As any good geek should know by now (it has been several hours at least!) Peter Capaldi is the Twelfth actor to play Doctor Who. When you let that sink in, it is exciting and pretty impressive that he has been able to join this small, but elite club of actors who can safely say they all know what Sonic Screwdriver is.
Yet, casting of the Scottish character actor took everyone by surprise this weekend, as Whovians even scoffed at the last-minute rumors all the way up to his reveal. Now the die is cast and the TARDIS has its captain, and we at Den of Geek thought it’d be interesting to figure out just why it just had to be Peter Capaldi.
1. Wisdom with Age
In the BBC simulcast announcement, showrunner Steven Moffat explained that the new Doctor (still a mystery at that moment) would be the exact opposite of Matt Smith. And he was as serious as a Cyberman.
Beloved now, Matt Smith suffered an early backlash in 2010 when he earned the right to don his bow tie and fez. At 26-years-old, Smith was simply the youngest lead actor to ever step into the police box. Many cried foul: “he’s too inexperienced.”
Of course, as is usually the case, fans discovered their early prejudgments were unfounded and loved his performance that put the wibbly-wobbly into the timey-wimey. There is no denying that his youthful looking Doctor had a physicality and energy that bordered on schizophrenic, which I mean in the best way. And while Smith’s performance curiously slowed down in his final season after he lost his surrogate daughter/mother, Amelia Pond, and he began to wear darker colors and glasses, there was still something mischievously wild about his performance.
Capaldi will more than likely be the exact opposite of that. At age 55, Capaldi ties the original Doctor, William Hartnell, as the oldest actor to play the Doctor to date. Obviously, that’s the point.
After having a Doctor whose tenure often could border on a fairy tale—he met companions on wintry clouds above Victorian London and was willed back into existence by the teary eyes of a bride on her wedding day—this may mark a turn to the more hardnosed science fiction that founded the show. An older Doctor means he may have less time for romantic longings with women who could be his daughter with names like Pond, River and Oswin Oswald. You can add Rose to the list for that matter, because ever since the advent of “NuWho” in 2005, romance (or at least the hint of it) has always been on the table. Until now.
And this may be for the best, because even if the Doctor survives “The Fall of the Eleventh,” he still has to worry about…
2. The Valeyard Rising…
If Moffat continues to mine the depths of Doctor Who mythology (and does a Time Lord have dual hearts?), then it’s a good bet we are approaching the apocalyptic threat of the Valeyard.
An Anti-Christ like figure predicted in “Classic Who” during the 1980s, the Valeyard is supposedly the final incarnation of the Time Lord called “Who.” In a bit of twisted sci-fi jargon, which I’m sure BBC is keen to write around, Time Lords are allowed only twelve regenerations. And assuming that John Hurt’s 50th Anniversary character does not count for whatever reason, that means Capardi should technically be it.
And yet, things may be even direr for the British Broadcasting Corporation’s flagship. The Valeyard is predicted to be the Doctor’s Unholy Thirteenth Regeneration. The one that never was supposed to be. And it is clearly on Moffat’s mind considering that the Great Intelligence references the prophecy of galactic doom in the Season 7 finale.
By casting a Doctor of the same age, and potential temperament, as the original, it feels like the writers are threatening an ending by taking us back to the beginning. And it is not that hard to imagine Capaldi bringing some of that early menace back, since…
3. This Doctor Has a Mouth
The earliest Doctors, particularly Hartnell and Jon Pertwee (the Third Doctor), were known for having a certain stuffiness and manner about them. For Hartnell, it was like the grumpy grandpa who could not understand why his granddaughter listened to that confounding hippity-hop; for Pertwee, it was because he was a Doctor of refinement, class and polite imperialist sensibilities (it was during the tail-end of Bondmania, after all).
These were older Doctors known for being able to become cross. Well, for anyone who’s seen In the Loop, those guys were a couple of teddy bears in comparison. Scotsman Capaldi’s Malcolm Tucker not only knew how to berate someone, he understood how to make members of the audience curl up into balls and cry afterwards. In fact, Capaldi may be the first Doctor who got his PhD in four letter words, because the man is an artist and Tucker is his masterpiece.
Granted, Doctor Who is still a family show and I too hope he does not accuse an annoying companion of bestiality or, worse, being a Tory at any point. Still, that kind of temper brings an energy that the show has not seen in 40 years, if ever. And who isn’t ready for a Doctor who can dress down a Dalek like it’s some Gomer Pyle looking fool at Parris Island?
4. He Has a History with The Doctor
Being a near-immortal time traveler allows the Doctor to run into almost anyone, anywhere, at any point. Including himself.
Such it was in 2008’s Season 4 when during “The Fires of Pompeii” David Tennant’s Doctor stumbled past a Roman by the name of Caecilius, played by one Peter Capaldi. Could this be evidence that the Doctor meets all his faces and files them away for later? COULD CAECILIUS BE TWELVE IN DISGUISE?!
Okay, we’ve calmed down. It’s just a bit of cosmic irony (or poetry) that this happened. Consider the fun fact that Karen Gillan, our fair Amelia Pond, also appeared briefly in that episode as a Soothsayer.
However, it displays a history with the series, which BBC always loves. And clearly so does Capaldi, as the broadcasting giant revealed during their press event today that Capaldi wrote a fan love letter to the Radio Times about Doctor Who when he was only 15. An actor with a lifelong passion for the character? That is a bit refreshing for fans who usually hear about a thespian having to immerse themselves in the material for the first time. Capaldi is already halfway there.
Plus, he appeared in the astonishing Doctor Who spinoff, Torchwood: Children of Earth. One of the best science fiction miniseries ever produced.
5. River Song Called It
We sadly learned during “In the Name of the Doctor,” that River Song is no more. She even tearfully made her final goodbye to Eleven in that episode when they locked lips for the last time….
Luckily, there is still that big ball of timey-wimey mentioned above. In Doctor Who, time is about as linear as a circle rolling around a cul-de-sac. So, could we see River Song again, perhaps with Peter Capaldi?
Moffat certainly left the door wide open in “The Angels Take Manhattan,” teasingly the final episode that we saw the real River Song alive in. Within that episode, River admits her discomfort with the age difference between her and Matt Smith’s Doctor. “When one’s in love with an ageless god who insists on the face of a twelve-year-old, one does one’s best to hide the damage” and “never let him see the damage, and never let him see you age. He doesn’t like endings.”
Perhaps then, we have not seen the end of River? She worried about being with a younger Doctor, especially one whose regenerative hormones have left him smitten with a certain soufflé girl. A worldlier Doctor could certainly open the door to a nice epilogue for the Doctor and River before her end, which occurred sometime between “Manhattan” and “The Snowmen.” So what if she lived the epilogue first? TIMEY. WIMEY.
So, there are just a few of the reasons why Capaldi seems to fill all the uniquely different boxes Moffat appears to be checking. Does that mean he’ll be a great Doctor? It may be a wee bit too early to say my fellow Whovians. However, he definitely fits the direction the writers want to go. And knowing Doctor Who, that direction is going to leave us exasperated, confused and exhilarated as we beg for more.
Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments below.
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