Thoughts on Season 8 of Doctor Who (i.e. Will Peter Capaldi Kill the Doctor?)

I’m going to be touching on the first five episodes of Season 8 of Doctor Who in this article, so I want to give you fair warning before reading on.

Ever since Peter Capaldi was announced as the new Doctor in August 2013 Whovians have been complaining that he was “too old”. This is probably because a huge chunk of the Whovian fandom is young women who project themselves onto the companion character.

The first episode of season eight took these accusations head-on by allowing Clara to vocalize what so many fans had been saying online. After Clara complains to Madam Vestra about losing the incarnation of the Doctor she had grown to love (Matt Smith), Vestra tells her, and by proxy all the complaining fans, that they are super shallow and need to get over themselves.

From the little I’ve seen him in, I think Peter Capaldi looks like a fantastic actor. I don’t even think he is “too old” to play the Doctor (especially since the Doctor is a few thousand years old now, whereas Capaldi is merely 55). However, watching the first few episodes of the new season were extremely painful.

His attempts to embody the silliness we came to love about Matt Smith made me wince. It was just awkward.

Like the time he butt-checked Robin Hood.

When he wasn’t attempting to put on the Matt persona, which looked about as natural as a porcupine trying to wear a sweater-vest, he was just acting grumpy.
Is that the new personality we have to look forward to?

The grumpy Doctor?

When it comes to the new Doctor being over the top, I don’t blame Capaldi.

I blame Steven Moffat.

If you’ve read any of my past Doctor Who reviews you will already know that I have a problem with Moffat’s tendency to overdo things. Don’t get me wrong, he has written many of my all-time favourite episodes, but ever since he took over as head writer from Russell T. Davis I’ve noticed a tendency to skip over solid dialogue in favour of being flashy. One of the things I first loved about Doctor Who was the writers’ ability to create solid storylines without relying on a Hollywood-esque shock-and-awe factor. Consequently, it’s a real disappointment when it seems like more time was spent on a CGI dinosaur than on giving the new doctor some depth.

And by depth, I don’t mean sword fighting with a spoon. There should be more to the Doctor than just being quirky.

That said, there are some aspects to this new season that I’m looking forward to. For example, the change in his relationship with Clara.

Apparently, when Capaldi signed up for the role he made it very clear to the writers that he wasn’t going continue Matt Smith’s flirtatious ways. Sure enough, within the first few episodes the Doctor made it clear that his relationship with Clara was going to move in a less romantic direction.
This is great news for someone like me. While I loved the relationship between the eleventh Doctor and River Song, I got exhausted from watching every single companion fall in love with the doctor. My favourite companion is still Donna, because she seemed to be impervious to the Doctor’s charm.

Because he’s so skinny… get it?

So no, I don’t think Peter Capaldi will kill the Doctor. With each passing episode the role seems to fit him a little bit better. He’s dropped a lot of the Matt-isms and silly one-liners and has started to bring a new dimension to the Doctor that holds a lot of promise.

Besides, if the Doctor does die it will probably just be because Moffat kill him off (again) in one of his overly complicated meta-plots.

I still think the solution to the “we all saw the Doctor die” conundrum was a bit of a cop-out.

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