To say that this is an exciting year to be a Doctor Who fan is pretty much the under-est of understatements. Sure, showrunner Steven Moffat has already set this season’s mystery in motion—who is Clara Oswin Oswald, why does she seem to be splintered across time like Scaroth the Jagaroth, and why is she still alive after dying twice already (once in the Victorian era and once in the far future inside a Dalek shell—who does she think she is, Rory?). Are these multiple Claras really as sweet and guileless as they appear to be, or does she have a secret agenda the Doctor should be worried about? In “The Bells of Saint John,” the first episode of what we’ll call Season 7, Part 2 (the first half of Season 7 aired in the fall*), the Doctor tracks down a third, at-least-temporarily-still-alive Clara in present-day London to attempt to answer some of these questions.
But there’s a much bigger picture here. Because as Who fans well know (and if that previous paragraph sent your head spinning like one of these deadly Christmas trees there’s a handy primer right here), Nov. 23, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the broadcast of the very first episode of Doctor Who. Given Moffat’s penchant for multi-year story arcs, there’s little doubt that these episodes are meant to serve as a lead-in to the top-secret plot of November’s 50th anniversary special. Fans are going to be watching these eight stories very closely for hints of what the anniversary will bring. (Multiple Doctors? The return of decades-old monsters? Revelations about the Doctor’s identity?)
Among those fans will be a remarkable roster of prominent Who writers and bloggers who will be discussing each episode with me right here on the TV Club. We’ll see you Monday to start following the Doctor through time and space to his mysterious gold anniversary with “The Bells of Saint John.”
*Correction, March 29, 2013: Because of an editing error, this post referred to Season 7 as Season 8.