In many ways, the event reminded me of the season finale of a lot of reality shows — lots of celebratory clips and looks back, all the while keeping the reason for tuning in under wraps until the last possible moment.*
*I enjoyed the reflections by Peter Davison and the first set of panelists. The second set, not so much. But then again, I grew a bit tired of Wilf in the overbaked “The End of Time.” And while it would be easy to go Comic Book guy on the Who fan on the panel, I can’t honestly say that I’d do any better, knowing every word and utterance would be broken down and dissected by a world-wide fan boy audience.
And then finally, the news broke that it’s Peter Capaldi is taking on the role.
At first, my thought was “Who?” (no irony intended). Thanks to the power of the Internet, I was able to do some research and find out a bit more. And, so far, I’m sold on Capaldi as a solid choice to follow-up my favorite Doctor of the modern era.**
**He’s got a Scottish accent…as does my all time favorite Doctor. Already in good company there!
As I thought about the half-hour celebration and revelation, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a time years ago when I found out that Colin Baker had given way to Sylvester McCoy. I recall that it was mentioned during a pledge break on the local PBS station and I was completely shocked by the news. Part of it was because I’d just read an interview with Colin Baker days before saying he wanted to break Tom Baker’s seven-year tenure as the Doctor and part of it was that was in the days before the Internet and connecting with fellow Who fans wasn’t as easy as it is today.
I also recall that my local PBS station (KTEH in San Jose) quickly got hold of a press conference with McCoy, John-Nathan Turner and a couple of other Who dignitaries and aired it one evening as part of a pledge break special. (I think it took the place of or pushed back an interview with Patrick Troughton, but this was over 25 years ago and my memory is probably not all that reliable).
The difference between then and now struck me. Back then, the press conference was relatively low-key with little or no production values. Today’s announcement was over the top with all the bells and whistles. The McCoy reveal was done early, while today it took 25 minutes of build-up to get to the reason everyone was tuning in.
It’s the difference between fandom then and now. Back then, I never thought I’d see young people wearing t-shirts proclaiming their love of the show nor did I think there would be all the sheer plethora of tie-in items that I see on the market today. I see these fans with a mixture of envy because it’s cool to like Doctor Who these days and bitterness since I was a fan when being a fan wasn’t cool. I also wonder how many of them will be fans of the show ten years from now or a couple of years after it retires again. Or how many of them will abandon the show with an older actor in the role who isn’t young, hip and fits the profile of sexy?
Oh I’m sure they’ll continue to swoon over David Tennant (the most overrated Doctor of all time) but I wonder how long that will continue and when they’ll move on to the next flavor of the month….
Update: A quick search of YouTube turns of this video, which I think is the interview/press conference in question.