We've fuckin' time travelled now. Maybe you can download rice!
August 5, 2013 2:36 PM   Subscribe

Before he was announced as the 12th incarnation of The Doctor (previously), Peter Capaldi was probably best known for his turn as the foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in Armando Iannucci's political satire The Thick of it. But, as The Guardian handily illustrates – via a collection of some of Capaldi's best moments over the past 30 years – there's much more to Peter Capaldi than his ability to turn swearing into a creative artform.

Peter Capaldi's first major role – although he was not one of the main stars of the film – was in Bill Forsyth's Local Hero, in which he played a minor Scottish functionary working for a Texan oil firm. YouTube has the whole film here.

In 1995, Capaldi won the Academy Award for Live Action Short film, for Franz Kafka's It's A Wonderful Life, which he directed, and which starred Richard E Grant and Ken Stott.

The next year, Capaldi played Rory McHoan, whose mysterious disappearance provided the narrative which drove the story, in the BBC adaptation of Iain Banks' The Crow Road.
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4

At least one wag has already speculated how Peter Capaldi as the Doctor might play out. You also feel that whoever started the Fuck Yeah Peter Capaldi's Hair tumblr is going to get a lot busier over the coming months.

With thanks to Doktor Zed for suggestions and prompting me to make the post in the first place
posted by Len (114 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great Actor, great Choice ... but it would have been Fun to have a female Doctor for a Change ...
posted by homodigitalis at 2:38 PM on August 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I saw him in an episode of Foyle's War as a genteel Communist sympathizer during WWII and kept expecting him to snap in the tea room, going off in a colorful tirade about capitalism at this or that ladyship as she sups her tea and nibbles her scones. Same deal in that Torchwood thing he did.

The problem with seeing Mr. Capaldi in anything else now is that once I've seen him as Tucker, I can't unsee him.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:43 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's the same over here with 'House'. I watched Hugh Laurie in so many genius comedy programmes since 1981 that I just think House is a Fry And Laurie sketch.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:46 PM on August 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


On the subject of that which can’t be unseen, behold his turn in Ken Russell’s Lair of the White Worm.
posted by misteraitch at 2:47 PM on August 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


Within hours if meeting the Daleks the first Doctor immobilizes one, brutally tips it from its travel machine and leaves it to die in the corner after commenting on how ugly it is. This is before the Daleks have really even done anything other than making Ian's leg numb and scheming a bit.

That's the kind of pro-active violence I'm hoping to see a return to with Capaldi.
posted by Artw at 2:49 PM on August 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


My first exposure to Capaldi was his bit role in the Close-Malkovich adaptation of "Dangerous Liaisons". Just a few lines but it apparently stuck enough that when I watched the rather harrowing "Torchwood: Children of Earth" I had to look up Frobisher to see why he looked so familiar.

I think he's a brilliant choice. As a longtime Whovian, I haven't been able to wipe the manic grin off my face since the announcement. I am just so PLEASED.
posted by angeline at 2:49 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey, it's an old white guy! That's certainly a new twist.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:49 PM on August 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I definitely don't trust the current Who writing team to write a female Doctor at all. How many "Oooooh, yes, I've got new parts. (Feel breasts). That's different" jokes would we have to go through? Like that entire episode where Billie Piper had to play Cassandra, the last human, as having recently stolen Rose's body and she kept feeling herself up and purring about how bouncy her body was. GROSS.

A slighty-older-than-usual white male is about as daring as I think we can get in Nu Who. That said, I think Moffatt chose well. Probably.

(And yes, I know that was not Moffatt with the Cassandra stuff but really, we're like 80 years away from a female Doctor being written well, so etc.)
posted by pineappleheart at 2:49 PM on August 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


He's also the trans/drag queen* suspect in Series 3 of Prime Suspect. And one of the main characters in Ken Russell's Lair Of The White Worm.

He's pretty much the British "Oh, That Guy!" actor. You've seen him over and over, in dozens of things, and didn't realize it was the same guy.

*The episode doesn't do a great job of delineating the difference between those categories, or maybe it just doesn't really want to focus on how Vera identifies. It was like 1992.
posted by Sara C. at 2:49 PM on August 5, 2013


Hey, it's an old white guy! That's certainly a new twist.

So he's the 12th white guy in a row. I'm unsure why anyone expected a twist.
posted by GuyZero at 2:50 PM on August 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


He was crazy good in The Hour. This scene was just devastating and he didn't say a word through most of it.
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:51 PM on August 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hey, it's an old white guy! That's certainly a new twist.

