I am Doctor Jaz and I’m a Whovian.
I have been a dedicated – nay, rabid – Doctor Who fan since I was a just a kid. To me, the Doctor is the quintessential hero. He’s hyper-intelligent, resilient, humorous, off-beat, and tenacious. Yet, despite being a highly-evolved Time Lord, he still exhibits the believable features of being fallible, sometimes forgetful, occasionally egotistical, and often temperamental; thereby presenting him as a personality that most viewers can identify and sympathize with.
The 4th incarnation of the Doctor (expertly portrayed by Tom Baker) was who I was first introduced to as a kid. Since then, some incarnations of the Doctor have resonated to varying levels with me. The 5th Doctor was portrayed by Peter Davison, who I never quite warmed up to like the 4th but who had his appreciable moments. I completely disliked the 6th helmed by Colin Baker, though Sylvester McCoy’s 7th Doctor softened my sense of angst and longing for the days of Tom Baker. Then the Doctor went on extended holiday – termed hiatus in the television industry – until the 1996 film with Paul McGann, which was only a brief reappearance followed by almost ten years of silence. After that, the Doctor was merely a magical memory from my youth, leaving a longing for the good old days.
Then in 2005, Doctor Who returned with Christopher Eccleston expertly resurrecting the Doctor in the midst of his 9th incarnation. My spirits soared as the magic from my childhood returned brighter than before. The new series was filled with more adult characters and mature themes, story lines, and circumstances that mesmerized me. My elation with the Doctor grew when David Tennant took over as the 10th Doctor in 2005. Tennant’s Doctor was my favorite to date, leaving me happier than I’d ever been with the show. Add to that, the Doctor’s companions skyrocketed from charming and interesting to sexy and amazing. From the sexy and spirited Rose Tyler (who to this day I still crush on!) to the mysterious and alluring Amelia Pond, the Doctor’s companions rivaled him for screen time and audience affections. Never mind the emotional and sweeping soundtracks by the incomparable talents of Murray Gold, which renewed my fixation with listening to soundtracks while I wrote my own novels.
When Matt Smith took over as the 11th Doctor, it took a few episodes for him to grow on me, though he quickly tied David Tennant as my all-time favorite version of the Doctor. Between David and Matt, Doctor Who secured the highest placement in my eternal science fiction hall of fame. Fast forward to 2013 when Matt Smith stepped aside for Peter Capaldi, both a Doctor Who fan since his youth, as well as a talented and competent actor in his own right. I was tentatively optimistic as I waited for Capaldi’s tenure to begin.
The first full episode with Capaldi as the 12th Doctor, Deep Breath, was unexpectedly flighty and concerning. Not only was the Doctor seemingly emotionally and functionally unstable as had happened to the 6th Doctor under Colin Baker, he was much more colder, analytical, and less approachable than any recent incarnation. That worried me a bit, though it was more of a throwback to the Doctors from the original series of years gone by.
(Note from Jaz: We’re simply not going to get into semantics by discussing the conveniently-inserted War Doctor played by John Hurt…just accept it and move on already.)
Gradually, a tactful sense of acceptance blossomed inside me as I tried to metabolize and understand this new incarnation of the Doctor. Sadly, and with only one episode left in the two-part season finale, I’m still working on that.
While I’m still an avid Whovian, I must admit that my fervor for the show has waned slightly this season. The stories are engaging at times, but the Doctor’s personality isn’t as compelling or as enjoyable for me to identify with as in recent incarnations. To be honest, I miss the decidedly more thoughtful and endearing moments from the Tennant/Smith era. Though I don’t believe that the Doctor has to be cuddly and huggable all the time, I truly miss those heartfelt moments where you’re able to “feel” the conflicted emotions welling inside our hero. Granted, there have been brief all-too-fleeting moments this sesason, but they’re too few and far in between for my liking. I also miss the sweeping emotional soundtracks of prior seasons. This season, Murray Gold’s score is darker and much more subdued than previous seasons. Come to think of it, there’s much more conflict between Clara Oswald and the Doctor, though much of it could be the character’s own inability to adjust to the newest incarnation; perhaps reflecting many of us fans, come to think of it.
So, where do we go from here? Honestly, I’m not sure. I’d like to believe that the Capaldi incarnation might soften just a bit more, to which I’d not only appreciate but find myself better able better form a closer emotional bond with him. I remain cautiously optimistic.
How about you? What do you think of Capaldi’s brief tenure as the Doctor?