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Just because I was the last to know doesn’t mean it didn’t blow my mind

[ 63 ] September 25, 2013 |

So there I am, a professional nerd watching World War Z with an executive chef, and I giggle when Brad Pitt decides that at the end of the world, the place he needs to be is Cardiff, Wales. Because of course it is. When the world’s ending and the best option isn’t available, you seek out Torchwood.

“What sort of book nonsense are you laughing about now,” my roommate asked.

“Too arcane to explain,” I replied, and that was that.

So Pitt stumbled up and passed out on the gates of the World Health Organization’s Cardiff outpost, which is fine, as the entire world ain’t out to please me meta-textually.

Or so I thought, before Pitt opened his eyes and the camera flipped to his first-person perspective as he awoke from his short coma:

I made a noise like my mind had been blown because it had. Because that’s Peter Capaldi.

The new Doctor.

In Cardiff.

At the end of the world.

So apparently the best option was available, except he’s not playing the Doctor. He’s credited as … “W.H.O. Doctor.”

For the record, principle photography on World War Z began in early 2011, more than a year and a half before Matt Smith announced he’d be leaving Doctor Who, which means the only way all this could’ve been thrown together would if someone had a …

Comments (63)

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  1. Royko says:


  2. Walt says:

    The fact that this post fails to acknowledge that Capaldi was in the third — and only good – season of Torchwood is causing me physical pain.

    • SEK says:

      The fact that this post fails to acknowledge that Capaldi was in the third

      That’s there in the “mind blown” part. I just didn’t mention that because I wanted to avoid spoilers. But yes, that thing I wanted to avoid also adds yet another layer of irony.

    • sharculese says:

      I stopped like halfway through season two. Do I need to finish it to get season 3, or can I just skip ahead?

      • Walt says:

        You can just skip ahead. Some characters you probably don’t care about will be missing, but this has no importance for the story.

        • sharculese says:

          Okay, I just wikipedia’ed that and for one of those characters I wouldn’t say hate so much as actively despise, so this is not a thing I’m broken up about.

          • Walt says:

            If it it’s the character that I hated, they had just managed to make him less hatable before writing him off the show.

            • SEK says:

              Season 3, like Season 4, is self-contained; however, unlike Season 4, it begins awesomely and gets better, as opposed to being a six-episode deflation of a brilliant premise.

      • anthrofred says:

        You can and absolutely should skip ahead to 3. They finally got somewhere close to a more adult feel, where “more adult” finally meant “darker and more intense” and not “gays, everywhere! Sexing!”

        Also, SEK is completely on regarding season 4: it began with a ton of promise and even brought the tension up for an episode or so before sliding into the most painful mediocrity imaginable. Sigh, I had such hopes.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Is Season 3 Miracle Day? Or did I lose both count and interest?

  3. Jon C says:

    Not sure how this syncs up with the Doctor Who casting, but wasn’t the Wales ending written and shot late last year (2012) after the studio freaked out about the ending as originally shot and cut?

    • njorl says:

      I’m having a hard time picturing studio execs fuming, “This sucks! Re-shoot the ending in Wales!”

      • Warren Terra says:

        It probably started as “someplace the size of Wales”, and was misunderstood.

        • Ann Outhouse says:

          Wales = 8022 sq mi
          Clark County, NV (i.e., Las Vegas) = 8091 sq mi

          Just thought I’d toss that out there.

          • BruceJ says:

            Quit confusing me. The standard unit of measurement for geography is Rhode Island. How many RI units are these?

            • Malaclypse says:

              Nonsense. As everybody knows, the square smoot* is the standard unit of measurement.

              *Note: Wikipedia is wrong; Smoot never actually lay on the bridge. That would be silly. They measured him, and made a smoot-stick to mark the bridge.

              • Warren Terra says:

                Um, sorry, you’re wrong, at least according to the sources I read. Being no idiots Smoot and his fellows did indeed create and intend to use a standard Smoot (of string, not stick, as I recall), but they were proctored doing the measurement and had to use the original Smoot; by the end of the exercise he was far too worn out to stand up and lie down, and so his compatriots had to lift him up and lay him down.

              • rea says:

                Oliver Smoot graduated from MIT with the class of 1962, became a lawyer, and later became chairman of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)[6] and president of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

          • Warren Terra says:

            “the size of Wales” is a truism of the British news (like “the size of Rhode Island” is in the US, or at least the northeast US), and something of a running joke.

          • sharculese says:

            Wheels within wheels…

      • Ann Outhouse says:

        The alternative was Russia. This wasn’t a tough call.

        • rea says:

          I gather that the ending was going to be shot in Budapest, but there were problems when the production illegally imported a whole bunch of guns for use as props.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think it was, “what’s the cheapest place to shoot a science fiction set piece” these days. Vancouver was no doubt a close second.

