Wednesday, November 27, 2013

She Will Be Home for Christmas: Some Initial Thoughts on "The Time of the Doctor"

We didn't even get a chance to get over the brilliance of the 50th Anniversary special before the information about the Christmas special started pouring out.  First, we got a teaser trailer at the end of "The Day of the Doctor," which revealed a few key things:  Daleks, Cybermen, Weeping Angels, Silence, Trenzalore.  Knowing Moffat, the inclusion of these four villains doesn't necessarily mean that any one of them is going to be a central villain.  They could all play a very small role in the episode, much like "The Pandorica Opens."  However, a recently released poster showing the Doctor holding a severed Cyberman's head in his hand suggests that, at least the Cybermen will play a major role.

That the episode takes place on Trenzalore is not a surprise to anybody who's been paying attention.    The plot of the Eleventh Doctor's final episode has been obvious since "The Wedding of River Song."  "On the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the eleventh, when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a Question will be asked, a question that must never, ever be answered."  The Doctor's going to be on Trenzalore, in a situation where the entire planet acts as a sort of truth serum, and then he's going to be asked his name (which is, for some reason, dangerous for him to say) and this will lead to his regeneration somehow.

Then the title was released, which is "The Time of the Doctor."  This suggests that Moffat thinks of this episode as part of a sort of trilogy with the two episodes before it, "The Name of the Doctor" and "The Day of the Doctor."

Then, Moffat finally came out and said, the Doctor definitely has only 12 regenerations, not 507 (fuck you Davies!), and that he is currently out of regenerations!  Obviously, the show's going to continue as there's already another Doctor waiting on deck, but the Doctor is supposed to be out of regenerations right now and that will be addressed "head on" in the Christmas special.  His interviews have heavily implied what I've already guessed:  That he used up a regeneration in "The Stolen Earth" without actually changing his face.  The pervading fan theory seems to be that River fixed the whole thing when she gave him her remaining regenerations in "Let's Kill Hitler" (presumably that's 10 more regenerations, unless there's another River regeneration we never saw).  This seems a little obvious but, remember, every now and then with Moffat, the easy answer is the correct answer (e.g. "Who is the impossible astronaut?")

However, would this mean that River's in the Christmas Special?  Nothing has said that she will be, but I can give you a list of about 100 reasons she fucking should be.

Then came the most intriguing news, at least to me.  Irish actress Orla Brady will be appearing in the special.  Who is she?  I don't know and I don't care.  Here's the part of the announcement that entices me:

"Brady's character is someone from the Doctor's past, with the plot of the festive episode revolving around her."

She's Susan.  She's Susan, she's Susan, she's fucking Susan Fucking Foreman!  If there was a bookie who took obscure bets on Doctor Who, I'd put a lot of money down on this woman being Susan.

Show your work?  Sure.

1.  I've been saying for a long time that the Doctor's role as a father (or grandfather) is going to come around in a big, big way.  The biggest hint is the cot in "A Good Man Goes to War," which Alex Kingston (River Song) told us in a Doctor Who Confidential episode, is a big hint.  The Doctor says it's his cot, but Kingston told us that someone else slept in it.

2.  The Eleventh Doctor has had a pretty self-contained story.  I don't think Moffat wants to wait until Capaldi's Doctor or later to unravel what he's started.  Right now, it looks like the hunt for Gallifrey is the only thing set up in the Matt Smith era that's going to be resolved in the Peter Capaldi era.

3.  In "The Day of the Doctor," there's a scene where Clara takes a nice big, long look at the picture of Susan on Kate's board that she has put up in the Black Archive with all the information about the Doctor.  It's a set up for a scene where Clara acknowledges that she knows who Susan is.

