The Welcome Return of the Impatient and Cantankerous Doctor Who

“From the doctor’s own point of view, from his fictional point of view, he’s just the same man and he’s rearranged himself a bit. But he’s the same person looking out of those eyes.”

Those words from Stephen Moffat, lead writer and executive producer of Doctor Who, in a promo interview for the new season of the hit BBC series have me psyched for this latest incarnation of the Doctor—though he’s always “the same man,” we’ll get to see a different slice of his inimitable personality. Now, double that with the actor’s conversation via Metro about what to expect of the Time Lord in the upcoming season:

Peter Capaldi described his take on the Doctor as ‘slightly more impatient’ and ‘extremely fierce,’ but still ‘very joyful’, ‘very funny,’ and ‘enthusiastic about life and world around him.’

I, for one, am glad to hear we are heading down a slightly darker path with The Twelfth Doctor. That’s not intended to be a knock against Doctors Ten and Eleven (I wouldn’t want to marginalize them in the least since David Tennant and Matt Smith revitalized the series, taking the time-traveling, humanoid alien to new heights of distinction—I’m a BIG fan of both of them), but I gotta say, it’ll be refreshing to see a bit of grit creeping back into the show via Capaldi. The last two characterizations of the Doctor were your everyday nice guys, albeit a bit kooky, who you wouldn’t mind dating your daughter, right? And, you could introduce them to Grandma without too much concern… come to think of it, Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman) did just that in “The Time of the Doctor.” Of course, they both had their moments when they could get mad as hell and even unpredictable, but there wasn’t ever much in the way of overt menace in their threats.

Doctor Who Peter Capaldi

Like many others from my generation who grew up with Tom Baker’s portrayal, I saw a man who was much more alien in nature than the first three embodiments, and at times he was quirky, gloomy, and aloof. Of course he had lots of fun, but the weight of his travels was clearly etched in his face. And he could get downright curmudgeonly at times. When Romana II (Lalla Ward) questions his interfering, the Doctor, with snap, replies, “Interfere? Of course we should interfere. Always do what you’re best at. That’s what I say. Now come on!” Colin Baker (Sixth Doctor) and Christopher Eccleston (Ninth Doctor) also had a good measure of that alien vibe, the impatience and danger factor. And now it appears Capaldi will share these hardboiled, cantankerous traits, plus introduce a few new ones of his own.

A side benefit from a gruffer, more mature doctor is the possibility of a reprieve from the UST (Unresolved Sexual Tension) between the Time Lord and his companion—at least for a little while. Maybe that’s too much to hope for, but after several companions like Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) and Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) batted their eyes at him, I’m ready to take a breather from any more flirtations. There was even a trace of that between Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Eleven—despite marrying Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill), she seemed to harbor a bit of a crush on her raggedy man. I’m not saying Capaldi, because he’s older, isn’t swoon worthy; I overheard the receptionist at my doctor’s office tell a co-worker when she saw a commercial on BBC America, “I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on his sonic screwdriver,” (run, you clever girl), but I’m sensing the writers will take this opportunity to deviate from that particular plot device.

Doctor Who Peter Capaldi

So how about you? Looking forward to the grittier Doctor or leaning toward gentler times? Would you want to see The Twelfth Doctor and The Impossible Girl, um, together?

Check out our spoiler-free review of Capaldi’s first turn as the Doctor in the season 8 premiere, “Deep Breath.” Plus, read more about Capaldi’s take on the Doctor, including his thoughts on any potential romances!


David Cranmer is the publisher of the BEAT to a PULP webzine and books and editor of the recent collections The Lizard’s Ardent Uniform and Other Stories and A Rip Through Time: The Dame, The Doctor, and the Device.

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