Series 8 is officially wrapped and the fandom has chimed in: Peter Capaldi is the best Doctor of New Who.
Maybe the best New Who is a little presumptuous. Depending on your source, the best New Who often times is given to David Tennant, and with good reason. All you have to do is watch Series 1-4 1/2 and you can see why. Russell T. Davies did an excellent job rebooting the series with Christopher Eccelston, but it can’t be denied that David Tennant brought something to the stage that is hard to beat, and when a few Steven Moffat scripts were thrown into the mix, David Tennant had some of the most glorious episodes (and best lines) land in his lap.
He was quick with a comeback, delivery was perfect, we loved him and Rose together, and he could be very, very wicked when he needed to be. He was kind and he was cruel. Fire and ice and rage. While there are Ten haters who will never warm to David Tennant, insisting he never acted a day on the set and rave and rabble that New Who’s only love Tennant and not the Doctor, there are thousands of us who will always see Ten in Tennant. You can’t tell us what we can and can’t like, and we most definitely like Ten for what he was. (I can’t find a link to those particular Reddit comments, Tumblr notes, or Pins, but if you’re a die hard Whovian, you’ve seen them; I don’t really need to link to that hate.)
Then came Matt Smith: an even younger, fresher, hip(st)er hero who’s favorite pastime was–if you didn’t know any better–kissing everyone. Granted, Ten had his romantic moments so we can’t hold kissing against Matt Smith, but let’s not forget that 1) what he felt for Rose doesn’t need saying, 2) Martha’s kiss was a DNA transfer, 3) other’s kissed the Doctor, it wasn’t really the other way around (except for that one episode where he went mortal and fell in love, but he didn’t really know what kind of responsibility he had to not get romantically entangled, did he?). Eleven was running around and kissing all the Ponds.
He could easily be pictured as anyone’s boyfriend.
And now we’re back to an older, gruffer Doctor. Not to discredit perky, preppy, and huggy Whovians–because your feelings and actions are perfectly acceptable and don’t need to be validated by me–but most of the Whovians I’ve come across are somewhat withdrawn. They’re introverts. They simply don’t appreciate physical contact, and when they do, it’s amongst a very few, select, and consensual one or two (think a significant other and best friend since they were 3, maybe even physical contact between family is a little strained). That Twelve came onto our screens and at the very end of the first episode said “…I don’t think I’m a hugger” made the Whovians I know go doe-eyed and gasp “Just like me!”
Twelve is intense. The most insensitive sounding things come out of his mouth. He’s not terribly empathetic. He likes his alone time. He doesn’t want to show he’s too close to his Companion even though she means the world to him. When Clara acted to betray him, he brushed it off without addressing the problem. Much like Ten, it didn’t need to be said; the Doctor and the Companion both knew.
Twelve is snarky. Twelve isn’t a heart throb. Twelve is The Doctor.
It appears the ultimate feedback for Series 8 that we’ve seen is it’s possibly the best Doctor since Classic Who on what has basically been a throw-away season. ‘Listen’ seems to be the unanimous favorite of the series, although I personally enjoyed ‘The Caretaker’, and prior to that there was some expressed frustration about Clara not being able to accept Twelve was the Doctor. She saw him change, Madam Vastra told her it was him, and Clara had seen and saved all his past selves, and yet she still couldn’t accept Twelve? It was incredibly frustrating to watch, especially for those of us who have accepted multiple reincarnations without much questioning.
Personally, I will say each episode in Series 8 provided some excellent one-liners, as you can follow on Larkable’s Doctor Who Pinterest Board (thanks to BBC One for providing the great images which I’ve used here too!). But overall, series 8 was pretty weak.
I’m really hoping that this last season will pay off. Very rarely–if ever–does Moffat do anything without purpose, so fingers are crossed that this unusual season will make sense in Series 9.
But while 8 wasn’t the strongest series we’ve seen, Peter Capaldi brought his A-game regardless. Whovians have expressed frustration that we spent too much time with Clara, too much time in the real world, and not enough time with the Doctor. I disagree. While I’ve been spoiled and relished in the time we’ve had with the Doctor in New Who, the few early episodes I’ve seen of One in Classic Who basically depict exactly what we saw in Series 8: the main story follows the companion(s) and we only catch glimpses of the Doctor as he puts himself or his companion(s) in danger to get to the bottom of what’s going on (I refer to Daleks and Aztecs).
While the concept is literally 50 years old, I do find it refreshing in 2014. Not only that, but the time away from the Doctor, not being allowed in his head so much, has, in fact, made him more alien to me. And I believe that while of course the fandom knows in our hearts that he’s a Time Lord, I do believe we forget that he is alien. I think this season has forced us to remember that while we might feel close to or connect with the Doctor, we never really can. He’s not human and he’s not our age. He’s thousands of years old and of a different species, and while he loves us, his priorities are not the same as ours. It’s never really been more obvious than in this series.
Much as Classic Who has evolved into New Who, I’m hoping Series 8 will evolve into a better season 9. I have faith that it will and with the news that Peter Capaldi is returning for Series 9, I’m assuming our patience will be rewarded.
Now we address the next issue: Clara isn’t returning for Series 9, or at least Jenna Coleman didn’t sign a contact to return. So who will be the next companion? There is already some speculation, and we at Larkable will always have our fingers crossed to see a familiar fandom face return to the small screen, but even we would like to see some of these hopefuls: Ellis George, who played Courtney Woods twice this season, Antonia Thomas, who we love in Misfits, and even Lara Pulver, who played Irene Alder in Sherlock, would be welcomed Companions in our opinion. Myself, I’d welcome a male companion, but perhaps the world isn’t yet ready for an older gentleman traveling alone with a younger male companion (that statement would be a lot racier if American Dad didn’t beat me to it). If that can’t be the case, I’d love to see Ellis George return to travel with the doctor. I feel that Courtney is a lost girl, and the Doctor has this incredible way of helping us find our path.
So, really, what I’m trying to say is, I’m incredibly happy with Peter Capaldi. Not only has he done an amazing job as Twelve, but he’s also done some incredible things in the name of the Doctor:
He’s basically saved the Doctor. While I’m not certain I’d ever say the show was becoming predictable, I will say I haven’t rewatched or had the urge to rewatch Series 5-7 the way I rewatched 1-4. Once again, the urge to go back and watch episodes is upon me with Series 8: I find Twelve intriguing and I want to see how he does it again and again. Perhaps, in a way, the season wasn’t a total loss overall?
All in all, I love Capaldi. Christopher Eccelston will always be My Doctor (my first), and David Tennant is perhaps my favorite (or at least he’s been tied with), but I have to say Peter Capaldi may just be the best Doctor I’ve seen…yet.