Now, "The Night of the Doctor" made the audio stories officially canon, which means the Doctor has reunited with Susan since her last appearance on the show in "The Five Doctors" (presumably the most recent we've seen her in her timeline is "The Dalek Invasion of Earth").  But the show is still long overdue for the return of the first ever companion, especially since she's related to the Doctor and, therefore, should have come up in some way, shape, or form by now.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Doctor's Carol: An Overanalysis of "The Day of the Doctor"

Have you ever thought what it's like to be wanderers in the fourth dimension? Have you? To be exiles? Susan and I are cut off from our own planet, without friends or protection. But one day we shall get back. Yes, one day. One day. -The First Doctor in An Unearthly Child

Once upon a time, an old man got bored.  So he ran away from home, and shit got crazy.  It's a simple story, and it's held up for 50 years, and now thirteen different actors playing the titular role.  The infinitely flexible premise could potentially go on forever.  No show has ever proved as flexible and as durable.  And yesterday, the whole world celebrated how powerful, flexible, and ultimately endearing the show has become.  16 years of cancellation failed to kill it.  Much like the title character, the show has proven infinitely regenerative.  And just because it's hit the 50 year mark doesn't mean it shows any signs of stopping.  This was far from a finale.  This was a statement to the world that the show is still going strong and has many more stories to tell.  I regret that I'm a late-comer to this fandom, but, in case you haven't noticed, I'm damn well dedicated it, and was glad to join in on the celebration.

The old saying goes that bad writers steal, good writers borrow.  If that's the case, then Moffat is very good at borrowing from Charles Dickens.  Because that's what this was.  I mean, I'm not the only one who got that, right?  Billie Piper as Bad Wolf as The Moment as The Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come.  It's a 12 Wonderful Lives!

The 1963 opening titles?  Nice touch.

I have to admit one thing I was completely wrong about.  Some people suggested that Billie Piper would be playing another role other than Rose.  Their reasoning was that her outfit was bizarre and she was only seen talking to True 9 in the trailer.  I insisted that the stuff about her only talking to True 9 in the trailer was a coincidence, and that Rose had often tried out some bizarre outfits that didn't quite work (like the Union Jack shirt).  I was wrong, but I have to admit that I was happy to be wrong.  Billie Piper as the guide was a way more interesting idea than somehow awkwardly trying to put Rose into an episode where she clearly would not have belonged.  And, while I'm not crazy about Rose, I loved Billie Piper as The Moment.  Her first few moments as The Moment were probably the best acting she ever did on the show.  She played a sly, sexy, wise, and powerful entity that was ultimately smarter than the Doctor himself.  Bad Wolf as the Doctor's savior.

I was going to write a big Eve of the Doctor write up to go up on Friday and give some of my opinions on things you should know for the episode, as well as a few predictions.  Unfortunately, I pulled a back muscle at work, and it's hard to write a blog while you're lying with your back flat on the floor to try to realign your spine.  I was going to try to give a little explanation of the Zygons.  Actually, at one point, I wanted to write one of my Doctor Who Book Reports on the Zygons.  But there's not enough information--or enough interest in me--to fill up one entire blog about them.  They're not a bad villain, but they're mostly unremarkable.  The only significant thing about the Zygons is that they have the technology--not the biological ability, mind you, but the technology--to turn themselves into other living creatures.  I knew that there was nothing else Moffat could possibly want them for other than their ability to shapeshift.  And boy, did he use that one.  Although, I don't understand why they needed to keep some humans hooked up to their machine to turn themselves into humans, and some of them they could pull it off on the fly.

There was a poll I saw asking people what they were most looking forward to in the special, and one of the options was the return of the Zygons.  It got the least votes, but I fail to see how it got any votes at all, or why it was even included on the list at all.  Who cares that much about Zygons?  Even Moffat didn't intend to use them for anything particularly big.  The Zygon plot was a parallel story designed to do nothing else but show the Doctor what he needed to do.

I was about 20 minutes from the end of the episode and thought "Why is Moffat focusing so much on this mediocre Zygon storyline?"  Then came the moment where Kate asks the Doctor if he's ever had to make the calculation of sacrificing the few to save the many and he said that he did it once, but that it was the wrong decision, that's when I realized what Moffat was doing.  I realized that this was the story that was going to teach the Doctor that he had to save Gallifrey, not burn it.  It was a parallel story to teach a lesson.  And I realized it was going to result in the Doctor saving Gallifrey.

That's when I started crying.

