As an American fan of perennial British program Doctor Who, I’ve more or less grown accustomed to it not receiving any award consideration outside of the BAFTAs and other UK societies, and the Hugos. But this year changes everything; BBC America is now co-producing the show officially, which means there’s significant enough American involvement to make Doctor Who eligible for Emmy consideration…and they’re lobbying for it hard! In a recent overview of the 2016 Emmy ballot, Variety noted that Peter Capaldi, showrunner Steven Moffat, and director Rachel Talalay have all been placed on the voting sheet, meaning we could see them all at the ceremony if they get nominated.
Doctor Who itself was not placed on the ballot for outstanding dramatic series–where it would have had a tough time getting nominated in the same group with Game of Thrones and House of Cards–but Capaldi is included in the lead actor category and Moffat and Talalay are both included for their writing and directing, respectively, for the penultimate episode “Heaven Sent,” and the series could also snag noms for costumes, production design, prosthetic makeup, and visual effects.
If you read my Doctor Who reviews for series 9, you were aware that I thought this was a particularly strong year for the sci-fi staple, with episodes like “The Magician’s Apprentice,” “Before the Flood,” and the Zygon two-parter being favorites. But “Heaven Sent” is easily the best episode of the year, and might even be one of the best episodes the show’s ever done. It featured Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor completely on his own in a castle that was itself a puzzle box full of mysteries to uncover and a slow-walking beast always on his trail. It was a tour de force for Capaldi, proved that Moffat still has it in him to write a perfect slice of science fiction, and firmly established Talalay as one of the best directors of television working today. She had to make a one-hander taking place in a location that looks pretty much the same all the time both exciting and easy to follow and she did that in spades. A brilliant piece of short narrative fiction all around.
Shows like Doctor Who are often overlooked by “reputable” awards ceremonies because it’s often light and usual full of fantastical whimsy, but it can also be an encapsulation of everything that makes the medium of television work. For what my opinion matters at all, I would urge Emmy voters to consider “Heaven Sent” if they haven’t already for the nomination in each of the categories. This is a special episode from a special season of a special show.
Let me know your thoughts on “Heaven Sent” and Doctor Who‘s Emmy chances in the comments below!
See what we thought about “Heaven Sent” in our after show!
Kyle Anderson is the associate editor and the resident Whovian for Nerdist. Follow him on Twitter!