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How Far Into Darkness will the 12th Doctor Take Us?

Guest contributor Matthew Rube wonders just how dark Capaldi will be after the latest trailer.

Series-8-TV-launch-trailer-(32)

In just over a month we will be graced with the presence of a new Doctor. Will he be dark? Will he be cruel? Kind? Funny? We have yet to find out. So far we have been given two real glimpses at the Doctor and what is to come. The First (which was really the second trailer), only gave us a voice and the Doctor asking Clara “Am I a good man?” The latest trailer  added snippets of the upcoming episodes and monsters, but again included the Doctor asking Clara “Am I a good man?” in addition to Clara stating “I don’t think I know who the Doctor is anymore.” These two trailers, and, more specifically, the question and statement above, give us a hint at how the 12th Doctor may be characterized in the upcoming season.

With Peter Capaldi being the first older Doctor since the reboot, many have speculated that he would be portrayed as a character more in tune with the classic Doctors: mainly in that he would be darker, more manipulative, more calculating, and less young-spirited than the past three Doctors have been. What these trailers tell us, is that these guesses may not be far off. Every glimpse of the Doctor we have seen has been filled with intensity, and we have had no glimpse so far of a merry side to this new Doctor.

Now that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a merry side; on the contrary, he would not be the Doctor without one. But in every Doctor that merry side comes in degrees, and we may be looking at a Doctor more serious than ever. There may also be darker plots in this upcoming season, as we see when the Doctor says to Clara that they are venturing “into darkness.”

Series-8-TV-launch-trailer-(33)

The relationship with Clara might be darker as well. Both trailers have Clara saying that she doesn’t know who the Doctor is anymore. That means two things. One, that she does not trust the new Doctor, which makes sense as no companion who has seen the transition of a Doctor has trusted the new one at first. However, one thing to note is that Clara is more acquainted with the regeneration process than any companion in New Who. She knew about it from being in his time stream and knows how vastly different he can be each time he regenerates. Yet, she still is saying that she doesn’t know who he is anymore…

We can expect many of the first few episodes to include elements of the two getting to know each other and re-establishing their relationship. But back to the point, Clara and the Doctor will not have the same relationship as they once did, and based exclusively on the trailers, it seems that the mentor-student relationship between the Doctor and Clara that people were speculating about may have been correct after all. At the very least, not the best friends they used to be.

In the end though what we can say for certain is that the Doctor has changed. The bow-tie loving, childish, energetic and passionate man is gone. Who has replaced him is yet to be fully revealed, but we should perhaps be prepared for the more serious side of the Doctor to be shown more than ever before. They have chosen a man more than capable of playing a dark character, and right now it seems as though we are indeed headed “into darkness”.

Are you concerned about this potential darker direction, or is it just what the Doctor ordered? State in the comments…

Step back in time...

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173 comments
Ace Pirosu
Ace Pirosu

I think a darker, older Doctor is the perfect opportunity to bring back the Valeyard. He was supposed to appear between the Doctor's 12th and 13th regenerations, and if we use the Time of the Doctor's logic, that means he should have made an appearance just before Tennant regenerated into Smith. I'm pretty sure that's what Tennant's "Time Lord Victorious" was: The Valeyard trying to manipulate his actions to create a dark Time  Lord empire. However, there's no way to tell for sure, which is why we really need The Valeyard to appear as a villain for Capaldi. Maybe he'll try to bring out the Doctor's dark side once and for all, and Capaldi (with the help of Clara) realises he's a good man after all and stops him.


VidarRaven
VidarRaven

dragonsfyre That was the public reason the real one is he hate SF (As he has admitted on the record)

Rani Nose
Rani Nose

There is no way Moffat and the BBC would allow Twelve and Clara to have a mentor-student relationship. Clara is already a teacher. A professional, educated woman. She is an intelligent, capable and independent adult who, as we have seen in time and again in little over half a season, has already acquited herself well when placed in extremely challenging circumstances. One of the most enjoyable aspects of her character is that she travels with the Doctor on her terms. Falling back on a hoary "older man teaches younger woman" trope is teenage boy fantasy level of storytelling and it would alienate a huge number of viewers.