The other thing I was going to do in my "Eve of the Doctor" blog was remind you all about the significance of Queen Elizabeth.  Trust Moffat to take a one-off gag and turn it into a major plot point of the most important episode in the history of the series thus far.  Gareth Roberts, one of the better writers on Doctor Who right now, introduced the joke in the end of "The Shakespeare Code" where the Virgin Queen is ready to kill the Doctor for reasons that he didn't know because he was meeting her out of order.  Davies and Moffat seemed to appreciate the joke, as they both took it and ran with it.  Davies had the Doctor marrying Queen Bess in "The End of Time (Part 1)," and Moffat brought it up in "The Beast Below" and "The Wedding of River Song."  Not only is it hilarious to blow up such a small joke into something big like that, it's also the only thing that tells us where this episode takes place in the 10th Doctor's timeline.  Presumably, this has to take place, for him, between "The Waters of Mars" and "The End of Time," as that's when he said he married Queen Elizabeth.

Similarly, the "it doesn't do wood" line, which began way back in "Silence in the Library," became such a major plot point, it actually resulted in the ultimate outcome of the episode.  The Doctor finds a way to finally take down a wooden door using his screwdriver, just that it would take 400 years to pull it off.  It turned out that that wasn't necessary, but it was the inspiration for the end of the episode.  Because the same exact logic used in taking down that door was used to save Gallifrey.  If anyone is going to come in and try to tell me that saving Gallifrey was some sort of "Deus Ex Machina," I will again direct them to the fact that the definition of a Deus Ex Machina is a solution that comes out of nowhere and was not set-up in the episode.  The scene with the screwdrivers and the doors is what set up the plot to save Gallifrey, and that, by definition, is not a Deus Ex Machina.

In related news, I want a smaller word or phrase to have to type out than "Deus Ex Machina" because it comes up a lot when writing about Doctor Who.

The last thing I was going to predict in my post--and I swear this isn't just 20/20 hindsight--was that the Time Lords would be re-established in the Universe by the end of this episode.  I was half right.  The cool thing is that he saved Gallifrey (probably), but now has a new mission in life:  to find the planet he saved.  But there's a problem now, and one they never addressed in this special:  In "The End of Time (Part 2)," the 10th Doctor says that he had to kill the Time Lords because they wanted to basically destroy all of time, space, and existence itself and ascend to a higher plane of existence.  It could be that they were only planning to do that to destroy the Daleks, but it sounds like the kind of megalomaniacal plan that wouldn't change once its original justification is removed.  So basically, I think they would probably try and pull it again once they're removed from stasis.  This means the Doctor has a pretty tough task ahead of him when he does find Gallifrey:  he still has to deal with some crazy ass Time Lords after he's rescued them.  That's not entirely unprecedented.  Honestly, the Doctor's relationship with his own people is a strange one, one of antagonism, but not hatred.  He disapproves of his own people's actions, and they disapprove of his.  But that doesn't mean he wants them to die.

My friend Dawn pointed out that Osgood is probably, somehow, Clara's sister.  I didn't think of this until Dawn told me, but now it makes perfect sense.  Her name sounds a lot like Clara's last name (I'm assuming Osgood is a last name), and her Zygon copy said she was jealous of her more attractive sister.  But, while Osgood and Clara didn't share much screen time, they did see each other enough that, if they knew each other, one of them should have said something.  The most likely scenario I can imagine is that Clara doesn't know she has a sister, and Osgood knew but kept it a secret for some reason.

Speaking of Clara, the idea of her teaching at Coal Hill School was a stroke of genius.  I mean, is it a bit of a stretch for her to go from being a nanny to a teacher?  Maybe a little.  But she's teaching at the same school as the Doctor's first companions, Ian and Barbara, and a sign says that Ian is now the Chairman of the Governors at the school.  So, clearly, it was a little nepotism that got her the job, with the Doctor calling in a small favor.  Still, a great idea.  I hope she's still working there when we see her next.

I'm not touching the part about Clara meeting Kate out of order.  I can't think of a less interesting or important mystery to bring up in the episode.

I have one apology to make.  Months back, I did a write-up of a trailer that turned out to be a fake.  I didn't realize this until yesterday when I realized that not a single shot from that trailer appeared in this episode.  I don't know how a fan made trailer was that deceiving.  I didn't recognize a single shot or line from the trailer from a past episode.

Peter Capaldi's brief cameo made me stand up and applaud.  (I was watching this with a group of Whovians on a projector at a store that was primarily used for Magic: The Gathering tournaments, so it was not that weird to stand and applaud at a science fiction show.)    It was a brief moment, but it was a glorious moment.  As the Doctors unite, 12/13 won't stand idly by.  He's certainly going to lend a hand.  I like him already.

