Sunday, August 4, 2013

They Say He's the Same, But He's Not the Same: Comments on the 12th Doctor Announcement

Ladies and gentlemen:  The 12th Doctor!
Did you ever stop and think about the things and people that meant nothing to you when you first encountered them, but wound up being extremely important to you later on?  The first time you were in a room with your future spouse, did you even necessarily notice them?  I can remember the first time I ever saw my current girlfriend, and I can tell you that I didn't immediately think this was someone I'd fall in love with and who would move out to Denver to live with me.  I'm sure I heard of Doctor Who in my younger days at some point, but never assumed it would play such a big part in my life.  When I was first taught the word "poetry," I probably never thought it was something that I would become a semi-professional in.  These things circle around at the periphery of our lives and they aren't important until they actually are.

Enter:  Peter Capaldi.  Twice Capaldi has graced the screen in the Doctor Who universe:  first as Lucius Caecilius Iucundus in "Fires of Pompeii," and, much more notably, as John Frobisher in Torchwood:  Children of Earth.  His role in the franchise is so minor, that I probably wouldn't have even remembered him as Frobisher if I hadn't been rewatching Children of Earth last week.  I certainly didn't remember him as Caecilius until someone pointed it out to me.  He is someone who was never on my radar in any capacity.  I had seen him in a few things here and there, but never did I care enough to look up who he was.  Now, he's the 12th Doctor.  He wasn't important, and now he is.

Okay, we'll start off with the bad news, because there's really only one piece of it:  He's a white guy.  I, as well as many others, were looking for, at the very least, a black Doctor.  Even if a female Doctor is a bridge too far, a black Doctor is not.  There's no good reason for him to have been 12 white guys in a row and, frankly, it seems rather unlikely, doesn't it?

I did seem to be right about my list of the 5 "candidates" who were definitely not getting the job, but I do seem to have been wrong about one thing:  I was wrong about all betting odds being bullshit.  Because about 2 days ago, bookies started to refuse taking any bets on Capaldi.  How the fuck did they know?  I'll remember this for next time.

That being said, Capaldi is a very interesting choice.  First of all, Steven Moffat said that, when he took over as head writer, he wanted to go with an older Doctor because he believed the Doctor should be old, but Matt Smith was so perfect he decided to cast him.  Whether this is true or not (I think the BBC probably pushed him to cast a younger Doctor) he genuinely seemed to be very pleased with Matt Smith's performance.  Now, he apparently finally got to go through with his original idea of bringing the Doctor back to an older man.

But while most of the classic series Doctors were middle-aged or older, one thing that most of them were not were fit, trim, or handsome.  Those are adjectives that really only apply to the younger Doctors like David Tennant or Peter Davison.  There's never been a dashingly handsome, grey haired Doctor before.  This is probably a big advantage if casting an older Doctor, because the biggest danger in doing so is alienating the screaming fangirls who have gone ga-ga over the pretty Doctors like David Tennant or Matt Smith or even Christopher Eccleston.  I guess you could always bring back John Barrowman.

GF:  He looks like David Tennant?
Me:  Fair enough.  I could by him as Tennant's father.

When I first heard the announcement, I only knew him from Torchwood, but found that a lot of people knew him better than I did.  My girlfriend and a few friends just kept talking about him swearing a lot.  A Google Image search for pictures of him usually turns up pictures of him yelling with some vulgar caption under it.  I thought "How can someone be known for swearing?  Lots of people swear in movies and television, especially after the watershed hour in England.  How can swearing be someone's 'thing'?  It seems too general."

Then my girlfriend showed me his show The Thick of It, which I understand also folds into the movie In the Loop.  We watched the first three episodes of The Thick of It and I got it.  It's a show that takes place in the British government, It's kind of a comedic version of House of Cards with Capaldi in sort of the Francis Urquhard/Frank Underwood role, only less of a scalpel than a hatchet, being less of a sly manipulator than a foul-mouthed screaming bully who gets things done through intimidation.  I can understand why he's known as a swearer.

GF:  I know more about the new Doctor than you do!

I'll be watching the rest of that series, and everything else I can find of his, and I'll do a big ol' book report on Capaldi.