        • Warren Terra says:

          Speaking as someone who grew up in the PNW, I enjoy watching bad science fiction shows just for the nostalgia of the scenery.

  4. zombie rotten mcdonald says:

    As I have mentioned before, World War Z (movie) is a mockumentary.

    The book, of course, is a delight.

    • Jordan says:

      Just coming by to say that as well. Bought the book in the airport because why the fuck not and ended up really liking it.

    • InnerPartisan says:

      The Audiobook (or rather: Audioplay) is also very, very good. Lots of great performances – especially Mark Hamill as Pvt. Wainio, and Hank Rollins as the mercenary guy.

  5. Marek says:

    You just made WWZ so much better.

  6. zombie rotten mcdonald says:

    Also, efgoldman mentioned in a comment thread that people had been zombie-baiting during the week I spent on a tri-state crime spree, but I didn’t believe him until a front page zombie-baiting post.

    I feel much better about the “Ron Jeremy” drink comment now.

  7. Scott S. says:

    Now if they’re smart, they’ll make a new Doctor Who episode involving a worldwide zombie outbreak, and the Doctor will end up in Cardiff when some shaggy American is brought in…

  8. Snuff curry says:

    Why is the screen capture of Capaldi labelled “breaking bad – blood money” then followed by some numbers an’ shit?

    • Lee Rudolph says:

      It was supposed to be labeled “breaking bad – blood wedding” but there was a glitch in postproduction.

    • SEK says:

      Why is the screen capture of Capaldi labelled “breaking bad – blood money” then followed by some numbers an’ shit?

      Because I was revising my new AV Club article — Which drops tomorrow! — when I wrote this post, and hadn’t changed the settings on my capture program before grabbing that image.

      • Snuff curry says:

        That’s not nearly the exciting explanation I was hoping for, SEK. And usually you tell such interesting stories.

        I’ll look out for the AV Club article. I’ve done my level best to escape the clutches of that program since it’s been on, but I am looking forward to hearing about how the baldie baddie “anti-hero” dies.

  9. José Arcadio Buendía says:

    World War Z was two hours of my life I wish I had back and Cardiff City still sucks and is going to be relegated.

    • Ahuitzotl says:

      Their football team isnt much cop either.

    • nixnutz says:

      My favorite thing about Torchwood, and indeed my favorite thing about the sport of soccer, is that the Welsh band Helen Love sings a song about that team.

      Admittedly that doesn’t have a lot to do with the show but it’s still the most positive thing I can say about it after watching about 1 1/3 seasons.

  10. Alan in SF says:

    This is remarkable. Although as someone who once spent a few days in Cardiff, I’m already asleep.

  11. zombie rotten mcdonald, shambling dog of the imperialists says:

    Cardiff is an actual place?

    • Ann Outhouse says:

      Far and away the biggest municipality in Wales and far and away the most boring. Even Merthyr Tydfil is more interesting.

      • Gabriel Ratchet says:

        I always figured that was a bit of a deliberate joke on the part of Torchwood‘s producers. Sure, BBC Wales is headquartered there, but a lot of stuff that’s shot has Cardiff doubling for some more exotic locale. Don’t get me wrong — there are many beautiful and picturesque places in Wales, but Cardiff just ain’t one of ‘em. It’s just a typical fairly dull provincial capital, and setting some kind of exotic interdimensional alien-fighting unit there would be like setting a similar U.S.-based show in, say, Albany or Sacramento.

  12. Dave says:

    World War Z wasn’t that bad. Though I didn’t read the book.

    I just started watching Doctor Who. I don’t really know what is going on at any given point in time. But my mind is also blown by this revelation.

    • Barry Freed says:

      The book is great. The movie, not so much.

      • actor212 says:

        I dunno, I went in expecting it to be awful, given the history of the production and the fact that there is no way they could be faithful to the book.

        I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Good movie? Meh. But it didn’t suck as badly as I thought it would.

  13. NorthLeft12 says:

    I did not see this mentioned anywhere in your article, but you do know that Cardiff is the location of the Doctor Who museum, right?

    My wife ad I spent a couple of days in the area in early June of this year, but we did not make the time to visit the museum. One of our biggest regrets on our three week tour of England and Wales.

    • NorthLeft12 says:

      And i agree with a couple of the comments above, Cardiff itself was pretty ordinary, but Wales as a whole was one of the best places I have ever visited. Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons, etc. just bloody gorgeous.
      It helped that the weather was unbelievably good the five nights we were there. Mid 20s and sunny with no rain every day. I understood from the locals that this was fairly unusual.

    • zombie rotten mcdonald, shambling dog of the imperialists says:

      but we did not make the time to visit the museum.

      I see what you do there.

  14. actor212 says:

    IMDB made a huge point of that, SEK.

    Also, the scenes on the streets of Philly were filmed in Glasgow. No one knows why

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