When the official 50th anniversary story, featuring Matt Smith and David Tennant as the 11th and 10th Doctors, respectively, unspools on Nov. 23, time will be on everyone’s thoughts — not the timey-wimey explanation for what brought two incarnations of the Time Lord together, but rather much more technical aspect: running time of the episode.
Fans were understandably underwhelmed when early publicity material hinted at a 60-minute story; surely the 50th anniversary warranted some extra time — especially if it wasn’t going to be an “all surviving Doctors” extravaganza.
Show runner Steven Moffat remained content to drop thickly veiled hints and the length of tale he had penned for the occasion, and that only served to rile up fans who were beginning to feel taken advantage of. But Moffat has come clean at least — well, as “clean” as the notoriously fan-baiting executive producer can be. He told a writer for Entertainment Weekly:
“It’s a special episode. I think you could call it movie-length, yeah. I mean, I’m saying that with a slight hint of vagueness because I don’t know the finished running time. [Laughs] It’s certainly well over an hour.”
So… 61 minutes, then, and not one second less?
The (potentially) sticky point with Moffat’s response, as I see it, is that here in the USA, when you say “movie-length,” we tend to think “two hours,” and that may not be how Moffat sees the running time. In fact, I’m sure he doesn’t. I get the distinct feeling that the special will be less than 90 minutes — or he would have said so! “See the 90-minute special!”
Still significantly more than an hour, and that would definitely qualify as “movie-length,” but not what I’m hoping for. I want a story involving the 10th and 11th Doctors to have room to breathe. After all, there are Zygons afoot! And they’re not even the main baddies!
Moffat also tossed Whovians a bone by hinting at the dynamic between the two incarnations of the title character:
“Well, when you’re talking to yourself, there’s no filter! You don’t spare yourself! They’re quite a fun pairing, I would say. There’s a bit of the normal joshing of each other but they’re both such enthusiastic Doctors. While they might be sort of competing slightly, they’re both standing there saying, “Oh god, it’s so cool, there’s two of me!”
So, it’s very different. I think the other one that worked brilliantly was Jon Pertwee and Patrick Troughton. They were incredibly funny together. This is very different from that but it’s a sublime double act.”