So now we know: Peter Capaldi is going to be in the TARDIS, cursing up a storm.
Or not (it is a family program afterall). Yet for a man who so elegantly delivered the phrase “fuckity-bye” as the deliriously profane Malcolm Tucker in In the Loop, Capaldi is a rather interesting, some would even argue bold choice to play the 12th Doctor.
Now, let it be known, there are people who are bemoaning two very specific points (already) about the announcement of Capaldi. For one, the producers could’ve been a lot bolder. Rumors have circles for years about there being a black Doctor. A female Doctor. Anything to offset the onslaught of increasingly-younger white men who always seem to be on the holding end of that sonic screwdriver. While there certainly is some legitimacy to that claim, Doctor Who is also going with a very strong “if it ain’t broke…” modus operandi here.
The one thing that the casting of Capaldi does do is divert from the increasingly-younger path the “new Who” has been barreling down ever since Russell T. Davies resuscitated it all the way back in 2005. Casting a fairly well-known movie star in the form of Christopher Eccleston was a great way to jump-start the series, but before long, fan favorite David Tennant inhabited the role in a way few people can shake, and did so in a performance that very much influenced Matt Smith’s Doctor, although his was much more whimsical, removing a lot of the anger and hostility that the Ninth and Tenth shared. The median age for everyone’s favorite Time Lord was dropping exponentially, some even saying that, especially with the casting of the buxom Jenna-Louise Coleman as the Eleventh’s newest assistant, that the show was looking “sexy,” almost as if putting the young attractive people front and center was a way to hold ratings even as Steven Moffat’s grip of the arc and story of the show was slowly slipping away (*cough* “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” *cough*).
(To be fair though, the accusation of the show going younger/more attractive was a criticism that was levied against Peter Davidson when he was announced as taking over from Tom Baker.)
Thus, casting the much-older Capaldi gloriously offsets some of these critiques. Capaldi’s face seems custom-made to be that of a Doctor, and people who have seen his work, whether it be in this year’s World War Z (playing a W.H.O. Doctor, ironically), the hilarious series The Thick of It, or even the forthcoming Oscar bait The Fifth Estate knows that the man has talent.
Yet one of the finest examples of just how good Capaldi is as a dramatic actor is one of the very reasons why diehard Whovians are up in arms about Capaldi’s casting: he’s already been on Who. While he was given the fairly thankless role of Caecilius in The Fires of Pompeii, his handling of the character John Frobisher in the Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood: Children of Earth was a tour-de-force, himself playing a conflicted high-ranking member of the British government who has to make some very difficult, and unfortunate, decisions in the midst of one of the worst alien atrocities ever brought to Earth’s forefront (and if you haven’t seen Children of Earth, do so now, as it is one of the best things to ever come out of the Whoniverse, no lie).
People say that given how he’s already appeared in the show, it almost should make him disqualified to take on the role of the Doctor, and yet it’s these same people that forget that Freema Ageyman did the same thing, having appeared as Adeola Oshodi in the 2006 episode “Army of Ghosts” (where she was killed), before taking on the role of companion Martha Jones, the whole thing being explained by Jones being the cousin of Oshodi.
So, really, if people are going to get in a tizzy about Capaldi having already appeared in the series, such comments need to be dropped immediately. The larger concern now is seeing just how well Moffat can craft the new Doctor adventures into a compelling story, lifting it out of the dreck that was the entirety of Series Seven.
No matter what he does, he’s at least got the perfect man in the role to make it happen ...