Examining Series 8’s New Title Sequence
Guest contributor Andrew Gledhill-Carr analyses the new title sequence.
I’d like the first start out by congratulating Billy Hanshaw, a talented computer graphics designer who made this new title possible. If it wasn’t for his wonderful mind, we might well be stuck with series 7’s, quite frankly embarrassing entry to the list of Doctor Who title sequences.
To be honest, in my wait for Deep Breath, the thing I was most anticipating and dreading simultaneously were the changes to the titles. Would there be new ones (I prayed) at first, and how would they be different? I’ve spent a lot of time looking at other fan’s attempts to making title sequences over the years as I find it one of the most iconic and fascinating parts of the show. I’ll never forget the black and white camera feedback, the journey through stars in space, or the purple galaxy with the TARDIS at the centre, nor the ribbons of red and blue and the slow-motion show of the TARDIS changing course. Doctor Who title sequences are like no other. I eventually found my favourite fan-attempt a good eight months ago where I discovered Billy Hanshaw’s (Billydakiduk’s) wonderfully realized original concept, and I knew from that moment that HAD to be Peter’s title. What I didn’t know, was that it actually really was going to be.
So the new sequence, compared to its inspiration begins with a flurry of gold, Gallifreyian-themed cogs in a smoky, straight vortex. The sight is so bizarre what with the neon glows and dusty smoke, but is truly fun to watch. It has the right idea, that alien strangeness of Doctor Who, and it slightly emphasizes the aspects of time travel through the symbolism as gears of a clock. Immediately the sequence takes on a darker, more mysterious, more grungy demeanour and is all the better for it. The gears are beautifully rendered in 3D, more-so than the original sequence’s and that alleviates the first fear I had, that this new title would be a poor man’s attempt at Billy’s masterpiece.
Unfortunately the credits for Peter and Jenna do not appear at the same interval as the original, which is a shame, but it does not lose much potency because of it. The sequence then opens up into a world of timey-wimey madness, as a literal hole appears in the blackness and we fly through into a M.C Escher-esque eternal clock face. This is my favourite part as the TARDIS glides by very elegantly against the never-ending silver clock, as opposed to its wobbly, all-over-the-place behaviour we have been used to. I can totally imagine Twelve piloting that TARDIS!
So far, so AMAZING! It follows the original source extremely closely. (I only find it unfortunate that the theme tune’s iconic “Oo-ee-oo” does not play during this part as I feel it accompanies the moment very well.)
Now at this point I am just breath taken by the similarities and the differences, but the clock-vortex does something I wasn’t quite expecting. It unwinds! Gracefully like a ribbon in the most beautiful, Alice-in-Wonderland way. This is where it supersedes its source, providing a very interesting to watch experience. If the sequence wasn’t already Doctor Who enough here it might as well have the show’s title written on the clock. Absolute fun, nutty madness. And it gets better! Beyond and during the unwind we are treated to a tunnel of beautiful blue space clouds and…planets! Planets which whiz and wind their way around along an invisible path not unlike the winding clock, and by this point the new theme has really kicked in.
And finally the sequence comes to its final section by giving us a mixture of energy ribbons and the Gallifreyian neon symbols that we first encountered during the closing credits of The Day of the Doctor, giving us a final fly-by of the TARDIS (which is quite a bit better looking than series 7’s model.)
To be honest, I feel like this sequence is a course-correction from series 7. It takes the idea of a multiple-section intro but does it much better, giving us four, well-defined, magically-alien parts as opposed to throwing every random thing in our face. And it works extremely well. The colours follow a theme of blue, silver, black and gold which bounce off each other marvellously. The whole thing is just a treat to watch. Better CGI and a better concept. The fact that at one point you have a winding clock face, speeding through space where planets are rotating around in a vortex-like fashion is genius because it shows both sides of the show’s adventure bounds. Space and time. An Adventure in Space and Time. That was after-all the original mantra.
Now the theme tune is a very welcome rendition. I was never enamoured by the changes that were made for series five, six and seven. They always felt rather weak to me, and the counter-melody at the beginning always spoiled the tune as it conveyed a very different mood to what it should’ve. (Fan-fairy and overly happy as opposed to mysterious and alien.) But this new theme feels like what should have come after series 4. I’ll admit it is not the best version we’ve ever had, but it’s a darn good attempt! The beginning, to accompany the clock and gear focus of the new titles, features a rather fun and positive but totally mad, clunky, clocky beat. It’s very catchy after a few watches and is a lot stronger than the background bass beat of the last two themes. But I think the highlight is the new “oo-ee-oo”s. They are so…unique! Different to every version that has come before it. They convey a sense of alien madness. Very much “The Doctor’s” theme here.
By far this is the most electronic theme we’ve been treated to in the revived series and amazingly, it all still feels fresh. I am however on the fence as to whether it suits the Twelfth Doctor. It is very whimsical and it really does have a sense of madness to it, both it and the titles. And to be honest, from Deep Breath, Twelve does seem rather like a grumpy, mad old scientist, something I did not quite expect.
The theme is slightly different during the closing credits, and works very well to end the episode, along with a straight vortex that is different to the opening titles but along the same lines (much like series 1-4’s!) The only thing missing is that elusive middle eight section, which I am still hopeful for a return. But I suppose getting the title and the Doctor actor I wanted for series eight is good enough. Can’t have it all! More than I expected though.
But overall I couldn’t really ask for anymore. A new theme and title that I feel are a significant improvement upon the last iteration, which was designed by the mind of a fellow Whovian. Moffat and Russell really were not joking; the show IS made by the fans now! In every respect! Fan title, fan writer, fan Doctor. And I have never felt like the show was in a safer place.