When the girlfriend saw the mind eraser devices in the Black Archive, she thought this was going to be the convenient way to make it so the 3 Doctors don't remember each other.  She thought this was a little lazy, but she didn't find it nearly as lazy as what actually happened.  She thought they were going to intentionally erase True 9 and 10's memories because, otherwise, the 11th Doctor couldn't ever get involved in this situation and keep himself from destroying Gallifrey.   Cool idea, but the show's never really been that worried about that type of paradox.  And the simpler explanation that, once the timelines cross, the memories of the other Doctors were erased, has two benefits:  1) It explains all the other multi-Doctor episodes (except "Time Crash," which it actually contradicts directly) and 2) It allowed for the 13 Doctors United scene without anyone having to stop off and erase 8 other Doctors' memories.  (The girlfriend found the Doctors United scene lazy as well.)

The Doctors United scene was beautiful and touching.  Yes, it required a bit of a stretch in logic.  Yes it was a little cheap to bring in all the Doctors in stock footage rather than in live action.  But, come on, that scene was fun!  For the first time, all of the Doctor's regenerations worked together.  The man who has saved so many worlds is finally able to save his own, united with all of his selves.

Tom Baker's cameo, however, was a little bit more interesting of a moment.  Rule 1, Rule 1, Rule 1!  Why do I let Moffat convince me that he's not lying about things?  He's proven himself to be a big fat liar before, and then he does it again and I believe he's not lying this time.  He's kind of like my ex-girlfriends in that way.  So I let him convince me that he was telling the truth when he said there would be no classic series Doctors in the special.  He's going to try to couch this into language, saying that "No, he's not playing a Classic Doctor," and he'll be wrong.  He knows what we really meant when we, the fans, bombarded him with questions about which past Doctors would come back.  He knew full well that we didn't think that past Doctor actors playing different parts (which may or may not be future Doctors) didn't "count."

So Tom Baker is a future Doctor?  The character of The Curator was left very ambiguous so as to explain the significant difference in age between Tom Baker as the 4th Doctor and Tom Baker now.  But basically implies that, somewhere in the distant future, the Doctor will "revisit" some of his old faces.  But only his favorites.  A bizarre idea, to be sure, but one that makes a little more sense than pretending Tom Baker is the same guy he was in the 70s.

The return of Tom Baker is so significant simply because of his obstinate refusal to return for decades.  It was 2009 before he agreed to come back to do audio adventures.  Hell, he even refused to do the 25th Anniversary special!  Thankfully, Moffat must have been more persuasive than the late Jonathan Nathan-Turner was.  I'd have to look this up, but this might give Moffat the record as the person to have written for the most different Doctors in the series:  4, 5, 8, True 9, 9, 10, 11, and 12.

Moffat has said that the next regeneration, Peter Capaldi's, is going to be dark.  I thought this made sense, as Season 7 was pointing the show in a darker direction.  But, after this episode, I don't see it.  This should be the happiest and least-dark era of the Doctor's life since before the Time War started.  The Doctor will always have blood on his hands, but now he has gallons less than he thought he did.  Why would the 12th Doctor go darker?  It seems like he should be facing the Universe now with a much lighter heart than he has for the past 7 seasons.

I guess it all depends on what happens on Trenzalore.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Physician, Heal Thyself: An Overanalysis of "The Night of the Doctor"

"I'm not half human on any side."
Is it a burden to always be right about Doctor Who?  No, not really.

Okay, I wasn't the first to guess it.  And Paul McGann's Twitter slip-up made it kind of obvious.  But it was Moffat's careful wording about the casting that made it kind of obvious that he was trying to hint at something big.  But I was still so pleasantly surprised when I woke up this morning to find Paul McGann in the prequel, as a part of me still believed it was too good to be true:

In 1996, Philip Segal tried to relaunch Doctor Who with Doctor Who:  The Movie.  As I've explained before, the movie was a dumbed down disaster, but not an ounce of the blame belongs to McGann.  However, McGann was redeemed with the truly brilliant New Eighth Doctor Adventures from Big Finish Audio, that let us know how good a show Doctor Who would have been with McGann at the helm.

