As with the previous season (Season Thirty Two (New Series 6)), this season was again split into two parts. However, instead of just a couple of months between both parts, this season had a gap of six months which was only broken by the 2012 Christmas special "The Snowmen".
|Amy and Rory
The first part of the main season began in September 2012, but this season actually started in December 2011 as it includes the 2011 Christmas special "The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe". The first five stories, of the main part of the season, where then broadcast between the 1st and the 29th September 2012, starting with "Asylum of the Daleks" and ending with "The Angels Take Manhattan". Then after the 2012 Christmas special the season resumed with a further eight stories starting with "The Bells of Saint John" on the 30th March 2013 and concluding with "The Name of The Doctor" on the 18th May 2013 - making a total of fifteen stories, including the two Christmas Specials.
This is the show's third and final season in which Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill played the Eleventh Doctor's companions Amy Pond and Rory Williams respectively. During this season Amy and Rory only featured during the season's first five stories as well as the 2011 Christmas special. It was revealed that the circumstances in which the pair departed from the show was a mutual decision by Karen Gillan and Executive Producer Steven Moffat. Karen Gillan has also stated that she did not want to make return cameos to the show.
After Amy and Rory parted company with The Doctor in "The Angels Take Manhattan" The Doctor became a virtual recluse until he became reunited, in "The Bells of Saint John", with a young woman called Clara 'Oswin' Oswald, played by Jenna-Louise Coleman.
Jenna-Louise Coleman was a former regular on Emmerdale and Waterloo Road. She had a small role in the feature film Captain America: The First Avenger and in 2012 was seen in the mini-series Titanic. The announcement that she would replace Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, as the next companion, was made on the 21st March 2012.
Her audition for the role was done in secrecy, pretending it was for something called Men on Waves, an anagram for Woman Seven. She was chosen, for the role of The Doctor's next companion, because Jenna-Louise Coleman worked the best alongside Matt Smith and could talk faster than him. Steven Moffat also revealed that her character would be different from previous companions and that the introduction of the new companion would 'reboot the show a little bit' and 'make you look at The Doctor differently'.
Despite the announcement that Clara's introduction would occur in the 2012 Christmas special a version of Clara (called Oswin Oswald) was actually first seen in "Asylum of the Daleks". Jenna-Louise Coleman's appearance in this story was successfully kept from the public before transmission. Also to keep the introduction of The Doctor's new companion a mystery it was revealed, near the end of this story, that Oswin Oswald had in fact been converted into a Dalek.
And then in "The Snowmen" The Doctor has to endure, like in the "Asylum of the Daleks", her death again. The mystery of how The Doctor's new companion could have had two introductions and two deaths would not be revealed until the show returned for the second part of this season where we get to witness The Doctor once again meeting, what he would describe as being ‘The Impossible Girl’, in "The Bells of Saint John" and finally discovering who Clara really is in the season's finale "The Name of The Doctor".
This season has been described at being a series of ‘movies’ squeezed into forty five minutes (although the Christmas specials were sixty minutes). The first half of the season is about The Doctor deleting himself from the Universe to hide himself from the deadly Silence, who attempted to assassinate him in the previous season. During this time, The Doctor regularly visits Amy and Rory and also meets Rory’s father Brian (played by Mark Williams), The Brigadier’s daughter Kate Stewart (played by Jemma Redgrave) and is also joined once again by River Song (played by Alex Kingston) in the final story of the first half which sees the return of the Weeping Angels who separate him from Amy and Rory forever.
During the second half of the season The Doctor is joined in some of the stories by Silurian Madame Vastra (played by Neve McIntosh), Sontaran Strax (played by Dan Starkey) and Jenny (played by Catrin Stewart). As well as Daleks and Weeping Angels, The Doctor also encounters, for the first time in the revived show, The Great Intelligence an Ice Warrior and an enhanced army of Cybermen.
The main guest star appearing in this season was Richard E. Grant portraying The Great Intelligence. He appeared in the 2012 Christmas special, the mid-series premiere "The Bells of Saint John" and the season's finale "The Name of The Doctor".
Other guest stars include: Alexander Armstrong (as Reg Arwell in "The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe"), Rupert Graves (Riddell in "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship"), David Bradley (as Solomon in "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship"), Riann Steele (as Queen Nefertiti in "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship"), Ben Browder (as Isaac in "A Town Called Mercy"), Celia Imrie (as Miss Kizlet in "The Bells of Saint John"), Ashley Walters (as Gregor Van Baalen in "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS"), Rachael Stirling and her mother Dame Diana Rigg (as Ada and Mrs Gillyflower in "The Crimson Horror"), Warwick Davis (as Porridge in "Nightmare in Silver") and Tamzin Outhwaite (as the Captain in "Nightmare in Silver").
Behind the cameras for "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe" Caroline Skinner replaced Beth Willis (who left the BBC after Season Thirty Two (New Series 6) as Executive Producer. This story was also the last for Piers Wenger as Executive Producer leaving Steven Moffat and Caroline Skinner as Executive Producers for the main part of the season. However, it was announced, before the broadcast of the second half of this season that Caroline Skinner would also be leaving the show at the end of the season - after just one season - and would be replaced by BBC Wales Head of Drama, Faith Penhale.
Marcus Wilson remained as Series Producer, with Denise Paul producing "The Bells of Saint John", "The Rings of Akhaten", "Nightmare in Silver" and "The Name of The Doctor".
Head writer Steven Moffat wrote seven stories including both of the Christmas specials. There was one new writer - Luther creator Neil Cross (who contributed to two stories). While returning writers were: Chris Chibnall, Mark Gatiss, Neil Gaiman, Steve Thompson and Toby Whithouse.
