Best of 2015 Awards: The Winners (Part 1)
Connor Johnston presents the first set of results from Doctor Who TV’s “Best of 2015” Polls.
Introduction to the Awards Season
Culminating in the adventurous and heavily emotive “The Husbands of River Song,” Peter Capaldi’s second series in the role aboard the TARDIS has been widely praised as one of the most impressive and fulfilling series of Doctor Who to date. In a year that showcased the beauty, danger and impossibility of the universe, we watched the Twelfth Doctor and Clara Oswald grow closer through a common love of adventure and a mutual care for each other – before fate decided that their journey together was to be no more. Joined by Michelle Gomez’s “Missy”, Maisie Williams’ “Ashildr”, Jemma Redgrave’s “Kate Stewart” and Ingrid Oliver’s “Osgood”; the series continued to set itself benchmarks of impossible height – never disappointing to thrill, excite and provoke.
On the war-torn fields of an unknown world, the Doctor met a young boy – lost, alone and helpless – whose future would be responsible for the destruction of worlds, enslavement of races and murder of millions. This was the moral dilemma that sat before the Doctor as he was tracked and taken to the lost planet of the Daleks, companion and Mistress in hand, to tend to a patient unlike any other. Following this, a further 12 episodes saw the return of Gallifrey and the death of a best friend – before the Doctor found safe haven with the woman he loved once more, embarking on one last night on Darillium. And so concluded Doctor Who’s 52nd year of television…
Now it’s time to begin revealing the results of DWTV’s annual awards celebrating the best of Doctor Who in the last twelve months as voted for by you. First up, the winners of the New Monster, Returning Monster, Best Villain and Scariest episode…
Best New Monster of 2015 – The Veil
In a series that sourced most of its darkness and horror from its themes and environments, it’s no secret that its dependency on new monster creations for drama and terror was less crucial than in most other series. Despite this however, Series 9 still saw the creation of some cracking monsters. While some, namely the Cloister Wraiths, the Mire and Leandro, were less developed given the lack of significance they held within their episodes, 2015 saw Colony Sarff, the Fisher King, underwater Ghosts, and of course the Quantum Shade emerge as remarkably threatening and sinister additions to Who lore. Though facing some strong competition, ultimately the victory has gone the way of “The Veil” who featured predominantly in “Heaven Sent” with 41.82% of the vote.
The Veil is a monster we’ll likely never see again, given how perfectly suited it was to the episode it appeared in. Manifested from the Doctor’s own nightmares, it was both the motivation of the monster to frighten the Doctor into confessing his darkest secrets, and the certainty that no matter how fast or far he ran the creature was constantly following, that was its strongest gambling points. Visually, the Veil was realised as an imposing figure whose presence no doubt served to disturb and intimidate anyone and everyone, either watching or experiencing its stalking presence. The Veil is both a creature and an idea that reeks of Steven Moffat’s ingenuity and creativity, ranking effortlessly among the Weeping Angels and the Silence as one of the most inventive and original concepts of his era.
Best Returning Monster of 2015 – The Zygons
At the forefront of Doctor Who’s success is its vast history, and more so the ability of modern episodes to feed off and reinvent its past to further its current success. Over the years the return of monsters from the past has seen races like the Cybermen, Ice Warriors, Silurians and Sontarans have their respected legacy’s endorsed and translated into new episodes with great success. This year, two of the most iconic and well-loved monster races were brought into the limelight, both receiving a multi-part story each to assert their dominance as live up to their reputations as some of the fiercest aliens of all time. On a rebuilt Skaro, the Daleks returned with a passion to impose a constant threat over the Doctor, Clara and Missy as Davros’ plan to exploit the Doctor’s weaknesses were carried out. However not even the most iconic monsters of all time could have posed a threat to “The Zygons” victory in today’s results – winning with a 69.82% majority of the vote.
