Finally, it’s here. American Doctor Who fans will tune in tonight to the first episode of the fifth series, two weeks after it was launched in the UK.
The opening episode – screened at 9 p.m. Eastern Time Zone – is called The Eleventh Hour, and sees the new Doctor (Matt Smith) with only 20 minutes to save the world. Only his new assistant, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), can help him.
Meanwhile, the promotional tour of the United States continues right up to today, with Smith and Gillan making appearances ahead of the launch on BBC America tonight.
The official UK BBC Doctor Who website has a report on the preview showing of The Eleventh Hour at the Village East movie theatre on Thursday. The event, attended by Smith, Gillan and executive producer Steven Moffat, drew fans from around the country with the queue forming as early as 6.30 a.m.
Jody Harkaby from Queens was first in the queue, clutching her sonic screwdriver and Raggedy Doctor action figure. Soon she was joined by another eager fan, Dan Ennis. He’d travelled about 400 miles from upstate in Buffalo in order to make the premiere.
Now a historic landmark, the Village East cinema started life in 1921 as a “Yiddish” live performance venue. Matt Smith and Karen Gillan were also live, in that they showed up to meet everyone in person and watch the episode with them.
“Big yourself up, New York!” said Smith as he wrapped himself in a scarf reminiscent of the Tom Baker (fourth Doctor) era. Moffat brought the discussion up to date by urging surfers to go online to see that “there are people uploading videos of themselves eating fish fingers and custard” (a scene from the first episode).
There was some debate about the regeneration scene from tenth to eleventh Doctor. Smith explained that dust and rubble had tumbled down and he really needed to spit. Moffat said that the casting vote to keep the spit in the final cut was made by former showrunner Russell T. Davies.
Controversially (for fans, anyway), discussion centred on a questioner’s suggestion to fix the chameleon circuit – the gizmo that should enable the TARDIS to change shape according to its environment. Smith explained to Who newcomers that this broken feature kept the TARDIS exterior design fixed as an old London police callbox. Smith championed the view of the vocal majority in the theatre and rejected any change: “No, boo, no!” Moffat added that, of course, the Doctor could repair it if he wanted, but likes the blue: “It’s always going to be a police telephone box,” he told fans.
There was a standing ovation for the stars and Steven Moffat as they left the movie theatre.
BBC publicity photograph
The Doctor's old enemy the Daleks appear in the third episode, due on American TV screens in two weeks
Meanwhile, the Paley Centre for Media has uploaded a video of a question-and-answer session held Monday, and there is a report on the event on Newsarama. BBC America have uploaded a video of Smith and Gillan at the Apple store in SoHo.
The stars have also given interviews to a number of local TV stations such as WCSH6, based in Portland, Maine, with Steven Moffat talking to FilmSchool Rejects.
Canada previewDoctor Who was even mentioned on the BBC’s rather serious flagship current-affairs programme Newsnight, when a guest from Washington said the leadership debates taking place on British TV (for the first time) may draw an audience as big as that achieved by the arrival of a new Doctor.
In Canada a special preview of The Eleventh Hour took place last week and is covered by the National Post. Steven Moffat talked to the event via Skype.
BBC America channel premieres The Eleventh Hour at 9 p.m. Eastern Time Zone. As a bonus, before the premiere, it is showing The Ultimate Guide, an introduction to the whole world of Doctor Who for new viewers.
The fifth series was launched in Britain two weeks ago and continues tonight with Victory of the Daleks, penned by Mark Gatiss, who has already written for new Who, with the Series 1 story in 2005, The Unquiet Dead, starring Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler; and the Series 2 story The Idiot’s Lantern, starring David Tennant as the Doctor and Rory Jennings as Tommy Connolly.
In Series 3, he starred with Tennant in The Lazarus Experiment, written by Stephen Greenhorn.