When the clock chimed twelve every Doctor Who fan shed a tear as another Doctor stepped down. One of the amazing things about Doctor Who is that it is an evolving show. The series was created or founded in a way that allows for change and embraces the new. However, can change be a bad thing? What if the writers miss the actual demand of the public?
The Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi, has had a full season to adapt and to make his mark onto fans. It took Matt Smith over two seasons to gain popularity from David Tennant fans–no one is expecting Matt Smith fans to jump on board with Captaldi easily. It is important, though, for the 12th Doctor to be established by now. So, is Peter Capaldi’s Doctor on the right track?
Series 8 revealed that the Doctor was now heading into a different direction. The 12th Doctor was no longer childlike, silly, and caring–instead Capaldi’s version was pushed into the far opposite of whatever the 11th Doctor had been. In effort to prevent repetition, Steven Moffat decided to try to foil this new Doctor from the previous ones in order to establish a diversity and completely new character.
I do admire change, and it is difficult for a TV show to invoke or transition new ideas into their original concept. Often, TV series end up in failure when trying to “change it up a bit”. The reason is, that many television programs are designed under a ridged or tight concept that a radical change is just too much for the structure to handle.
Doctor Who often adapted to whatever the era was demanding for. Over the years, the Doctor has become younger and younger seeing that the target audience was attracted to younger actors. So, was it wise for Steven Moffat to choose an older actor? Now, I am a big fan of the Second and Fourth Doctors who I think do an amazing job. However, I am also a fan of Matt Smith and the use of bringing in a young actor to play an ancient alien.
The Age Problem
There are two ways in viewing this argument about age: one, what is the largest or majority opinion/demand? Two, what is the best choice according to the plot?
The idea that TV shows should be fan service isn’t new. Several programs have placed two characters together romantically because fans desired it, and other TV series have changed how a character acted in order to gain acceptance or popularity with fans. In Monk Randy Disher did not start out as the comedic effect, in fact he was rather serious and was used more as a plot device than an actual character. As the show progressed, the writers probably saw that they needed another source of comedy other than the main character. Randy than became another source of laughter and soon made his way into the main cast.
Stores often have the saying, “the customer is always right?”. However, does this same principle apply to television and other forms of entertainment? I argue that it does to a limit. What is entertainment? In reality, to entertain is to amuse others, or to keep them engaged by allowing for them to laugh, cry, and be distracted. In the end, the public or audience has a lot of power in what makes it onto television screens because they are the ones who are going to be viewers in he end.
Choosing an older actor was a bad move; at this moment the audience–with a large group being from the USA–was demanding young actors. Also, Steven Moffat has confessed that he does not have a major story for the 12th Doctor which cancels out the idea that if a writer has a plan than it is okay for him/her to ignore the public’s demand. However, Steven Moffat has no clear design for the course of the 12th Doctor, which means that he should have listened to the public’s demand.
At first, I enjoyed seeing a grumpy Doctor which did bring me back to classic Who for a moment. However, the Doctor’s character has no constancy throughout the season. As a critic and a writer, the dialogue is very sloppy at times. There are instances that the Doctor is straight up in “not caring” mode while at other parts he appears to seem as if it is all a facade. I am all for layered characters, but instead of making the 12th Doctor appear rounded his character comes off as undecided.
In the end, I do give him more praise than criticism in the personality argument. I think it was a good choice to take the Doctor into a new direction when it came to his decision making and interactions with others. The Doctor has gone through a lot, he has lost people that were close to him–companions, friends, family–and he has had to deal with a lot of betrayal. Even Matt Smith’s Doctor began to show hints of darkness in his last days.
But, would I go on to describe 12 as a darker Doctor? No, darkness is not being grumpy or heartless as times. Darkness is choosing the selfish choice, or making decisions that are wrong on purpose. For example, in the “Mummy on the Orient Express” the Doctor had to let people die in order to see what he was dealing with. This is not dark, because even though he did allow for people to die he was simply being utilitarian. He was willing to save those who he could, and in order to save the rest he needed to allow for those who were already doomed to die. If the Doctor were dark than he would have simply let everyone die in order to simply study the creature, he would have no intentions to save anyone because he would simply say they were all doomed anyway. However, the Doctor goes out of his way to save those he can–this being unselfish.
In the end, I do think that Steven Moffat and the producers of Doctor Who should have chosen a slightly younger Doctor–maybe in his mid to late forties. However, I have to admire Peter Capaldi’s acting and how much he has done with the role since it is not easy to slip into a role like the Doctor’s. Overall, I hope that Capaldi and Steven Moffat work well together to create a better season and story arc this year.