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Published on June 28th, 2014 | by Danny_Weasel

Will Peter Capaldi Return To The “Feel” Of Classic Doctors?

I can’t remember a time since the show returned that there has been so much buzz and speculation about a new Doctor as there has been for Peter Capaldi. The latest clutch of tidbits offered out speculates that our new Time Lord will be cut from the same cloth as the darker classics such as the Hinchcliffe era Tom Baker.

In the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine The Moff himself has gone on record saying that we will definitely be getting a more dangerous Doctor.

There would be little point in making as radical a change as we’ve made unless you’re going to go quite different with the Doctor. The last two Doctors have been brilliant, and have been your ‘good boyfriend’ Doctors. But the Doctor isn’t always like that. There is the sort of Tom Baker, Christopher Eccleston end of the spectrum, where he is mad and dangerous and difficult.

He goes on to say that it is time to shake the show up again, that even nuWho is getting old and considering it will be celebrating its 10th birthday next year the man has a point.

We need the kick-up-the-arse Doctor, in a way, to frighten you and make you think, oh, it’s a different show again.

Director Ben Wheatley has also weighed in on the topic saying that in the episodes that he was responsible for (episodes one and two of the new series) are indeed dark. Not really a surprise given the director’s past output, but how dark has he been allowed to take a BBC prime-time Saturday night show?

Oh yeah, Doctor Who is pretty dark, I think… It seems to me the episodes that we’re doing now seem more like classic Who. We’re going back to that style. But you’ll have to wait and see.

Personally I think this is a great idea; it has been a while since we saw any real darkness to the Doctor. No offense to Matt Smith (or his legions of fans) but I never really saw a dark side to his Doctor, even moments like the Pandorica speech, the angry bit in The Beast Below (“nobody human has anything to say to me today”) or even the speech from The Rings of Akhaten all seemed a little, well, fluffy. Tennant gave us some wonderful dark moments, and quite frankly I think they stand up as some of the most memorable moments since the shows comeback, things like the punishments for the Family of Blood, the Time Lord victorious speech and everything about the episode Midnight (hands down my favorite episode of nuWho) all delivered a much darker Doctor and the results show that it works.

So I say bring on the horror, amp up the fear and lets get the kids hiding behind the sofa again!

But what do you feel; should the BBC be trying to keep the show kid friendly and tame? Will a darker edge alienate certain elements of the audience? Or do you think that a big shake up and back to basics approach is just what the Doctor ordered? As always we want to know what you think, so please do fill us in.

(Via Cinelinx.)

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27 Responses to Will Peter Capaldi Return To The “Feel” Of Classic Doctors?

  1. vidarraven says:

    After spending so much time in the light he needs to return to his dark side

  2. Harry M VanHoudnos says:

    I think that it IS time for a darker Doctor and a darker feel to the show. Matt Smith may be a good actor,but he came across as WAY too light and easy going for someone who has had to go though all that he has. Time to get rid of the idea of a light, easy going Doctor, and bring back a more serious Doctor, ala Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker as we saw in Genesis of the Daleks or Pyramids of Mars.

  3. Mr Scirev says:

    I hope we are going the Valeyard Darker Doctor way .. lol

  4. Whovian Leap says:

    I’d like the Twelfth to have the street cred and gravitas of Eccleston mixed up with the quirkness and charm of Tom Baker. Oh and the fashion sense of Pertwee of course!

  5. Chronomalix says:

    I’m ready for a Doctor that can be unpredictable but still overtly kind, similar to Colin Baker’s Big Finish portrayal, but with a tendency to do things so unexpected that they make your jaw drop, like the later seasons of Sylvester McCoy.

  6. DonnaM says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Matt was great at the lighter side but I felt the balance was way off, and I couldn’t really see him scaring the living whatsits out of the villains. I’ve said it often, but a Doctor with that kind of steel allows a scarier show; he can be scary, but you’re safer for having him on your, as the viewer’s, side.

    I’m hoping for a bit of Pertwee-style authority mixed with the eccentricity of Tom Baker; a twinkle in the eye, the heart of a child but the mind of the alien scientist, and not so much human emotion as we’ve seen in recent times. Capaldi can carry it off, for certain if he’s given the material to do it with.

