The Doctor Who panel at San Francisco's WonderCon kicked off to much fanfare (and free t-shirts) Sunday morning, the crowd cheering in excitement about the upcoming season of the BBC mainstay. After reshowing the totally badass trailer that debuted late last week, moderator Chris Hardwick introduced the panel: director Toby Haynes, actor Mark Shepard, and writer Neil Gaiman
The panel introduced a two minute behind-the-scenes segment that showed some of the footage for the coming episodes set in America, featuring a John Wayne-like Doctor. "I wear Stetsons now. Stetsons are cool." The footage looked great, and it was combined with the usual "biggest threat ever faced" claims. However, if there is one thing that Doctor Who has always delivered on, it's the promises of getting bigger and better. Haynes said they had big plans for The Doctor in the US, and that it would be a two-part episode. Though they only actually shot in the Utah desert, The Doctor (Matt Smith), Amy (Karen Gillan), and Rory (Arthur Darvill) will be traversing America from New York to Chicago and beyond.
Judging from what we've seen in the teaser and the various clips shown at the panel, Sheppard's character -- Canton Everett Delaware III -- plays a key role in the episodes based in America. They showed a great scene between the always monstrous President Nixon (Stuart Milligan) and Delaware, who seems to be a retired Federal Agent picked by the President to carry out an insidious mission. "You were my second choice for this, Mr. Delaware." Nixon tells him. "That's okay. You were my second choice for President, Mr. Nixon." So good!
The panel went on to talk about how they each got involved and all of the answers were the same: they were fans since childhood and when they were asked to do the show, it was a no-brainer to say yes. Gaiman talked a little bit about the episode he wrote, called "The Doctor's Wife," which was actually meant to be shown last season (instead of "The Lodger") but was cut due to budget constraints. Gaiman said that it's the fourth episode of season 6, and it sheds some light on the long gestating relationship between The Doctor and River Song. He said he was happy to move the episode, as he got to rewrite some scenes between Amy and Rory (Rory was "dead" at the time the episode would have originally aired), and cited why the chemistry of the characters works so well. He also teased that there may be an appearance by an "old acquaintance with a new face."
One of the most intriguing moments of the Season 6 preview stemmed from a fan's question. The fan asked why we see David Tennant's (the previous and 10th Doctor) TARDIS in the trailer for the upcoming episodes. The panel reacted with a very telling "no comment." Haynes assured the fan that he didn't direct that episode, so he honestly had no idea. Could there perhaps be a correlation between the 10th Doctor and the "old acquaintance" that Gaiman had mentioned? Unlikely, but it's a juicy tidbit all the same.