New Doctor, New Direction: Darker

pccostumeIt may not be surprising to learn that — at least initially — series eight of DOCTOR WHO is taking a decidedly darker turn; after all, the first two, template-setting episodes are being directed by Ben Wheatley, who is probably best known for the black-and-white horror film A Field in England.

However, the change in tone is not his fault; the darkness was always there, he insists, telling io9:

“DOCTOR WHO is pretty dark, I think. Generally it’s dark; it’s always been dark, even in the more modern ones. If you look at the Tom Baker stuff, it’s especially dark. When he leaves Leela — who’s a very beloved assistant — he just laughs after it. There’s none of the [breaking down and crying]. He just laughs, and “on to the next one,” you know. It’s a bonkers show. It’s a monster. To have a unity that runs eight years [of the new series]… it’s pretty crazy. They’ve done everything, they’ve tried all sorts of stuff. It seems to me the episodes that we’re doing now seem more like classic Who. We’re going back to that style.”

The new-to-WHO director says new star Peter Capaldi is completely onboard with taking the series in a new direction:

“With someone like Capaldi, he’s a massive WHO fan. He knows WHO inside-out, and everything he does is very, carefully planned and thought about. I remember when they first started talking to me about [directing], and I was very nervous for just those reasons. How do you shape this performance?

capaldidoc“But when I heard who was going to do it — when they told me it was Capaldi, [I thought] that’s not really a problem. He’s so good. I was relieved, pretty much. It would have been a very different situation if it had been another kind of Matt Smith character. A guy who you don’t know, molded from the start. But with Capaldi, you look at his career and you look at his performances they are all so brilliant, and all so different as well. It was a lucky break for me, I think that.”

Wheatley also explained how he landed the coveted gig:

“It was something I sought out. I got my agent to kind of badger them about doing it, because I was a fan as a kid. But also because my kid was a fan of the show and I wanted to make something that he could see, for a change. That was it. And it’s been very geeky indeed. Going into the TARDIS, I held the sonic screwdriver the other day, and that was a particular thrill. All sorts of stuff. Also stuff I can’t talk about, that’s been very, very exciting for me.”

I, for one, welcome a return to a darker era, perhaps going so far as the gothic Philip Hinchcliffe/Baker era mentioned above. It would be a stunning change of direction!

It’s hard to think about how far away the debut of series eight is, but we will get through the drought, my fellow Whovians. I promise!

2 thoughts on “New Doctor, New Direction: Darker

  1. I think Tennant brought a VERY dark side to Ten, but it was shifted easily between lightness and gaiety along with the shades of darkness. And let’s not forget Eccleston, who was also quite dark when he first re-appeared. Tom Baker, well, I never considered him dark, but he was most definitely extremely ALIEN (probably more so than any other Doctor). You know, the Time Lords were never known for their humor or emotions… why the Doctor has so much lightness and human emotion at times is somewhat of a mystery.


    • Tenant’s Doctor never struck me as particularly dark, so much as he had a capacity for deep melancholy. (I still haven’t recovered from him losing Rose…) And, toward the end of his tenure, the “Time Lord Triumphant” phase was a dark and scary place for him to go, but it was just a visit.

      Eccleston’s Nine was for me the loneliest incarnation; I really enjoyed the speeches Russell T Davies wrote for him about being the last of his species, but also so very attached to the universe overall. My favorite bit for Nine was during his very first episode:

      Doctor: “Do you know, like we were saying, about the earth revolving? It’s like when you’re a kid, the first time they tell you that the world is turning and you just can’t quite believe it ’cause everything looks like it’s standing still. I can feel it… [takes her hand] …the turn of the earth. The ground beneath our feet is spinning at 1,000 miles an hour. The entire planet is hurtling around the sun at 67,000 miles an hour. And I can feel it. We’re falling through space, you and me, clinging to the skin of this tiny little world. And, if we let go… [releases her hand]. That’s who I am. Now forget me, Rose Tyler. Go home.”

      And I cannot imagine any other Doctor than Eccleston delivering that speech.

      I credit the Doctor’s human half for his compassion and humor — traits sadly lacking in most other Time Lords.


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