  7. Paul McGann's Cat says:

    I am worried about the “more like classic Who remark”. I personally love the notion of it being a bit more like the old show – especially in the characterisation of the Doctor himself – but I wonder if it will be a more acquired taste for the general audience in much the same was as the classic series was for viewers beyond a certain age?

    • Al says:

      The main reason why the Classic Era is an “acquired taste” has to do with its format – its slower pace, the half hour episodes, the lower-grade SFX, etc. It has nothing really to do with characterizations. If Capaldi ends up being another Pertwee or Tom Baker that’ll be fine. A friend of mine once remarked that he’d have liked the Jon Pertwee episodes if they’d been produced with the pacing of a show like The Avengers and in one-hour standalones or two-parters than in the format of the 1970s. So assuming they’re not going back to 25 minute episodes, storylines that run for 4, 6 or 7 weeks at a time (often with “filler episodes” in which nothing happens) and the SFX stay up to par, I don’t see a problem.

  8. Christine says:

    I would love the quirkiness of Tom Baker to return (and he could be pretty dark too) combined with the anger of Christopher Eccleston and the irascibility of both William Hartnell and Colin Baker. No “everybody lives” even if that can be good when that’s the exception. But not the rule. A lot to wish for I suppose. ..

  9. unibot says:

    I don’t understand WHY The Doctor would be “darker”. Every new regeneration has been a reflection of the events leading to their death. Nine regenerated from war into guilt, Ten regenerated from love into loneliness and I think Eleven regenerated from purposelessness (a desire to be needed) to absolution. The trilogy resolved The Doctor of his guilt, gave him a purpose and removed him of his fear of an impending death. Capaldi should be The Doctor unchained…. unburdened, a man given a new lease on life. This is a Doctor who won’t try to hide his age, he is not ashamed of who is anymore… but there will be a bounce to his step. Life is good… so far….

    • Rick says:

      Well, those events could go to his head and make him a complete ego-manic. “I saved everyone, I can’t put a foot wrong” etc.

    • Johnny says:

      I think the problem may be that he is no longer burdened by guilt over past actions, and thus no longer afraid of what he might be capable of if he unleashes his darker side. It seems to me like the happier, more compassionate, more human Doctor that we’ve seen since the reboot (or at least since he got over his trauma during his 9th incarnation) was a direct result of his actions during the Time War. Now those actions never happened. He’s going back to the man he was. And that man was sometimes (depending on the incarnation) a lot darker and more ruthless.

      • simon magellan says:

        If you consider the past few Doctors to be “happier” because of the experience of the Time War, then I seriously think you have misread the whole series since 2005. How could he be “happier” when his background was that he killed his own race. I’d also suggest that the old (Classic) Doctors were, by and large, neither darker nor more ruthless – in fact they were generally a much more cheerful and lighter bunch.

  10. Mike says:

    I’m not sure I’m really sold on this myth that the classic Doctors were all dark and the nu-Doctors are all ‘good boyfriends’. Both 10 and 11 were just as capable of being selfish, grumpy and difficult just like William Hartnell’s Doctor. I would also say that the darkest– and closest I’ve seen the Doctor’s morally ambiguous side veering into outright villainy– is during a David Tennant episode, The Waters of Mars. That ‘the laws of time are mine!’ rant and his subsequent gloating to Adelaide Brook about bending the laws of time to suit his whims are pretty chilling.

  11. Simon Magellan says:

    There is a fan thing about “darkness” – be it DW or Batman. But the general viewing public really don’t care much – they just want to be entertained. The best DW stories do that, whether they are the so-called “dark” ones or not. I hope season eight proves entertaining, beyond that I don’t care!

  12. DonnaM says:

    I do feel that “darker” has become some kind of cover-all phrase to mean “different”; and frankly it’s making the debate feel a bit odd to me!

    I’m not suggesting a Doctor without a moral compass – that wouldn’t work, both Moffat and Capaldi are far too smart to even consider it I’m sure, and anyone who thinks the Twelfth Doctor won’t have his old sense of humour, mischief and wonder is, hopefully, way wide of the mark. If “darker” means more authority, more maturity and less over-excited teenage babbling than we’ve seen of late, what’s not to like?

