3 Months To Midnight: Thoughts on Doctor New

What’s that?

What do you mean I’ve only seen him in one three minute interview?!

What do you mean that’s not long enough to form an opinion as to whether he’s suitable for one of the most iconic roles in television?

Listen, I’m a nerd. I’ve been watching this show since I was a young teen. I’ve never written for it, worked on it, or been associated with it in any other way than as a fan. It’s my God-given right to deliver my immature and under-developed opinion.

There’s little to be said about Peter Capaldi’s promotion to the role, other than it looks good. Steven Moffat’s played a lot with basic Who lore in his time as show runner, so I was more than a little wary when I knew he’d be the main force behind picking a new soon-to-be super-celebrity. Matt Smith wasn’t a bad choice, but he was a deliberately interesting one: young, emergent career, fresh-faced. And his story line would see some of the most chaotic story-telling ever seen in Doctor Who: a marriage, plenty of pashing, complex time travel multi-year sagas unfurling with inconsistent pace, mysterious companions…

While Moffat’s choices are hit and miss, he brings an unpredictability to the series that makes it inherently fun to watch. You never know what’s going to happen next, and Smith’s performed admirably. He’s successfully proven to be a downright dishy doctor for the new tween girl audience. He’s playful, humorous, sentimental, and occasionally (although not terribly convincingly) dark. The partnership between the lead actor and writer has seen the series promote itself into the stratosphere: worthy of a live half-hour prime time international broadcast to announce a casting change, a feat that the show was never capable of with its humble but ambitious re-launch by Russel T. Davies back in 2005. (Imagine that, a show that is, in some ways, EIGHT years old and has only grown exponentially in popularity. When has that ever been achieved anywhere else?)

So Capaldi has massive expectations on his shoulders, as does Moffat. The role of the new Doctor is somehow even more dangerous to take on than it was in the much publicized Tenant-Smith transition of several years past. Nevertheless, it could’ve been a time for boldness, and everyone knows Moffat loves to be bold. Would the Doctor be a woman? Even younger? A past Doctor come back? Would they be American? What piece of lore could he try and meddle with?

So it was reassuring to see Capaldi’s face emerge on the massive, live, international, broadcast. This is for numerous reasons:

  • He’s older. He’s a mature actor with enough experience under his belt to truly understand the craft of the complicated role.
  • He’s a life long fan. Pleasing after Smith’s vague impressions of the show before he was cast. Capaldi, like Tenant, knows the Doctor even before he’s begun.
  • He’s more suited to the grandfather-you-want-to-have role as opposed to the cheeky-older-boyfriend-you-want-to-pash role. A welcome return to form.
  • He wiggled his fingers in greeting to the audience when he came out to say hello. I’m serious. Watch the YouTube clip. It’s reminiscent of Tom Baker, or even Patrick Troughton: gentle, playful, older.

So welcome Peter. I must say, I pity the weight on your shoulders, but the little bit we’ve seen of you is reassuring.

It’s a good year to be a Doctor Who fan. Jus’ sayin’.