Must there be a twist, though?

Also: it's Moffat. If we get a female Doctor I'd rather wait till we have a new showrunner.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:51 PM on August 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


The Fella, whose favorite movie in the world is Local Hero, very much wants the mythology to connect Peter Riegert in the phone box to Peter Capaldi in the TARDIS, please and thank you.
posted by Elsa at 2:52 PM on August 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


In a "Letter to My Younger Self" article, Capaldi poignantly relates how he was once ashamed to be a geek: "I wish I’d known that one day the geek would inherit the Earth. {...} I destroyed all my geek stuff because I didn’t want to be a geek, and I regret it to this day. Consumed in the geek bonfire of the vanities was a collection of autographs and letters from Peter Cushing, Spike Milligan, Frankie Howerd, the first Doctor Whos, actual astronauts and many more."

One can already tell from his interviews after the announcement how delighted he is to embrace his geekiness in what is obviously his idea of a happy ending.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:53 PM on August 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


mcstayinskool: He was crazy good in The Hour. This scene was just devastating and he didn't say a word through most of it.

Yeah, his performance in The Hour was astounding. The way he manages to portray channelling all that constricted and pent up and repressed grief into minimal gestures of displacement – because it is, after all, the 1950s, and the way a company man deals with his dead daughter is to obsessively realign the pens and pencils and paperclips and notepads on his desk – was, at times, painful to watch. And then when it all comes out ...
posted by Len at 3:03 PM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


3 bowties at once... imagine the possibilities....
posted by painquale at 3:06 PM on August 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


We should point out that there's been a whole bunch of discussion going on in the other open Doctor Who thread.
posted by painquale at 3:09 PM on August 5, 2013


Hey, it's an old white guy! That's certainly a new twist.

I appreciate them going with someone older. This is only the third time the Doctor has regenerated into an older actor and never this much older. I hope this signals a transition to more "thinking" than "action."
posted by justkevin at 3:09 PM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Silly coincidence: Capaldi was one of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) doctors in World War Z.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:13 PM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey, it's an old white guy! That's certainly a new twist.

Well, yeah. The last few were young white guys.

I would love it if he played this incarnation of the Doctor as a thinly-veiled version of Malcolm Tucker. A foul-mouthed, incandescently angry Doctor who hates the Cybermen, the Daleks, the ... other canonical enemies that I can't remember off the top of my head. I'd love to see him with a companion he can't stand and about whom he constantly fantasizes about leaving to die millions of years and light-years away from their home. Who only kind of pretends to be sad that all of the other time lords are dead, but is actually kind of relieved he never has to see them again.

Well, that's not going to happen. But I guess the regular Doctor Who formula can be pretty enjoyable, too.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 3:14 PM on August 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


(Great post title, btw.)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:18 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Believe me, I absolutely get the disappointment of not getting a female/POC/variation thereof Doctor. But I also acknowledge that the show has a standing history and what with it becoming extremely popular in North America currently (due in no small part to Smith, IMO), BBC would never change the formula. Also, given Moffat's way to write women, I'm with other people who say I'd rather it happen when he's miles away from it. This is, sadly, when a lot of male fans would be outraged that the Doctor be anything other what they themselves are--a white guy.
posted by Kitteh at 3:23 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


*steps through The Untempered Schism*

Don't mind me. I'm just here for the zeppelins.
posted by Mezentian at 3:23 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm disappointed that it's another white guy, but happy that it's an older fella. Just because the Doctor should never be younger than me, and Matt Smith CAN GET OFF OF MY FUCKING LAWN.
posted by brundlefly at 3:26 PM on August 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I honestly don't/didn't follow enough pop culture to know who Capaldi was, people mentioning some other things he's been in has jogged a faint memory, but I will say I am happy it's gone in this direction. I don't think we're 80 years from a female Dr Who but as others have said it really is going to need a different show runner to do it justice so I'm pretty sanguine about it not being a gender swap this time around. I think Mos Def would have been hilarious, but Capaldi looks like he has a lot of promise. Mind you I say this as someone who's fav nu Who was Eccleston, and while Smith and Tennant where fun, they also felt like fluff (to me).
posted by edgeways at 3:26 PM on August 5, 2013


I said it in the older thread, but if you are looking for some exposure to Capaldi's previous work, In The Loop is the movie version of The Thick of It and is available on Netflix Instant. It is really fantastic.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:33 PM on August 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Thanks for posting this, Len.
posted by homunculus at 3:34 PM on August 5, 2013


Bela Lugosi's Birthday by the Dreamboys, a band Capaldi was in with Craigyferg.
posted by kmz at 3:39 PM on August 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh, thanks! I intended to look up some Dreamboys on YouTube and now I don't have to.

