Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

If you happen to’re a fan of the face-changing, shape-shifting, time-traveling TV present referred to as Physician Who — and extra particularly, a fan of the 2006-2010 run during which David Tennant was the tenth actor to play the lead position — then Christmas got here early this 12 months. And on the identical time, in a really Who-ish, timey-wimey means, it did not come early sufficient.

Tennant and his co-star Catherine Tate, who performs the Physician’s most mind-melded (actually, lengthy story) human pal Donna Noble, got here again to helm a Sixtieth-anniversary run of three episodes over three successive Saturdays from November 25 by means of December 9. Written by Russell T Davies, additionally returning as showrunner for the primary time since 2010, the specials are producing strong vital acclaim and viewers appreciation. The primary, “The Star Beast” reconnected the Physician and Donna, emphasizing the thriller of why the Physician had regenerated right into a lookalike model of his earlier self (Tennant is now technically taking part in the 14th Physician). Then “The Wild Blue Yonder” despatched them to the very fringe of the universe to satisfy creepy, evolving variations of themselves. Extra horror awaited followers who realized Tennant and Tate’s return to the highlight was practically over.

Now right here comes “The Giggle” — not only a identify like no different story title in 60 years of Physician Who historical past, however a narrative that’s set to shift the whole foundations of the present. And that is not as a result of it introduces the fifteenth Physician, performed by Ncuti Gatwa, the primary individual of shade to play the lead position on an ongoing foundation. It is a part of Davies’ model new design for the present going ahead on Disney+ world wide, and on the BBC within the UK. One which makes a mere change of actor appear to be small potatoes. It has to do with the return of the Toymaker (Neil Patrick Harris), a godlike villain who first appeared within the present within the first Physician’s run in 1966.

“There will probably be controversial occasions on this episode,” Davies advised Physician Who Journal in a “Giggle” preview revealed this week. With what you may think as an appropriately large grin, he added: “It is a complete new means of wanting on the historical past of Physician Who, and I am unable to wait to see the response.”

In different phrases, numerous followers are going to be echoing the primary line that we knew Gatwa would use within the episode: “Can somebody inform me what the hell is happening?”

David Tennant’s thoughts explodes.

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RTD (as Davies is universally identified) warned followers Friday that they need to attempt to watch the present stay Saturday (at 6:30pm GMT, 1:30pm EST, and 10:30am Pacific) to keep away from on-line spoilers — a few of which will probably be posted on social media by the BBC itself.

In DWM he went additional, advising followers watch an episode commentary accessible (to UK viewers solely, alas) on the BBC’s iPlayer app:

“If you happen to hear and watch the commentary on the iPlayer, I unroll a complete new Physician Who mythology for you, based mostly across the occasions going down. And I am explaining this to David Tennant, and his thoughts is exploding.”

In different phrases, the change is adequately subtle that even one of many stars of the episode did not discover whereas he was filming it. And but it is profound sufficient that Tennant, an especially knowledgable Whovian himself, has to reorder the whole construction of the present in his mind.

This is not the primary time such a profound shift has come alongside; certainly, Who historical past is replete with them. In 1966, not lengthy after the Toymaker’s first look, the Physician modified his face and character for the primary time, from balding and grumpy William Hartnell to mop-haired and puckish Patrick Troughton. We realized far more about why he may do this after we first met his individuals, the Time Lords, three years later. Which was additionally after we noticed one other profound shift: the Physician was exiled to Earth, his TARDIS time-and-space machine rendered largely inoperable.

When RTD resurrected the collection in 2005, he did so with one other controversial change: The Physician was now the final of the Time Lords, having supposedly eradicated each his individuals and his enemies the Daleks on the final day of an off-screen Time Conflict. That each one led as much as an especially satisfying climax within the fiftieth anniversary particular in 2013, when Tennant and two different Medical doctors reverse that genocide. There have been small however satisfying adjustments too — corresponding to “The Physician’s Spouse,” an episode during which visitor author Neil Gaiman revealed that the sentient TARDIS had been main the Physician round all these years, relatively than the opposite means round.

The TARDIS’ line, “I all the time took you the place you wanted to go,” defined so much in regards to the Physician’s years of blundering across the universe whereas simply occurring to run into good hassle.

The Timeless Youngsters and the Toymaker

Arguably much less satisfying to most followers was the profound shift dreamt up by later showrunner Chris Chibnall. “The Timeless Youngsters” was an episode that screened in March 2020, proper initially of the COVID-19 outbreak, and typically appeared as standard as a pandemic. We had been advised that the Physician wasn’t initially a Time Lord, however a mysterious being with mysterious origins found by a Time Lord founder. He/she (the Physician was performed by Jodie Whittaker at this level) had seen many lifetimes, and had his/her recollections erased of all however the final 13.

Chibnall swept a lot of that thriller underneath the carpet in later episodes, with the Physician finally deciding she did not need to find out about her earlier incarnations. RTD was completely satisfied to make reference to it in “The Wild Blue Yonder,” persevering with in the very best “sure, and” custom of a storytelling canon that’s basically improvised.

The newest shift in canon begins with the Toymaker, a being we final noticed totally answerable for his personal game-and-toy-filled universe. “The Giggle” sees the Toymaker prolong his powers to Earth, apparently capable of “use the whole planet as his playroom,” in keeping with DWM. Meaning a whirling nightmare carnival of music, puppets, and Earthlings appearing all bizarre. Or, given the truth that everybody now appears to be satisfied of their very own righteousness … appearing all regular? It additionally signifies that Donna has to step in to avoid wasting a Physician who has had his personal toys (the TARDIS, the sonic screwdriver) taken away from him.

RTD so assiduously arrange the thriller of why the 14th Physician selected the tenth Physician’s face that it needed to be answered — and manipulation by the Toymaker, an extremely overpowered villain, appeared the most probably clarification.

What Ncuti did subsequent.

Whatever the decision, RTD has set out his stall. Ncuti Gatwa’s first season (and sure, he is already filming a second) is not going to be known as season 14 of the brand new present, however season 1 of … the brand new, new present?

For followers world wide, from the oldest BBC-watching cohort to the most recent Disney+ sign-ups, this alerts a really clear reboot: some extent at which it’s secure to begin watching the adventures of this Time Lord and his blue field with out requiring an excessive amount of advance information.

All the pieces we’ve realized about Gatwa’s first full episode, a Christmas Day particular on Disney+ and the BBC titled “The Church on Ruby Highway,” underscores this new begin. The Physician sings a full track, one thing we have by no means seen the character do earlier than; the track will even be launched as a Christmas single, RTD says. The Physician additionally dances — not reluctantly, as within the 2005 episode titled “The Physician Dances,” however with utter abandon, in a nightclub.

That is New, New Who, then: A really Gen Z reboot. As older followers deal with exploded brains and (probably) seething anger, the Physician merrily shape-shifts as soon as extra, altering what we thought knew but once more. And the present proves it has the chops to final one other 60 years. As a result of it all the time takes us the place we have to go.

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