The BBC released the first full length trailer for Series 8 of Doctor Who yesterday during the World Cup. Previous glimpses of series 8 have merely whet the appetite with the viewing public. We saw Peter Capaldi in silhouette. We saw the TARDIS control room exploding. We heard a Dalek-like voice, possibly Davros. Now we get more, a full bite of what Series 8 will be about. At a full sixty seconds, here at last are details: a Dalek eye stalk, a Tyrannosaurus Rex in Westminster, Madame Vastra saying “here we go again,” a stylized robot, the new Doctor asking Clara “Am I a good man?,” and Clara saying with a long pause “I don’t know.”
Check out the new trailer here after jump.
Talk around the Internet is about how the Capaldi Doctor will be a Dark Doctor or a Nasty Doctor, much along the lines of what was intended for Colin Baker. The character Malcolm Tucker that Capaldi played from 2007-2012 in The Thick Of It and In The Loop has been mentioned, a spin doctor and power player of a rather nasty sort. The Davros voice told us in the teaser trailer “I see into your soul, Doctor… I see beauty… divinity… hatred.” Here again in this trailer, we see more control room explosions and the lit Call Box windows of the TARDIS literally spinning into darkness.
Such talk may be overblown. A trailer is an outsized construction that is meant to toy with expectations. Yes, this will be an older and sterner Doctor. We get that — Peter Capaldi at age 56 is about as old as William Hartnell was when he originated the role in 1963, and Hartnell was the oldest actor to play the Doctor in the Classic Series. So the tone will be less dashing, young leading man who falls in love… and more mature anti-hero. The Classic Series has been here before. There have been more than a few of these darker, angst ridden moments in the past, even when the Doctor has been otherwise quite charming and approachable. It’s OK.
Looking at the trailer, I am reminded of an exchange between Tom Baker’s Doctor and Elisabeth Sladen’s Sarah Jane Smith at the start of the Pyramids of Mars. Sarah has found one of Victoria Waterfield’s 19th century dresses in TARDIS stores. The Doctor, seemingly preoccupied, merely says “Hello Vicky” and that “Victoria wore it” when they “traveled for a time.” That leads to Sarah Jane, full of mockery and light as air, having this exchange with a Doctor who is feeling more than a little full of himself:
SARAH: Well, as long as Albert didn’t wear it. Oh, come on, Doctor. That’s worth a smile, surely? What’s the matter? You should be glad to be going home.
DOCTOR: The Earth isn’t my home, Sarah. I’m a Time Lord.
SARAH: I know you’re a Time Lord.
DOCTOR: You don’t understand the implications. I’m not a human being. I walk in eternity.
SARAH: What’s that supposed to mean?
DOCTOR: It means I’ve lived for something like seven hundred and fifty years.
SARAH: Oh, you’ll soon be middle aged.
Now what exactly is the difference between there and what we see in trailer? A likely guess is that the biggest difference is time and experience. The Pyramids of Mars occurs after Sarah Jane and Baker’s Doctor have been traveling together for more than a full television season (and much of that also with Harry Sullivan.) When Capaldi’s Doctor asks “am I a good man?,” Clara’s answer is meant to highlight that the regeneration from the youngest actor playing the role to one of the oldest is going to fundamentally reorganize their relationship.
And if Steven Moffat is going to make the Doctor a little darker and more flawed, so what? Yes, when the Classic Series tried that with Colin Baker it was a disaster that led to shifting time slots, put the show on hiatus for most of a year, and sowed the seeds of the 1989 cancellation. It was 30 years ago, with a production team that was running on empty. Say what you will about Steven Moffat and what he’s done with the show, but he shows no signs of running out of ideas. Fans will find some of them to be infuriating. Some will be poorly executed. Yet he’s hit at the core of what is Doctor Who far more often than he’s missed so far… and there’s no reason right now to doubt that his record will continue that way.