I wonder if it was inspired by Bela Lugosi's Dead a little.
posted by Mezentian at 3:44 PM on August 5, 2013


If and when he shoes up on Craig's show they should totally also be the musical guest.
posted by The Whelk at 3:46 PM on August 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


(There are two other tracks associated with kmz's post (Shall We Dance and Outer Limits).

They are not awful.
Not especially memorable, but not awful.
posted by Mezentian at 3:48 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whilst there clearly is a market for an angry Dr Who-like character, who travels the universe having adventures and swearing everything into oblivion, it'll probably be written by Mark Millar.

I mean, better than Moffat, sure. But not exactly going to be full of unexpected insights into the human condition.
posted by The River Ivel at 3:53 PM on August 5, 2013


Whilst there clearly is a market for an angry Dr Who-like character, who travels the universe having adventures and swearing everything into oblivion, it'll probably be written by Mark Millar.

Warren Ellis. The man basically is that.
posted by jason_steakums at 3:55 PM on August 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Indeed, or Garth Ennis maybe tho Ellis would class it up a little more. They could publish it under the Max imprint with Marvel, if that still exists, and if it doesn't then they can bring it back because they've got a fucking time machine.
posted by cortex at 3:57 PM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm reading some Faction Paradix stuff at the moment, which basically amounts to "What If... Doctor Who Was Reinvented in the 90s by Vertigo Comics Fans"... It's fun but I think ultimatly not a thing that could have really lived for long, and in general I think I prefer that we have the 2005 series, RTD and Moffat version both.

I am not entirely convinced that Dictor Tilda Swinton as written by The Internets would be that great if it came to fruition either.
posted by Artw at 4:04 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm one of those pleased because I've noted Capaldi's performances over the years and already had an appreciation for him even regardless of Malcolm Tucker. I find it interesting that Moffatt basically auditioned no one else.

A few people have serious problems with Moffatt but I'm still willing to give him slack, and I'm looking forward to the collaboration.
posted by dhartung at 4:06 PM on August 5, 2013


I just fucking regenerated and you can kiss my sweaty time-lord balls
posted by Renoroc at 4:07 PM on August 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm going to recycle something I said elsewhere:

YES. Now maybe we'll see an end to the Manic Pixie Dream Boy era of the show. ‪

My hopes for the new series: more gravitas, less "bow ties are cool", and a million billion times less solving problems by WACKY! RUNNING! AROUND! AND! SHOUTING!
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:12 PM on August 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


Please, everyone, go watch Local Hero right now. You can come back in two hours and thank me (and the OP for posting the link).
posted by matildaben at 4:17 PM on August 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


This all makes me feel really old. To me Peter Capaldi is still this young guy in Local Hero. Which I know was linked to above but this clip is the prime Capaldi section. "I have a facility with languages."
posted by interplanetjanet at 4:18 PM on August 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Moffat's a sexist, so it's good that he didn't pick a woman, and also North Americans can't handle women in leading roles? That's some serious bullshit.
posted by Brocktoon at 4:37 PM on August 5, 2013


You can tell all the folks grumbling about the old white dude didn't read the other thread or they'd already know Neil Gaiman's tidbit about a black actor having turned down the role, which was linked therein.

My theory is that a younger black actor might suffer more from the limitations that being the Doctor could place on your career in terms of typecasting. Another old skool Whovian friend of mine points out that Capaldi's casting presents the role as a star turn in its own right, one that you can take at the end of your career and not a stepping-stone to other jobs. Maybe we could get Colin Salmon, who has the genre credentials and is getting the series experience right now, after Capaldi if that's the case.
posted by immlass at 4:43 PM on August 5, 2013


As I said before, I liked this little ficlet on how to get a reoccurring female Time Lord character.
posted by The Whelk at 4:47 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The next person who posts a self-congratulatory "should've been a woman/black doctor..." comment is as useless as a marzipan dildo.
posted by lattiboy at 4:48 PM on August 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, I would say that The Internets seem ti have very little space between "things that would be a nice idea" and "things that are make or break requirements".
posted by Artw at 4:49 PM on August 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm really surprised they offered Capaldi the role. He may be many things, but he is not young and dishy, and appealing to the fangirls seems like an important part of modern Who. (And before anybody jumps in and says that fangirls are quite capable of being attracted to older men, well, I'm quite aware of that. But I don't think there's any denying that Tennant and Smith are much more teenage crush-y types than Capaldi.)

