‘Doctor Who’ Nerd HQ SDCC 2015 Panel Recap

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Fun tales and laughs were a fixture during the Nerd HQ SDCC 2015 Conversations for a Cause Doctor Who panel, hosted by Nathan Fillion, at the New Children’s Museum in San Diego on Saturday. Though no new dish on the upcoming ninth series of the popular sci-fi was offered, the audience and viewers at home got the chance to learn more about the show’s stars Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald), Michelle Gomez (The Master/Missy), and showrunner Steven Moffat through intriguing questions by the fans. 

Capaldi was a slightly late arrival to the panel, and joked about the TARDIS getting a ticket.  Then it was on to questions both fun (what songs would they cover on Lip Sync Battle) and intriguing (how BBC has treated the show since its popularity boom, to which Moffat replied they are “passionately supportive”).

The questions that most heavily resonated with the fans delved deeper into their favorite characters: when asked what each of them thought of the Doctor, Coleman replied, “He’s a hero with two hearts,” drawing a big “Awwww” from the crowd. Capaldi defined his character, saying, “For an alien, I think he’s pretty human. He has a lot of flaws, but he’s on the side of good, and he wants to protect people, protect the weak,” while Moffat added, “The Doctor doesn’t know he’s a hero…I think also he has this idea in his mind of someone called ‘The Doctor’ who is never cruel, and never cowardly, and never gives in, and never gives up. That’s the ideal to which he aspires. He doesn’t, I think, privately think he is as good as that, but my God, he tries, and in that struggle is the heroism, and in that struggle is the story.”

The popular question of a future female Doctor reached the ears of the panel once more. Though Moffat already fielded the inquiry during the show’s earlier SDCC panel, he noted the priority is to “cast the best person” in the role, regardless of gender. Current Doctor Capaldi supports the notion, saying, “I hope that many, many actors and actresses will have the opportunity to play [the Doctor],” when asked how many Doctors there would be before the show’s final bow. (Moffat exclaimed, “It will never end!”)

Past Doctors were also spoken of, as Capaldi waxed poetically about enjoying the first five Doctors’ episodes during his youth. He also noted Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston’s bravery in leading the show’s reboot, saying, “Chris came to the show when nobody knew Doctor Who was just going to be a giant turkey. He was brave enough and courageous enough to put his acting cahones on the line.” And not just past Doctors were brought up, but past fan favorite characters: a horn-hatted fan brought up the idea of the reemergence of the Doctor’s daughter Jenny, played by Georgia Moffett (real-life daughter of Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison) during the run of Tenth Doctor David Tennant (whom she would later marry in real life — it’s very wibbly wobbly). “If I had a plan, I wouldn’t tell you. What I would say if I had a plan was, ‘No plans as yet.’” 

While fans asked about several show-related topics (‘Listen’ was a favorite episode among the panel), many tested them with unusual questions, like their favorite fairytales (Capaldi’s recount of “Rumpelstiltskin” hilariously disturbed several on the panel, while Capaldi compared Gomez’s selection of the fable “The Scorpion and the Frog” to the machinations of the Master) and the movies they most frequently quote in real life (“The Princess Bride” for Moffat, while Capaldi named “Dangerous Liaisions,” a movie in which he had a small part). 

The conversation eventually steered back to the show, its characters, and even its props. “My very first day with the sonic screwdriver I was excited to use it…and the end came flying off!” said Capaldi about the Doctor’s famous gadget. Moffat elaborated on the delicate construction of the production props and expressed his amazement about the multi-functionality of the toy sonic screwdrivers sold in stores. “When you buy a toy one, understand that you have a better one than Doctor Who!” When asked about what she hopes to bring to the character of The Master, Gomez emphasized a “fresh wickedness,” saying the relationship between her and the Doctor is “the greatest friendship in the universe that’s just gone wrong.” She provided more insight into the character, and finished with the memorable thought, “[The Doctor] kills a lot of people and feels bad about it — I don’t.”

When asked about the possibility of handing the directing reins over to the Doctor for an episode, Capaldi, no stranger to the art as an Oscar winner for his short film Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life, said, “I am just really happy to be playing the Doctor and not have all the problems [of a director].” Moffat made sure people knew it wasn’t Capaldi’s talent in question: “He does have a CV good enough to do Doctor Who, no question…but I would always have the question, ‘How the hell can you do both those roles?’” 

Closing the panel was a question on how Clara has affected the Doctor, to which Capaldi answered, “I think she’s taught him to know himself and try and understand human beings in a more generous way. I think she brings him an understanding of love and compassion, of the depth of the human soul. And in the form of Jenna, she’s brought me immense comfort and happiness and made my first season as Doctor Who unforgettable as an acting experience because she’s such a class act. She’s a star, and an incredible person.”

Watch the stream on The Nerd Machine’s YouTube at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVTbZhs91tY

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