So, on August 4th, the BBC announced who would replace Matt Smith in the role of the mysterious title character in the nearly half-century old Science Fiction series “Doctor Who.” The person chosen? Peter Capaldi, an actor who had actually already been in the series once before, in the 2008 episode “The Fires of Pompeii.” Of course, then, he was just a secondary character. Now, he will be filling in as the 12 actor to play the role of the millennium old Timelord.
…the internet went, for lack of a better phrase, apeshit over it.
That is actually why I have waited a week to even begin typing this article; there has been until recently sheer chaos in the Doctor Who fandom over this announcement. The reason? The fact that Peter Capaldi is 55. That, and the fact that other characters he has played haven’t been the most family friendly, but let’s focus on one thing at a time here.
As soon as it was announced that Capaldi had gotten the role, the Doctor Who fandom entered into the same chaotic debate that all fandoms do over major changes. Sides arguing back and forth over it being a wonderful selection, a terrible one, and others being indifferent to the entire event until his episodes begin. The biggest complaint that a majority of people had was his age.
Age is just a state of mind…
Peter Capaldi is much older than the previous 3 actors who filled the role of The Doctor, and naturally, people who are watching mostly the 2005 reboot of the series would think this is irregular. However, this thought shows one thing: they don’t know much about classic Who. Peter Capaldi, as of this writing, is 55. That is the same age William Hartnell was when he played the Doctor way back in 1963, when the show premiered. Makeup was used to make him look much older, but the fact remains, he is the same age as the original actor. The ages of the actors have changed wildly through the years, from Matt Smith being only 26 when he started, Peter Davidson being only 30 when he played the 5th Doctor, onward to actors like Jon Pertween, at 50, playing the 3rd Doctor, and the much beloved David Tennant, at 34, becoming the 10th Doctor.
While there has been a general trend in the age of the actors decreasing over the life of the series, this I feel is nothing more than a side effect of casting and the wants of the audience. Youthfulness has always been in, and with the 2005 reboot, this is no exception. The very character of the Doctor has changed from an Anti-Hero to the central protagonist (yes, the original show idea was to focus more on the companions than the Doctor proper) and as such, as time progressed, the role required someone with a little more take charge youthfulness.
This is a trend of entertainment that people generally don’t notice though, which has lead to some odd belief that having such an older actor violates some canon in the show that the Doctor gets a younger look with each regeneration.
There is nothing in the show that even remotely points to this. The regeneration mechanic, used to allow the role to have multiple actors, is simply, in the shows universe, a mechanic where a new, random body is formed from the old one. Young, old, male, female.. it doesn’t matter! It is simply a new body, no other rules around it.
I honestly hate to say it this way, but what I have also noticed is that most of the people complaining about this actor selection happen to be younger females, who generally do not watch classic Who. These are the people who petition the BBC to bring Tennant back, and refuse to look at classic who for various reasons.
Girls, please, keep your hormones under control. Yes, I understand you want to see attractive men as characters you love, but that is not what Doctor Who is about. End of story. Please, appreciate the program for what it is, not who the actor is or how attractive you find them.
Uh oh, language!
Past that, there is the issue people have with the previous characters Peter Capaldi has portrayed. Often, his characters are known to “curse like a sailor” as the saying goes, uttering profanity to rival that found in the 90’s film “Casino”.
Why is this even an issue? He is an actor, a person who behaves like a fictional person for the sake of an entertainment production. Robin Williams was heavily involved in many Disney films in my childhood, but anyone who looks at his actual stand up comedy would be shocked to see the subject matter and profanity coming from him. His comedy is his own, and he keeps that separate from any role he is playing. The same could be said of Peter Capaldi: as an actor, he is obviously not going to just up and swear in an episode of Doctor Who, and any such instances, if they were to ever happen, would obviously never make it into the show, as they were not planned to be part of it and obviously wouldn’t be “kept in” as a good improvisational routine. People are absolutely silly to even be concerned by this, and to me, personally, it shows a lack of even beginning to comprehend how a TV show, film, or any kind of media, is made.
What I think…
My thoughts on Peter Capaldi being the next Doctor are simple: The man watched the show as a child, is clearly excited to have the role, and certainly is a dynamic enough actor to pull it off. I have nothing but high hopes for this new chapter, and can’t wait to see his first episode.
I’ll tell you Christmas what I think of his first moment on screen. In the meantime, we have the 50th anniversary to get excited about!