Friday, March 29, 2013

Operation Blue Harvest (Part 2): A Preview of Season 7 (Part 2)

If I've gotten the scheduler to work correctly, this should be posting exactly 24 hours before the mid-season premiere in the UK.  If I haven't gotten the scheduler to work correctly...then I guess I haven't.

Have you ever wondered why Family Guy’s Star Wars episode (with its great Doctor Who reference) is called “Blue Harvest”?  Blue Harvest was the fake production name given to Return of the Jedi to keep fans from finding out about the production.  The ruse got pretty big, with posters and t-shirts for their fake movie.  All of this just to make sure fans were properly surprised.  And it’s not like fans wouldn’t be that dedicated.  In the early days of the show Survivor, there were Internet message boards full of “Survivor spoilers” who went to extreme lengths to find out things about the upcoming season of Survivor as it was being filmed, including a spoiler finding a hotel room in the area where Survivor was being filmed to take photos of the set.  With this level of surveillance in the age of the Internet, and the immense international popularity of Doctor Who, is it any surprise that Steven Moffat would institute his own “Blue Harvest” ruse?  With just about every single actor in the history of Doctor Who denying that they’re returning for the 50th Anniversary special and the BBC announcing that filming of the 50th Anniversary special hasn’t even begun yet, we can be pretty certain we’ve established another rule:

Rule 2:  Moffat gets other people to lie.


The episode titles have been announced recently.  Except for one.  They are as follows:

The Bells of Saint John
The Rings of Akhaten
Cold War
Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS
The Crimson Horror
The Last Cybermen

The lack of a name for the last episode is tantalizing, because we know what Moffat is trying to make us think it’s going to be “The Eleven Doctors.”  More on that later.

The first episode is being called “The Bells of St. John.”  The original title that was released was “Phantom of the Hex,” and then all of a sudden it changed without anyone really having acknowledged that anything had changed.  I mean, seriously, it almost looks like some Internet-wide conspiracy.  One moment, everyone's calling it "Phantom of the Hex," the next minute it's "The Bells of St. John."  I can find no articles even mentioning that the name changed.  "Phantom of the Hex" and "The Bells of St. John" don't seven seem to appear on the same page in any Google search.  Probably means nothing, but I thought it was weird.

The title, "The Bells of St. John," comes from an old British nursery rhyme called “Oranges and Lemons.”  Wikipedia has two versions of it, but the second, longer one has the relevant passage, so I’m only posting that one:

Gay go up and gay go down,
To ring the bells of London town.

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clements.

Bull's eyes and targets,
Say the bells of St. Margret's.

Brickbats and tiles,
Say the bells of St. Giles'.

Halfpence and farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin's.

Pancakes and fritters,
Say the bells of St. Peter's.

Two sticks and an apple,
Say the bells of Whitechapel.

Pokers and tongs,
Say the bells of St. John's.

Kettles and pans,
Say the bells of St. Ann's.

Old Father Baldpate,
Say the slow bells of Aldgate.

You owe me ten shillings,
Say the bells of St. Helen's.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

Pray when will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.

Chop chop chop chop
The last man's dead!

If you’re an American (if you're reading this, I’m sure you are) and you've never heard this rhyme before but wonder where you’ve heard those last lines, the first guy to die in “The God Complex” said it to the Doctor when he was tied up in a room with all those living ventrilusquists’ dummies.  (I can’t believe I wrote that sentence in complete seriousness.)

Moffat said that his inspiration in writing this episode was that he felt that it was time for children to be afraid of wi-fi.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Moffat wants to make wi-fi scary.  In an episode, bafflingly called “The Bells of St. John” after being changed from “Phantom of the Hex.”  As strange as this sounds, Moffat has said that he loves to make mundane things terrifying.  That’s something Freud called “the uncanny” (there’s a great paper about this in relation to Doctor Who that I saw presented at a conference).  So let’s see, so far he’s made us afraid of gas masks, old clockwork toys, statues, shadows, dust in sunbeams, cracks in the wall, the creaking sounds you hear in your house, trees, and snowmen.  Wi-fi sounds like something he can do a good job of scaring us with.

Now, they released a prequel for "The Bells of St. John," like they seem to release for everything now. There's no information given in it, other than to suggest, yet again, that something is actually pulling the Doctor and Clara together.  If you feel the need to watch it, here it is, but I guarantee you won't be surprised by the ending:

Now, in regards to the one interesting thing about the trailer, my Doctor Who friend, Brendan Michael, brought the following image to my attention (click to enlarge):

The implication here, of course, that Rose and Mickey seem to be in the same playground as Clara and the Doctor.  Because apparently Mickey and Rose are the only blonde haired girl and black boy playing together on Earth.  But yeah, that does look like Jackie, so maybe that's them.  But I highly doubt this is a clue.  Just a little Easter Egg for the fans to find, just in time for Easter.

The Ice Warriors episode is “Cold War” and is written by Mark Gatiss.  Ugh.  #anyonebutgatiss  It’s going to involve an Ice Warrior in a submarine.  I don’t want to meet any Doctor Who villain in a submarine.  Terrifying.

Then we already covered Gaiman’s “The Last Cybermen.”

