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The Doctor is Out

Capaldi appears to be calling it quits at the end of Season 10

Peter Capaldi is leaving the TARDIS. Honestly, I am not surprised to hear this.

I think the role he played was rarely given the opportunity to highlight his superb acting chops and most of the episodes he has appeared in, few that there were, simply fell short of what I felt I had seen other writers bring out of the character.

Was he less the Doctor than Matt Smith or David Tennant? I don’t think so. He had a particular gruffness I think the role benefited from particularly in the use of his skills and seniority in the craft. The one thing which I think varies strongly between depictions is the actual age of the character. His face is just a face, but when younger actors play the Doctor, he becomes younger, strangely more tolerant of the foibles of lesser mortals.

When older actors portray him, he is short, gruff, and downright prickly. As I think an older immortal who has dealt with children far too often might behave. Capaldi didn’t have to act old. He personally knew the loss of a step. The ache of a back early in the morning and could bring both the mortality and the immortality into contrast in the same person.

He didn’t need makeup to achieve the sense of age I personally attribute to the Doctor’s way of thinking, his gravity, his worldliness, his wisdom in dealing with people, no matter their shape or origin.

Capaldi’s Doctor seemed a man at odds with the world, barely comfortable within his skin, knowing too much about everything, yet feeling very much as if he had seen it all before. Indeed, in the case of a role like the Doctor, you can get the feeling of having seen it all.

The Doctor is one of those characters whose inner nature is revealed by the actors who portray him. Tennant’s was a rabid explorer, ready to go anywhere, do anything. He was not above fighting, but never wanted to raise his hand to anyone in anger.

Smith’s was more the lover and fighter, willing to take up a cause and burn a world or two if it would get the job done. He was a man slow to anger and woe be unto anyone who could drive him there. He loved deeply, like a man who had rarely drunk from that particular cup.

Capaldi’s came after Smith’s, Tennant and John Hurt’s War Doctor. I think he was perfect for the role.

He was sad. Bereft of all that he truly loved. Torn from everything that mattered to him and unwilling to pick up anything or anyone new to care about, Capaldi’s Doctor was sorrow personified.

Only children or fools could get his attention for long and even then he held them at arms length. I always felt Capaldi would not be in the role long and his length of tenure would be determined by the quality of the stories presented. He never seemed to get stories which allowed him to bring his unique talents to bear.

I am disheartened to see him go so quickly and look forward to however many shows remain before that Christmas gift of Regeneration and a new person who will become The Doctor.

Maybe it is time for a new persona, a new revitalized Doctor, willing to go back out into the Universe, not as a soldier, not as an explorer, not as a warrior, but as a healer, bringing to people the thing they seek the most and yet value the least, a Mind expansive enough to see a bigger picture.

Perhaps what Doctor Who and the Whovian audience needs is a Doctor less obsessed with Earth and more willing to take his medicine show on the road. Making the Doctor a woman would also be a great and overdue touch. The Master hasn’t been any less monstrous for her change in sex.

A woman may indeed be exactly what the Doctor ordered. How about it ladies? What do you think?

Thaddeus Howze is a writer, essayist, author and professional storyteller for mysterious beings who exist in non-Euclidean realms beyond our understanding. Please follow me on Twitter or support my writing on Patreon.

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