I also remember Capaldi as the callow youth in Local Hero. Granted, I was a kid when I saw it, but it's still messing with my head to think this is the same guy.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:52 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just a thought: Capaldi's old friend Craig Ferguson (they were in a punk band together in their youth), who is already a major Whovian Fanboy, is just gonna freak out on tonight's show (which I just checked and is NOT a rerun). Expect a Dalek invasion and a record number of "oohlala" bleeps in the cold open.

Also I am going to fearlessly predict that Ferguson's guest, Minnie Driver, will be the first woman Doctor four years from now. (Or second guest Baron Vaughn will be the first black/American Doctor... no, it'll be Minnie).

And sorry to all my friends in New York and Los Angeles with Time Warner Cable. You can't see the show, due to the "carriage fee dispute" blackout. (Reason #374 why I'm glad I moved out of L.A.)
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:53 PM on August 5, 2013


"To Mr. and Mrs. Man, a son... Cyber."
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:01 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


more gravitas, less "bow ties are cool"

Hm, I wonder what Capaldi's trademark accessory of choice is going to be?

Scarf?

Sneakers?

Bow Tie?

Leather Jacket?

maybe some kind of flat cap?

Frankly as long as they don't style him in rainbow clown bullshit I'll be happy.
posted by Sara C. at 5:02 PM on August 5, 2013


Flecks of spittle.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:03 PM on August 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


I suspect the hyping of the fangirl appeal of the show is more the BBC taking advantage of Moffat's casting decisions rather than Moffat wanting to cast someone who appeals to fangirls.
posted by plastic_animals at 5:03 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey, it's an old white guy! That's certainly a new twist.

In fairness to the BBC, Capaldi is the first non-Oxbridge educated Doctor, and only the second Scot to be cast in the iconic rôle.
posted by Flashman at 5:18 PM on August 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


and only the second Scot to be cast in the iconic rôle.

Well, we all know that's wrong.
posted by Mezentian at 5:22 PM on August 5, 2013


My friends from Glasgow have already expressed their dread that Capaldi will be stripped of his glorious accent.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:27 PM on August 5, 2013


I'd like to be able to download rice.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:29 PM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here you go.
posted by GuyZero at 5:33 PM on August 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I asked my sister what her corner of Tumblr was saying about this; she said that they knew that he was famous for swearing on TV.

From what I've seen of The Thick of It, if i has to be an Old White Guy i'd prefer it be this Old White Guy. Nice to have a grumpy Doctor.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:35 PM on August 5, 2013



I would love it if he played this incarnation of the Doctor as a thinly-veiled version of Malcolm Tucker.


ok correct me if i'm wrong. i've only seen about 5 episodes of The Thick of It. but it seems like Malcolm Tucker solves problems by walking in and giving a long, ranty, shouty speech that somehow fixes things up.

which is how The Doctor operated in Silence in the Library. and The Pandorica Opens. and probably other episodes. so yeah, same deal
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:37 PM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


In fairness to the BBC, Capaldi is the first non-Oxbridge educated Doctor, and only the second Scot to be cast in the iconic rôle.

Wait... he's not the first non-Oxbridge educated Doctor. I mean, I'm not going to go back and check them all, but Eccleston and Tennant went to drama school and Matt Smith to the University of East Anglia.
posted by hoyland at 5:37 PM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


He was crazy good in The Hour.

He was brilliant! I just discovered The Hour a few weeks ago, and devoured the first two series. I'm devastated to learn there is no plan for a series 3!!! Minor Spoiler Alert: Series 2 ends on a pretty major cliffhanger.

