It’s official: September 1st marks the beginning of a new season of everyone’s favourite British export, Doctor Who. It’s been a long hiatus for us Whovians, with no new episodes since last Christmas’ “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe.” Whether you’re new to the series or have had your bags packed for your own escape with the Doctor since the beginning, this primer will get you ready for what’s to come this season and beyond.
Where We Are Now
When we last left the Doctor at the end of series 6, he was newly married (or was he?) and had gone underground, believed by the universe to be dead and determined not to give anyone a reason to think otherwise, having realized the danger–and enemies–he brings with him wherever he goes. His faithful companions, the Ponds, and their time-warped daughter River Song are among the few who know the truth of how the Doctor survived. As the 2011 Christmas special demonstrated, the Doctor has been travelling alone ever since, although he does drop by the Ponds’ for a visit sometimes.
Beginning on Monday, August 27th, a five-part webseries called “Pond Life” has been released via the official BBC website in preparation for the new series. Jumping between the Ponds’ day-to-day life and the Doctor’s solo adventures, each one minute interlude is a cute, comedic look at just how having a madcap traveling alien as your best friend can affect your attempts at a normal life.
Asylum of the Daleks
The series officially kicks off this Saturday with “Asylum of the Daleks,” and the episode promises to be a big one. Series 7 creator Steven Moffat has stated that this year they’re going for big, cinematic stand-alone episodes, as this movie poster-like promo image can attest. After going on their own hiatus since showing up as the ill-advised Power Ranger Rainbow Daleks early in series 5, the Doctor’s greatest foes are back with a vengeance. Despite several screenings already having taken place in Great Britain and the United States, spoilers have been minimal and details hush-hush. If you don’t mind a little teaser, you can watch the trailer for the episode here.
Cowboys, Dinosaurs, and Angels
In keeping with the blockbuster theme, the next four episodes will feature everything from the Wild Wild West to dinosaurs (“on a spaceship!”), culminating in the return of some of Who’s scariest villains, the Weeping Angels, just in time for the Ponds’ final adventure with the Doctor–in New York City! Now, the Doctor has said goodbye to the Ponds plenty of times before, but since the showrunners are saying that it’s really real this time, you guys!, we can only assume that this goodbye is of a more permanent nature. Can it compare to the tears of Rose Tyler’s departure on Bad Wolf Bay, or Donna’s heartbreaking memory loss? We’ll have to wait and see.
A New Companion
With the departure of the Ponds, the Doctor has an open position to fill! Taking up the challenge will be Jenna-Louise Coleman, who will reportedly make her debut as Clara in this year’s Christmas special (anyone else smell a Nutcracker theme?). Fans have been furiously theorizing, but details about Coleman’s character have been kept deliberately vague. The Ponds have been the longest-running companions since New Who began in 2005, so Clara, whoever she is, will certainly have a lot to live up to.
50 Years and Counting
2013 will bring us eight more episodes in series 7, as well as the long-awaited 50th anniversary special in the fall. Fifty years is one hell of a big deal for a television show to celebrate, so Whovians are hoping they’ll pull out all the stops, bringing back Doctors and companions from series past for one seriously epic reunion. One thing’s almost certain – the answer to the question that’s been plaguing the Doctor since Moffat took over the show in series 5, the question that will cause “silence to fall,” will surely have a part to play…