    Was Tom Baker “dark”? I don’t think so. Troughton? No, but he had moments of real, passionate anger. It’s like characterising the First Doctor as “the grumpy one”, when he could be as sweet and as comical as the Second or the Eleventh. Light and shade, balance – that’s surely what the Doctor, like any character, should have!

  13. JB Lee says:

    Tom Baker wasn’t dark? PYRAMIDS OF MARS. “1980, Sarah. If you want to get off.” That’s about as chilling a moment as you’ll find in Who. And that’s one example of many. I hope Capaldi’s Doctor is more like Troughton, Baker, Eccleston… but what I really hope is that the writing will be good enough to let Capaldi shine. A great script can survive a bad actor, but even the greatest actor couldn’t overcome a script as rotten as the last Christmas special’s.

    • DonnaM says:

      It’s all in the definition of dark: to me that moment was a chilly reminder of the Doctor’s essential alienness, but it was neither malevolent or menacing, which is what I would regard as the hallmarks of a dark characterisation.

      I agree completely with regard to the scripts, though. Capaldi will make the absolute best of the material he’s given, but I can think of a few in Doctor Who history that no leading man could have salvaged!

      • Al says:

        Including, let’s be fair, many, many scripts that Moffat had nothing to do with. Moffat has won multiple Hugos for his work, and I though Time of the Doctor was fine and Day of the Doctor deserves every accolade it gets. I’m confident he has another Day of the Doctor/Blink/Girl in the Fireplace/Empty Child in the pipeline for Capaldi. And if he doesn’t, someone else has. Mark Gatiss’ Crimson Horror was the closest the modern era has gotten to replicating the feel of Talons of Weng-Chiang, and he’s in line to write one, and there’s also Gareth Roberts who has spent his spare time writing novelisations of Fourth Doctor-era stories so if there’s any truth to them moving towards a Tom Baker-esque incarnation, Roberts is the man to contribute.

        • DonnaM says:

          Absolutely – my comment was in the context of Doctor Who generally, as in the main Moffat’s scripts are among my favourites of the current generation. I’ve cordially disliked many scripts in recent years, but they’ve usually been Chibnall, Thompson and (sad to say, since I loved his earlier stuff) the more recent Roberts efforts. Even Gatiss has produced the odd dullard from where I’m watching.

          I have a small theory that where RTD imagined being the Doctor’s companion (I remember him saying that was the part he wanted to play as a kid) Moff’s ambitions go a little further. Maybe an older, Scots-accented Doctor is the one he’s always wanted to write! :-)

          Either way, I have faith. With Capaldi’s screen presence and Moffat’s guiding hand, Series 8 could be something very special; and finally it eels like there’s not too much longer to wait!

  14. J W says:

    Being that Capaldi grew up during the Pertwee/Baker era I’m sure we’ll get a Doctor heavily influenced by that era, much the way Tennant was influenced by the Davison Doctor and adopted traits from his interpretation.

    • Al says:

      You have a point. When Matt Smith was cast he spent time researching the series and some of the first stories he watched were Troughton’s, so no surprise when the Eleventh Doctor often seemed to reference the Second Doctor.

  15. Simon Magellan says:

    According to one newspaper report he’s basing his approach on Bowie’s Man Who Fell to Earth. Just as long as he doesn’t sit watching TV all day, this would suggest a more Alien Doctor.

    • Rick says:

      Wow, that’s an interesting choice.

  16. Christine says:

    Bowie’s Man Who fell to Earth is a hell of a Dark story! It shows the desinterest in human feeling for his own ends by the alien, and the particularly nasty betrayal of this alien by humanity. You tend to vouch for the alien though, because he at least has a wife and children to save, even if that might not be through fair and honest means. His desinterest has a good reason. He certainly is very alien, and then I don’t mean the way he looks under the human mask but in his actions. Interesting….

  17. Ranger says:

    I have to agree with all Donna has said – there is light and shade in all the Doctors, even I admit (reluctantly!) Matt Smith. But I would like to see a return to a more serious, darker over all Doctor – but it should be leavened with episodes that are just fun as well. All darkness is as bad as all light and fluff.

  18. Gareth Kavanagh says:

    I did hear before Capaldi was announced that the writer’s brief for the Doctor had been ‘early Tom Baker’. It would certainly fit.

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