Russell T. Davies
In the clip, Phifer's character is shown getting impaled through the chest with a rod that flies off the back of a truck ahead of him. But, as he explained, he doesn't die. "Basically there's this phenomenon that happens throughout the world where no one is dying," he said. "I play a C.I.A. agent named Rex Matheson, and so I make it my mission to try to get to the bottom of what this phenomenon is and who's behind it. Is it aliens? Is it a conspiracy group?"
A couple of years ago, the sci-fi-flavored show, which follows a secretive team that battles threats to Earth, abandoned the monster-of-the-week structure that it had used in its first two seasons. In 2008's 'Torchwood: Children of Earth,' creator Russell T Davies abandoned that format to tell a morally complicated story that spanned five tightly linked episodes.
'Children of Earth' was a critical and commercial success in both the U.S. and U.K., and Davies said in a recent interview in Los Angeles that using a highly serialized format had been a creative breakthrough for 'Torchwood,' which had begun life as a 'Doctor Who' spinoff.
In the 'Torchwood's' first two seasons, which featured mostly standalone episodes and an array of one-off villains, "we were always upstaging ourselves by the fact that 'Doctor Who,' [which Davies had revived in 2005] did that on a much bigger scale, and that's why 'Torchwood' struggled sometimes."
"I loved those first two years, but when I hit on the idea of 'Children of the Earth,' when I said, 'Let's not do weekly story, let's do one long story,' it sort of came of age for me in my head, and I discovered the potential to go anywhere and do anything, and then I thought this [show] could run and run and run," Davies said.
Matt Smith has only just taken the reigns of the title role in 'Doctor Who' and he is already slated to make a guest-appearance on the spin-off series 'The Sarah Jane Adventures,' according to the BBC Press Office. For those unaware, the spin-off follows the adventures of former 'Doctor Who' companion Sarah Jane Smith as played by Elisabeth Sladen.
Also joining them in the same episode is former 'Doctor Who' companion Jo Grant. She'll be played by Katy Manning, who is stepping into the role for the first time since 1973.
And to round out the news trifecta, the episode will be written by the creator of 'The Sarah Jane Adventures' and the man responsible for bringing 'Doctor Who' back to television, Russell T. Davies. This would mark Davies' first time writing for the character of the Doctor since he left the series (and it could be argued that it's his first time writing for Smith's Doctor).
Mind you, Davies writing was never particularly impressive on the series in terms of science fiction. Davies' strength tends to be writing about relationships, and having the Doctor in a room with two of his ex-companions (which for the Doctor would be the equivalent of ex-girlfriends) is enough reason to tune in.
The Doctor is back, and he's a lot younger than his predecessors.
26-year-old British actor Matt Smith is the eleventh person to take on the intergalactic Time Lord role on 'Doctor Who'; he joins a long line of acclaimed thespians, including David Tennant (who just hung up his Doctor trenchcoat last year), Chris Eccleston, and the legendary Tom Baker, who played Doctor from 1974 to 1981. While Smith looks strangely like a hybrid of Eccleston and Tennant, he brings a youthful energy all his own to the sci-fi show.
We can classify this under "train wrecks waiting to happen." Fox has picked up the rights to produce an American version of the BBC sci-fi spin-off of Doctor Who, Torchwood.
Series creator Russell T. Davies is writing the pilot (and several other former executives of the original are behind the show), so there will likely be many similarities and possibly even nods to Doctor Who continuity. Critics who haven't seen the original will likely pigeonhole the show as The X-Files with more ostentatious sci-fi elements.
The question is, how will the show be handled? Will it be a complete reboot? Will it be an American branch of the institution? Most importantly, will John Barrowman star as Captain Jack Harkness (hey, he's already got the American accent)?
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox is developing an imported version of the popular British sci-fi series (seen in the U.S. on BBC America) about a super-secret agency charged with protecting Earth against alien threats. It's like '24,' with tentacles and sex. Lots of sex, and especially lots of same-sex sex.
