Note: If you haven’t seen the series 8 – this will have spoilers. Be aware.
Full disclosure. My Doctor is David Tennant. I tell my husband this, and he has no idea what I’m talking about. For those of us who love the series, we know that we all have the one Doctor we really enjoyed watching more than the others. And then…we have our significant others in our lives who may not be Whovians and don’t want to watch the show. Yes, we sit through their shows. But they won’t watch with us. I was told recently that Doctor Who is “too hard to get into unless you’ve watched it from the beginning.” That may be, but most of us who like to watch it would be more than willing to invest the time to re-watch it with our loved ones to get them caught up to speed. Ah well. This post is not about that. It’s about Capaldi’s first season as the new Doctor. To look at that, we have to back to Matt Smith’s last couple of series.
It took me a while to get used to Matt Smith. I thought by the end of his first series, he had begun to really own the role and I finally forgave him for replacing David Tennant. I thought his relationship with River was great and the actors had a real chemistry. I liked that they expanded his companions so that it wasn’t just two series regulars each episode. I loved Rory and liked Amy. The entire arc with Clara was written well. But yes, it was time to try out a new Doctor.
I firmly believe a lot of the reason Capaldi has not grown on me is the writing for this series. Too much time was spent developing an un-needed arc for Clara Oswald rather than developing the personality of the new Doctor.
Capaldi was at a bit of a disadvantage, I felt, because Clara, had a huge and important story arc that was really finished under Matt Smith’s tenure. Her character was created because of the chemistry she and Smith shared. That chemistry is mostly lacking between her and Capaldi.
The writers will either complete a companion’s story arc under one Doctor (a la the best companion ever in Donna Noble), or they’ll extend the companion across a Doctor to give some connection with the previous incarnations. When they did this with Rose, her arc expanded into new stories that allowed her to become her own person. She matured and developed.
I felt that Clara’s story arc really should have finished with Matt Smith’s Doctor. Extending her story through this series felt forced. Her character didn’t really change and mature in any significant way. The way her love interest Mr. Pink died felt unnecessary to me, especially since we’d had an episode where she met their many-times great grandson. Who, unless we discover she’s pregnant in the typical TV melodramatic save-the-story way, will now no longer exist. After seeing the Christmas special, I’m thinking they are not going with that and are going to just accept that all of her descendants now don’t exist; that is rather depressing. Perhaps, they’ll come up with a way to bring Pink back. Who knows.
But, Capaldi still has not grown on me the way Tennant and Smith did by this point in time. He seems too stiff at times and too unpredictable. Tennant’s Doctor seemed like a man beginning to understand just how long and lonely his life had been and would be while still trying to connect with others. Smith’s Doctor developed a great feeling of weary age in a young man’s body; but Capaldi’s Doctor strikes more as a self-important grump that isn’t very trustworthy and not as wise as his younger self. Perhaps, I’m being too harsh. I do hope his version grows on me as much as Tennant’s and Smith’s. But when you have an episode with all the previous Doctors and your reaction is – “I wonder if they could just bring back either of those two?” It let’s you know that this version needs a bit more work before he becomes the real Doctor.