Series 9 trailer impressions

I can’t breathe. This looks amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for a new series of Doctor Who. It all looks so epic, so momentous. 72 days is too long for me to wait! However, on the upside, it means I will probably finish these reviews of mine before Series 9 begins.

I’m sensing a distinct change in direction, a shift in mood. Everything looks darker, grittier, more grotesque. Watch the Series 5 trailer for comparison. Series 8 was definitely a grimmer change in tone from the Matt Smith era, but Series 9 looks like it’s going even further. I saw decaying hands groping out of the earth, a creepy withered old man with blackened eyes, what looked like a man in a Chinese hat with two faces, a green spectral apparition, a Zygon grabbing a young girl, the Doctor playing electric guitar(!), some sort of frightening giant insect-faced thingy, and Missy looking as devilishly sinister as ever. The aesthetic was decidedly dark and macabre. This show is no longer for children. Into darkness we go. Good. I think Doctor Who has been a children’s show for long enough; a radical change in direction like this is refreshing and exciting. We’re in the midst of one of Doctor Who’s periodic renewals, a time when the show reinvents itself and presents itself anew, as it always has, just as the Doctor himself periodically regenerates into a new man.

I think this is the tone and the feel Moffat had always intended for the Capaldi era. Series 8 can be seen as a “transition” between the tonally radically different Smith era and the Capaldi era proper: it moved in a darker, more adult direction to an extent, but also retained some of the tonal characteristics of the Smith era, as seen in Robot of Sherwood and In the Forest of the Night, and in the character drama involving Clara and her personal life. Series 9, at least from what I can divine from this trailer, seems to be totally leaving the Smith era behind and embarking in a bold new direction. And I like it. I’m really excited. I had always thought that, if I ever had the chance to be Doctor Who showrunner (in my dreams), I would make Doctor Who much like Series 9 looks to be: dark, gritty, eerie, and unsettling in its realism; emphatically not a children’s show, but, of course, a show that (mature) children could certainly enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adored the Matt Smith era. The Smith era was the era that made me into a fan of Doctor Who, and Eleven was my Doctor, but what Series 9 is looking to be is the Doctor Who I’ve always wanted to see. I never thought I’d get my wish because of the show’s hangups about appealing to a “family” audience, but here it is. I just hope it’s as amazing as my very high expectations imagine it’s going to be. If this trailer is anything to go by, I’m certainly being optimistic.

Maisie. We knew about Maisie’s involvement beforehand, but her appearance in this trailer adds a new dimension to her involvement. “You…” said the Doctor, failing to conceal his obvious astonishment. “What took you so long, old man?” Maisie replied stoically. We know that Maisie is in two consecutive episodes, The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived, not necessarily a two-parter, but it looks like the two episodes will form a linked narrative of sorts, or will be at least linked in some way. We know at least that the two episodes will be set in different time periods. That raises the obvious question, how is Maisie’s character in two different time periods? Does the Doctor’s “You…” just infer his surprise at seeing Maisie’s character for a second time in another time and place, or is there more? Given that this is a show about time travel, we could possibly make the hesitant prediction that Maisie is a time traveller, one whom the Doctor evidently knows… a Time Lady? Dare I say… Susan? I know that’s quite a leap to make from two lines, but I don’t think it’s that unreasonable to get my hopes up. Steven Moffat loves continuity references, after all, and the Susan issue had to be addressed at some point. Or maybe this is just Moffat trolling again, like he did with “I’m not Clara Oswald. Clara Oswald has never existed!” in the Death in Heaven teaser. Rule #2: Moffat is a troll (we all know what rule #1 is).

In any case, I can’t breathe for excitement. 19th September can’t come soon enough.

Resurrection of the Roundels?

Are we going to see a new TARDIS for series 9? Peter Capaldi has remarked that he would like to see the TARDIS interior renovated, noting his preference for the minimalist roundel designs of the TARDIS in Classic Who.

“Roundels. I like the old Sixties roundels. That was the coolest look and I think it’s also appropriate for the way this Doctor dresses,” Capaldi said.

“It’s got a sort of Edwardian look about it  – not the actual console – it’s the bits and pieces lying around. Cricket bats, maps and odds and ends and things. There’s a Jules Verne quality to it – I would like to make it more Bauhaus.”

Should the TARDIS undergo a retro makeover? Although I personally prefer the modern TARDISes to the old minimalist designs (Matt Smith’s original design was my favourite), I think going a bit retro could work. Rather than bring back Troughton’s TARDIS lock, stock and barrel, though, what might be a good idea is to combine the look of the roundel TARDIS with more modern elements. The console room should be large, giving the sense of space that the modern TARDIS does, with the classic roundels lining the walls. The TARDIS should also have all the raised platforms and stairways that the modern TARDIS does, emphasising the spacey-wacey-ness.

In the 50th Anniversary, John Hurt’s War Doctor was given a TARDIS that attempted to be a mix of old and new: it had the roundels and the enclosed, circular console room, but also the organic coral and the console of Eccleston’s and Tennant’s TARDIS. I didn’t think it worked, the coral next to the roundels and the metallic quality of the rest of the console room just looked incongruous to me. It might have worked better if they’d chosen some other way to mix old and new — the coral was a bad choice. It just goes to show these things need to be done tastefully, with thought and care.