Moffat, who takes over for previous lead writer and producer Russell T. Davies, remembers his father calling him excitedly to the television, saying Doctor Who was on. It wasn't the show's regular night, but Moffat rushed to the television anyway, only to find it was the kids show Blue Peter, which often promoted and previewed episodes of Doctor Who, and burst into tears.
The two-part story, "The End of Time," was watched by 10 million in the UK -- flirting with a 50 ratings share. So, it's an undeniable success. It was also an undeniable mess of a story that proved unworthy of Tennant's swan song.
Davies forever deserves credit for taking the street credit his successful work on series like Queer as Folk gave him and investing it in one shot from the BBC to bring back the network's crown jewel, Doctor Who. And he deserves credit for increasing the nerdy guy-friendly show's popularity with women by introducing "Buffy-ized" romance and humor.
But, the hard truth is Davies isn't a gifted sci-fi genre writer. And it showed in "The End of Time."
Regeneration is a brilliant idea, enabling the program to continue while changing the lead actor. This in turn allowed the program to continue on the air for 26 years before being put on hiatus, then restart a couple of times in the same universe without much fuss. The beautiful thing is that it's built into the character that every actor who plays him can be completely different. It doesn't suffer the limitations of, say, the different actors playing James Bond.
My first Doctor was Colin Baker and I started right after his regeneration from Peter Davison. Contrary to most fans, I enjoyed him in the role. For all you fans reading, which regeneration sticks in your mind?
Doctor Who: "Dreamland" is the show's first venture into "3D" CG animation, and that makes for a stylistic representation of the Tennant's tall, skinny Time Lord. Writer Phil Ford (a veteran of both live action Who and Torchwood) takes the The Doctor to a diner in Roswell, New Mexico where all manner of alien shenanigans are going on.
American fans won't get to see the six-part series in its first run, as they're blocked out of video feeds on the BBC's websites. If only there were other websites that showed online video (illegally) posted by fans. Oh, well.
The interview took place around the San Diego Comic Con and is being done as a promotion for the next Doctor Who special, The Waters of Mars. There are a few spoilers (they do reveal the Master's appearance in the final episodes later this year, but that's pretty common knowledge at this point), but there is a sense of the feelings from the dynamic duo as they leave the franchise.
With 2009 offering only a few Who specials and turning the series into a sporadic event until it returns full-time in 2010, the BBC has time to revamp the show's image and identity online.
The effectiveness of their efforts so far are debatable as they seem to be looking backward more than forward to the new Matt Smith/11th Doctor era.
For example, the re-engineered Doctor Who website added a blog by Davies in which he discusses the new David Tennant-voiced, 10th Doctor CGI cartoon, Dreamland.
But the ending of Children of Earth complicated things. At the end of season two, two major characters died, then COE killed off another. The immortal, normally untouchable Captain Jack Harkness had been compromised to the point where he had to leave the planet, and Gwen was pregnant and happily married. So what would a fourth season even look like?
I would hate to see Torchwood: Baby Boomer, with Gwen balancing the baby with fighting aliens, and all the clichés that come with the balancing-a-job-and-motherhood plots from movies and television past. But then, series creator and writer Russell T. Davies has done a fantastic job of avoiding the predictable, so I'd be willing to take that leap of faith to see what he comes up with. And Davies is already on record as saying that Captain Jack is "fundamental to Torchwood."
That would make sense when you consider the third mini-season ("Children of Earth") pulled in north of 6 milllion viewers a night in the U.K. and is now BBC America's all-time highest rated show. Why wouldn't the BBC want to bring it back?
But, in an informal discussion in Los Angeles Wednesday, Russell T. Davies told me the fourth season has not been officially approved, despite previous reports.
The BBC decided to make the show's third season, "Children of Earth," into a week-long miniseries event. It was a huge ratings success in the U.K. and fared well on BBC American in the U.S. So, the Beeb is giving it a longer run.
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