While we’ve not yet reached this season’s finale, ten episodes is plenty of time to get a feel for the new Doctor of Doctor Who. So, who is he?
Like most, I begin by comparing him to the previous Doctors I have known. As I have virtually no experience with the classic Doctor Who, I begin with Christopher Eccleston.
With only one season under his belt, Eccleston’s Doctor was a strong man, wounded from war and the sorrow of losing his entire race, his home. This came through in how he cherished his companion, Rose, protecting her, avenging her when he thought she was lost, even laying down his life to save her. It also shone in his emotional decision die instead of slaughtering an army of Daleks, for such would involve slaughtering humanity as well. With only the one season, Eccleston did an admirable job of introducing us to the universe of Doctor Who.
Where Eccleston re-lit the torch, fan-favorite David Tennant truly took it up (rather literally in one episode). His Doctor was a more fleshed-out Eccleston Doctor, a hero, striding across all of time and space like a god. He could stare down creatures no mortal being could ever have a hope of surviving, let alone defeating. And we were allowed to see just why his companions are so integral to his adventures, because they keep him grounded. They keep him human. That humanity enabled him to make his own “final sacrifice.” As Eccleston’s Doctor laid down his life for a woman he loved, Tennant’s did the same for a friend.
Matt Smith had some really big shoes to fill then, and not just because Tennant’s Doctor wore ridiculously huge shoes. Fortunately, between his acting and the visible efforts of the many people who created the show, he did quite well. His very first episode, it was clear they were working really hard to establish Smith as “The Doctor,” and they succeeded brilliantly. It was a different Doctor, with a different personality, a madman with a box. The shift towards a greater story arc reaching across multiple seasons allowed both Smith’s Doctor and his companions to evolve in unexpected ways. Not only does Smith’s Doctor step out of the universal spotlight and back into the shadows, but the love story of Amelia Pond and Rory Williams is one we can all cheer for.
And if you want to talk sacrifice, Smith’s Doctor sacrifices not only his life, but roughly nine centuries of his life, just to protect one small village! His regeneration was epic, and it was a direct result of his selfless heroism, and the plea of his companion at the time, Clara Oswald.
We even had an awesome performance by John Hurt, who just walked in and held his own alongside both of the fan-favorites in a single episode. This was an incarnation of the Doctor hitherto unknown and disregarded even by his successors. This Doctor was a warrior, and one who made the ultimate difficult choice to stop the slaughter of the Time War and save the whole of creation, even at the cost of his own race.
So how does Peter Capaldi’s Doctor measure up against these four?
Well, there is much to be desired.
For one thing, he has two major Doctors to compete with, and two more who give strong performances, particular Hurt’s. When they introduced Smith’s Doctor, who was competing particularly with Tennant’s, they took the time and made the effort to establish him as both the Doctor and a unique character apart from the previous Doctor. They did no such service for Capaldi’s, despite having twice the competition. The best description I’ve yet come up with is “Smith’s Doctor, but older and more sour.” He’s just another madman with a box, and lacks all of Smith’s charisma. In previous seasons, it was the Doctor and his companions who carried the show forward. For this one, thus far, it’s just his companion.
Now, that might not be entirely a bad thing. With the finale coming at us, there are strong indicators that Clara Oswald’s story is another overarching multi-season plot. I will not say much just yet, but I have a theory concerning who Clara really is, and that it involves a certain connection between Clara, the enigmatic Missy we’ve seen lurking in the background with dead people, and another companion, River Song. Perhaps my theory is rubbish, but on the off-chance that it might be right, it would qualify as spoilers. (and if I’m wrong, I can tell you anyway, and we can have a good laugh at my stupidity, lol) 🙂
Whether I’m right or wrong, either way, because Clara has been the one carrying the show more than Capaldi’s Doctor, it makes it all the more foreboding when we see her apparently falling victim to the proverbial dark side. Honestly, at this point, I would fear Clara Oswald more than the Capaldi’s Doctor.
I dare you, name one other time you’d fear the companion more than the Doctor.
Perhaps they are simply taking an entire season to do for Capaldi’s Doctor what they did in one episode for Smith’s. It still leaves me scratching my head, wondering who the Doctor is this time.
And not in the happy, fun, suspenseful way.
That would be how I am wondering about Clara Oswald. Just who is she?