Mercy Reborn2
Mercy Reborn2

I think it would be a shock for Clara the last doctor was like her boyfriend this, one will be more like a paternal figure with a funny side, but  i hope  he is still a good person

NumberNine
NumberNine

I think the whole 'dark Doctor' thing is being misconstrued. They're not going to make him a cold blooded killer, after all! He's still the Doctor! I think they have played it up too much with the trailers and are making people unnecessarily nervous. If I were to hazard a guess, Capaldi will just be a more INTENSE Doctor, rather than literally darker.

The Outer Space K9
The Outer Space K9

Great article but I don't think that the Doctor - Clara relationship will be similar to that of a mentor-student. Frankly I wouldn't like that very much, I think they'll just be best pals.

I think she will be more like Sarah Jane always questioning the Doctor, undertanding him very well and challenging him at the same time.

dills18
dills18

Would you class Ecclestons era dark?

tealeaves
tealeaves

It's interesting that people talk about wanting 12 to be darker, more calculating and manipulative but for me Matt Smith's Doctor was all of those things. Unlike Ten the Eleventh Doctor didn't meet people he liked and invite them to travel with him his companions were instead puzzles to be solved eg. The girl with the crack in her wall or the impossible girl.

He often lied to or didn't tell his companions the whole story e.g. Amy being the flesh or having met Clara before. For me the fact that Eleven gave the impression of being a warm, eccentric buffoon whilst really working on his own agenda actually makes him darker.

Finally he did some pretty dark and calculating things - he organised the genocide of a whole race, he ordered a general/priest to humiliate himself by telling his men to run away, he killed Solomon, his influence on Amy's life led to her having a child who she was never allowed to see grow up. It's all quite dark to me...

MJJ
MJJ

I wouldn't be surprised if Capaldi Doctor considers Clara his equal, not just his companion. After all, The Impossible Girl is the only companion who saved each and every one of his individual lives in one way or another. No other companion has come close to doing that. So when he says, they're going "into Darkness," Capaldi Doctor knows that Clara can handle whatever's coming. In fact, the way Clara behaves toward Capaldi Doctor shows a maturity we didn't see when she was around Matt Doctor. I like that shift in their relationship, and am looking forward to next month.






allons_ywibblywobbly
allons_ywibblywobbly

I don't want a dark Doctor. The reason I became such a huge fan of this show is because it had the right balance between drama and humour. I agree it's time for a change and Capaldi's Doctor will certainly be very different to Matt's, but I really don't want a dark, mean and dangerous Doctor. That's not what he should be, in my opinion. 

I'm excited for the new series, but I neither think it will be the best yet, nor the worst. We will wait and see. Sometimes it's good to be excited, but not too excited to avoid being let down.

NewWho2012
NewWho2012

It will be interesting to see a much darker side to the darker that Capaldi looks like he will provide and is made evident to me when he says 'Into Darkness'. I agree in thinking that he should other positive sides to his personality as well, like maybe what they did with the other Doctors in New Who, have at the beginning of an episode the Doctor and Clara laughing and being happy enjoying themselves then something happens and disrupts the happiness making him turn dark and concerned again, like in Boom Town. As different as I hope he will be, I hope he still has moments like the other Doctor where is fun side emerges for a few seconds and he goes off topic then quickly returns to the serious scenario again. 

OttoVonBismarck
OttoVonBismarck

I'm glad that both the show and the Doctor are becoming darker, but let's not forget that the last time this happened, the show got cancelled.

dragonsfyre
dragonsfyre

A darker Doctor is good.  But some eccentricity / alien-ness should remain. 

What's more important is getting the situations and stories to be darker, companions gettting killed occassionally, the DALEKS actually exterminating someone etc.

supermoff
supermoff

I hope he's more serious, not because I disliked Matt's take (quite the contrary - his lighthearted and childlike take was wonderful and the principle reason why Eleven is my favourite) but change is necessary at this point. However, I hope he isn't that dark, and I hope the show doesn't become too dark either. I've said it before, but this show is so proficient at inducing wonder and childlike euphoria, I don't want to lose it.

