Thoughts on the 12th Doctor

Posted: January 15, 2015 in Sci-Fi and Fantasy
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clara-capaldi-danny-series-8I’ve had a habit for some time regarding Doctor Who.  My preferred way to watch is to wait until the series (as the British call a “season”) is over, then binge the whole series.  Friday night was a particularly trying evening in that regard.  Anthea and I got so involved in the story that we binged the entire last third.  I don’t know what some of the younger Whovians think, but as for us?

We were blown away.

Before I get into details, it’s probably worthwhile to give a bit of my Doctor Who background.  I first started watching Doctor Who back in the early 80’s with Tom Baker on PBS.  After him, we got to backfill on Jon Pertwee and we even got to see what was available of William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton.  All of the other Doctors prior to the hiatus were also aired on PBS.  Eventually I found the new Doctor series online and have enjoyed them ever since.  For me, the Classic Doctor is my meat and potatoes of the serial.  The only thing I’ve missed has been the Paul McGann incarnation.  I actually have the movie, but just haven’t made time to watch – something I suspect true of many fans.  My favorite Doctor?  Tom Baker followed very closely by David Tennant.  This is the lens through which I opine.

williamhartnelltallSo, through that perspective, I’ll say again that I was blown away by Peter Capaldi’s Doctor.  This is a very different Doctor than what people are used to if they have only seen the restarted shows.  Older.  Crankier.  Much more distant.  More alien, as it were.  He is a complete change from the Tennant or Smith incarnations in just about every respect.

However, if you are a fan of, or grew up with, the classic Doctor Who then this series gave you more than just a hint of deja vu.  Capaldi’s Doctor is a complete throwback to the classicpertwee-capaldi series.  Obviously, he’s older as were the first Doctors.  You cannot miss the similarities in attire between Capaldi and Hartnell and Pertwee (without the ruffles).  His rather cranky nature is unmistakable compared to the first three Doctors, as well.  At the same time there is also plenty of Tom Baker’s cockiness and Peter Davidson doubt to round out the persona.

ClaraThis throwback is carried over into his companion, as well.  I’ve heard that some have been rather critical of Clara Oswald.  However, she reminds me much more of Barbara Wright, Liz Shaw or Romana than what we’ve seen in the more recent companions.  For Clara, as with these others, “companion” is truly the right word.  She is not merely his assistant.  Nor is she tagging along so he has someone to respond to.  She is much more of an equal than any of the companions in the newer cycle.  Even Amy Pond – still my favorite of the modern
companions – didn’t have the degree of individuality or the level of willingness to stand up to the Doctor that Clara has.  In the same way that I would compare Amy to Sara Jane, I Romanacompare Clara to Romana.

Particularly refreshing is that the sense of romantic tension between Doctor and companion has been dropped entirely.  I cannot begin to say what a relief I find that.  Cutting my teeth on the classic Doctor, that was something that just never fit for me. Personally, I find it a much needed breath of fresh air. I’m am looking forward to seeing her in the 9th series. (Contrary to some rumors, yes, Clara will be back.)

One last part of this season that I have to address…


When we first saw her in the two-part finale, my initial comment was, “Boy, this character almost reminds me of the Delgado or Ainley versions of the Master.” Anthea thought I had lost it when I started whooping when we found out that is exactly who she was! Michelle Gomez channeled the classic Master as defined by Robert Delgado and perfected by Anthony Ainley right down to the side glances and Master-Ainleysinister laugh. This was one of the best pieces of casting I have ever seen in the long history of this show. Male or femail, you could not have found a better person to play the Doctor’s nemisis.

Older fans (age-wise) who love classic Doctor Who tend to really like the direction of the show. Younger fans, seem to be much more mixed in their opinions. So what are your thoughts? Do you like the new Doctor? Clara? Why or why not?

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