It was recently announced (here) that Peter Capaldi will be taking over the helm of the TARDIS after Matt Smith’s departure in this year’s Christmas special. I will be sad to see him go. Matt Smith himself was a paradox. An old man in a young man’s body. Goofy and innocent, yet wise and battle-hardened. He soon became my favorite Doctor. But as is inevitable in the Doctor Who universe, change must come to pass. It’s normal that, after an announcement like this, many people will expressed disappointment and doubt concerning his casting. That’s a normal knee-jerk reaction to a big change like this. I am sure however, that after seeing one or two episodes of the 12th Doctor, these feelings will all prove to be unfounded. My initial impression is that he will be a mixture of Eccleston (strong and sarcastic), and Tom Baker (goofy and brilliant), with maybe a bit of curmudgeonly Hartnell thrown in for good measure. This seems like an absolutely fantastic combination to me.
Some people are saying that he’s too old. I imagine that these are mostly the fangirls who were expecting a young new heartthrob to follow the young and dashing David Tennant and Matt Smith. True fans of the show, however, will see that the age of the Doctor’s physical body can and has always changed just as easily as everything else. It was an interesting phenomenon though, having the oldest actor play the youngest doctor and the youngest actor play the oldest doctor, but I agree with Steven Moffat (the showrunner) when he says that Capaldi will be a good successor to Smith because the young/old Smith and the old/young Capaldi will have a lot in common, but with interesting differences. He is actually the same age as William Hartnell was when he first took off in the TARDIS. Despite this, he still seems energetic and spry. I don’t expect the Doctor to stop running anytime soon.
Also of note is that the Doctor’s regenerations appear to be at least somewhat influenced by the circumstances in which it happens. Nine was a bit more brutal and warrior-like as a result of having recently ending the Time War. In the 50th anniversary episode, he will return to this time, and it appears that whatever happens there will have a great impact on him, and this will show in his subsequent regeneration.
Some people don’t like that he has been in Doctor Who before, as well as Torchwood: Children of Earth (a spinoff). This has actually happened several times before. Karen Gillan was in that same episode, and she later returned as Amy Pond. In the classic series, Colin Baker made an appearance as an army commander before becoming the Sixth Doctor. The Fourth Doctor’s companion, the Time Lady Romana regenerated into a body that looked exactly like someone that had recently spent an entire episode with them. True, it seems like Time Ladies have more control over their appearance when regenerating than the men, but it still seems that occasionally, a face from a Time Lord’s past will stick in his subconscious for some reason and influence his regeneration. In The Fires of Pompeii, Donna helped the Tenth Doctor remember a valuable lesson about saving whoever he can. Maybe this is a lesson he subconsciously wishes to remember as he enters his twelve incarnation.
It worries some that he is most famous for being a fast-talking, creatively foul-mouthed character, Malcolm Tucker. Of course, with Doctor Who being a family and child-friendly show, none of this will carry over. It was a character he played, and now he’s playing a different one. Replace the swear words with timey-wimey lingo, and suddenly you can understand why he was chosen.
It was a huge relief to me to learn that Mr. Capaldi has been a fervent Doctor Who fan for his whole life, even writing letters to the magazines and fan clubs of the day. This must be a dream come true for him! He knows the history, the character, and the mythology, and he’s going to work his butt off to do it justice.
People are always quick to judge, and they worry about things they love changing, but I think that in no time at all, Peter Capaldi will prove to us all that he is a worthy successor to the Doctor Who throne.