“The Zygon Invasion” and “The Zygon Inversion” written by both Peter Harness and Steven Moffat, took the monsters in a direction that I had never expected and completely validated their presence with a script both that was heavy in both its themes and consequences. Initially, the rebel Zygons offered one of the most chilling and malicious interpretations of the aliens – whose evolved abilities not only extended narrative possibilities, but also increased their menace. However, it was not their role as villains, but almost as victims that offered the race such substance in this story. Through Bonnie, the Zygons gained a voice that added a certain level of perspective to the conflict – and consequentially made the two-parter one of the sincerest and weighted appearance of not only the Zygons – but of any alien race to date.
Best Villain of 2015 – Davros
Despite the stories themselves being quite unanimously successful and fulfilling in isolating discussion to focus on the villains of the series, a mixed bag emerges. On one hand we have both Michelle Gomez’s ‘Missy’, who returned in the opening story and impossibly improved upon her original appearances in Series 8 with 2 episodes full of hysterics, threat and glutinous entertainment, and Jenna Coleman’s ‘Bonnie’ who was fuelled by her beliefs and ideology to lead a Zygon revolution. On the other side of the spectrum we see both Odin and Donald Sumpter’s portrayal of Rassilon who fare severely less popularly due to their lack of prominence and influence in their respective stories, as well as Reece Shearsmith’s ‘Professor Rassmussen’ who provided a confident and unexpected adversary to the Doctor and Clara, but whose success is weighed down by the format and quality of the episode he leads. However, there can really only be name that has earned the praise associated with this award… and that name is Davros, with 44.67% of the vote.
Personally I’ve always been somewhat of a Davros sceptic when it comes to valuing his existence in the Whoniverse, but it is the depth of understanding that Julian Bleach brings to the role – the menace, the hatred and (dare I say it) the humanity he exhibits that truly immortalises this performance for me in this series. The sinister nature of his plan and the manipulative ways in which he gains the Doctor’s trust appear so sincere and genuine at first, that it’s no secret his act captured the gullibility of most audience members as well. It’s Davros’ lack of respect and reverence for the lives of all around him that forms the basis of his malicious personality, and similarly is the most impressive aspect of his role as a villain. With both “The Magician’s Apprentice” and “The Witch’s Familiar”, Steven Moffat and Bleach have injected such life and promise into a character I would have originally written off as having had his time on the show – and more than that convince one of the character’s biggest doubters of his potential and presence.
Scariest Episode of 2015 – “Heaven Sent”
Doctor Who has always prided itself on being the show children watch from behind the sofa, however as its loyal audience has begun to age it’s become increasingly difficult to ensure that said ‘scares’ will effect and appeal to a number of generations. This year it’s clear that no effort was spared in producing some of the darkest, most frightening and stirring storylines and visuals the show has ever seen. Specifically haunting was Moran’s stalking of Cass in “Before the Flood” which made for one of the most intense sequences of the episode, as well as the unsettling revelation of Rassmussen’s fate at the conclusion of “Sleep No More”. Other memorable scares include the realisation of the Ghosts in “Under the Lake”, the chilling motivations behind the Zygon’s revolution and of course the remarkably intimidating and layered presence of Leandro in “The Woman Who Lived” … *cough*. In all seriousness I’m sure many will applaud the well-deserved crowning of the Scariest Episode of 2015 to Steven Moffat’s “Heaven Sent” with 39.1% of the vote.
The horror of “Heaven Sent” works on two main levels. Firstly, the realisation of the Veil is as repulsively haunting as it gets – the the concept and unsettling nature of its reality in the way that no matter what on does or how much one tries to outrun it, it is always steadily following behind, is terrifying. Also working the in the episode’s favour is the psychological horrors associated with the Doctor’s experience. Being trapped in a setting created from your worst fears and constantly being coerced into confessing to your deepest and darkest secrets seems nightmarish enough, however when you factor in his realisation of being killed and burnt over and over again for such a great amount of time, the Doctor’s situation becomes unfathomable. “Heaven Sent” is yet another classic Moffat creation, banking on originality and ingenuity to deliver scares with such an incredible evaluation of life, death and conscience.
Join us again tomorrow for the next set of results.