By Lorenzo Marchessi
PANEL REPORT #1:
Hundreds of people camped out overnight on the Comic-Con grounds where fans from around the world got it to see the cast and crew of the British fan sensation “Doctor Who!” Celebrating its 50th year in 2013, and having been a longtime fan of the series starting with Peter Davidson as the 5th Doctor in the 80‘s, then David Tenant as the 10th Doctor in 2006 and now up to Matt Smith as the 11th and current Doctor – the show is still clever, witty, funny and very original after five decades!
Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, lead writer/executive producer Steven Moffat, and executive producer Caroline Skinner were present in the 6,500 seat auditorium where the atmosphere was electric as moderator Chris Hardwick from ‘The Nerdist’ moderated the entire hour long event.
“If the world was a bit more like Comic-Con, it would be a better place,” said the Doctor Matt Smith said, “Don’t you agree?”. Referring to saying goodbye to the Ponds, “I couldn’t stop crying for two weeks,” said Karen Gillan, remembering when she learned that her character Amy Pond would be leaving. “I’ve made my best friends on this show,” she added. “I’m going to miss running down corridors from imaginary monsters.”
Producer Moffat said that writing the Ponds’ final episode was “genuinely, properly sad,” considering his real-life friendship with the actors. And Matt Smith lamented the loss of , “…his two favorite companions and how much these actors meant to me.”
Fans were shown footage of a sad moment between Amy and Rory, in tears that showed the two separated by the TARDIS door itself speaking as if it’s the last time they’ll be talking to each other. (This was an episode where Rory has to choose between saving one of TWO Amy’s – the present version and a future version!)
But as Chris Hardwick noted, “We say goodbye to people that we love, but we form new relationships with people too,” alluding to the appearance of a new companion played by Jenna-Louise Coleman which will be introduced in the upcoming 7th season.
Matt Smith spoke to the ephemeral nature of the series, “This show isn’t about us. The show is the star. Each week it can be anything. The heartbeat of the show is in the quality of writing. Just by where the Doctor and the companions take you every story – it’s always fresh and compelling!”
The writer/producer Caroline Skinner revealed that the show will be doing a Western-like story. They showed a quick clip of it for the audience, and it depicts the Doctor and the Ponds walking into a saloon and hysterically ordering tea. Definitely looking like a very funny ‘fish out of water’ story.
Finally asked to reveal something about the upcoming season, Moffat responded that there will be more Daleks than the fans have ever seen in one place and that the horrifying Weeping Angels will be back for sure. “I don’t think we’ve had a bigger variety of episodes than what we’ll be showing this season,” Moffat said. What is a Dalek? They look like a Salt’N’Pepper shaker – but their the deadliest creatures in the Universe and have been for almost 50 years!
Fans have more than just heartbreak to expect in the upcoming season of Who. Moffat revealed a new episode title that basically says everything we need to know: “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.” And he teased the first episode, “Asylum of the Daleks,” featuring “more Daleks than you’ve ever seen in one place.” Skinner, the new Executive Producer who cut her teeth with the 2011 Christmas special, says the season will be as “incredible as and epic as ever.”
The trio of stars all discussed their favorite costumes and Arthur Darvill’s was the Roman centurion suit (naturally); Gillan’s is the kissogram cop (obviously); and Smith’s is the tweed jacket, bow tie, and Fez – what else!
And like most office workers around the world, the cast has picked up items from their workplace and ‘mistakenly’ brought them home. (wink wink.) “We’ve all nicked various bits of the TARDIS,” said Darvill. Also they admitted tohaving annoying habits on the set; Smith called Gillan out for her nervous lip-picking, and Gillan went back at him for the weird noises he makes when he’s trying to “get into the zone,” before shooting. Darvill admitted he likes to stare at Gillan until she notices and then ‘freaks out’. All of the cast jumped in talking about how they love to make the new actors or guest stars feel uncomfortable by physically overly ‘touching’ them.
To end the panel, Moffat explained that putting dinosaurs on a spaceship was “the key to the show’s success.” Then the fans were allowed one last look at new footage that showed the Doctor picking up the Ponds and Rory’s dad and landing on a spaceship that had dinosaurs aboard and with the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti. (Special Surprise: A ginger haired Harry Potter veteran makes an appearance as Rory’s dad!)
When Matt Smith was asked about his craziest fan encounter, he said, “A woman in Wales who told me that I was the exact replica of her pet hedgehog.” Being a Time Lord, of course, means that Matt is subjected to endless travel jokes from random strangers. “If you ever meet me in an airport,” he said, “don’t say, ‘You didn’t’ bring your TARDIS then? It drives me mad!”
This was by far the best, most humorous and down-to-earth panel at Comic Con this year!