Doctor Who Takes Over NYC At Special Season Premiere Screening

Karen Gillan, Matt Smith, Chris Hardwick, and new "Doctor Who" executive producer Caroline Skinner 

By Ali Colluccio

Hundreds of Whovians lined 54th Street outside Manhattan’s iconic Ziegfeld theater yesterday, eagerly waiting for Doctor Who stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. The pair pulled up to BBC America’s Premiere Screening of “Asylum of the Daleks” in spectacular time-traveler style: matching DeLoreans. Now, fezes are cool. Bow ties are cool. But DeLoreans? DeLoreans are very cool. It was the perfect start to what was a very exciting evening.

With nothing but teasers and trailers since last December’s Christmas Special, fans of Doctor Who have been ravenous for the new season to start. Cleverly priced 11-cent tickets for the screening went on sale August 16 and were sold out in minutes (possibly seconds). BBC America opened up a lottery for the last handful of tickets this week to give more Whovians a chance to watch the episode a week before it airs in the U.S.

With over a thousand hungry fans packed in the theater, the atmosphere at the Ziegfeld was electric. People with fezes, bow ties, and sonic screwdrivers were buzzing with excitement for the next chapter of Doctor Who to finally begin. As soon as the lights in the theater went down, there were whoops of joy and dots of blue, green, and red lights as the audience proudly waved their sonic screwdrivers in the air. It felt like a rock concert.

Watching the episode in that kind of atmosphere made the experience that much more enjoyable. Every gasp, every cheer was amplified by a thousand. The audience was amped up to 11 the whole time, and when the credits started to roll, everyone was on their feet applauding. It was the first standing ovation I’ve witness in a movie theater.

As for the episode itself, I can’t tell you much because, well... spoilers, Sweetie. But what I can tell you is that “Asylum of the Daleks” is one of the most thrilling episodes to date. They’re not kidding when they say there are more Daleks than we’ve ever seen. And it’s not at all hyperbole to say that Steven Moffat has found a way to make the Daleks truly terrifying. It’s full of action, explosions, and nail-biting escapes. But like all great Doctor Who stories, the emotional roller coaster is what makes it makes this episode particularly great. The episode marks the beginning of the end for the Ponds as the Doctor’s companions. Moffat uses these increasingly fewer moments with Amy and Rory to pull at your heartstrings. Most importantly, “Asylum of the Daleks” lives up to the hype and is well worth the long wait.

After the screening Nerdist Chris Hardwick moderated a short panel discussion and Q&A with Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and new executive producer Caroline Skinner.

One of the more bold fans asked the panel what actor or actress, living or dead, they’d like to see play the Doctor. Hardwick made a good-humored argument as to why he should be the next Doctor. Names like Peter Sellers, Johnny Depp, and Bill Nighy were also mentioned.

In one of the more adorable moments of the panel, a very young and concerned fan asked “Why does Amy always get into trouble?” Gillan answered, “She’s a risk taker.” And “I suspect she loves it.” The Doctor’s sense of style was also brought up. After seeing fezes, bow ties, and Stetsons, Smith was asked what his next “cool” accessory would be. “It’s purple-ish, which I sort of love. ”

Above all, this set the stage for what promises to be a blockbuster of a season. With a new companion and a 50th anniversary looming, it’s only with tip of the iceberg. So buckle up your seatbelts. This season is going to be a fantastic ride.

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