Today, Steven Moffat further proved that point, with this little surprise.  We were promised this minisode would come out this coming Saturday, but I guess they pushed it up a few days to put it out exactly on Paul McGann's birthday.  What a birthday present:  the release of the episode that does in 7 minutes what Segal failed to do in 90.

One of the biggest questions fans have had since the launch of the new series is:  How did the 8th Doctor regenerate?  We assumed, for a long time, that he regenerated from McGann into Eccleston, but now we know that to be false.  So now we finally get to see how 8 regenerated into True 9.  Will we somehow get to see how True 9 regenerated into 9, allowing us to know how every single regeneration happened?  Well, unless Eccleston's lying, he's not in the special.  Still, they managed to regenerate Colin Baker into Sylvester McCoy without the cooperation of Colin Baker, so I guess anything is possible.

The planet the Doctor lands on is the planet Karn.  Even I forgot about this freakin' planet that only appeared in the Fourth Doctor serial, "The Brain of Morbius."  Basically, it's a planet that's been colonized by the Time Lords.  That's more or less all you need to know.  I didn't realize this when I first watched the minisode.  Understanding that these women are Time Ladies makes the whole thing make a lot more sense.  The Sisterhood of Karn are the keepers of the Sacred Flame which produces the Elixir of Life, which can be used to give someone immortal life.  Hence why they could bring the Doctor back after his crash.  They are semi-autonomous from Gallifrey itself.  Hence why they not only have Time Lord technology, but they have also improved upon it.

When the Doctor drinks the elixir that the Sister has made for him, he rattles off a list of names of friends to say goodbye to:  Charlie, C'Rizz, Lucie, Tamsin, and Molly.  If you're wondering who all of these people are, they're the Eighth Doctor's companions.  But here's the awesome thing:  they're all companions from the audio adventures.  This is literally the first time that anyone on screen has acknowledged that the audio stories are, in fact, canon.  The BBC has stated publicly that they are, but nothing on screen has ever confirmed that until now.  Nobody has ever crossed the audio or the novels over into the TV show.

Also, the list specifically ignores the Eighth Doctor's one and only on-screen companion, Grace Holloway.  Considering how my recent trip to Denver Comic-Con taught me how Daphne Ashbrook, who played Grace Holloway, is a blatant fame whore, I'm quite glad they slighted her.  You can read more of my opinions on Ashbrook in my write-up about Denver Comic-Con.  Hell, Molly and Tamsin spent about as much time with the Doctor as Grace did, and Tamsin fucking betrayed him!

Are there flaws in this minisode?  Sure.  I thought that the Doctor's insistence on not getting involved in the Time War was overcome a bit too quickly.  In fact, the whole thing moved a bit fast.  It's a pretty significant story to be told in 7 minutes.  But you have to give Moffat credit, as there wasn't much else he could do.  He could never make a full length episode out of this.  Who would want to watch a 60 minute long 8th Doctor episode in 2013 other than the die hard fans?  And it's not really even a 60 minute idea.  Ideally, this is about a 15-20 minute story, but there's really no venue for Moffat to tell the story in that length.  He told it in the format he could get away with, and did as well as he could.

Also, Moffat wrote the 8th Doctor the way that Moffat writes the Doctor, not the way that the 8th Doctor has been written in the past.  The dialogue is very Moffat-y, and really feels like it belongs in Matt Smith's mouth--maybe Tom Baker's--but not Paul McGann's.  The line about going to the back of the ship because the front crashes first is the kind of funny, silly line you'd expect from the 11th Doctor.  And this particular exchange doesn't sound anything like what we've heard from the 8th Doctor in the movie or any of the audio adventures:

OHILA: No. We restored you to life, but it's a temporary measure. You have a little under 4 minutes. 

DOCTOR: 4 minutes? That's ages. What if I get bored or need a television, couple of books. Bring me knitting.

That kind of sarcasm isn't very 8-ish.  But I think it can be forgiven because it's so damn funny.