I'm one of those few people who doesn't like Matt Smith as the Doctor, so I'm really looking forward to this.
posted by MoxieProxy at 5:38 PM on August 5, 2013


As I said elsewhere, there has to be relevance to Capaldi being the same age (55) as William Hartnell when he started the series (but Hartnell looked AGES older). And a big reason for the older actor with "more gravitas" may be that, by some estimates (depending on John Hurt's character), his Doctor may be, canon-wise, "The Last Doctor"... or at least, may THINK he is. Which would provide a more interesting and nuanced story arc than the show has had since... maybe EVER. (And may be well beyond Moffat's ability to do well... sigh.)
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:42 PM on August 5, 2013


ok correct me if i'm wrong. i've only seen about 5 episodes of The Thick of It. but it seems like Malcolm Tucker solves problems by walking in and giving a long, ranty, shouty speech that somehow fixes things up.

This is a valid concern. I'm tired of long speeches by the Doctor about how we're all awesome, and blah-blah-blah. But then, maybe that just means that I'm tired of the show.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:42 PM on August 5, 2013


In fairness to the BBC, Capaldi is the first non-Oxbridge educated Doctor, and only the second Scot to be cast in the iconic rôle.

Sylvester McCoy was (is) Scottish, as well. So we've had three Doctors of Scottish origin, out of 12. Which basically confirms that there is a – dun dun DAAAAAAH!– Scottish mafia running the whole enterprise. Moffat being the prime example.
posted by Len at 5:46 PM on August 5, 2013


Aye, I did forget about McCoy.
posted by Flashman at 5:55 PM on August 5, 2013


Going To Maine: This is a valid concern. I'm tired of long speeches by the Doctor about how we're all awesome, and blah-blah-blah. But then, maybe that just means that I'm tired of the show.

I don't think it's a valid concern at all. Capaldi is not Malcolm Tucker. Malcolm Tucker gets his way by making speeches in which he calls everyone a cunt, but you only have to watch some of the links up thread – either the ones in the FPP, or others, supplied by people in the comments – to see that Capaldi has a huge range as an actor. I can't imagine his playing the Doctor as some sanitized Tucker type.
posted by Len at 5:55 PM on August 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, that's a surefire ticket to typecasting. Hopefully he doesn't. Though I'd gleefully accept a redone version of "The Satan Pit" with Capaldi as TuckerDoctor shouting down The Beast.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:57 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not trying to suggest that Peter Capaldi has a limited range. It's more that I'm hoping the show changes style a bit because I'm tired of seeing so many big Doctor speeches. I was fine until Season 7, at which point I just got completely worn out and lost the sense of fun.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:59 PM on August 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


My focus now is on what villains are coming down the pike.

I could actually go for for some more Toby Jones as the Dream Lord.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:24 PM on August 5, 2013


I haven't watched Dr Who since I was a kid, mainly because I don't think I'd fit behind the sofa any more.
posted by scruss at 7:12 PM on August 5, 2013


I don't have anything to add to this thread except to say that Local Hero is my favourite movie of all time, that Capaldi is wonderful in it, and that I was shocked when I rented In The Loop (not having seen him in anything I can recall during the intervening years) and realized that Malcolm Tucker was Oldsen.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:35 PM on August 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


So, the Scottish Mafia took over from the Gay Agenda, acting in concert with the Misogyny Mission?
And they rolled the Oxbridge elites at the BBC in London by outsourcing producing to the Welsh Dales?

My god. It's all so clear now.

The Rand Corporation is also behind all these missing episode recovery rumours, because there's a secret code, inserted by Whittaker and Letts proving the existence of Reverse Vampires in those missing episodes.

What I can't work out is how the Gnomes of Zurich fit in. Maybe in I watch The Sunmakers again?
posted by Mezentian at 7:36 PM on August 5, 2013


In fairness to the BBC, Capaldi is the first non-Oxbridge educated Doctor, and only the second Scot to be cast in the iconic rôle.

Other people have noted that the second part isn't true already, but there's no way the first part is either. I'm not going through the first eight, but Eccleston, Tennant and Smith didn't attend Oxford or Cambridge. A puzzling observation.
posted by chiquitita at 7:52 PM on August 5, 2013


I've just gone through Wikipedia, and it looks like non of the first right had much in the way of completed, formal tertiary training. C Barker went to at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and Hartnell went to the Imperial Service College, which sound high faluting, but don't seem to be Oxford or Cambridge at first glance.

Claim busted?

Maybe it's some comment about the old BBC diction?
posted by Mezentian at 8:30 PM on August 5, 2013


A small interjection - I just watched 'The Armageddon Factor' and:
1> There are some moments where a bit of Capaldian awfulness would be the only thing to save the thing.
2> Moffat has not been an particularly good show runner, but for the sake of all the f*c*s, the Classic Who showrunners could be terrible beyond the imagination of those not acquainted with the bad old days of BBC sci fi.

