Doctor Who: The Name of the (Next) Doctor

Even if you didn’t tune in on Sunday to watch the live special by the BBC, chances are you’ve already heard that actor who will be portraying the Twelfth Doctor has been named.  And the result is…

A white male.

Okay, that’s not really the correct response (it’s Peter Capaldi), but that’s pretty much what you’ll find if you looked at Twitter or Facebook around then.  A non-woman, a non-ginger, a non-anything-new-and-different.  And I’ll admit it, there was a tiny part of me that was momentarily disappointed.  Disappointed because apparently this guy was an early frontrunner and there wasn’t an extensive search.  But after maybe a few hours’ worth of moping, I’m now simply curious about this new guy, wondering what this new Doctor will bring.  And I’ve even thought of a few points to be chipper about.

From the people who brought you Matt Smith

I know I may not be the majority in either Classic or New Who fans, but even though Matt Smith is far from the first Doctor I’ve watched, I do consider him My Doctor.  From literally his first ten minutes on screen, I was sold.  This leads me to two conclusions:

  1. I was probably never going to love the choice for the next Doctor, because I still don’t want the current Doctor to leave.  I’m probably going to be a mess when he regenerates.  With Eccleston, it was too early to be really, really attached and with Tennant, I was pretty ready for a change.  In this case, I would’ve been willing for everything to change except Matt Smith.  So, I have to be cognizant of my obvious bias.
  2. I was skeptical about Matt Smith before his first episode.  So young, kind of weird looking, kind of doing the same cool-but-nerdy approach as Tennant… and hardly anyone had ever heard of him before.  And yet he became My Doctor.  Thus, even though I may grumble about the selection process, these are the same people who recognized the potential in Matt Smith.  I sort of feel like I ought to give the benefit of the doubt on that if nothing else.

Not different, but not the same

Okay, so maybe a white middle-aged British guy is more or less the average template for the Doctor over the last 50 years.  On the other hand, Peter Capaldi is quite a change from Matt Smith, and possibly a quite different approach than any of the New Who Doctors.  He’s actually the oldest actor to play the role since William Hartnell; while he seems physically fit, maybe we’ll get a little less running about with this one.  He’s Scottish, like Tennant, but maybe unlike Tennant he’ll actually get to retain his Scottish accent.

The hormones might calm down

Not sure if I’m talking about the Doctor or the writers, to be honest, but either way I’ve never been a fan of the sexual tension between the Doctor and most of his companions in New Who.  To me, the Doctor is an alien first and foremost, and the only reason I’m willing to give River Song a pass is because she certainly wasn’t your typical human, nor did she live like one.

But when you’re dealing with actors and companions who are of similar ages, it’s even more tempting to read chemistry as something romantic (and, in the case of the writers, run with it).  But I’m tired of the one-liners and the double entendres; I don’t really want to have a discussion, ever, about whether River or Rose were more important.  The notion that two people can’t be close without a romantic element seems, well, old-fashioned.

The fact that Peter Capaldi is older doesn’t render him unattractive, but perhaps it’ll give the writers pause before taking the least creative path in character development.  The audience has pretty much been conditioned, by this show and others, to expect a romantic storyline, but not so much when there’s an age difference (just look at Donna Noble, and how much better her character was in certain respects).

Granted, the physical appearance doesn’t mean much when you consider he’s been pushing 1000 years old this entire time.  Ick.

Different sides of a coin

The Doctor has pretty much always had two sides: the universe-weary ancient alien, and the young soul who still found joy in abundance, despite all he’d seen.  Matt Smith’s Doctor had both, but the “old man” had to come more from within.  Because he’s so young, when he played the childlike side of the Doctor, some tended to interpret it as juvenile, too frenetic, too silly – likely partly simply because he already had the young part “covered” by virtue of his looks.

Peter Capaldi will have a different challenge.  His age and experience will bring extra legitimacy to the Doctor’s long and epic backstory.  His challenge will be conveying that spark of humor, that wonder, that nearly all the Doctors have had – while still providing his own interpretation of the Doctor.  But personally, I think he’s up to the task.

To be continued

Don’t forget, the Doctor supposedly won’t regenerate until the Christmas Special (and perhaps the very end of that).  That means we still have a 50th Anniversary Special to watch, not to mention the Christmas Special itself.  I’m not ready to say goodbye to Matt Smith’s Doctor just yet!  And Capaldi will have that much more time to find his own unique Doctor, one we’ll all be interested in meeting.

What about you?  How do you feel about the reveal of the new Doctor?  Are you ready for Matt Smith’s reign to come to an end?  

 

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