It’s an inescapable fact that when a new Doctor comes along people immediately compare him to the previous ones, and there’s always those who (in spite of doing the same with the previous incarnation) state that the new Dr is not as good as the previous one and the franchise is doomed.
When Peter Capaldi was announced as the replacement for Matt Smith, many “new who” fans cried out in outrage that an old(er) man was being given the job – after all where was the love interest going to be, and who were the teeny girls going to drool over. (OK – that’s an unfair comment as both male and female latecomers were objecting, but the arguments often referenced the age of Capaldi and the dyanmic changes that would bring about)
Personally I was both pleased and intrigued by his appointment – he’s a genuine whovian and hearkens back to the first heyday of who with Pertwee, Baker (Tom of course) and even Davidson with a respectful nod to Harkness and Troughton.
Three episodes in to the new Doctors tenure in the TARDIS and I’m still intrigued. This Doctor has a mystique about him, an uncertainty about both his identity and his motivations. There’s a battle going on inside his two hearts that is trying to determine his morality.
And you know what – it’s fantastic! (Ecclestone nod there)
The Doctor has gone back to being this mysterious traveller who sweeps in with the delicacy of a bull in a china shop and then sweeps out again leaving as many questions as answers.
Don’t get me wrong – I thought both Tennant and Smith were brilliant, and Tennant sits joint favourite for me with Tom Baker. But there was something about their versions of the Doctor that lacked that question mark. Doctor Who became a statement more than a question (for most of the time – there were some excellent occassions where the question mark was most definitely present!)
So back to Capaldi – we’ve had 3 very different episodes. We’ve had the “I’m in a new body and am rather addled by the change”, we’ve had the “Dalek moral soul-searching” and we’ve now had the “Tongue-in-cheek Romp” and that gives us a good feel for the direction of the new Doctor.
When I look at his performance there’s a darker edge, similar but edgier than Ecclestone. There’s also that sense of a timelord who is ageing so much slower than the rest of us – and he is not backwards in coming forwards with that, or anything for that matter.
One other thing that seems to be recurring is a real embracing of all the Doctors. We’ve seen mentions, character traits, and even images of past incarnations and this is a Doctor who is the sum of all his pasts – but at the same time strangely lessened by them. He’s in conflict with all his characters and as a result we are catching glimpses of them all – just peeking out through the almost tortured veneer that Capaldi is wearing.
It’s too early to say for definite – but I really do feel that this Doctor has the potential to be amongst the best of the best.
Oh, and SPOON!