This episode also addresses something I've been wondering for a while:  can the Doctor age within a particular regeneration.  Presumably, the Doctor's first regeneration, the Hartnell Doctor, had to have spanned from his birth to the end of "The Tenth Planet."  That means his childhood and adolescence were all a part of that first regeneration.  So he must have aged significantly within that regeneration.  But can he continue to age and come to look older within a regeneration?  The 11th Doctor has been alive for about 300 years now, and he still looks 12 (although the make-up department looks like they're trying to age him up a little, but certainly not 300 years worth).  This minisode suggests it is possible, because 8 looks 17 years older than we last saw him (as that's how much older McGann really is).  But, more significantly, the ending shows a young John Hurt as True 9 that was actually taken from stock footage, which suggests that True 9 aged very significantly within his regeneration.

It also raises one question:  If True 9 aged that much within his regeneration, then how freakin' long was that regeneration?  We all know the Doctor lies about his age.  How old is he, really?

The question people haven't been asking since the new series came back but which they should have is this:  Why would a pacifist join a war?  Sure, the 6th Doctor had a pretty dark side, and the 3rd Doctor karate chopped people, but by and large, he is a peaceful man.  Why would he become a soldier?  Apparently, it's because he realized that both sides had become so equally evil that he had to put a stop to it once and for all.  He made a very reluctant choice, and came to regret it.  But did he?  It seems he regrets what the war did to him, but understands, reluctantly, that what he did in the war was necessary.

We just don't know, yet, what exactly he did.

Moffat has fallen in love with these little minisodes, going all the way back to "Time Crash."  In addition to the ones that are put out online, the DVD Boxsets are peppered with these little jewels.  Moffat seems to love writing short stories about the Doctor. Some of them, like "Time" and "Space" are incredibly clever.  Some of them, like the Pond Life series, tell us some really interesting information.  Some of them, like "The Battle of Demons Run:  Two Days Later" provided some information that should really have been put in a full-length episode for it to make sense.  And some of them, like "He Said, She Said" are so pointless that I feel bad for the animals who were killed to make the gelatin to make the film that these pointless little stories were shot on.

But "The Night of the Doctor" is the masterpiece of Moffat's minisode obsession.  Never before has a minisode provided such crucial information.  When looking back on the history of the series, "The Night of the Doctor" is going to need to be seen as equal in importance to any full length episode, because it shows us one of the regenerations, something that is fundamentally important to the history of the Doctor's life.  Furthermore, it's a very good regeneration episode, and it should always be seen as an important part of the series.  If "The Day of the Doctor" turns out to be a complete disappointment, then I'll just be able to watch "The Night of the Doctor" on repeat for 90 minutes and pretend that's the 50th Anniversary Special, and I'll be sufficiently mollified.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Beyond the End of Time Itself: An Overanalysis of the New Trailers for "The Day of the Doctor"

RASSILON: We will initiate the Final Sanction. The end of time will come at my hand. The rupture will continue until it rips the Time Vortex apart. 
MASTER: That's suicide. 
RASSILON: We will ascend to become creatures of consciousness alone. Free of these bodies, free of time, and cause and effect, while creation itself ceases to be. 
DOCTOR: You see now? That's what they were planning in the final days of the War. I had to stop them. ("The End of Time Part 2")

This weekend, the BBC released another full trailer for the 50th Anniversary Special, "The Day of the Doctor," as well as a short clip from the episode, both of which are above.   If you remember, I already gave my analysis of the first trailer they put out a few months back.  Then the BBC put out this teaser trailer that everyone but me felt the need to dissect and analyze.  Personally, I think trying to learn anything from a trailer that has literally no footage from the episode is fruitless.  It's a cool looking trailer, but it tells us nothing we didn't already know.  But this trailer is an actual trailer that gives us some new information, so it's time to dive in.

If you ask me, it seems pretty clear that this episode is, first and foremost, the sequel to "The End of Time."  "The End of Time" told us how The Time War ended, and this episode is going to show us in greater detail.  I'm not surprised that fans speculated that this episode would be titled "The Time War." I think we're finally going to see what really happened.  Perhaps, we're going to see the very moment when the Time Lords and the Daleks were destroyed.

The 10th Doctor, the 11th Doctor, and True 9 are somehow brought together for this episode.  But the 10th Doctor says in the trailer "Why are we all together?  Why are we all here?"  That means that they didn't just stumble upon each other, or seek each other out by choice.  Something forced them together, a direct violation of the Time Lords' First Law of Time (which they broke when they felt like it).  Furthermore, there's something that never dawned on me before:  If they can meet True 9, then the time lock is broken.

