Best of 2016 Awards: The Winners (Part 1)
Connor Johnston presents the first set of results from Doctor Who TV’s annual awards.
2016 proved to be a comparatively empty year for Whovians. Without any full Doctor Who series, half series or even a string of specials, the majority of the year was indeed spent in deprivation, with only one hour long special, “The Return of Doctor Mysterio,” airing at the very conclusion of the December. Attempting to relieve fans from their withdrawals, 2016 also saw the launch of Doctor Who’s third major spin-off in the form of “Class” on BBC3, which despite earning significantly promising acclaim from the majority of critics, struggled to circulate around the fan base due to its limited accessibility, poor advertisement and narrower target audience.
With the lowest amount of Doctor Who episodes since the show returned to our screens in 2005, naturally this year’s DWTV awards seem slightly more intimate than that of previous years. As we enter into the first round of results from the polls, it is important to note that despite having been given equal opportunity, there is a notable imbalance between votes for Doctor Who and Class, which (assuming there is a correlation between the participation numbers that DWTV’s initial ‘grade the episode’ polls recorded and these results) indicate that a contributing factor could have been that the audiences for both shows were not of equal proportions. As such, to allow these results to discuss the entire year’s worth of export more fairly, we’ll be including dedicated reactions to both the winner and runner-up for each category.
BEST PRE-TITLE SEQUENCE
Winner: You’re a Superhero! – Doctor Who “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”
As I stress every year, there can be no underestimating how important a pre-title sequence is for contributing to the audience’s reception of a story – given it is the episode’s first and only chance to not only sell the viewer on the premise of the individual episode, but also secure their excitement and enthusiasm for the next hour. Taking our first victory today is the only Doctor Who episode of the year, “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”, with the sequence “You’re a Superhero!” winning 52.56% of the vote.
There’s something inherently moving about watching the Doctor interact with children, and there really wasn’t a better way to rekindle the audience’s affection for the character as well as embrace the festive atmosphere of the special than to once again showcase this warming dynamic. Behind the success of the sequence is the on screen energy between Peter Capaldi and child actor Logan Hoffman, who bounce off each other with ease as the narrative sets in motion the circumstances that lead to Grant becoming the hero we meet throughout the episode.
Runner-Up: April Sings a Song for the Lost – Class “The Lost”
Continuing the tradition set up by its parent show, Class too used the strategy of pre-title sequences to gain the audiences intrigue and attention. Despite a number of strong attempts (“Nightvisiting” coming a close third), our Class representative in second place with 16.29% of the votes today belongs to the series finale – which I personally regard as one of the most moving and effective pre-title sequences in Doctor Who’s extended universe. Cataloguing the divisions asserted in the group from previous events, as well as asserting the unforgiving nature of the series with a death of a reoccurring character, the first sequence of “The Lost” throws the audience into the finale headfirst, without warning and with great effect. Set to a haunting musical piece we’ll discuss later, “April Sings a song for the Lost” earns every possible commendation and marks one of the the series’ most memorable and tangible moments.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Winner: Doctor Who “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”
Taking out our next award is once again “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” – this time for the episode’s achievements within the visual effects category, with 42.77% of the vote. Being such a broad category, there are a number of areas in which the episode’s excellence can be attributed to, including the realisation of the Shoal, the landscapes of New York and even the occasional use of editing to visually reflect the episode’s comic book roots. Most important however, was the work involved in bringing the wonder of a superhero into the world of Doctor Who; with the Ghost’s movements, transitions, action scenes and more specifically the flight scenes leaving audiences in utter awe.
Runner-Up: Class “The Metaphysical Engine or What Quill Did”
Representing Class in the Visual Effects department is “The Metaphysical Engine, or What Quill Did” coming in second place with 29.95% of votes. Set almost entirely out of our concept of reality, it is absolutely no surprise that Class’ penultimate episode claims praise today due to its captivating realisation of Arn Heaven, Lorr Hell, the first Quill Nest, the Cabinet of Souls and of course the effects of the Metaphysical Engine itself. Mention should also be made to the incredibly graphic and lifelike sequence in which the Arn is removed from Quill’s brain, which no doubt contributed greatly to its place on the poll today. Despite working with but a fraction of its parent show’s already constrained budget, I believe it is safe to say that across the entire season Class’ visual effects continued to impress, both meeting and possibly in some cases bettering the standard Doctor Who has maintained in recent years.
