So...the BBC released a prequel yesterday for the Series 7.2 premiere, "The Bells of Saint John." Needless to say, the spoiler warning level is high for this post!!
If you want to go watch the prequel first, it's on the BBC's Doctor Who website, the Doctor Who official Facebook page, and, naturally, all over YouTube. You can watch it on the BBC's website here. Or, if you prefer YouTube, here's a YouTube link. (I contemplated embedding it in this post, but I'd rather you go watch it elsewhere first and then read this analysis).
So...this prequel is a ridiculously cute (and a tad bit sad) scene that lasts about 2 1/2 minutes. It features The Doctor sitting on the swings in some playground on Earth somewhere, looking dejected, and eventually getting into a conversation with a little girl who sits down on the swing next to him.
First of all, about swings. I love swings, and have since I was a kid. And I don't care what this little girl says, you are never too old to go sit on swings. (Heck there's even a fanlisting for swings).
My favorite line in this whole prequel: "Oh, dear. I'm way past strange. I think I'm probably incredible." Great line, and so well delivered by Matt Smith. Practically the only time The Doctor sounds happy in this whole clip.
Speaking of which, can we talk about Matt Smith in this clip? I mean, I already thought he was a good actor as The Doctor, but wow. I was blown away by him here, with the amount of emotional range he was able to portray. He seems very mature here too, which is saying something given how young he is. No hyperactive, jumpy Eleven here -- just some honest-to-goodness, amazing dramatic acting.
Now, part of this talent most likely comes from the fact that, apparently, Matt has quite a bit of theater experience -- but that's practically a given these days with British actors. To be honest, I wish it was a given for American actors. Not that our actors are bad or anything, but the UK just seems to produce higher quality actors in terms of talent (this is also true of other parts of the Commonwealth, like Australia or New Zealand...Russell Crowe as Javert, anyone?). And I think the major focus on theatrical training of actors is key to that. I myself have "tread the boards" multiple times, and so I can testify -- stage acting training is worth it for anyone. Even if you don't plan to become an actor, it teaches you to project your voice (which I have to do all the time at work), gives you confidence, and makes you think about life, emotions, and all that goes with that (especially if you study Stanislavski method and its famous "emotional memory" technique). I use my acting training all the time to act out stories I am writing so I can see if scenes work. If you do plan on going into acting, it teaches you a lot about acting that TV and movie acting training alone just can't give you.
(By the way, this is totally random, but...I just realized Matt and I have the same birthday. How crazy is that?)
The little girl in this is really great too. I wonder what actress she is. Cause she's really, really good.
But, ok, can we please talk about the ending??
The girl runs up to her mother, and her rather overprotective mother asks her what she was doing, and she says she was talking to a sad man. Then the mom says:
Clara Oswald. What have I told you about talking to strange men?
Did you catch that?!
All this time, the Doctor sits there telling this little girl about how he can't find Clara and how despondent he is because of it...when all the time he was talking to Clara to begin with!!
Now, this one person I follow on Tumblr, soufflesforgallifrey, does not believe that girl is Clara because of how her and her mother are dressed, saying no one dressed like that in the '90's (which is roughly when this scene would be taking place, given Clara's age in the actual Series 7 Part 2 clips we've seen, and also given a quote I read recently from Jenna-Louise Coleman that says Clara is "just out of university," which would make her mid-to-late-20's). And hey, maybe no one did dress that way in the '90's. I'm American, I don't know what British fashion was like then. All I know, is, the name matches.
Being at least familiar with "The Eleventh Hour" (I've seen clips of it from the specials, but have yet to see the episode itself), I immediately noticed the parallel here to Amy Pond. The Doctor also met Amy as a child first before meeting her as an adult and inviting her to travel with him. I find it interesting that Steven Moffat (current showrunner and writer of this prequel) is repeating that little story idea. I don't know if he thinks it's just a good story formula, or if he's just throwing in the little nod to see if people notice. I favor the former, honestly, because I don't think Moffat is clever enough to be doing the latter. (In case you can't tell, I am not a fan of this man. This is a man who has said ON CAMERA that he enjoys scaring children - and even intends to make kids "scared of wi-fi" with "The Bells of Saint John," as he stated in a more recent interview. That is sadistic and wrong on so many levels. AND he actually enjoys torturing his fans. Don't believe me? Ask the Sherlockians).
Anyway, this clip invites interesting possibilities, and I'm wondering whether they'll actually reference it in "The Bells of Saint John" itself. The prequels (which, as noted by The Nerdist, is a misnomer, because prequels usually come out after the thing they're a prequel of, not before) seem to be meant to stand alone. Yet at the same time the Doctor Who prequels seem to be intended to reveal something about the episode to which they are tied. The TARDISodes in Series 2 operated the same way. The 2012 Christmas Special ones gave some extra canon about Vastra and a glimpse into how much of a Scrooge the Doctor has become.
Well, I guess we'll find out soon enough...only about a week now!!