This season had six new directors and just two returning directors. The new directors were: Farren Blackburn, Saul Metzstein, Colm McCarthy, Jamie Payne, Mat King and Stephen Wolfenden. Returning directors were: Nick Hurran and Douglas Mackinnon.
Filming for the main part of this season began on the 20th February 2012. Overseas filming took place for both "A Town Called Mercy" (and also some scenes for "Asylum of the Daleks") and for "The Angels Take Manhattan". Much of "A Town Called Mercy" was filmed in March 2012 in the desert area of Almería, Spain, an area which contains Wild-West style streets that have been used in the making of many Western-set films. It was decided that filming this story in Spain was cheaper than constructing a set in the UK. "The Angels Take Manhattan", Amy and Rory's last story, was filmed in Central Park in New York City in April 2012, as well as at Cardiff University and a cemetery in Llanelli, South Wales.
The biggest event for the show however, was the relocation to the new Roath Lock studios in Cardiff midway through production of the season on the 12th March 2012. The first story to be filmed there was the 2012 Christmas Special.
Also "The Crimson Horror" has the accolade of being the 100th episode (not including the mini-episodes) to be broadcast since the show was revived in 2005.
Whereas Season Thirty-Two (New Series 6) was strongly linked by a running story arc, the stories in Season Thirty-Three were much more standalone in nature - although there was still a build up towards the season finale. To emphasise the standalone nature of each story this is the only season so far to have special 'movie' posters made featuring titles, cast and credits.
In keeping with the blockbuster theme, the title sequences for the Autumn 2012 stories featured a different look to the titles and logo in the title sequence to reflect the concept of the story. The time vortex in the title sequence was also tinted blue and green. The logo for "Asylum of the Dalek" mimics a Daleks distinct bodywork; the logo for "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" mimics a dinosaurs skin and scales; the logo for "A Town Called Mercy" mimics a western-type wooden plank; the logo for "The Power of Three" has many cubes; and the logo for "The Angels Take Manhattan" mimics the top of the Statue of Liberty.
The 2012 Christmas Special, "The Snowmen", introduced a new TARDIS interior, title sequence (which incorporates The Doctor's face for the first time since 1989), theme tune, and costume for The Doctor.
For the first time in the show this season has no two-part stories in it. However "The Name of The Doctor" does end with a ‘To be continued’ caption and cliffhanger leading into the Fiftieth anniversary special.
As well as the thirteen stories and two Christmas specials this season was bolstered by four mini-stories.
A five part mini-adventure was released from 27th to the 31st August 2012, with an omnibus version shown on the BBC Red Button service on the 1st September 2012. Titled "Pond Life" it was written by Chris Chibnall and served as a prequel to "Asylum of the Daleks" by exploring what Amy and Rory were up to and the effects The Doctor has on their lives
The second was titled "The Great Detective" and was shown during the 2012 Children In Need appeal. Written by Steven Moffat it served as a prologue to "The Snowmen" and sees Silurian Madame Vastra, her human assistant Jenny and Sontaran Strax describe a number of strange phenomena to a shadowed fourth detective. The fourth detective is revealed to be The Doctor but he tells the group that he has retired. A prologue to "The Bells of Saint John" was also shown on the 23rd March 2013. It was written by Steven Moffat and featured The Doctor sitting on a swing in a children's playground when he meets a little girl. They talk about losing things, and The Doctor states that he has lost someone twice and he hopes he might be able to find her again - referring to Clara 'Oswin' Oswald. As the little girl leaves, the audience learns that her name is Clara Oswald.
A fourth prequel, for "The Name of The Doctor" was released immediately after the preceding story, "Nightmare in Silver" on the 11th May 2013 via the BBC red button service. "She Said, He Said" has The Doctor and Clara each having a monologue about how little they know about each other and that they discovered each other's secret at Trenzalore.
A second prequel for "The Snowmen" was also released. Titled "Vastra Investigates" it was released online on the 17th December 2012. At the end of a case, Madame Vastra and Jenny converse with an officer from Scotland Yard, apologising for Strax's violent wishes for the culprit's punishment. Madame Vastra explains Strax's alien origin as well as her own to the officer, much to his astonishment. She was awoken by an extension to the London Underground and initially disliked humans, though that changed when she fell in love with Jenny, which leaves the officer flabbergasted. On the carriage ride home, during a discussion about The Doctor's retirement, Jenny notices it is beginning to snow. Madame Vastra voices that the snow is impossible due to the fact that there are no clouds in the sky.
This season was broadcast concurrently on BBC One in the United Kingdom, BBC America in the United States of America, and on Space in Canada. It was also broadcast on ABC in Australia, with each story released a week after its UK and North American release.
This season though was tinged with sadness, joy and a few surprises. Sadness that it saw Amy and Rory forced to leave the TARDIS and with the news that it would be Matt Smith's last full season. Joy with the comical portrayal of Sontaran Strax, played by Dan Starkey, and Clara joining The Doctor on his travels in what must be the strangest introduction of a companion to date. Surprises included the return of The Great Intelligence and the reintroduction of the Ice Warriors. The biggest surprise though was the caption that appeared just before the end titles in the final story introducing John Hurt as The Doctor.
Viewing figures were high with again the Christmas specials being the most watched. The viewing figures for the first half of the season was slightly higher then the second half with the final story reaching a respectable 7.5 million viewers. The highest story was "The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe" with 10.8 million viewers. While lowest was shared by "The Crimson Horror" and "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" (both with 6.5 million).
Overall this season is considered by many to be a success and ending in the fiftieth anniversary year bodes well for the Fiftieth Anniversary special and the final story for the Eleventh Doctor.