“Journey fo the Centre of the TARDIS” sounds interesting.  They said that this is because Moffat was disappointed with classic series episodes that explored the inside of the TARDIS, specifically in the Fourth Doctor episode “The Invasion of Time.”  So he wanted to make an episode that does a lot more exploration of the TARDIS.  Sounds like a good idea, but he handed over the idea to Steve Thompson.  Thompson is responsible for one of my least favorite Doctor Who episodes (“The Curse of the Black Spot”), my least favorite Sherlock episode (“The Blind Banker”), but strangely, also my favorite Sherlock episode (“The Reichenbach Fall”).  This one could go either way.

Finally, “The Eleven Doctors.”  Is it happening?  Is it not happening?  Will we have a muti-Doctor episode with fewer Doctors?  Will it actually be that last episode of the season that Moffat won’t tell us the name of?  Or will there be a completely different season finale, and a separate 50th anniversary special on the actual 50th anniversary date, November 23rd.

Now, I’m going to tell you what I know, but I think some of it is flat out lies.  Remember Rule 2.

-Reports claim that the special has NOT been shot yet, and will be shot in April.  If the episode is the TBA episode at the end of this season, I call bullshit.  If it’s airing November 23rd, then fine, I might buy that it hasn’t been shot yet.  But nobody at the BBC would cut it this close.  I have a feeling that this is part of what I’m going to call Operation Blue Harvest.

-Peter Davidson, the Fifth Doctor, has completely denied that he has been approached yet to appear in the special.  He said that he didn’t think that any of the older Doctors should be in the episode.  Again, I call Blue Harvest.  He was in a short multi-Doctor episode, “Time Crash,” and he knows full well how Moffat explained it away in that mini-episode, and how easily he can do it again.  Besides, if the Second Doctor can retire in 1969 and return in the mid-80s, and if Carole Ann Ford can return to her role as the Doctor’s teenage granddaughter 20 years after leaving the show, then you can bring back anyone.  “Having us both in the same place shorted out the time differential.”  And boom!  The problem was solved in “Time Crash.”

Davidson did say he was meeting with the Doctor Who producers later this month, but he didn’t think they were going to offer him a spot in the special.  What?  If he’s not covering something up, then he’s a moron.

-David Tennant denied that he’s been approached yet.  Bullshit.  If anyone’s coming back, it’s Tennant.

- Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones) denied having been approached.

-John Barrowman, (Captain Jack), strangely is the only person who has publicly confirmed that he had been in talks with the producers about appearing in the special. He then came out on Twitter a few days later and said he wouldn’t be in the special.  Again, I’m calling Blue Harvest.  Why would Barrowman talk to the producers and not reach an agreement.  Barrowman is a die hard Doctor Who fan who can quote chapter and verse from the classic series.  Barrowman would do the 50th Anniversary special for free.  Hell, he’d probably pay the producers to let him do it.  What’s more likely is that Barrowman saying that he was in talks with producers turned out to be something that the producers didn’t want him leaking, so they insisted he go back on Twitter to deny that he would be in the special.  Blue Harvest.

Personally, I’ve been hoping to see the 11th Doctor meet Jack.  I really hope Jack chews the Doctor out for not showing up during either of the crises in Seasons 3 and 4 of Torchwood.

-The only clue Matt Smith was willing to give out was the word “paintings”

-The episode will be aired in 3-D.  WHO CARES?!

-Moffat promised the season finale will be “seriously fan-boy centric,” further suggesting that the season finale and the 50th anniversary special will be the same episode.

-Moffat also said that the Doctor’s greatest secret will be revealed in the season finale.  If you look back on a note I wrote called “A Brief History of the Cartmel Masterplan,” (, you’ll see what I think the secret is.  (Maybe I'll move that over here, because I think that will be very important.)

-Executive producer Caro Skinner summed up the episode in three words:  “It.  Will.  Be.  Big.”

It better be.

Look, most of you are New Whovians, those who got into the show with the new series, not the old.  You might not all know this, but so am I.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit to all of you how recently I got into the show, but it’s much more recent than you might think considering how much ridiculous knowledge I have about this show.  I’ve gone through a lot of nerd stages in my life, from Star Trek to Star Wars to Buffy, and it looks like Doctor Who is just the one that’s really sticking with me.  I hope it always does.

Recently, the show Community had a great episode about a convention for a fictional TV series the show refers to often called Inspector Spacetime, which is, without a doubt, meant to be Doctor Who.  The character, Abed, only got into Inspector Spacetime a few years earlier, but became acknowledged online as Inspector Spacetime’s second biggest fan.

My point is, whether you’re a new Whovian or an old one, no matter how much or how little you know about the show, you're all welcome in...well, Whoville.  The reason I got into this show is that I’ve always loved franchises that create entire universes, with characters that can come back over and over again, and heroes that can continue to fight them until the end of time.  I love serials that leave you hanging on wondering what’s coming next, and stories that bring back a character or element you’ve been waiting to see return forever, but surprise you with it at the very end of the episode.  Doctor Who is everything I love about serial fiction.  I hope you can find some of the same joy in it that I do.

So I can’t wait to see how much fun this gets this season.  I know, we’re all a little bit disappointed with the first 5 episodes of the season, but the Christmas special brought us back some hope with a great story and some great writing.  There’s probably going to be a few stinkers this season (like Gatiss’s episodes, #anyonebutgatiss), but there’s one thing we know about what this season is going to be leading up to:

“It.  Will.  Be.  Big.”

UPDATE:  This came out as another little preview for "The Bells of St. John" after I finished writing this:

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