Last summer, Doctor Who fans were crushed to hear that Eleventh Doctor
and clumsy baby giraffe Matt Smith would be stepping down from the iconic role the following Christmas. Two months later, in a live, worldwide special, Smith’s successor was announced: Peter Capaldi, arguably the first veteran actor to assume the role and a household name in the UK for his many memorable TV characters, including spin doctor Malcolm Tucker on the BBC’s The Thick of It. The feedback was generally positive, with some scattered ageist comments that we’re going to pretend were never uttered, but it would be another year until Capaldi’s real debut, where fans would be able to see him in action.
Now halfway through Series 8, Capaldi appears to have breathed new life into Doctor Who. His version of the enigmatic time-traveler is the most alien in recent memory, and it’s making for some cracking good TV. Here’s a brief look at his tenure so far, broken down by episode.
MAJOR EPISODE SPOILERS AHEAD.
I am writing this post from beyond the grave, because Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary special killed me dead.
Yeah, I’ll admit it: I was pessimistic during the build-up to this most auspicious occasion. I grumbled for months about the trailer for “The Day of the Doctor” being released late (still grumbling in fact), and despite the staggering celebration line-up announced in October, I felt the classic Doctors were being quietly nudged aside. I quelled my fangirl jitters on the grounds that the special just wouldn’t live up to my expectations.
I’m so happy to have been proven wrong.
“The Day of the Doctor” is one humdinger of an adventure, equal parts playful historical jaunt, sobering backstory, and squee-worthy fanservice. On the outside, it resembles any other madcap episode — the Doctor (Matt Smith) and companion Clara (Jenna Coleman) are enlisted to stop Earth from falling into the slimy, suction-y hands of the Zygons, a villainous race making its first appearance since the classic series. But weaved throughout that predictable A-plot is easily the darkest B-plot the show has tackled since its return: the Doctor’s involvement in the Time War, where he was forced to wipe out his home planet of Gallifrey to end the violence. Loaded with snappy dialogue and peppered with more than a few surprises for the devoted Whovian, this was an anniversary to end all anniversaries.
Since 2005, the BBC’s Doctor Who has gained a legion of rabid fans, transitioning from a cult classic to a full-on mainstream hit. The eponymous Doctor is a time-travelling alien who regenerates his body when he’s close to death, meaning that sooner or later, a new actor takes over the part. Current Doctor Matt Smith revealed in June that he was hanging up his bow tie, and from there, speculation on the identity of Twelve has run rampant. As of Sunday, however, this particular rumor mill has ceased production.
Whovians, join me in welcoming Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor!