Doctor Who: Capaldi's curse

This was inevitable. After the glitzy presentation of the 12th Doctor, the Internet has exploded with criticism of actor Peter Capaldi. The thing is, most of the arguments put forth are utter rubbish.
Here’s why, in no particular order

He’s too old

This one seems to be a favourite of the “we want some eye candy” brigade, which seems to be mostly fans of the new series.
Get over yourselves. It’s that simple. The beauty of the Doctor Who concept is that it can be anyone — anyone at all — playing the role. It comes down to the skill of the actor and the quality of the material and shooting around them, which is why some of the early Who still stands up as excellent TV today, and some of the existing “new” series episodes are just painful to watch. Why yes, Fear Her, I was looking at you.

He’s going to f’n well be a c’ting well sweary Doctor

OK, this appears a little more lighthearted, based around the Malcolm Tucker character he played in The Thick Of It; any quick YouTube search reveals items like this (warning: contains NSFW language):

But he’s already been in Who… and Torchwood!

Sure, the actor Peter Capaldi has indeed, played roles in both Doctor Who and Torchwood.
So what? Colin Baker played opposite Peter Davison’s Doctor, and that didn’t even rate a mention when he regenerated into him. Nicolas Courtney played space agent Bret Vyon way back in the Hartnell era, but he’s best remembered as Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart. Admittedly, there have been cases (Martha, Gwen) where they’ve handwaved away the similarities between roles played in the new series, but seriously, this is no problem at all. If the production team really felt like they even had to address it, even I can think of around a dozen ways to write around it. I’m willing to bet that they ignore it, though.

But he’s not an unknown!

I was somewhat guilty of this myself in my Liveblog this morning. Then again, so was Neil Gaiman some time ago.

I like the idea that playing the Doctor can be a springboard, but that doesn’t mean it has to be. Again, it comes down to the quality of the acting and the quality of the material given. Put Peter Capaldi into… say… Hudson Hawk, and he’d do as good a job of it as is feasible, but the material just wouldn’t be there. So far, he’s said absolutely nothing in character at all. So we’ve got to wait and see.

But it’s not a progressive choice!

This is the “Why isn’t the Doctor a woman/minority” or “Why is the Doctor a white guy” problem, writ large. While it’s true that the role of the Doctor could be played by anybody, that doesn’t specifically and necessarily mean that this is something that the program absolutely has to address.
It really doesn’t. Doctor Who is still, at its core, light entertainment. It can tackle serious issues, and honestly I’ve got no issue with the concept of the Doctor being of any race, gender or identification you care to throw at him as long as it’s well done. I’ll have far more of a problem with a poor Doctor Who script or Actor than with anything to do with the Actor themselves.
It seems likely, from showrunner Steven Moffat’s comments that it’s unlikely that he’d cast a female Doctor, but feels obliged to answer queries in regards to it — he quipped on the reveal that he’d like to see a male Queen — and in some ways I think that reduces the potential scope of the role, but it doesn’t mean that Capaldi will (or won’t) do a good job of it.
Ultimately, that’s what we should judge him on.

2 thoughts on “Doctor Who: Capaldi's curse”

  1. Matthew JC. Powell

    Indeed. He’ll do it well or he won’t, and he’ll be loved by some and loathed by others. He’ll get good scripts and bad ones, and he’ll make of them what he will. Some years from now he’ll be someone’s favourite Doctor, and we’ll still be arguing about it.
    PS: Hudson Hawk is a tragically misunderstood masterpiece.

    1. Yeh sod ’em all, it’ll be great.
      And Matthew’s spot on about Hudson Hawk. Best use of Swinging on A Star ever.

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