As we sit on the precipice of the end of Peter Capaldi’s run of Doctor Who; there is a great deal to unpack and savor during his 3-season run. At the start, I should probably preface this by saying that personally, Matt Smith is my personal favorite iteration of the character. The almost childlike excitement/naïveté he brought to the Doctor was so infectious and amazing that it felt like we were right there in the Tardis with him. However, as Capaldi’s tenure came to a close last week, academically speaking I begun to realize that he’s had the best portrayal of the character since Tom Baker way back when. There’s just so much to love and champion during his time saving the universe from doom over and over again that a single article couldn’t do it justice, but I’m certainly going to try.
The only complaint I would probably lodge would be his saddling with possibly the worst companions since the show was brought back with Eccleston (save for River Song of course). Clara was a better companion for Smith, whose storyline should have ended with The Snowmen (in my humble opinion). Bill Potts feels like an amalgamation of Rose and Amy and Martha and Clara without having any sort of identifiable personality that makes her standout. She as a character almost jarringly contrasts the best parts of what Capaldi has done with the Doctor in his final season to the point of almost taking me out of it. I understand that everyone has their favorite Doctor/Companion combo… but I don’t think Capaldi/Mackie will be high up on any lists anytime soon.
Any who… that’s ultimately a drop in the pail compared to the mountain of awesome that Peter Capaldi brings with him to the table. I understand that people are used to a younger more hip and “weird” Doctor… but Capaldi gets some of the weightiest thematics and most insanely dramatic character beats to play with since way back when the show first resurfaced. Whether it was watching him dealing with being blind this past season, the final 10-20 minutes of The Husbands of River Song or watching him finally warm up to Clara only to have all his memories wiped of her as if she never existed. Not to take away from other heavy moments other incarnations have faced, the 12th Doctor has had some truly heartbreaking moments to contend with that in my eyes more visibly affected his character than either Smith or Tennant. Not to say that Doctor number 9 or 10 didn’t do any dramatic heavy lifting… but their manic pixie eccentric personalities bounced back pretty fast for the most part.
There’s something about the world weariness in Capaldi’s eyes that telegraph more than ever the weight of all the Doctors adventures and battles resting heavy on his immortal soul. He started out as a cantankerous old man who could do no wrong, started to let people in and in turn became more “bright” himself only to experience a number of tragedies that would bury any one of us 6 feet under. His Doctor is the first time I wish he would stayed on another season or two. With Smith and Tennant… their storylines came to a super logical end and they left before their characters became caricatures of themselves. Furthers adventures with either of them would be welcome but I for one recognized their endings as being necessary and am not chomping at the bit for more. There are so many moving facets to numbers 12’s personality that even though he’s an older man, his run is the first time I truly truly desire to see more from him. His pessimistic but ultimately hopeful opinions and attitudes are the first time that I’ve wholeheartedly identified with the Doctor on any personal level. We still have one more Christmas special before we permanently bid adieu to the 12th Doctor so it’s really anyone’s guess how he’ll ultimately punctuate his run on the show.
Anyone who knows me or knows my work on the site should be acutely aware of the fact that I haven’t always been the biggest fan of Doctor Who. So this here article isn’t simple fan wanking for the sake of declaring myself a bigger nerd than anybody. It took me a little bit, but the magic of the Doctor won me over in an extremely profound way. And as I sat back and let season 10 wash over me, I realized that this show is soooo much better than I ever gave it credit for. While what I stated earlier about Smith being my personal favorite still rings true, it’s Capaldi and his 12th Doctor that have truly and completely indoctrinated me into the Whovian fandom. He’s had the highest highs and some of the lowest lows and though it all his gruff exterior and kind soul represent the most fully realized and fun juxtaposition I feel Doctor Who has brought to the screen yet.
Plus… I didn’t see Tennant or Smith riding around on a tank in a death pit jamming a guitar solo with badass sunglasses. Did you?