Sunday, August 26, 2012

Doctor Who and Daleks Invade New York City

The season 7 premiere of Doctor Who is not until next week, but I was one of the few people lucky enough see an advance screening of the episode yesterday at the famed Ziegfeld Theater in New York City. The whole affair was swankier than last year's ordeal when I had to line up 11 hours before the screening only to end up in one of the overflow rooms that didn't have the cast in person. This time around, we were all in the same gorgeous 1100+ person capacity theater able to see the episode in the huge screen as well as the cast when they took time to do a Q+A afterwards.

Supposedly they didn't open the line until 1pm, but when my friend and I got there around 1:20pm, the line looked like it was already 250+ people strong. Just for perspective, this was for a 6pm screening. The doors were finally opened around 4pm and my friend and I were able to get great seats. It was only my second time at the Ziegfeld and I had forgotten how massive and beautiful it was inside. They were pumping British music on the sound system, giving the whole place a rock concert kind of feel, while BBC America projected ads for their shows and various Doctor Who factoids on loop. While we were all waiting, Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, host Chris Hardwick, and producer Caro Skinner arrived at the theater in Deloreans. Talk about a time crash of fandoms! After a brief introduction by those four, they finally showed us the season premiere which is entitled "The Asylum of the Daleks."

What follows now are my NON-SPOILERY thoughts of the premiere, which in general I loved and thought was a great way to start a season.

Now, the title (and most of the promos leading up to the season) pretty much gives away that we will be seeing lots and lots of Daleks. I guess since we didn't see them at all last season, they needed to make up for that. With that said, I'm not the biggest fan of the Daleks even though they are the main Big Bad of Who. I appreciate the history, but the execution of their interaction with the Doctor usually leaves much to be desired. This premiere though gives us fresh insights and revelations about these legendary foes that I was actually impressed. By episode's end, I couldn't really look at them the same way again.

We also get an update on what the Ponds are up to and it's both expected and unexpected. Saying more would be spoilery so I will simply say both actors, who are the longest-running companions of new Who, are completely at home with their characters. And they just look hot. Then of course there's Matt Smith as the Doctor and he is just excellent as usual. Probably even more so in this episode where his character gets completely blindsided on more than one front and we get to see how he handles all of that. Like other premieres, the episode is sufficiently epic and movie-like to the point that I will not be disappointed to re-watch this on my smaller screen at home.

I have way more I want to comment on about the episode, but that will have to wait until after the premiere airs next week. Instead just a couple more general and hopefully ambiguous notes... There was one element of the episode that I was sorely disappointed in especially since a tweak here and there could've made it work. But then again there was one particularly BRILLIANT surprise in the episode that I still can't believe Moffat and company pulled off. So I guess it all evens out.

After the screening, Hardwick hosted a brief Q+A with Smith, Gillan, and Skinner. Supposedly this will be made available online after the premiere airs next week, but most of it was in reaction to the episode we had just watched. There were the usual questions about whether or not Gillan liked kissing Darvill (yes but it's like incest), who Smith thought should be the Doctor (Sellers, Cranston, NOT Cumberbatch), and how emotional it was to say goodbye to the Ponds in the fifth episode of this upcoming season (very, very, very). Someone else pimped their Doctor Who musical project while a small boy adorably asked Gillan why Amy gets into trouble all the time. All in all it was a fab time so big kudos to BBC America for putting it all together. Every year this event seems to get bigger and bigger. Maybe next year they should just rent out Madison Square Garden?

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