Daleks! Weeping Angels! And a heartbreaking exit on Doctor Who

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Dec 17, 2012

Doctor Who is back this Saturday, and there's going to be a huge start to the seventh season filled with Daleks, Weeping Angels and an exit for companions Amy Pond and her husband, Rory Williams, that will be "heartbreaking," said executive producer Caroline Skinner in an exclusive interview with Blastr. And that's only the first five episodes.

"We've got the five episodes which are Arthur and Karen's, sadly, last episodes for the autumn, and then from Christmas onwards it's the Jenna and Matt era," said Skinner. Arthur Darvill and Karen Gillan, who play Rory and Amy, have been traveling with the Doctor since Matt Smith joined the show in 2010. After their exit, it's new companion Jenna-Louise Coleman and new adventures for the Doctor.

The seventh season premieres on BBC America this Saturday at 9 p.m. with "a brilliant, brilliant start to the [season]. I think that [executive producer] Steven's [Moffat] script is simply enormous. I remember when I first read it thinking, 'Oh, how are we going to achieve all of this?' And then, of course, we've got such a brilliant production team that everybody piles in and really raised the bar and made it look even more fantastic than I could ever have imagined. It's just a really big roller coaster ride of an adventure for Matt's Doctor," said Skinner.

"We've got more Daleks than ever before in anything that's ever been on Doctor Who. It's huge to see them all. It's an enormous and really big adventure story," she said. "We start with the Daleks, and what could be better for Amy and Rory's final story than a huge Weeping Angel story, which is set in New York. ... So the two will be back with a bang with all of the Doctor's most terrifying episodes. ... What more could you want?"

Well, we wouldn't mind having more than five episodes this fall, but that's not going to happen. Instead, after Amy and Rory's long goodbye, Doctor Who will take a break until the Christmas episode, when Jenna-Louise Coleman joins the show as the Doctor's newest companion. Then the final eight "Pond-less" episodes of the season will return next spring.

But before the Christmas episode, a new companion or new spring adventures, we've got the Ponds' final episodes, which are "just simply huge, enormous episodes with big, self-contained stories every week. And obviously culminating in what is just simply a heartbreaking final episode for Karen and Arthur," said Skinner.

Key villains in that Amy and Rory's final episode are the spooky Weeping Angels, one of the newer villains in the Doctor Who universe.

"There have been a couple of polls recently over here, and [the Weeping Angels have] been voted the most terrifying Doctor Who monster to date. By quite a sizable margin. And I can kind of see it. It's something that every child ... you can just really identify with them as a monster, and, I think, there they are out of the corner of your eye being really, really scary," she said.

Beyond all that, "we'll see some very exciting but very new monsters coming to the series, and, of course, I'm not going to say too much about that, because I think that people just have to wait and see and be scared by them if they arrive," said Skinner.

And Skinner promises something special for the American viewers. "Two of the very big stories are set in the States. We've got the New York episode, which is just the most simply beautiful and elegant setting for that big Rory and Amy story. And then the middle episode of the run is a western episode. We filmed it in Spain in the place that all of the big old spaghetti westerns were shot. It's just a brilliant, brilliant ride of an episode," she said.

"I think what we wanted to do with these five episodes for the autumn was to really feel as though each one of them was an enormous blockbuster movie of the week, and I think when you watch them you'll really get that sense, because they all feel as though they've got—from both the script and the way in which the directors have approached them—they've all got that real movie feel to them. One's a western episode, one's a Weeping Angels episode, one's a Dalek episode, and they seem as though they're feeding on big ideas from different movie genres. Simply we wanted to make the adventures bigger and more epic than they'd ever been before. Of course, what you want along with all of that is to really to feel that these are Amy and Rory's biggest stories. And then, of course, in the final episode, we're building to that last dreadful farewell," she said.

As far as what happens after those five episodes, Skinner isn't saying much. However, she did open up a bit about Coleman as the Doctor's new companion.

"At the moment, my big focus are these five for the autumn with Amy and Rory. Jenna's first episode will be the Christmas special. And I think, of course, we're not going to tell you anything about Clara. I've actually just been reading the Christmas script because we're just about to start filming it. And it's just simply beautiful, and I think there are lots of surprises in store for everybody about who she is. But Jenna is just absolutely wonderful, and I think finding a new companion on Doctor Who is always a terrifying task before you start the auditions process. And I spent an awful lot of time with Andy Pryor, who's our casting director. He's done the show from the first day that Russell T Davies brought it back. And we just saw lots of really brilliant, brilliant, talented people. And then Jenna just walked into the room and that was sort of that, really. We did an audition where she read with Matt, and just the chemistry between the two ... it's one of those things that you can't really describe what it feels like to have met the right companion in an audition. You just sort of see it. And the dynamic between the two feels so fresh and so sparky that I think people will love her being on the TARDIS," said Skinner. "I think that 2013 is going to be a really big year for Doctor Who."

Here's a look at Saturday's premiere:

What are you most excited about when it comes to Doctor Who? Daleks? Weeping Angels? The Ponds' long goodbye?