In the immediate aftermath of the new Doctor announcement, my Twitter feed was filled with people who were ecstatic by the choice, defending it against a legion of invisible detractors. These defenders, from what I gathered, appreciated the classic choice but were a little concerned that, because he didn’t have some unnamed “Tumblr factor,” he wouldn’t be as popular as someone like Matt Smith. Of course, none of these critics were showing up on my Twitter feed – which was weird. Usually the people on my feed are the ones I agree with, and the people they are arguing with are the invisible critics.
It’s been a little over a week and we have all had time to digest the choice, and I have to admit that my concerns are the same as they were the first time I saw the rumors about Peter Capaldi and thought, “oh man, I hope not.”
My issues with Peter Capaldi don’t have a whole lot to do with the man himself. Do I think it’s a little weird that they cast someone who has had not one, but two, other speaking roles in the same universe? Yes. But I’m willing to overlook that. Sometimes, when you have a vision, the details aren’t as important. I’m pretty sure that Capaldi is going to do a great job. Doctor Who will be filled with all of the running and jokes and heartache that it’s had since its first season. Capaldi will also likely be an interesting change from the increasingly young and flirtatious Doctors of the past few seasons.
Unfortunately, I think that’s the only interesting thing about him as a choice for the Doctor. I’m not concerned about his age, or his lack of Tumblr star power, whatever that means. I am concerned, however, about the lack of innovation in this choice. Capaldi is, I’m sure, a great actor, but this seems like too much of a regression to me. Not only is he a white man, as all previous Doctors have been, but he isn’t even new or interesting in his youth, in his background, or his appearance. He does blend in quite well with the history of Doctor Who, and while you can say that Matt Smith is a white man, he at least represented a sort of manic dichotomy between childlike glee and cold, repressed anger – something younger and edgier than the history of Doctor Who had really attempted. Capaldi is just a boring choice.