Last night Peter Capaldi properly debuted as the Twelfth Doctor. I happen to really like what I’ve previously seen of Capaldi, both as an actor and as an actor being interviewed (I can’t claim to actually know him as a person). I must admit that I rooted for Capaldi to have a fantastic first appearance.
But did I like him as the Doctor? I honestly don’t know yet. I imagine this is what a lot of people are saying, because the first episode is just that – the first episode. I wasn’t sold on the Ninth Doctor or the Tenth Doctor when they first appeared. The Eleventh Doctor won me over immediately, but how could he not when he was so kind to little Amelia Pond? Most Doctors need a little time to bounce back from the regeneration, and most actors need a little time to really sort out their interpretation of the icon. The good news is that I’ve ended up loving all the Doctors, and I have no doubt I’ll love Capaldi as well.
But, frankly, I don’t love him yet.
There’s a few things working against him, most of which are beyond his control. For example, like most fans I worked myself into an anticipatory frenzy awaiting his debut – and it was a long wait. Could his debut ever live up to that kind of prolonged excitement? Furthermore, I didn’t really enjoy the actual story of his debut episode. Let’s be honest – most Doctor Who episodes aren’t very complete from a pure story standpoint. Oftentimes the actors outshine the story, so no one notices, and that’s totally find with me. I’m there for the Doctor. (Of course there are exceptions, and there have been some brilliantly written episodes. I’m speaking in generalities.) Lastly, I don’t think he got enough Doctor moments. In fact, the episode seemed to focus on Clara more than anything. I understand this approach – giving the fans an anchor for which they are familiar makes sense.
But, even with all that being said, the Twelfth Doctor had a few standout moments. For example, describing his frown to the homeless man really proved a pleasing moment. The final scene on the streets of Glasgow also proved effective and gave Capaldi a chance to show his range.
Speaking of which, I saw some wonderful acting from Capaldi, and I am positive he will probably be the best “actor” of the recent group, but I’m not yet certain he has that intangible charisma that made Ten and Eleven so dynamic.
But that’s okay. Most of Ten and Eleven’s magnetism came from funny, sweet moments, or outright silliness, and that does not suit Twelve. It’s already obvious that Capladi will not don goofy hats or sneakers.
Where will Capaldi take Twelve? I don’t know, but I am of course along for the ride. I’m sure by the year’s end I will be raving about Twelve, but as of right now, I’m just not totally enraptured.