Doctor Who: 5 Reasons to be Excited About an Older Doctor
All day Sunday afternoon the American Whovians were glued to their TVs as we waited the announcement of the actor who would take over for Matt Smith as The Doctor. Vegas odds were that Peter Capaldi was the man of the hour, and Vegas turned out to be right, he strode out onstage to thunderous applause.
Capaldi has twice been involved with Doctor Who before, as Caecilius in "The Fires of Pompeii" and John Frobisher in Torchwood: Children of Earth. There's plenty of precedent for Capaldi's casting. Colin Baker appeared as Commander Maxil in "Arc of Infinity" and David Tennant made his initial debut in a Seventh Doctor audio story.
The most remarkable thing about Capaldi is his age. At 55 he is the oldest modern Doctor by 14 years, and is in fact the same age as William Hartnell when he first assumed the role in 1963. This is a great shake-up. Since the original series ended The Doctor has been young and somewhat romantic. Paul McGann was 36, Christopher Eccleston 41, David Tennant 34, and Matt Smith was the youngest Doctor ever at 26.
I for one am really looking forward to having an older Doctor for the following reasons...
5. The Doctor's Sex Life Is Played Out: The Eighth Doctor was the first to kiss a companion romantically, and frankly ever since that moment there has been a great deal of focus on how much his female companions (And Jack) have been head over heels in love with him. Even with platonic relationships like with Donna a possible relationship was still a frequent focus of other characters.
There's no reason to not explore that aspect of The Doctor, but we have literally been doing it since 1996. It's going to be quite a while before another love story on the level of Rose's comes along, and having an older Doctor will help put some distance between the character and constant infatuation.
4. A Father Figure Doctor is Awesome: If you go back to the last couple of Hartnell seasons or the episodes with Seven and Ace you get a really wonderful look at The Doctor as someone that feels at home taking care of others like a father does. The character is capable of such great compassion and strength in that regard, and even though someone like Matt Smith can pull that off very well it has a lot more verve coming from someone whose age shows in his face rather than just in the eyes.
This is a great opportunity for an audience to feel like The Doctor is more than an imaginary friend or an action hero. This is The Doctor that you can believe will make everything all right because that's what a parent does.
3. He's a Much More Believable Badass: The Doctor is always badass, but he's rarely old Batman in Dark Knight Returns badass. If you don't mind hearing a whole lot of f-bombs, that video up there shows how much gravitas an older man can bring to the already considerable power of The Doctor.
After all, let's remember that the undeniably most physically engaging Doctor of all 12 was Jon Pertwee, and he was 54 when he first stepped into the Tardis. In a world where more and more of our action heroes are being portrayed by men in their 40s and 50s, Capaldi is bringing back a very classic kind of protagonist that has rarely been seen since the '70s.
2. Everyone Will Take Him More Seriously: There is an inherent goofiness about the three reboot Doctors. No matter what people initially tend to distrust them because they were a goofy thug, a grinning idiot with big teeth, and a prat in a bowtie respectively. Sure, once it became clear that he was The Doctor people stood up and took notice, but there was always that first moment of, "Who's the weird kid?"
Capaldi, on the other hand, that's someone who can strut in like he owns the place and people will actually wonder if he does. It'll be more like how Patrick Troughton would be so quick to impersonate officials and people would automatically defer to him because even in his hobo clothes he was old enough and had enough of a presence to come across as someone in charge.
1. 'Cause He is Still The Doctor: So... Twitter exploded with hundreds of tweets, and a pretty significant number of them we're variants on "Ugh, who is the old guy? Not watching any more." This sort of thing makes me hang my head.
I understand that for a lot of people the idea of The Doctor as he was for a large part of the original series seems dated, silly, and most of all boring. I get that. People love the modern Doctor, with all the snogging, flirting, and stuff like that.
But there is more to it than that, and if the show is going to survive it has to keep changing. "Life depends on change... and renewable" as Troughton said himself in his very first adventure taking over for Hartnell. This is a drastic shift for Doctor Who, and we'll never know if it was what the show needed if we don't give it a chance.
Get the Theater and Arts Newsletter
Exclusive discounts and announcements to Houston theater shows and art events