SDCC 2012: Steven Moffat And Caroline Skinner On River Song, Musical Episodes, And What’s Coming Up In DOCTOR WHO

One name you know very well: Steven Moffat, executive producer and head writer for Doctor Who. The other, not so much: Caroline Skinner, former producer of The Fades, is now in charge of Doctor Who, as well. We chatted with both of them before their big Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con, and though they were light on spoilers, they were still happy to talk all things Who.

We started off running down the episode order, confirming that the first episode, is, in fact, the Dalek heavy scare-a-thon we’ve been promised. “You’ll see more Daleks than you’ve ever seen before, and you’ll see more different types of Daleks than you’ve ever seen before,” said Moffat – and it’s interesting to note that he didn’t just say “all the Daleks,” but that we’ll potentially be seeing new ones, as well.

Next up is the Western, with Moffat quipping, “We went to the most authentic location we could find, which was obviously in Spain. It looks absolutely stunning!” As a bit of runner, one of our fellow press people asked if they knew the horse Moonshine. Moffat had no idea, but Skinner knew all about Darvill’s ode to a horse, and added that it included, “a fair bit of neighing.”

Talk then turned to Who inspiration, with Moffat saying his ideas come from, “Probably chiefly watching Doctor Who!” Skinner added that on set, they have a code for scripts – ISMH – which stands for “In Steven Moffat’s Head.” And in fact, the writer hasn’t quite finished writing the season yet, spending most of Comic-Con huddled in his hotel room, frantically finishing scripts. “The room changes, the typing doesn’t,” quipped Moffat.

Talking about the emotional goodbye for the Ponds, Skinner said, “The women have all wept, the men have all said, I have the worst case of allergies, but I don’t think the anti-histamines are going to help them. It’s genuinely moving.” Both Skinner and Moffat agreed that, regardless of the actual episode, it was the most emotional read-through of a script they’ve ever been to, and the last five minutes, everyone was in tears. Skinner also teased that we’ll get a chance to “celebrate” the relationship between the Doctor and the Ponds in the fourth episode, as well as the fifth.

We then asked Moffat how you move on from a dynamic like the one between the Doctor and the Ponds, which has changed the show from “loner alien and friend,” to a true team or family dynamic. “Change it what the show thrives on,” said Moffat. “It doesn’t survive change, it survives because of change. At the beginning, the Ponds are meeting this exciting new man, by the end, they’re his Mother and Father in Law!” He noted that by this season, Amy and Rory are like the “A-Team” of being companions, they know exactly what to do in every situation… And Moffat and crew will be playing with that idea quite a bit.

“When you start that story again, you’ve got a fresh take on it,” continued Moffat. “You’ve got someone who’s bemused by him, who doesn’t know he has two hearts, and you meet him again through their eyes.”

On River Song coming back, Moffat clarified that she will appear, but he feels like they already did the “big River Song story” the previous season. “She’s so the queen of mischief in this episode,” added Skinner, referring to her role in the Manhattan set Weeping Angels episode.

Asked whether we’d see more of River Song’s night journeys with the Doctor – a plot point referred to in her diary, Moffat said with a laugh, “I don’t know if we’d be allowed to! Heaven knows, I think it’s important that characters keep secrets from their writers, and the Doctor has not given us the information about what happens on those nights. He’s a gentlemen. Gentlemen never tell.”

To wrap things up, given that there’s a Western episode this season, we asked whether we could see a Doctor Who musical, or if that would be pushing it too much. “I’m not ruling anything out, but we don’t obsessively look for different genres, we just look for, what is the coolest thing we can do this week?” Skinner jumped in, adding with a laugh, “We’re not having a Moonshine song episode!”