You remember the other day we were talking about progression? Well, I mean that in a literal sense. There’s an obvious gap between series 1-3 and the rest of the Doctor Who trailers, because after the departure of Martha, the Doctor stops talking to the camera. Perhaps he’s done showing off. Perhaps it’s an indication of the darkening of Tennant’s Doctor and the series in general – something that would continue under Moffat, however comically amusing Matt Smith turned out to be when he was throwing a plate across the lawn. Or perhaps, with three seasons under its belt, the revived Doctor Who no longer felt the need to prove itself.
But when we count up through the rest of the trailers, the line is much harder to draw. Yes, you can sort of do a rough squiggle in furry felt tip after the departure of Smith, but even before he regenerates you can spot stylistic shifts in the way these minute-long previews are produced and presented. So I have drawn the line mathematically, for the sake of easy reading. Four trailers today, and the remaining four next time. Most of the categories are self-explanatory, although I’d point out that this is where the tedious ‘mysteries’ begin to poke through (emerging with a vengeance later on). We open in 2008, with Bernard Cribbins sitting on a hill in a red woolly hat. That’s always a good way to begin.
“It’s OK,” this one lets us know at the outset. “I know this is Donna, but look! She’s gone all sensible and calm! She’s taken up astronomy! SHE’S SPEAKING IN A REASONABLY PACED VOICE BELOW 95 DECIBELS!.” This embodiment of a grounded, mature Ms Noble is almost immediately followed by the memorable scene from ‘Partners in Crime’ in which the Doctor-Donna mug at each other through two panes of glass, unaware that Sarah Lancashire is watching, but it was an amusing moment, so we’ll let that one go. This is where the booming starts big time – you know, the big, heavily reverberated THUD that accompanies each fresh image; it is a contemporary harbinger of doom. A shame, in a way, that they drop in the massive spoiler that is The Rose Revived (sorry, that’s probably only funny if you live in Oxfordshire and know your pubs) but I suppose it had leaked already.
Number of booms: 10 1/2
Fiery explosions: 1 (finally!)
The Doctor Runs: 4
It’s a mystery: What the hell is Rose doing there?
Identifiable monster count: 5, if you count Clone Martha / 6 if you count Billie Piper’s teeth
Oh look, Amy’s speaking through an open-air microphone. This isn’t a bad introduction to the Eleventh Doctor, although Rory is almost entirely absent, while there’s far too much of River. Several of the showcase shots from the series (most of which appear to involve characters floating just outside the TARDIS) are used to reasonable effect but what strikes you throughout is the use of colour – greens and blues dominate, at the expense of the reds and browns that dominated much of Tennant’s time. Loses marks for including those wretched Spitfires.
Number of booms: 5
Fiery explosions: 1/2
The Doctor Runs: 2
It’s a mystery: How does Mark Gatiss continue to get writing gigs?
Identifiable monster count: 8
Series 6 (part one)
Right, guys: this is where it gets tedious. This one is heavy on the first two stories (although it shows refreshingly little of the Silence). “Somewhere different,” muses the Doctor as the camera rolls over the Utah desert; “somewhere brand new” – coded language for HEY, AMERICA! WE SPENT SHIT LOADS OF MONEY TRYING TO MAKE YOU ENJOY THIS! A naked Alex Kingston is spotted, presumably resulting in complaints to OFCOM even as legion of fan-fiction writers are running for their laptops.
Number of booms: 4
Fiery explosions: None, although the TARDIS fizzes a little. Presumably the Doctor spilled some Tizer over it.
The Doctor Runs: He doesn’t. Everyone else is running to him.
It’s a mystery: Why has the Doctor been running, aside from the fact that he always does?
Identifiable monster count: 4
Series 6 (part two)
Also known as: the story arc so tedious the BBC procrastinated for four months while they figured out whether or not they ought to inflict it upon us. This is really where the mystery starts to monopolise things. There are numerous brief shots of things you can only just see (to call them ‘identifiable’, as I have done, is something of a stretch) and there is a lot of tedious exposition about the Doctor’s supposed death: clearly we are supposed to care more about what the series is actually about than its episodic contents. There is also an awful lot of that Stetson. Did it negotiate a union fee?
Number of booms: 1
Fiery explosions: None. Obviously all the pyrotechnic budget went on those CG pterodactyls.
The Doctor Runs: He doesn’t, but he does appear to leap through a window.
It’s a mystery: Why is the Doctor’s time running out? And couldn’t he just slip back an hour or so and put some more money in the parking meter?
Identifiable monster count: 7. Does Madame Kovarian count? Certainly that eye patch is a cosplay disaster.
Next time: Into darkness. Whether you like it or not.