2012 – The Year That Was (Part 2)
John Hussey concludes his look back over the major news, rumours and developments of 2012.
Biggest Announcements & Events
The Writers for Series 7
One of the big developments across the year was the unveiling of Series 7’s writing team assembled by Moffat. As this progressed, fans got more and more excited about the series because of who was writing for it. At the end of the day, the story comes down to the person penning it down on paper. Whoever writes it will shape how it will turn out, in both story and style. Obviously, if a familiar writer joins the team, then you get an idea of what kind of story we will receive. For the first half, it was a straight forward assemble of great writers -- Moffat at the helm joined by returning team-members Toby Whithouse and Chris Chibnall. Chibnall got the extra bonus of writing two episodes along with the prequel story ‘Pond Life’. Some were wary over his return due to the mixed reviews of his previous work, but the end result was fairly good. Both his episodes were generally met with acclaim, although there were some nitpicks over the rushed ending of ‘’The Power of Three’. There weren’t any worries over Whithouse due to his track record of high quality storylines and content. Needless to say his ‘A Town Called Mercy’ became a cult-favourite to many.
As for the second half, we had the confirmation of Steve Thompson’s return, after a long stretching rumour throughout the year. His story is set to blow fans’ minds with a plot set entirely inside the TARDIS, with the Doctor and Clara journeying to its centre (with the title reflecting this plot quite literally). We had confirmation of Mark Gatiss writing two plots (I have no doubts about this because I love his work). Then we come to the arrival of Who newbie Neil Cross who is also writing two stories. And last but not least, the return of Neil Gaiman. After his first script, ‘The Doctor’s Wife’, I wanted his return although I never thought a hugely successful writer like Gaiman would ever have the time to come back for a second story and simply assumed his appearance as a one off. Boy, was I dead wrong!
What Will Happen to the Ponds?
The big worry of the year was, what will become of Amy and Rory? It had been promised throughout the year that the Ponds would be leaving in heartbreaking circumstances. When exactly they would leave was at first the big question, with hints saying that they would go early on, rather than stay for the full run of Series 7. With this hint in place, all that remained was how. Once the Weeping Angels were placed into the picture, many theorised that time displacement would be the key to their demise. That theory turned out to correct, but one’s theory cannot quite prepare you for the actual event of their leaving. It was a day of tears (well at least it was for me).
Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock
Gaming fans this year (I guess that includes me) were more than delighted when it was announced that a Doctor Who video-game was being developed for the Playstation 3. It certainly created months and months of build-up, especially with the added delay of the first release and, later, the Vita and PC versions, but the wait was well worth it in my opinion. Sure the graphics weren’t the best they could be, and it was disappointing it was a side-scroller but at the end of the day we got to play as the Doctor and River Song. The story was well written and it was fun. You can’t ask for much more when it comes to Doctor Who. Also the ending does leave the player with a bit of a cliffhanger, so this could be a hint of future games. There were talks earlier on in the year stating it was going to be a series of games (with at least three in total). The first game had us pitted against the Cybermen, the Silurians, the Silence and the Daleks, but will future games have in store for us. Weeping Angels? Sontarans? Maybe even the return of Classic monsters like The Ice Warriors or Zygons?
Companion Tease: Building up to Jenna’s Arrival
Jenna-Louise Coleman has been a massive highlight of the year. This all started of course before her arrival, with the whole of fandom wondering who the new companion would be. All we knew at first was she would be arriving at Christmas 2012. But who was she? Where did she come from? And what would she be like? These were questions spinning around for months in our heads. Then the special day came when we discovered who would be playing the next companion; the young, perky and beautiful Miss JLC. Fairly unknown by some, although others may know her from past jobs such as Emmerdale and this year’s ITV mini-series ‘Titanic’, she had all the right attitude and spirit for the role, almost like Matt. Across the year we learnt more and more about her character along with her rumoured name and began to decode her characteristics. But then a spanner fell into the works when she made a massive surprise appearance in the opening episode, ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ as a completely different character, or so we thought. ‘The Snowmen’ gave us some intriguing revelations, but we won’t have all the answers until 2013.
Series 7 Casting and Overseas Filming
It is fair to say that Moffat, Skinner and the team have really gone big this year. And I mean big. The scale of their work this year is really shocking (and I mean that in a good way). Not only have they gone for the blockbuster-of-the-week theme, making each episode a mini-movie scaled story, they’ve also gone overseas filming mad. First it was announced that the Wild West episode, ‘A Town Called Mercy’, would be entirely filmed in Spain in the set where all the great Cowboy films of the past were produced such as ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’. While out there, the team used the nearby snowy mountains for scenes for the opening episode, ‘Asylum of the Daleks’, for the location of the Asylum’s surface. I thought the team had finished but they proved me wrong when it was announced they were filming overseas yet again, this time going over to shoot in New York City for the Ponds swansong. They certainly went ambitious this year.
If that wasn’t good enough, then the large and famous cast certainly is. Here is a list of some of the iconic stars Series 7 has attracted:
- Mark Williams
- David Bradley
- Richard E. Grant
- Sir Ian McKellen
- Warwick Davis
Cancelling of ‘The Adventure Games’
One of the grave shocks this year was the announcement that ‘The Adventure Games’ were being scrapped. The popular free downloadable PC games, which started back in 2010 with ‘City of the Daleks,’ was to be no more. The first series of games had players battle against the Paradigm, the Cybermen, the Vashta Nerada along with allowing them to enter the Doctor’s study and fly the TARDIS. A second series began last Bonfire Night with the addition of Rory Williams to the TARDIS crew in ‘The Gunpowder Plot’ which featured the return of The Rutons alongside The Sontarans. It seemed like another promising year filled with more adventures on the PC, but sadly it just wasn’t meant to be. Maybe one day the series will return. One can live in hope.
