The news has broken on casting for November’s Doctor Who anniversary special — in addition to John Hurt, the special will also guest star David Tennant and Billie Piper.
Fandom, naturally, is sharply divided.
There is wailing that there’s no Eccleston from the new series. Classic Doctor Who fans are wailing that the pre-new series Doctors aren’t represented. “Doctor Who is fifty years old! Why is the special limiting itself to the last ten?”
There is wailing that it’s Tennant. “We’ll be treated to hyperactive gurning!”
There is wailing that it’s Piper. “We’ll be inflicted with wubby dubby Wose!”
And I can’t entirely say that any of these wailings are wrong. My immediate reaction to the news this morning was, “Really? No, really? Really?”
You have to remember, I didn’t really want a multi-Doctor story for the anniversary. But if we had to have one, I wanted something that broke the mold.
That said, I’m not opposed to David Tennant and Billie Piper in the anniversary special. And if that’s all the kisses to the past that appear, I believe there will be a reason for it.
Tennant in the special doesn’t bother me.
First, in Steven Moffat’s four scripts for the tenth Doctor (five if you count “Time Crash”), he never wrote Tennant’s Doctor aS the hyperactive caricature of fan memory.
Second, in the anniversary special, Tennant wouldn’t be the lead Doctor, and he would have a new aspect of his character to play — how does he react to his future self? How does he react when he confronted by a situation when he’s not the smartest guy in the room? “Silence in the Library” actually gives us a clue; the tenth Doctor is stupidly thick when it comes to River Song.
Nor does Piper in the special bother me.
First, I don’t think Moffat will make the same mistake Russell T. Davies made in the fourth season where Davies thought that the emotional climax of the season rested with Rose, not Donna. I don’t expect that the climax of the Anniversary Special will revolve around Rose, basically.
Second, look at “The Girl in the Fireplace.” Moffat had no interest in writing the wubby dubby Wose. Hell, it’s even arguable that, based on “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances,” Moffat had no interest in writing for Rose at all.
Thus, I’m not expecting a tenth Doctor/Rose-centric story for the Anniversary Special. They will be in it. They will do things. But sixty minutes is not a lot of time, and he’ll have to keep the incumbent Doctor central.
Moffat’s not stupid. He knows that 2006 is not where the series is today, and the audience today doesn’t want to see a lost episode from that era to replace “Fear Her.”
No, let’s speculate on John Hurt.
Could he be Borusa? The Doctor’s father? A pre-Hartnell Doctor?
Or maybe he’s someone that the Doctor saved as a child from a [Insert Monster Here] in London 1963, and the Doctor has periodically checked in on the child as he grew into adulthood and old age. Though that might be too derivative of Paul Cornell’s short story, “The Hopes and Fears of All the Years,” a charming little story of the tenth Doctor and a boy named Tom.
Enough about the future! There’s new Doctor Who tonight. Let’s focus on that, and stop worrying about a special that’s still eight months away. :h2g2: