After months off, Doctor Who finally returns Saturday with a mysterious new companion and a scary new monster. But don't expect the BBC America series to retread the past 50 years, said executive producer and showrunner Steven Moffat.
"Start thinking it's all about nostalgia, then you're finished. It's about moving forward,” said Moffat during a conference call with journalists.
To kick off the second half of season seven and the eight upcoming original episodes, we'll meet yet another incarnation of Clara, the Doctor's newest companion, in Saturday's episode, “The Bells of Saint John.” Yes, both we and the Doctor have met versions of her twice before, but we suspect this latest Clara Oswald will stick.
“Doctor Who is almost more, in a way, the story of the companion. It's her take on the Doctor. It's her adventure.” The companions change in a way the Doctor never does, said Moffat.
Clara is played by Jenna-Louise Coleman, and for Moffat she brings a “tremendous speed and wit and sort of an unimpressed quality that makes the Doctor dance a bit harder, I suppose. He works a bit harder with Clara. Clara is always just a little bit out of reach.
“She's tough, she's fast, and she's hard to impress exactly the way the Doctor, generally speaking, doesn't like them. But, of course, he's absolutely devoted to Clara. That's very much driven by Jenna's particular style, which is, it's a very, very fast, snappy style. A very, very beautiful girl, but there's a real sense of toughness in that face of someone who can be a real adversary if she wants to be,” said Moffat.
Beyond that, “She looks like she belongs somehow next to Matt Smith. When the two stand together, it looks like an instant team.They have enough in common and yet have enough sharp contrast that it's an instant poster when you stand them together,” he said.
We first met Clara as Oswin Oswald, a human who was converted into a Dalek. And then we met her as Clara Oswald in the Christmas special “The Snowmen,” a 19th-century barmaid and governess who was killed at the end of the episode.
But, of course, dead does not necessarily mean dead on Doctor Who. At the end of “The Snowmen” the Doctor realized something about Clara and left to find her again.
“You will uncover the mystery of Clara in the next eight episodes. All will be made clear, and you'll get your answer that way,” said Moffat.
While the companions are usually more “fluffy” and friendly than the Doctor, “This time Clara is the slightly difficult to get to know. [She's] one that is probably going to be slightly difficult to hug, and because the Doctor is haunted by her and met her twice before, he is slightly the needy one,” he said. “She's the unsolvable mystery in the enigma, and he's the one chasing after her. It's a reversal of the normal Doctor-companion dynamic, which I've been rather enjoying.”
We'll also meet the Doctor's newest monsters, the Spoonheads. “Suffice to say Wi-Fi covers every civilized country now. So if something got into the Wi-Fi, that would be a problem for us all, a new way to invade us,” said Moffat. “What Doctor Who often does is grab hold of whatever is omnipresent in your life and turn it into a monster.”
When it comes to the Spoonheads, “I think they're quite creepy. It's a roller-coaster kind adventure ride. I think it's a cracker of an episode. But let's wait and see what the audience thinks,” he said.
Doctor Who just won the Peabody Award for 50 years of “evolving with technology and the times like nothing else in the known television universe.” And yes, we're in for a 50th-anniversary special this year. But Moffat doesn't want to talk about that yet.
“I want to concentrate on what we're going to do on Saturday, which is a whole eight episodes before we even have to worry about that,” he said. “The show must be seen to be going forward. It's all about the next 50 years, not about the last 50 years. … The Doctor is moving forward as he always does, and he wants to solve the mystery of Clara. He's not thinking about all his previous incarnations and his previous adventures. He's thinking about the future. And that, for me, is important.”
Here's a look at a prequel to “The Bells of Saint John”:
Are you ready for more Doctor Who and a new Clara?