It's not the first time a Time Lord has regenerated into the image of someone he already met.  Colin Baker played Commander Maxil, a Gallifreyan security guard, before becoming the 6th Doctor.  Romana II said she based her regeneration off of Princess Astra, a woman they had met in the previous episode.  This is the only indication in the series that Time Lords have an ability to choose their regeneration, and almost everything else in the history of the series contradicts this and says that they have no control over what they regenerate into.  But it is possible that the image of Caecilius somehow imprinted on the Doctor and caused him to regenerate into that image (Frobisher never met the Doctor, but could very well be a descendent of Caecilius, explaining the similar appearance).

The biggest thing I thought of when I saw Capaldi was that I can really see the spirit of the older Doctors emanating from him.  I can see the brain of the 1st Doctor in his head.  I can't imagine the personality of 11 in his head.  He's going to be a very big departure from the last few Doctors.  The fatherly figure of the first 3 Doctors is really what I see in Capaldi.  I imagine him being quick to anger, yet gentle and loving.

Perhaps he'll create a better chemistry with Clara than Matt Smith had, as that's probably my only complaint about Clara so far.  She's a great companion, but due to the very nature of her plotline, there had to be a very big emotional distance between her and Matt Smith, which made for poor chemistry.  Hopefully Capaldi and Louise-Coleman can strike up a good chemistry.  An old fashioned, father-daughterish Doctor-companion relationship.

While researching Capaldi, I tried to follow him on Twitter.  The Twitter handle petercapaldi is a page with literally two posts, both of which are flat out nazi statements.  Obviously, this is fake.  I'm saving a screen cap of it in case it gets shut down, which I'm sure the BBC will do their best to do.  I don't think nazi shit is funny, but I think it's ridiculous that someone did that in the name of Peter Capaldi.  "But not in the name of the Doctor."

UPDATE:  Looks like the Nazi Capaldi page has already been removed, so here it is for you to gaze at in abject horror:

Click to enlarge.  Trigger warning.

It also turns out that Capaldi is a very close friend of Craig Ferguson.  This is a picture of their high school band, The Dreamboys:

I understand that Capaldi was supposedly the lead singer, so I think that's him in the middle?  God knows which one is Ferguson.
Ferguson, as most people know, is possibly the most obsessive Whovian currently residing in America (after me, of course).  Capaldi, thankfully, is just about as big of a Whovian as Ferguson, which is great but certainly not a requirement of the job.  Tennant was a huge Who fan before being cast, but Matt Smith knew nothing of it, and I consider them the two best to play the role.

Random Fact:  Up to, and including, the casting of Matt Smith, no two actors to play the Doctor had the same first name, although two of them had the same last name.  John Hurt being cast as True 9 is the first repeated first name, although admittedly with a different spelling than Jon Pertwee, and Capaldi becomes the 2nd Peter to play the role.

Random Fact #2:  Moffat is now responsible for casting both the youngest and the oldest Doctor of the new series.

Now the only question that remains is:  What will his costume be?  When I look at pictures of Capaldi, honestly, all I can think of is a Hugh Hefner style bathrobe.

Bathrobes are cool.

One last thing I'd like to address is the accusations that Moffat made a sexist comment about the idea of a female Doctor.  As a Moffat fanboy, I'm often defending him against his accusations of sexism (some of which I, admittedly, can't defend).  But this time, while his joke might have been slightly sexist, it was more playful than it was reported. maliciously misquoted what Moffat said during the reveal special, claiming that he said that casting a woman as the Doctor would be like casting a man to play the queen.

He did not say those exact words. What happened is that he brought up the fact that Helen Mirren wanted the Doctor to be a woman. What Moffat said was "I would like to go on record and say that the queen should be played by a man." Without the context it just looks like a sexist line and comparing the importance of the Doctor to the Queen. In context, when you explain that it's in response to Helen Mirren who played the fucking queen, you realize it's actually a playful joke.

Hopefully, when the next Doctor is cast, they'll pick someone who isn't a white male.  Maybe a Richard Ayoade.  Maybe even a Helen Mirren.  Or, my newest idea, Peter Dinkladge:

Just lower the TARDIS console, and you have a recipe for awesome!

No comments:

Post a Comment