Capaldi: A Mod Man In A Box?

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Guest contributor Chris Morley offers some thoughts on Capaldi.


Anyone taking a glance at the Twelfth Doctor’s choice of attire could be forgiven for thinking he’d taken a trip to the Carnaby Street of the 1960s, no doubt with a hearty thumbs up from his Third incarnation. But would it be so bad if the link between the two were to go beyond a liking for a decent shirt and a good Inverness cape?

Everybody remembers Jon Pertwee’s portrayal of the Doctor as action hero, and it could be refreshing to have Series 8 offer the chance to see more of the high-octane standalone adventures that the period between Spearhead From Space and Planet Of The Spiders brought to Doctor Who. With the possibility of Clara Oswald maturing into a steady, Sarah-Jane Smith type to bring about a change in keeping with the move from the more Patrick Troughton-ish Eleventh Doctor (a wonderful performance by Matt Smith) to what could be an older, wiser Twelve in keeping with the Third’s protective streak, with maybe a little of the First’s grumpy authoritarianism thrown in for good measure, there’s every chance that we could have our Dandy Doctor back in some sense!

Interesting, too, that Coal Hill School appears to have a part to play with the announcement that Danny Pink (Clara’s teaching colleague back at the place where it all began in An Unearthly Child) will be a recurring character, perhaps a pinch of William Hartnell will be in the mix, too. And not just the smoking jacket. Those with long enough memories will recall that the Doctor is a flinty old man when first we encounter him having parked the TARDIS in I.M Foreman’s junk-yard, but as his travels with granddaughter Susan and first companions Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright progress he reveals a kindlier side, making him a more rounded space-grandad. Expect there to be much reminiscing if and when Twelve does land his trusted old Type 40 in the school yard. Possibly some lapel-thumbing and a nostalgic ‘ hmm’ or two as well.

william-hartnell-doctor-colourWhether or not we’ll see that side of him or indeed a regression to a darker personality more in keeping with the early First, who was all for putting an injured caveman out of his misery with a well-aimed rock before Ian stopped him and arguably started his transition into a more agreeable old soul, is a potentially great matter of much conjecture. But quite possibly the new Doctor will indeed be older, wiser and possibly more visibly/actually scarred by the likes of the Time War than his previous two selves- hopefully not in the ‘ strangle the lady companion’ sense favoured by the Sixth following his regeneration in The Twin Dilemma. There could well be a darker hue to the first stories of the Capaldi Era, which nicely opens the door to returns for some great and sadly neglected enemies if the writers deem it appropriate- who wouldn’t love to see the Mod Man In A Box tangle with a long-forgotten First monster, last seen in 1963, as a nice nod to the fact that he is the ‘ first’ of a new remotely-granted cycle of regenerations, a handy present from the still-hidden Time Lords?

Or could he tangle with baddies more familiar to the original dandy? The likes of the Daemons could offer a great chance to show off director Ben Wheatley’s horror chops. There’s also the small matter of the Master. Last seen seemingly willingly sending himself and the rest of the Time Lord race back into the Time War, the door is implied to be open for him to one day return. That prospect should have you salivating if you were reared on the classic battles of wits between the Third Doctor and Roger Delgado’s Master, perhaps the best of the bunch. Any oblivious New-Whovians are advised, nay urged, to watch the likes of Terror Of The Autons, The Time Monster, The Mind Of Evil, The Claws Of Axos, The Daemons and countless others to see the sort of thing David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor and John Simm’s Master were wishing they could have pulled off in the likes of Utopia.

But who could play Gallifrey’s most dictatorial former resident in his new body? The likes of Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch and Andrew Scott have been mentioned mostly thanks to their connection to Steven Moffat. They or whoever gets the nod if indeed the Master returns will have quite some shoes to step into, but if they can match Capaldi’s Doctor for sheer fire in the belly it could set the scene for some titanic battles between the two old enemies. After all have they not always been analogues of each other? Both blessed with the same formidable intellect, though choosing to use it for different ends, there has always been a grudging respect between them, more evident in the Third’s dealings with his former friend and Academy classmate than anywhere else.

Perhaps his return is a mere prelude to the bigger picture of the return of the Time Lords. With Gallifrey presumed still frozen after the monumental thirteen-Doctor strong effort to save it from obliteration in the Time War, what a reveal it might be to have them come back, whether in the warlike fashion advocated by Rassilon in The End Of Time and later the General of The Day Of The Doctor or the comparatively smaller political machinations/schemes of The Deadly Assassin or The Five Doctors. Add in the chance of a brush-up for the Celestial Intervention Agency, as in Genesis Of The Daleks, in which they use the Fourth Doctor as their agent, or The Two Doctors- which sees the Second and Sixth paired- and you have quite something to ponder.

Either way, nice to see that old wounds can be healed, sort of, the regeneration of Eleven into Twelve something of a reversal of Two’s traumatic eventual change into Three following the recorder- playing Beatle cut admirer’s swansong in The War Games (another worth watching if you’re a classic series virgin, with The Tomb Of The Cybermen in particular also serving as a handy crash course in the volumes of notes Eleven clearly took from his remarkably similar predecessor). Ever wondered what its like to be wanderers in the Mod dimension?