New Dr. Who Trailer Feature Familiar Friends And Foes

Posted by at 1:24 pm on September 25, 2023

Dr Who and Donna

Doctor Who marks its 60th anniversary this year with three specials featuring David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor, with the first slated to air in November. The latest trailer shows the good Doctor reunited with his former companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) and facing off against two classic adversaries from the Whovian archives: an alien race called the Meeps and a celestial being known as The Toymaker, played by Neil Patrick Harris.

When the BBC announced that Ncuti Gatwa would succeed Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor as the new incarnation of Doctor Who, fans naturally expected Gatwa to make his first appearance in the traditional regeneration sequence. Instead, in the 2022 special “The Power of the Doctor,” Whittaker’s Doctor regenerated into an incarnation bearing a striking similarity to the Tenth Doctor—both played by Tennant. It was a savvy marketing move, given the enormous popularity of Tennant’s Doctor. With showrunner Chris Chibnall stepping down and Russell T. Davies re-assuming the reins for the show’s 60th anniversary, what better time to revisit that character, along with my personal favorite of the companions, Donna Noble?

The first of the three 60th anniversary specials is called “The Star Beast,” drawing on the storyline of a 1980 comic strip featuring the Fourth Doctor, who encounters a seemingly adorable alien creature dubbed Beep the Meep. But Beep and his fellow Meeps have actually become conquering savage beasts thanks to radiation from the Black Sun. That same radiation allows the Meeps to essentially turn people into “zombie drones.”

Also featured is another classic character called The Toymaker, aka the Crystal Guardian and the Mandarin. The character, originally played by Michael Gough, hasn’t been seen since a four-episode arc in 1966, only one of which (“The Final Test”) still survives in the BBC archives. This eternal being of seemingly infinite power captures the First Doctor (William Hartnell) and his two companions, Steven (Peter Purves) and Dodo (Jackie Lane). Steve and Dodo are forced to compete in a series of deadly children’s games while the Doctor must solve an elaborate ten-piece puzzle before they escape in the TARDIS, destroying the Toymaker’s realm in the process.

The trailer opens with Donna confessing to a lingering sense of something missing, “like I had something lovely and it’s gone.” Then a spaceship crashes in front of her house, and she discovers Beep the Meep (voiced by Miriam Margoyles), reacting as only Donna would react: “We’ve got a bloody martian in the shed!” Cut to Tennant’s Fourteenth Doctor reminding us that he wiped Donna’s memory in order to save her life, but if she does regain her memory, she will die. And if that happens, can the Doctor save her life again? He’s not so sure. Meanwhile, the Doctor also begins to remember The Toymaker and their prior history, seeking to protect Donna and others from his former adversary: “Your fight is with me!”

We also catch a glimpse of Donna’s daughter Rose Noble (Yasmin Finney) and Jemma Redgrave as Kate Lethbrige-Steward, head of UNIT, which seeks to prevent alien invasions of Earth. I’m guessing Kate and UNIT will play a role in defeating Beep the Meep and/or the Toymaker. The final shot is a closeup of Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor.

“The Star Beast” will debut on the BBC in the UK and Ireland in November, airing on Disney+ in other regions. It will be followed by two more episodes in the arc: “Wild Blue Yonder” (Part 2) and “The Giggle” (Part 3), although we don’t yet have official air dates. One assumes “The Giggle” will feature the Fourteenth Doctor regenerating and the arrival (finally) of Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor.


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