January 31, 2017

On Peter Capaldi Leaving Doctor Who

In all honesty, I shouldn't be too surprised that Peter Capaldi is leaving Doctor Who at the end of this season....after all, Steven Moffatt is leaving and turning things over to Chris Chibnall.

What's surprising is that, much like Colin Baker and Paul McGann, I feel like Capaldi's Doctor has been severely underserved by poor writing.

"But Gordon" I've heard many people say, usually at Chicago Doctor Who Meetup events, "Steven Moffatt is a great writer! I like Doctor Who!"

But Capaldi's Doctor often seemed underserved - I liked the idea of Series Eight being an exploration of "Is the Doctor a good man?" and Series Nine's exploration of "What happens when the Doctor faces the consequences of his actions?" And although I like several stories within each series, there's a general sense of creative fatigue, as if the writing staff were going through the motions rather than crafting effective scripts.

And although that fatigue doesn't take away from Capaldi's performance as the Doctor, there are very few moments when I really felt Capaldi was the Doctor (see Flatline, the speech in The Zygon Invasion/Inversion, and Heaven Sent). It's not that I didn't like Capaldi's turn as the Doctor, the material seemed to underserve his talents....I wanted to see more of him as the Doctor.

Being a Doctor Who fan can be tough, being caught between classic series fans who insist that they know the one true way, and new series fans who seem to believe that it's impossible to love something that is seriously flawed. One great thing about Capaldi as the Doctor was that his performance was ever flawed and always pitch perfect. However, I can say that Series 9, despite being relatively consistent, is the only new series of Doctor Who I don't own on DVD. Not because it's bad, but because...it's kind of mediocre, even with Capaldi's performance.

And now, as the new series comes to screens in April, perhaps I'll have a chance to enjoy Capaldi laying it all on the line, giving a great performance as the Doctor. And as people begin laying odds as to who will take over the lead role in Doctor Who, I'll be praying that Capaldi signs a contract for some Big Finish audios as quickly as possible.

Because I think his Doctor deserves that much. And like Colin Baker and Paul McGann, his Doctor will get a chance to shine.

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