The Doctor Who Trailer Deconstruction (part three)


Today, our little trailer recap draws to a close, as the Eleventh Doctor tries to figure out how the same girl can be in three places at once, before sneezing in the TARDIS and turning into Peter Capaldi. But before we get to that…



Series 7 (part one)

Yes, well. There were five episodes in this initial set, and only two of them were any good, so I am always going to look back at this period of Who with disdain. What comes across in this is a sense of scale: five stories, told grandly (although there is nothing – nothing – from ‘The Power of Three’). Amy is at her most irritating (her piggybacking of the Doctor’s catchphrase is almost as awkward as Tony Blair quoting Baddiel and Skinner) while Rory just sort of stands there, as per usual. The location work is impressive, even though the writing wasn’t: this series marks the Doctor’s ‘difficult, teenage phase’, the triceratops joyrides awkwardly juxtaposed with the moral angst he experiences when debating whether or not to turn Kahler Jex over to the Cyborg. Oh look, now he’s in his bedroom, and I think he’s smoking weed. I’m not angry, Doctor. I’m just disappointed.

Number of booms: 2

Fiery explosions: 3

The Doctor Runs: 3 (plus one horse ride and one dinosaur gallop)

Darkness factor: 6 (points lost for grinning at dinosaurs, gained for shouting at Amy)

It’s a mystery: Ooh, is Amy really dead?

Identifiable monster count: 6 (and Daleks count as one. You got me? One.)



Series 7 (part two)

The Cybermen are back! So is the Doctor, really, gaining a new sense of joie de vivre after the events of ‘The Snowmen’. There are numerous costume changes, impressive alien vistas (clearly the theme for this part of the series is ‘off-planet’) and shots of Dan Starkey running down a corridor. Interesting that the relationship between the Doctor and Coleman’s character, while a clear recurring theme in series 7, is established as being far more open in this trailer than it actually was – in reality Clara spends most of the eight episodes in the dark, her brief illumination almost immediately extinguished by the convenient plot device that is wibbly wobbly memory loss. (Curiously this happens at the end of  ‘Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS’, an episode which might be best experienced in the company of a big red button that’ll immediately erase your memory of the preceding forty-five minutes.)

Number of booms: 5

Fiery explosions: 1

The Doctor Runs: 1 (although Clara tells him to)

Darkness factor: 5

It’s a mystery: Clara, of course.

Identifiable monster count: 7


Series 8

Oy vey. This is the first of the ‘new breed’ of trailers, where things start to go downhill. Lots of jump cuts of briefly-seen monsters; nothing tangible, but enough for a quick screen grab and discussion on the forums. Capaldi looks sinister and ambiguous: this is a dark Doctor, who has traded ballet for moral indifference and acidic quips about rubbish humans. Coleman has the wide eyes of someone who’s just experienced regeneration for the first time, despite having travelled back and forth along the Doctor’s time stream and hanging out with both Bakers, as well as failing to get McCoy down from that ice wall in ‘Dragonfire’. One thing I will say for this (and for series 8 in general) is that the cinematography really started to pick up in Doctor Who once they reached ‘Asylum of the Daleks’, and it shows. And Murray Gold, for once, stays out of things. Which is more than we can say for the next time…

Number of booms: 4 and a half

Fiery explosions: 3

The Doctor Runs: “I don’t think I’m a running person now.”

Darkness factor: 9

It’s a mystery: Just WHO IS THE DOCTOR NOW? And do we really care?

Semi-identifiable monster count: 7



Series 9

Holy mackerel, TURN IT DOWN, MURRAY! IT’S TOO LOUD! THERE ARE PEOPLE TRYING TO SLEEP! We’ve now reached the stage where the trailers clearly have boxes to tick, and are arranged in order to make this happen. Moody lighting? Check. Dalek close-up? You betcha. Obvious mystery that’s going to have everyone talking past saturation point? Oh, yes yes and thrice yes. There are numerous things that could be monsters. The Doctor does look chirpier, mostly thanks to the hair, which is emulating Pertwee’s in the same way his clothes did last series. The rest of it seems to be a maelstrom of unconnected ambiguities that are about nothing at all, designed to keep the Tumblr feeds ticking over until September. Am I confused because this is the only trailer I’m not able to view with the benefit of hindsight, or is this stuff actively getting worse? Patrick Troughton’s trousers make a cameo, but about the only really appealing moment in this jumbled mess is the moment when the ‘lightened’ Doctor smiles at the camera, and shrugs, because all of a sudden we’re right back where we started.

Number of booms: 10

Fiery explosions: 3 and a bit

The Doctor Runs: Maybe. He sort of canters a bit.

Darkness factor: 7.8

It’s a mystery: “Who was that masked woman?”

Semi-identifiable monster count: 10? 11? I lost count, and I don’t care any more.


So what have we learned from all this? Well, I’ve learned I need to stop watching trailers, at least for a while. I’ve learned there’s more than one way to skin a cat, or re-invent the wheel, or flog a dead horse. I’ve learned that Doctor Who trailers often say more about the tone of the show they’re portraying than perhaps they intend. I’ve learned that Murray Gold really needs to rein it in, although that’s hardly headline news. But perhaps most of all I’ve learned that I still want to come with the Doctor, particularly if it isn’t safe – because however it’s presented it always is and always will be the trip of a lifetime.

I could just do with it being a little quieter…

Categories: New Who | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “The Doctor Who Trailer Deconstruction (part three)

  1. essjay

    I’ve only watched the trailer for s9 once, and almost everything about it has already escaped my mind except for 1. Damn, Capaldi looks fly. 2. It premieres on the oldest’s 16th birthday, so I don’t actually have to plan anything because the BBC is giving him all the present he could want.

    w/r/t 7.0 (wow, was it that long ago, already?) I still fucking love Tricey. It’s ridiculous, but glorious at the same time. And it gave us Arthur Weasley going on about trowels, which (somehow) was one of my favourite moments of that entire series.

    Still hate Amy. Still love Rory. Still can’t stand Clara or any of her nonsense. Bluh.

    • reverend61

      Oh, the Dinosaurs episode is one of the two in that batch I enjoy. (The other is The Power of Three, which is fun in spite of its obvious structural flaws and some shockingly predictable dialogue.)

      Me, I’m just glad that for once in our lives we’re not going to be camping at a TV-less festival during a series premiere. I will be in town!

  2. I still prefer this version.

    • reverend61

      Ha! Yes, I remember that. I was going to do it myself, but by the time I’d got back from holiday that ship had sailed, and to a much higher standard than I’d have been able to attain. Even funnier than the trailer itself was the stupidity of some of the comments – or at least the ones that went “No, no, Doctor Who would NEVER do this…”

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