Thompson is author of "Doctor Who FAQ," an Applause Books reference that goes along the book self with the likes of similar references about James Bond and "Star Trek." Other Thompson books include "If You Like Led Zeppelin ..." and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Music on Film" and "Bad Reputation: The Unauthorized Biography of Joan Jett." For now, though, this Whovian was eager to get his answers to a couple of Doctor Who questions as the BBC America comes back to finish up the seventh season since it was revived in 2005. The episode "The Bells of Saint John" at 8 p.m. Saturday is the first of an eight-show arc that will solve the mystery of new companion Clara "Oswin" Oswald, the girl who died twice in previous introductions to the Doctor and his audience of Whovians.
Thompson was suffering from laryngitis this week, but he answered three questions via e-mail:
1. Question: What is the timeless nature of Doctor Who that has allowed to stretch across 50 years?
Answer: Doctor Who is unique in that - aside from (usually) great storytelling and performing - it allows the viewers to make their own moral judgements, rather than battering them with a prepackaged response... the default setting for so many other shows. Admittedly, this has been less of a feature in recent seasons, and the show's success is now built upon its own (equally unique) bombast and sense of self. But long term, it appeals because it questions but does not answer.
2. Question: According to lore, the 13th doctor should be the last -- the 1976 episode "The Deadly Assassin" talked about a regeneration limit of 12 times, and Matt Smith is the 11th doctor. Do you know of a loophole or can you imagine one that would allow the Doctor to go on (I have a parallel universe theory, but that's too easy).
Answer: Good question! I think the loophole they will probably use is, now that he is the "last" of the Time Lords, all laws of Time Lordy-ness can safely be suspended. Or at least forgotten. The 12 regeneration limit has, in any case, been broken by the Master without too many attempts to square it with canon, so it will probably not be an issue. Unless, of course, the show is plummeting in the ratings and "The Final Doctor" becomes the hook to either win back viewers or end it altogether.
For the record: The Christmas episode last year nearly matched viewership for BBC America''s best-ever telecast (the premiere of its seventh season) in total viewers and was tops in its targeted adults 25-to-54 demo, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "Doctor Who: The Snowmen" averaged 1.43 million viewers, up 54 percent in total viewers and 60 percent in that age demo from the previous year.
Answer: The pat answer is, I started at the beginnin g... I've been watching the show since I was tiny, and collecting books, magazines, episodes etc., since my teens, so rather than needing to start researching, it was more a matter of just organizing everything I had in a way that made sense, then focusing on the aspects that have kept me interested for so long. My aim was for the book to be both informative and opinionated -- not every story in the series history has been gripping, not every Doctor has been likable, not every alien has been believable, and whether somebody agrees with my likes or dislikes or not, I think the book does open the door for a lot of discussion and argument. Which, to return to my first answer, is one of the things that the show itself is so good at.
Read an interview with current "Doctor Who" lead writer and exec producer Steven Moffat in tomorrow's Post-Gazette.