The_Doctor_
The_Doctor_

The clothing Clara is wearing in that picture with The Doctor reminds me of Sarah Jane and Donna ! Please say I'm not the only one who noticed the similarities ^.^

Notsosmartguy
Notsosmartguy

I gotta say the thing that has me most excited is the new tardis team. I have a feeling 12 and Clara will be my favorite duo yet. Hopefully Clara dealing with a stricter doctor will make her more appealing to fans who aren't fond her, I feel she deserves more love :-)

KingOfTheInterWebs has Kidneys
KingOfTheInterWebs has Kidneys

Series 8 honestly sounds less dark, more philosophical. The Doctor thinking about the mistakes he's made and going back to correct some of them and therefore possibly going into dark elements of the universe and inadvertently putting Clara in harms way, so with all the mistakes he finds that he has to correct and all the danger he's putting Clara in, he wonders if he's a good man. And that in some way will be resolved by the end of the series. That's what the trailer says to me anyway.

babbitdukes
babbitdukes

Please don't shout me down but I'm hoping for a more serious Doctor, still with a bit of humour but please please no more domestics I got so bored with the Amy and Roy/did she love him or not, River was the best in Name of the Doctor but no more of her either, as for Peter, I've seen him loads of stuff now he is going to Wonderful as the Doctor.

microbat98
microbat98

I still see Eleven as the darkest Doctor so far. People who believe that the Classics had much darker Doctors prolly haven't watched many at all. Yeah, they were more serious and childishness was used to manipulate a lot, but they were very childish a lot anyway. Eleven has hit dark spots that I cannot recall from any other Doctor.

Mercy Reborn2
Mercy Reborn2

maybe this doctor will be more serious and have a conscience

JFrance
JFrance


At the moment, I'm not seeing him as a darker Doctor. I'm just seeing him as more of a serious one and perhaps a more grown up one but not dark. The only dark vibe I am getting from the trailer is the series itself. This series dose seem different and I think its going to be a very interesting series. 

gunslinger19
gunslinger19

im starting to wonder how much Capaldi's incarnation actually remembers his past selves. hes certainly forgotten how to fly the TARDIS and he seems to not remember some aspects of who he is given his lack of certainty over whether or not hes a good man. ofcourse, this can be seen as a change in perspective. the audience doesnt really know if the doctor is a good man, mainly because theres so much mystery behind him and many of his acts are ultimately questionable. this leads me to believe that the focus of Capaldi's tenure will be an attempt to rediscover himself. he will remember some things, but great swathes of his past will have gone missing (perhaps the fact that he saved gallifrey which might complicate his search for it). that may be why he goes to Vastra, Strax and Jenny in episode 1 and it may be why hes trying to redeem the mistakes of his past. all conjecture of course, but this would make for a doctor that may not be that much darker than the others, but his own moral failings may also be more highlighted within the show. 


VictorWong1
VictorWong1

@Rani Nose There's an old saying: when you stop learning, you start dying. Even though (thanks to her submergence in the Doctor's timestream) Clara right now knows the Doctor more intimately than anyone else alive, there's always more to learn. It's one of the reasons why Doc's traipsing round the universe, don'tcha know. And it's one of the reasons why he likes having Clara along: it helps reinforce his sense of wonder by seeing it reflected from her eyes.

Of course the relationship has to change; Twelve is most emphatically *not* going to enjoy the same level of fraternization with Clara that Eleven did. (Today's socio-political climate is going to ensure that.) Mentor-student is probably the most obvious route to go; another is "father figure" (it's possible to infer from the Christmas special that Clara's relations with her real father deteriorated after her mother's death).

TonySimmons
TonySimmons

@Rani Nose  She's a teacher and he's a 2000 year old Time Lord. Think he has a bit to teach her. Id be glad to see less of the skipping around and hugging, and no more crushes from the companion hopefully now he's a bit older. Look at Tom Bakers Doc and Sarah, great friends and always beautifully understated. Lets have some of that back, takes skill to write it, but hope they have a go.