In "Journey's End," we learn that the entire Time War is "time locked," meaning nobody and nothing should be able to get in or out of the time period in which the war happened.  However, Dalek Caan found a way to break through, yet it cost him his sanity (not that Daleks are really sane to begin with).  Then, in "The End of Time," Rassilon found a way out, but it was not easy to pull off.  True 9, as far as we know, only existed in the Time War, and his regeneration almost certainly happened in that war.  This means that either the 10th and 11th Doctors, along with Rose and Clara, are going to be breaking into the time lock, or True 9 is breaking out.  My money is on the former.

It's never been known when and exactly how the Doctor regenerated into the 9th Doctor.  Up until "The Name of the Doctor," it was assumed that Paul McGann's Doctor regenerated into Christopher Eccleston's, but now we know that's not true.  That leaves us with 2 regenerations we've never seen on the show, and a lot of wiggle room as to when things happened.  However, there's one important clue:  In the beginning of the episode "Rose," the 9th Doctor checks himself out in the mirror, and it looks like it's for the first time.  "Ah, could've been worse. Look at the ears. "  So True 9 presumably regenerated into 9 moments before the events of "Rose."  I think it's fairly safe to assume that his regeneration occurred because of the event that caused him to end the Time War.

It's been said that Eccleston was approached to come back for this special, but that he turned them down.  I've been wondering about this:  was True 9 supposed to be in the script, or was he added into the script because Eccleston turned down the special.  Is True 9 playing the role that Eccleston's 9 was going to play?  This would have required Moffat to completely ignore the mirror scene I mentioned earlier, but perhaps the special was supposed to be about how Eccleston's 9 ended the Time War.  Regardless, it's going to be very difficult to do this story without Eccleston, if this is the story I think it's going to be.  How do you not show True 9's regeneration into 9 if Eccleston refused to come back?  Maybe Eccleston is lying, but I doubt it.  He does seem like he's too much of a dick to come back for the fans.  But maybe he's going to surprise me.

The other little clip they released, referred to as "But That's Not Possible!"  Other than introducing a character in the background, who's supposedly going to be named Osgood (I don't feel like unraveling that little puzzle) and who seems to be wearing the 4th Doctor's scarf.  The whole clip seems pretty pointless to me.  It tells us very little.  UNIT (it sounds like Kate Stewart) is showing the Doctor a painting, and Clara sees something that she thinks is "not possible" (a phrase that is used often on Doctor Who and is almost always proven wrong).  I couldn't understand what Clara was shocked by the painting.  My girlfriend said "She saw herself in the painting."  That would be interesting, as the painting is clearly of Gallifrey burning to the ground.  But I'm afraid we're looking at a much more commonplace and tired plot device:  Clara saw the same image in a dream that's in the painting.

Next Saturday, the minisode "The Night of the Doctor" will be released.  The description they've given out says:

"The 50th Anniversary features Matt Smith, David Tennant and a mysterious incarnation played by John Hurt. Only one appears in this mini episode, 'The Night of the Doctor.' But which?"

I'm thinking of the phrasing of this.  "Only one appears in this mini episode."  One of those three?  Or one Doctor?  Moffat said that no other past Doctors will appear in the special.  He said nothing about these minisodes that he's so fond of making.  Furthermore, Paul McGann, the 8th Doctor, seems to have potentially let something slip on Twitter.  Back in October, Paul McGann said on Twitter:

"Spent forty minutes this pm having to imitate Matt Smith’s dramatic delivery in VO. You have been warned….”

After fans got crazy excited, he followed it up by saying:
“I should explain. It was by way of an aural experiment to find out how similar we might sound. We didn’t. And he’s better looking too.”
What the fuck does that mean?  What kind of aural experiment?  For what?  What could that possibly mean?  It sounds like a weird, fumbled excuse that he came up with when he realized he had just said way too much.  Even if Moffat is telling the truth about none of the past Doctors coming back for the special, that doesn't mean that none of them can come back for the minisode.  Plus, he's one of the easiest Doctors to bring back because we know so little about him.  He could have stayed in that regeneration long enough to really, truly age within that regeneration, which would explain the 20 year age difference since the last time we saw him.  You can't really say that about any other Doctor.
I think McGann is in "Night of the Doctor."