Wednesday, February 1, 2017
"Be happy. . . I'll Look After the Rest."
After only three seasons, Peter Capaldi is leaving Doctor Who.
Yes, I know Matt Smith and David Tennant had three seasons each too. And Christopher Eccleston only had the one.
And I have loved them all. But Capaldi has been, as I have written, my Doctor since season 8 started--and I say this as a fan who watched the late Tom Baker era spool out in real time, and caught up on Tom's entire run thanks to PBS Saturday morning rebroadcasts. It was Jon Pertwee's era--and his bantering relationship with Nicholas Courtney's Brigadier, not to mention Roger Delgado as the Master--that converted me to the show, watched in slightly fuzzy videotapes in the basement of a good friend's home.
But Capaldi grabbed me in a way that no other actor to play the part has. In part, it's his superb performance. Capaldi is one of the most versatile actors the BBC has. While we have seen flashes of his infamous Malcolm Tucker in his performance, as expected, we've seen a greater depth to his Doctor, calling out the actor who limned the long-suppressed emotion of Randall Brown in "The Hour":
And could recite Dylan Thomas with what sounds like his last breath:
Capaldi brought this weight to Doctor Who. You can see it in his speech in "Flatline," when the Doctor has to work himself up into the sort of epic-speech-of-epicness Tennant and Smith could give easily. Capaldi's Doctor, less charming, more brusque, is in fact less ruthless than they were, and the banishment his foes does not come naturally.
That was only the beginning of Capaldian complexity enriching the show. Capaldi showed his softer side again in the Doctor's matter-of-factly forgiving Clara (Jenna Coleman) for betraying him in "Deep Water":
I won't add, though you might rewatch them, his speech about war, the lovely two-hander he does with Alex Kingston, or the master acting class that is Heaven Sent. I'll just state that, without any disrespect to his predecessors, no other run has presented quite the fusion between the actor and the show runner we have enjoyed under Capaldi and Moffat.
As always, renewal will come, and the show will move on. But I'm grateful we have one more run with my Doctor.