Amy is Hannibal
Amy is Hannibal

In some respects, yes, but in others, no. Insofar as the (wonderful) Ninth Doctor himself was concerned, he did have very dark overtones. Alone, drowning in survivor's guilt, trying desperately to enjoy life after the horrors he had seen. And he had a fire of rage inside of himself, as we saw in "Dalek". From Nine, I get the vibe that a lot of his heroism was done in order to atone for the atrocities of the Time War. However, he generally quite cheery whenever he wasn't reminded of the War, and although he looked down on humans as "stupid apes," I don't think that he loved them any less. However, Blon's speech in "Boom Town" about the Doctor leaving destruction in his wake is a good example of the darker tone that Nine's run could adopt. It's a brilliant scene, really. Plus, the Daleks were as scary as ever - it is my opinion that "Bad Wolf"/"The Parting of the Ways" is their scariest revival outing to date. They're merciless, fanatical, and insane, driven mad by their own human flesh. The Dalek with the blowtorch slowly cutting into the room that Lynda was hiding in always gives me a chill. There are, of course, lighter and sillier moments, but Doctor Who would be nothing without those. Although a few aspects of Nine's run cross over into crass and immature... 


NumberNine
NumberNine

Personally, I would. This is why I am not nervous about Capaldi's darkness as much as others. He's probably just being classified as 'dark' because he's very intense.

Amy is Hannibal
Amy is Hannibal

Nitpicking, but I always have to point it out - The Doctor did not order a genocide on the Silents. What he did was create an inherently hostile environment that would force the Silents to leave and never interfere with humanity again. Not only was every Silent not within a human's line of sight at that moment, but they had timeships, and the Doctor did say, albeit threateningly, that they should run away as fast as they could.


KristaLandon
KristaLandon

@allons_ywibblywobbly The Doctor has always been dangerous... but I don't think he'll be mean.  I think there will also be plenty of humor, but they're just playing up the 'dark' in the previews.

Angie Whodini
Angie Whodini

@OttoVonBismarck Adding to what A Friend of the Ood said, it was not just that but bad writing (except McCoy's seasons, but by then the show had lost ratings). 

A Friend of the Ood
A Friend of the Ood

@OttoVonBismarck The show didn't get canceled because it was getting darker. It got cancelled because of the idiots at the BBC who didn't like the show and wanted to cancel it. McCoy's last two seasons were the best of the 80s.

dragonsfyre
dragonsfyre

@OttoVonBismarck Not true. Darkening the show during McCoy's era was putting the final nail in the coffin:  poor production values stood in stark contrast to STAR WARS and made the show laughable.

Making the show darker and scarier for the start of the TOM BAKER era made the show more popular than it had ever been before or since.  It attracted the college crowd because of the Gothic Horror and more heterosexual dads tuned in because of a certain female warrior companion wearing a loin cloth.  Kids hid extra long behind the sofa as the body horror component was ratchetted up. 

The violence, horror, rivetting drama from Rob Holmes and TOM BAKER came together in a perfect storm that made Doctor Who go international.  And it's fear factor was SO great that a moral crusade was launched against the show by one Mary Whitehouse.  Her influence forced the brass at the BBC to order the show to be toned down and be made more for kids.  That was when the declining viewing figures started happening and Doctor Who became a pale shadow of its former self.... until eventual cancellation.

Notsosmartguy
Notsosmartguy

@supermoff Don't worry I don't think it will be too dark. I trust Moffat enough to deliver something good even if it is :-)

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

@supermoff  Yes, it's got to keep the balance right

I'm still racking my brains to understand WHY The Doctor should be dark (as opposed to serious and tricky).

He's got a whole new set of regenerations

Trenzalore and the crack have been dealt with

He longer destroyed the 2.4bn children and the Timelords on Gallifrey

He's got Clara (who has a great deal to do with the above events)

He hasn't just lost someone (e.g. Ten after losing Rose, Eleven after losing the Ponds)

Undiscovered Adventure
Undiscovered Adventure

I feel very much the same, I hope that some of the people on the fence with Clara take more of a liking to her in this series. It looks like we could really see her character come io her own.