Return of the Cybermen
As the build-up to Series 7: Part 2 began to take place, we were given the biggest treat of them all; the return and redesign of The Cybermen. When we received those first images of the new Cybermen, I think most of us nearly fainted from shock and excitement. They look fantastic. Finally those overgrown tin-can machines with their annoying stomping feet were gone and a new breed of sleek, skeletal-like metal creatures took their place for Gaiman’s penultimate story.
New TARDIS and Title Sequence
Excitement continued to grow for the upcoming Christmas Special and the stories which are soon set to follow. I think over the last month we have been truly blessed with massive bombardments of grand-scaled news with the announcement of not only a new opening sequence and rearrangement of the theme, but also another complete redesign of the TARDIS console room. Excitement was certainly in the air.
National Television Awards 2012
Doctor Who did well this year at the National Television Awards with both Matt Smith and Karen Gillan winning in their respective categories ‘Best Male Drama Performance’ and ‘Best Female Drama Performance’. Unfortunately Doctor Who itself was unable to receive its reward in the category of ‘Best Drama’ due to sadly being beaten by ‘Downton Abbey’. Both John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness) and Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper) were runners up in Smith and Gillan’s categories for their talented acting skills on spin-off show ‘Torchwood’.
BAFTA TV Awards
Steven Moffat was honoured with a Special BAFTA Award for his “outstanding creative writing contribution to television.” The award was presented to him by none other than the Doctor and Sherlock aka Matt Smith and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Doctor Who scooped a prestigious Hugo award at this year’s event. Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ won the prize for ‘Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form’.
TV Choice Awards
Doctor Who won a single award at the 2012 TV Choice Awards. The show won ‘Best Family Drama’ once again, beating competition this year from Merlin, Waterloo Road and Glee.
Series 7, Mini-Episodes, Prequels and The Snowmen
Starting off the year with a nice gentle back-story on what the Ponds have been up to during the Doctor’s absence, Chris Chibnall wrote a five-part mini-episode which showcased the Doctor getting into trouble, the Ponds getting woken up by a future Doctor who claims everything is alright in the future after realising he’s in the wrong time zone, the Ponds momentarily getting their own servant in the form of a lost Ood and finally seeing the sad reaction of the Doctor as he doesn’t get an answer from the Ponds door after spending so long trying to reach them. It shaped up some of the events that were to come, i.e. the Ponds relationship going haywire.
Asylum of the Daleks, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, A Town Called Mercy, The Power of Three, The Angels Take Manhattan
Series 7: Part 1 was certainly a mad, blockbuster-filled mash-up of talent from Moffat, Chibnall and Whithouse. We had every single Dalek in existence locked up in an Asylum, we had an insane Space-Pirate committing genocide in order to claim his bounty, a Cyborg in Western times seeking revenge on his creator, Cubes invading modern-day Earth and of course the Weeping Angels trying to take not only Manhattan, but also the Ponds as well. The final days of the Ponds was fantastic to watch and it developed into a complicated and fresh relationship between companion and the Doctor, which all built up to their tear-dropping goodbye. Inventive and grand in scale; I’d say Doctor Who has never been higher.
The Great Detective, Vastra Investigates
With the return of Vastra, Jenny and Commander Strax, we witnessed their little gang had established a little investigation team within Victorian London. But on the other hand, the Doctor had lost hope in the universe and was skulking around with a vow to never get involved in saving the Earth ever again. The Doctor had fallen into a depth of despair and desperation due to the loss of his companions. Certainly an interesting development towards the new era of Matt and Moffat’s tenure.
This year’s Christmas Special had killer Snowmen and The Great Intelligence (voiced by the legendary Sir Ian McKellan) along with Richard E. Grant serving as the villains of the piece. We were finally introduced to new companion Clara, who just might have been the only one who could’ve lifted the Doctor’s spirits in time to save Earth from invasion.
Lost Heroes of the Whoniverse
The saddest point of this year has to go to the tragic deaths of both Caroline John (Liz Shaw, 1970) and Mary Tamm (Romana I, 1978-1979). It was a real shock to the fandom of Doctor Who. The list of Who legends passing away is steadily growing these past few years and it is always very, very sad. Only last year we lost the wonderful Elizabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith, 1973-2011) and the magnificent Nicholas Courtney (Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, 1968-2011). Two fine actresses passing away before their time to a terrible illness. My deepest respect goes out to their family and friends who have had to go through this difficult time. It’s not easy losing a love one. Although they both only played their respective roles for one season each, they have certainly left behind an impact that went straight to the hearts of every Whovian on the planet. Tamm as Romana, the original you might say, and John as Jon Pertwee’s original companion Liz Shaw. Two companions who were at all times brilliant and certainly got lots and lots of great character developments for both themselves and their friendship with their respective incarnations of the Mad Man with the Box. Rest in Peace. We will miss you forever and always.
Also I would like to add that we wish Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka, 1981-1984) the best of luck in battling against her own illness. Hopefully she’ll have gotten better over Christmas and was able to spend it with her family.
Overall, it has been an exciting year of Doctor Who. Sure the wait for the first half was long and cruel, but at the end of the day we have received quality stories and are promised even more spectacular events within the second half next year. It all looks bright for Doctor Who at the minute as it keeps rising higher than ever before and I don’t think Moffat intends for that new height to drop anytime soon.