Recently, the world of the Whovians has exploded with excitement, wonder, puzzlement, worry, anxiety, and disappointment. Why? Because, as it was released a good bit of time ago, the eleventh Doctor is going to be leaving us, and the twelfth will rise.
For those of you who don’t know, Doctor Who is rather famous and fun TV series put on by BBC (BBC America here in the U.S.A). It’s hard to summarize a show that began in the 1960s, took a hiatus in the 80s, and came back with gusto in the new millennium, but I’ll try to catch the highlights. There were eight Doctors in the first twenty years of production, then the show resumed with the ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston.
The continuation of the series was far from a remake. The essence of the character, The Doctor, carried over, and some familiar faces can be seen in a few of the episodes.
How can this be done? Simple.
The original creators of Doctor Who made it amazingly adaptive to the world in which we live. The Doctor is not human, he is the “last” of an alien race known as the Time Lords (really, really, really good and smart time travelers). The Time Lords don’t die, they regenerate (not indefinitely). Each time the Doctor “dies,” he regenerates and comes back, but looks and acts differently (though some aspects of the character have never changed). Thus, it made it easy to keep the series going, even when actors could no longer do so. And since the Doctor would change personality as well, the writers could alter, or adapt, the show to fit the current times.
Here’s a picture of all the Doctors, 1-11:
I began watching the show a few years ago and, like most of my generation who watch it, I started with the new Doctors. I started with the very first episode of the ninth doctor, Eccleston, then continued on through the tenth, played by David Tennant, and eventually to the eleventh, currently played by Matt Smith (On a personal note, I have to say that Tennant is my favorite of the most recent three).
This brings us to the heart of the matter.
It’s not news to many now, but the eleventh doctor (Smith) is leaving the show as his doctor regenerates. For weeks and weeks, the fans of the show, known as Whovians, have been speculating and arguing and theorizing who the next Doctor would be. The cannon of the show would even allow the Doctor to regenerate as a woman, so the options of actors and actresses was quite large.
After keeping us on the edges of our seats, Steven Moffat, the head writer and executive producer, has finally revealed who the next doctor, the twelfth, will be played by.
To most of us Americans, he’s not very well-known (which, in my opinion, is better), but he’s an established British actor and even made an appearance on the the show during David Tennant’s time as Doctor.
Looking at the picture, it’s plain to see that he’s not a young man (he’s 55). Most people have been groaning and complaining, saying that he’s too old for such a youthful character. However, I’d like to point out that the Doctor is over 900 years old and has been played by older men before. The age of the actor doesn’t matter, it’s really about the character. The writers and producers, particularly Steven Moffat, have to look at the show and decide what would be better for its future. We still don’t know what type of character Capaldi will bring to the Doctor, but that’s what makes the show fun.
This brings people to wonder, after the last season of eleven, if the new Doctor will be dark and brooding, a man with a more sinister look at the universe, or if he’ll be a complete reversal. Will he be a combination of nine’s rough, determined personality, with a bit of ten’s quirkiness? Will he be something else entirely? Will he be the same?
There are so many personality traits for the Doctor that they could bring in, it puts very few limits on what he could turn out like.
But there are a few traits we can guess he’ll have (but we can’t be 100% certain). He’ll likely have his funny moments, his serious moments, his sad moments. I like to picture the tenth, Tennant, as an iconic view of the fundamental character of the Doctor.
First, it’s the need to have someone there with him. As Donna, one of this companions said, sometimes he needs someone there to stop him. But really, the Doctor just needs someone with him, a hand to hold. 900 years of life can be very lonely if you’re the last of your race.
The second is his devotion and fascination with the human species. He may not have been able to truly save his own people, but he feels an insatiable desire to protect and preserve humans.
Third, he lightens up even the darkest situations with humor.
Fourth, he is someone you do not want to make mad.
In the end, Doctor Who is a show about change, about adapting to and living with the difficulties of life. It’s not about which actor plays what role. It’s not about how the Doctor will overcome some new obstacle or enemy. In it’s most fundamental aspect, Doctor Who is about resourcefulness, courage, determination, and what is right and wrong in the face of all adversity.
Neil Gaiman, the English author of such wonderful books as Stardust and Good Omens, once said, “Doctor Who has never pretended to be hard science fiction . . . At best Doctor Who is a fairytale, with fairytale logic about this wonderful man in this big blue box who at the beginning of every story lands somewhere where there is a problem.”
The Doctor, the man who stands up to all things against him for the sake of those unable to defend themselves.
The ninth Doctor, played by Eccleston, never wanted to die, never wanted to regenerate, but he willingly gave himself up to save Rose, one of his Companions.
So, to those who are hesitant to embrace Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor, just remember that he is Matt Smith, David Tennant, Christopher Eccleston, and all the others before him. He is just the Doctor. He will have his trials on and off the screen, he will face the Daleks and the critics, and he will be awesome.