VictorWong1
VictorWong1

@babbitdukes Not to shout you down, but the "domestics" aren't going to go away any time soon. They're cheap in terms of set dressing and location scouting, they help foster one of the Revival's base assumptions (that the Doctor's episodes *could* happen in *our* world), and they help ground the companions, making them more relatable to the general viewing audience.

Antee991166
Antee991166

@gunslinger19  I'm pretty sure him forgetting to fly the TARDIS is just post-regeneration amnesia, which he has suffered from before.

dragonsfyre
dragonsfyre

@A Friend of the Ood @OttoVonBismarck  That too.  But one of the biggest reasons Michael Grade (the big cheese at the BBC) didn't like it is because the production value was laughable next to STAR WARS, which had raised the bar VERY high in the special effects department.  Look it up. Michael Grade is on record for saying that.  And he says it to this day -- indicating he's glad he canceled it because the look of modern WHO is far and away superior to the final years of the classic series.

supermoff
supermoff

Indeed, no matter what direction we take, Moffat will give us brilliance. He has never failed at this :D

dragonsfyre
dragonsfyre

@Planet of the Deaf @supermoff   I'm not sure who feels what anymore.


I can only speak for myself.  The Doctor himself should not be dark:  he should just NOT be a childish man-boy like Matt Smith was -- frequently hamming it up as if he were doing a performance for 3 year old year old kids. 


No, it's the SHOW that needs to be DARKER. The Daleks need to EXTERMINATE people again. 


Characters MUST DIE and STAY DEAD and not come back from sealed off dimensions: unlike Rory, Captain Jack Harkness and Rose.  When Ianto died in CHILDREN OF EARTH, that was heart-breaking and dramatic.... and although it enraged us, it MADE US FEEL EMOTION because he stayed dead. 


That's what modern sci-fi on TV does: it incorporates the structures of drama into the story-telling, making it appealing to everyone (not just fan-boys) because everyone can relate to loss and pain. That's why THE GIRL IN THE FIREPLACE ranks so high on every survey ranking of DW's episodes:  because Madame de Pompadour does NOT get to travel the stars with her Lonely Angel.  The Doctor's heart is broken when he sees her coffin leaving Versailles. 


There's no happy ending in TGITF but it we are enraptured with it because we watched the two characters grow and fall in love:  we got a rich, satisfying, mature and DARK tale of love, loss and pain.  We finally got to see what the Doctor goes through as he outlives the companions he travels with:  and in seeing this, we got a good look into the Doctor's psyche and we understood why he leaves his companions, why he tries to act indifferent and aloof at times.  


Doctor Who also needs to DARKEN by ramping up the horror factor again:  like when Dr. Constantine morphed into the gas-mask creature or the characters became infected by the Flood....   These are gritty moments that shock and terrify.


If Doctor Who doesn't DARKEN during Capaldi tenure, we can take away the expression that is linked to this show:  "hiding behind the sofa".  Instead, we can say, "laughing out loud on the sofa at the silly show on telly".


VictorWong1
VictorWong1

@Planet of the Deaf @supermoff  Don't forget: Night of the Doctor established that the universe-wide reputation of Gallifrey and the Time Lords is now ten levels below that of current British politicians and journalists. It sounds very much like Twelve must now deal with the aftereffects of the War on other cultures that he'll be visiting -- as well as the War Doctor's conduct during that war. That should be good for at least half-a-dozen stories.

gunslinger19
gunslinger19

@Antee991166 @gunslinger19 yeah i know but given that he seems to be questioning who he is in the trailers and that this is a new regeneration cycle which could result in a very dodgy regeneration, i think that long term memory loss is a real possibilty for series 8

VictorWong1
VictorWong1

@gunslinger19 @Antee991166 He's always questioned himself post-regeneration, in the revived series. In Christmas Invasion, it was more overt, Tennant sounding like an actor trying to work out his part. In Eleventh Hour, it was a bit more subtle ("don't know yet, still cooking") and events moved so quickly that there was no time to settle down and work it out.

Amy is Hannibal
Amy is Hannibal

Sure, but he still doesn't control what comes out when he regenerates.