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Monday, December 29, 2014

The New Doctor – Peter Capaldi

Here at the end of the old year and the beginning of the new my mind goes to the old and new last of the Time Lords of Gallafrey. I am half way through viewing last year's season of Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi's first season. Though I am slow to adapt to change, I finally accept him as the Doctor. Don't get me wrong, he's a great actor. I never questioned that. But a small part of me misses the Doctors that were easier on the eyes and had comforting smiles.

Peter Capaldi is one of those Doctors that I will probably never quite trust but will most likely come to love anyway. The “attack eyebrows” mentioned in Deep Breath (first episode, released as a movie in the US) are only part of Capaldi's dangerous nature. I believe it's more of his frequent use of controlled anger to motive his companions and other entities that he encounters that unsettles me. This is a trait universal to all of the Doctors, but used most effectively by the fourth (Tom Baker), in my opinion. This trait has been used less often of late in the David Tenent and Matt Smith eras.

Though the Doctor is the hero that saves the day, Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat (current overseer of the Doctor Who writing staff) have us exactly where they want us, off balance. One is never sure of what the Doctor is capable of, for good or ill by human standards. The alien side of the Doctor is back in full force.

But creative ideas abound from Moffat and his staff. Capaldi is able to pull off the philosophical medicine the Doctor needs to administer to the audience. The philosophical issues touched upon so far this season are :

1 – Deep Breath - lookism, ageism, commentary of the recent past of Doctor Who itself
2 – Into the Dark - the Doctor's and our own prejudices and conscience
3 – Robot of Sherwood - the nature of myths and legends
4 – Listen - facing our own memories and fears and learning to live with them
5 – Time Heist – the ethics of cloning and captivity
6 - The Caretaker – the nature and responsibility of authority
7 – Kill the Moon – abortion and the destruction of life for our own economic well being and the loss of great unknown potential (an issue near to my own heart) and the nature of moral guidance or the absence of it
[I'm really looking forward to Episode 9 – In the Forest of the Night]

It still remains to be seen whether the shift back to a less pretty, more dangerous Doctor will be detrimental to ratings or not. But my own prediction is that Doctor Who had reached an all time high in popularity anyway. That fact alone was enough to turn off some former fans. Loyal Doctor Who fans are used to being part a more subversive subculture that thrives on being misunderstood by the general populous. Popularity did not sit well with many fans of the old Doctors, who often preferred the comfortable air of elitist tastes of intellectuals.

I think that even if the popularity dips a bit because the new Doctor is not a pretty boy, Doctor Who is back and staying around for as long as the writing is high enough quality to hold our attention. The “flirting” mentioned in Deep Breath is now able to settle into honest dialogue/monologue about important issues facing our emerging, fast paced, technological world.

Way to go Moffat for stabilizing the rising tide that Russel T. Davies started. Cue sickly siren sound and the fading in and out of a familiar blue box now.


1. What do you think of Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor?
2. How do you feel about the first season of Capaldi?
3. Do you think popularity will go down with the selection of an older actor to play the Doctor?

Picture of the Fortnight:

Seemed appropriate. Our cat lies to act more arrogant than the Doctor, except when she wants someone to play with her. Then she tries to look as cute as possible.

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