Monday, August 25, 2014

Thoughts on the 13th Doctor

The last time we all saw Dr. Who, he had abruptly changed faces on us, and in the process, had momentarily forgotten how to fly a careening Tardis. Newcomer Peter Capaldi had only a single line as the new Doctor (and one eye cameo in the 50th anniversary special), and that left me with many questions about the new Doctor. We've had to wait until this month to see him in a proper episode, and so I was understandably curious as to how I would like the new one.

The other changes have always taken me some time to get used to. My first exposure to Dr. Who came with Christopher Eccelston, and the switch to David Tennant really threw me for a bit, though David ended up being my favorite Doctor. This time, however, I guessed that the differences between Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi might be starker. I've since watched episodes containing every Doctor in existence, and Peter at first glance strikes me as more of a William Hartnell type character than any of the Doctor's since the show rebooted. Could this be Dr. Who going back to his roots? This is the first of a new regeneration cycle of 12, and so, it might make sense that the 13th Doctor should mirror the 1st.

Instead of looking at the episode, which I genuinely enjoyed, I want to focus on my first impressions of the new Doctor himself.

1. On one hand, he's got some steel to him. I loved the last two Doctors, but it was hard to find them intimidating, even if they were trying. This doctor comes with "attack eyebrows". His confrontation with the episode's villain at the end of the episode made me think the Doctor is tired of sugarcoating things and ready to get down to business...kicking butt and taking names.

2. On the other hand, he's surprisingly funny. One thing I was worried about going in to the episode is that his personality would swing so drastically that the Doctor wouldn't be funny anymore. The humor has shifted, but it's still there, with a bit more biting edge to it.

3. He is more like some of the original series doctors, but he stands apart. Sure, he did remind me of William Hartnell a bit, but he wasn't trying to copy him, or any other Doctor for that matter. Everything from his attire to his accent sets him apart as a new incarnation, one who can tackle some more intense, serious subject matter.

I think one reason Dr. Who is a brilliant show is that is not afraid to shake things up. Many TV shows fall into the rut of having the same people do the same things ad nauseum, but with periodically changing both the Doctor and his companions periodically, it can keep the show from feeling stale. I, for one, am excited to see what new surprises the Peter Capaldi era will bring, and hope that he sticks around for a bit.

Now let's see if that can actually keep the show going through a whole new cycle of regenerations...

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