The Doctor has regenerated yet again. The first new episode of Doctor Who has already aired in Britain but come April 17th on BBC America, fans in the United States will get to see a brand new Doctor and Companion as played by Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, under the wing of the show’s new Executive Producer Steven Moffat.
Not many mediums allow for the type of flexibility to change characters at will like Doctor Who, with the exception perhaps being comic books. So it was only natural to talk with Smith, Gillan and Moffat about superheroes, Doctor Who comics and writer Neil Gaiman’s connection to the show when we spoke with them at the Paley Center in New York City.
The newly christened Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, wasn’t aware of IDW Publishing’s Doctor Who series but knew of others. “I saw my first version of the comic today that we do in England and it’s really exciting,” said Smith.
Author Tony Lee will be ending his David Tennant-portrayed Doctor run with the four-part “Final Sacrifice” from IDW and recently wrote that he’s “already planning out and pitching the ideas to IDW that will hopefully become the new ‘season’ of Eleventh Doctor episodes.”
Lee also said he’s hoping to kick things off with a Jack the Ripper story. When Smith learned of his possible American comic book debut he said, “That’s exciting. God, wow. I mean, comics are pretty cool aren’t they?”
Speaking of cool, becoming an action figure is one of the perks of starring on Doctor Who.
“I’ve seen a prototype!” said Gillan, who stars as Amy Pond in the show. “It is the most surreal thing ever because, you know, it’s a little miniature version of yourself. And it really looks like me, I was impressed.”
Smith has seen his finished version and thinks it’s "weird" but is still thrilled. “Also the toy sonic screwdriver as well, that’s kind of exciting,” he said.
Science Fiction characters share a lot of space on screen and in print with their close cousin the superhero. When the conversation turned to The Doctor's near-super-heroic nature, Steven Moffat was quick to answer when asked who his favorite hero was.
“Clark Kent. And I say Clark Kent because I just think the coolest idea in the world is that he disguises himself just with his glasses and that’s he’s mild-mannered and meek but he’s really Superman,” he said. “That really is the most fundamental thing about a superhero. You should be a wimp but you know that secretly, you’re brilliant. That’s roughly the story of my life, except for the brilliant part.”
Smith countered Moffat’s choice with Batman. “I’ve always loved him, you know? I guess it’s the darkness in him that I like. And I’ve just loved all those Batman movies,” he said, “The Tim Burton one [Batman Returns] with Christopher Walken is amazing and Michelle Pfeiffer, who was just so hot in it, and then the recent ones with Bale and Heath Ledger, who was amazing.”
Of course his decision was made with the exception that the Doctor always comes first, although the two characters have a lot in common. “There’s something about the darkness and the loneliness of the man that I guess I’m sort of in tune with I think.”
Gillan went for the simple and obvious choice. “Spider-Man,” she said, “Because he liked a girl with red hair.”
It had been rumored for a while, and finally confirmed just prior to the season premiere, that author Neil Gaiman (The Graveyard Book, Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader) is going to write an episode of Doctor Who, of which he is a huge fan.
“Now happily rewriting my episode to change it from being set at the end of this season to the beginning of the next,” Gaiman said earlier this month on his blog. “I think it'll be fun.”
Would Moffat leak any information?
“What can I tell you about Neil Gaiman’s script? Nothing! Are you insane?” he said, mentioning it would be on television and in color but finishing his sarcastic remarks with a genuine, “It’s very, very good.”
Look out for more Doctor Who coverage tomorrow on Newsarama!