward with women. Coleman shared her theory that the Eleventh Doctor is asexual, leading to howls of protest from the crowd.

Moffat and Coleman both agreed that Smith is one of the best Doctors because of his ability to be old and young at the same time while making it believable. On a humorous side note, Smith and Coleman revealed that they were driving around San Diego and rolling the windows down of their car to greet the cosplayers dressed as the Doctor and Clara. One “Doctor” didn’t recognize Smith until he was driving away, but the man’s girlfriend certainly did. Smith also added that the American “Doctor Who” fans are louder than their British counterparts.

When asked by a fan whom they would want to play on “Doctor Who,” Smith said The Master, Coleman said Strax and Moffat said The Doctor, but he acknowledged that his lack of acting ability makes it impossible. Gatiss said Jo Grant and Bradley shared his joy at getting a chance to play the first Doctor after having already guest starred on “Doctor Who” last season.

Quite frequently, fans came up to express their thanks and admiration for both the show and for Smith himself, who thanked the fans profusely and said that “Doctor Who” changed his life. Smith may soon be moving on, but he’ll always be the Doctor to the fans at Comic-Con and everywhere else around the world.

 

COMIC-CON 2013: Doctor Who Panel

 

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