Doctor Who’s ‘Twice Upon a Time’ Hugo Awards Finalist: Vote Now!


Doctor Who‘s 2017 Christmas special “Twice Upon a Time” has been nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.

The finalist nomination honors Rachel Talalay for directing and Steven Moffat for the screenplay.

Rachel Talalay has been nominated once before, for her direction in “Heaven Sent,” the season nine finale. Steven Moffat has been nominated twelve times and won five.

The prestigious Hugo Awards were created in 1953. Named for Hugo Gernsback, who founded the first major science-fiction magazine in 1926, the Hugo Awards honor the best sci-fi and fantasy works of the year.

According to the Hugo Awards website, the voting process is open from April 2018 to July 2018 to anyone who has signed up to be at least a “Supporting Member” of “Worldcon“, a sci-fi convention sponsored by World Science Fiction Society, an organization which also sponsors the Hugo Awards.

As long as you became a supporting member of Worldcon last year, this year, or are signed up for next year’s Worldcon, you can vote!

The Hugo Awards take place at Worldcon 76 in San Jose, California on August 19, hosted by John Picacio.

According to the Hugo Awards website, Doctor Who has won six Hugo Awards out of 31 nominations, including

  • the season one two-parter “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” (2006)
  • “The Girl in the Fireplace,” (2007) from season two
  • “Blink” (2008) from season four
  • “The Waters of Mars,” (2010) which is the second of David Tennant’s goodbye Specials between the fourth and fifth seasons
  • the two-part season five finale “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang,” (2011)
  • and, finally, “The Doctor’s Wife,” (2012) from season six of the new series.

“Twice Upon A Time” aired on Christmas 2017. It is the last episode in which we see Peter Capaldi as the twelfth doctor and the first in which we meet Jodie Whittaker as the thirteenth doctor, if only for a few moments and one ‘brilliant’ one-liner.

David Bradley also guest-stars as the first Doctor, originated by the late William Hartnell. Other guest-stars include Pearl Mackie, Jenna Louise-Coleman, and Matt Lucas as the twelfth Doctor’s former companions Bill Potts, Clara Oswald, and Nardole, respectively.

This episode takes an intimate look at the inner-process during regeneration. The mental preparation and acceptance the Doctor has to endure as he decides to regenerate.  The twelfth doctor, having taken a fatal blow of radiation during the season ten episode “Oxygen”, finds himself struggling with the idea of regeneration.

In parallel, we meet the first Doctor in the same place, struggling with the same idea. The first Doctor has just come from the events of the original series’ episode “Tenth Planet,” and he essentially has a conversation with himself, weighing the pros and cons of continuing in this life.

What is most interesting to me is the fact that the twelfth Doctor doesn’t remember these events. He doesn’t have a recollection of struggling with this concept before, of refusing to regenerate. He asks his younger self why — to which the first Doctor responds “Fear. I am afraid. Very, very afraid. I don’t normally admit that to anyone else.”

The twelfth Doctor coyly responds, “Don’t worry, technically, you still haven’t.”

Similar to the fiftieth anniversary episode, in “The Day of the Doctor,” The Moment (played by Billie Piper) shows the War Doctor (John Hurt) the exact future he needs to see to help make his decision to destroy the Time Lords and Daleks alike and ultimately end the Time War.

The twelfth Doctor is confronted with the exact past he needs to see to help him come to the proper conclusion: that it is better for all if he not refuse the regeneration.

Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary, “The Day of the Doctor”

The War Doctor says it perfectly when talking to Clara in the Black Archives in “The Day of the Doctor.” When she tells him how much the future versions of the Doctor regret his decision made the day he decimated his planet and the Daleks, the War Doctor says to her, “how many worlds has his regret saved, do you think?”

It is a difficult decision to make: the one between destiny and duty.

When the twelfth Doctor sits with his younger self in “Twice Upon a Time,” he has the unique vantage point from which he can remember the lives saved since his first regeneration, and he is able to imagine the potential of what another life cycle could bring.

With this acknowledgment, he makes a speech to himself about what it means to be the Doctor. A promise, a commitment,  and contract. “I suppose one more lifetime won’t kill anyone. Well, except me. You wait a moment, Doctor,” he says to himself, holding off the regeneration in the last scene of the Christmas special. “I’ve a few things to say to you…”

Watch it here:

“Twice Upon a Time” is a rich episode, ripe with existential musings, throwback guest stars, and all the quippy quirkiness one could imagine from the antiquated sexism of the first Doctor, the brash bluntness of the twelfth Doctor, and the pure feminist sass of companion Bill Potts.

It is a contemplative story, created specifically to help the audience and fans come to terms with the process of regeneration and any doubts we may have going forward into this new era of a female Doctor.

Moffat makes it clear for us in this episode, as in past regeneration episodes, like season eight’s “Deep Breath”: change is difficult and scary for us all, and none more so than the Doctor, himself.

Next: Doctor Who: The doctor who saves lives

“Twice Upon a Time” is also available in a novelized form, written by Paul Cornell, and has been very well-received. You can find it here.