BEST MUSIC SCORE
Winner: Doctor Who “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”
Murray Gold’s versatility and ability is honoured again through his work on “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”, which clocks in yet another victory for the Christmas special with 51.85% of the vote. Steering away from the familiarity of known melodies and themes, the episode instead was filled with a host of new music styled specifically to reflect and contribute to the superhero theme of the story. From the triumphant and glory filled anthems that married seamlessly to the Ghost’s ego, the intimidating and menacing theme that accompanied the Shoal’s appearances and finally the melodramatic surge of romantic arrangements marking Grant and Lucy’s emotional discoveries – the score for “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” was as adaptable as it was impressive, earning every note of its victory today with ease.
Runner-Up: Class “The Lost”
As teased earlier, “The Lost” picks up its second runner up award tonight in the music department with 21.62% of the vote. Separating discussion of this result into two areas it is clear to see that contributing factors in “The Lost” ranking highly today is due to both the incidental score as well as the inclusion of a Class original song named after the episode and sung by one of the show’s characters, Tapping into both Sophie Hopkins’ talent and April’s passion for folk music, the track’s lyrics cast a striking relevance on the events of the episode that followed as well as effortlessly asserting the finale’s atmosphere. Blair Mowat’s instrumental score similarly impresses, particularly in the episode’s climax as the Cabinet of Souls is opened, aiding to build up one of the most defining moments of the series and single-handedly increasing demand for Class’ soundtrack to be officially released.
Winner: The Shoal – Doctor Who “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”
Making an unconnected, unexpected, unexplained and strangely unnoticed return for their second Christmas in a row are the Shoal, whose role in “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” earns them victory as 2016’s “Best Monster,” with 32.41% of the vote. Despite their inclusion in the Christmas Special feeling utterly replaceable and seemingly motivated by a want to reuse a cool visual effect on a larger scale, more than any other narrative value, 2016’s special expanded our knowledge of the aliens by introducing us to the actions and goals of the race in their move from planet-to-planet, taking over bodies of entire populations one by one. Formidable, manipulative and eerily artificial, it is no surprise that the Shoal’s more major appearance impressed enough to earn them this award today.
Runner-Up: The Shadow Kin – Class
In second place with 19.96% of votes we have Class’ only recurring monsters: the Shadow Kin, who faced the team in episodes “For Tonight We Might Die”, “Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart”, “Brave-ish Heart” and “The Lost”. Ness’ first major contribution to Who lore, the Shadow Kin proved to be fairly hit-and-miss throughout their appearances with their initial introduction being incredibly imposing, though slightly losing credibility as the audience continued to become more familiar with the alien race. By far one of the biggest points of appeal for the Shadow Kin as monsters were the power and maliciousness exhibited through the genocide of both the Quill and Rhodian races through their destruction of Rhodia. Despite stuttering slightly through Corakinus and April’s connection, something that remained constantly stressed was the Shadow Kin’s dominance against their enemies, ultimately requiring the use of one of the most powerful and immoral weapons in the known universe to prevent their invasion of Earth.
Winner: Dr Sim – Doctor Who “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”
With a fifth and final victory for “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” in today’s round of results, it is Dr Sim who takes out the award for Best Villain with 22.99% of the vote. Breaking through the hierarchy of the episode quite quickly, Dr Sim (aka the Shoal that occupies his body) remarkably managed to inject something original and new to the overused trope of an earth invasion – a plan that by its nature is intellectually impressive. Bombing a major city in order to use humanity’s panic and selfishness against itself by luring the world leaders into butcher shops disguised as safe havens is pure, unadulterated genius that elevated Dr Sim and the shoal from just your token bad guys to a villain the audience can legitimately feel threatened by. Also worth mentioning is Aleksandar Jovanovic’s menacing portrayal of the character, which no doubt contributed significantly to Sim’s victory today.
Runner-Up: Dorothea – Class
Without question, one of the most impressive exports from Class’ first season was Pooky Quesnel’s striking portrayal of Headmistress Dorothea, who claims the runner up position for 2016’s best villain with 21.11% of the vote. Ness’ script and Quesnel’s ability ensured that each and every appearance by Coal Hill’s new headmistress maintained the same level of mystery and malevolence that made the character such a success. Despite being but a pawn of a much larger body, it was Dorothea’s personal actions and initiative to mercilessly manipulate the team into impossible choices and force them to act according to her own wishes that ensured her authority over the series. One of the most powerful factors contributing to the character’s acclaim today is that throughout the entire series she truly believed that all she did was justified by her cause, which when married with a certain duality of appearing to want the best for the earth and the students under her ‘care’ often manipulated the audience too into being fooled to forgive and justify the unquestionable.
Will Class be able to overcome Doctor Who in any category? Find out tomorrow as we continue the results…