That thing. That I just watched. Was awful.

Previous shows in the Key To Time arc weren't as bad, but you could trace the filming order based on the development and recession of Baker's herpes sores.

My point: I'm not happy at all about Moffat, but it could be worse. Infinitely worse.
posted by wotsac at 11:53 PM on August 5, 2013


Honestly, while I can theoretically imagine a female doctor done well, I can see lots of ways it can crash and burn. The challenge with a different appearance to the doctor is how much you mention it. If the doctor has a companion at the time, then theres going to have to be a whole conversation. The easiest way would be to just have the doctor regenerate when there are no companions around, so whoever zhe meets from then on will just take it as read that this person is the doctor, no worries on that front.

I think it would be cool to have a female or a non-white doctor, but the interesting question about that is that it in terms of casting? Are we envisioning the Doctor to be like Hamlet, where we accept that the black actress is playing Hamlet, a white dude who has father issues? I suspect we want different stories which arise because of our characters gender, although I can't imagine we'd want ones arising from the characters ethnicity. I have no doubt that the age of Capaldi will impact on the stories that get told from now on, because things will just seem to fit better.

One solution, as mentioned in the other thread, is to try to hire more women to write the damn thing in the first place....
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:43 AM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey, it's an old white guy!

Good.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:50 AM on August 6, 2013


So last night I went to see a preview of Alpha Papa (a must see for Alan Partridge fans) at the BFI and Armando Iannucci was there for a Q&A session after the movie. Toward the end there was an inevitable question about what he thought of Peter Capaldi being appointed as the new Dr. Who and he was simply delighted for him. He told us about some scene (I wasn't sure if he meant during a filming of this new season or something else) where Capaldi was confronted by the daleks for the first time and he actually had tears in his eyes because it was a dream come true for him.

I have never seen an episode of Dr. Who but I love Malcolm Tucker and to think of him having tears in his eyes over anything was really something to imagine.
posted by like_neon at 2:01 AM on August 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I love Capaldi and I might get back into DW to see how he plays it.

However, regarding the question of whether a woman would work in the role, anyone who doesn't think so - imagine Olivia Coleman as The Doctor.

Right? Exactly. She'd be so awesome.
posted by greenish at 5:45 AM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


So this is two future series regulars from The Fires of Pompeii, yeah? I'd say the next doctor is likely to be either the punk son or one of those fire breathing rock lords.
posted by maryr at 6:59 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey, it's an old white guy!

Hey, it's a great actor.
posted by juiceCake at 7:22 AM on August 6, 2013


My point: I'm not happy at all about Moffat, but it could be worse. Infinitely worse.

Yeah, seriously. There are more dreadful Classic Who episodes than most people would care to admit. Part of the charm, of course, is that you can watch a dreadful episode and still have fun, especially if you're a kid who's mostly watching the show to fuel other daydreams, or if you're an adult who does the same.

...

Moffat had a huge success with Series Five, but he drew many of the wrong lessons from it. The right lesson would be "have a clear artistic vision, and do things well." The wrong lesson would be, "people love convoluted series arcs that overwhelm the show." What people liked about the series arc was that it was done well. It had some timey-wimey in it, and it had a few bits of "hey, did you notice that," but for the most part, it didn't ramp up the convolution until the Pandorica actually showed up.

The series arc also had a satisfying beginning, middle, and end. Enough was resolved, without hammering things into the ground. Amy assumes control of her own fantasy. Rory's seemingly leaden personality masks a heroic dependability. River Song rises to the occasion, without wearing out her welcome or revealing too much of who she is.

Plus, the stuff with the "bow ties are cool" and "I wear a fez now" was charming precisely because they were not catch-phrases. They were hilarious, memorable, and seemingly off-hand moments. They were antidotes to the cliches that Ten had acquired over the years.

Then Series Six happened. While I found the series itself to be entertaining, the series arc was mostly a dump.

Convolution is not, in and of itself, entertaining. Clues and teasing are fun, but it has to go somewhere, whether it's just a surreal, unexplained mood, or they're parts of an involving mystery.

I have no idea what emotions we were supposed to feel about Amy's or River's revelations. I can't relate to the idea of my daughter being someone whom I already know, who is older than me, whom I haven't raised in any meaningful sense. With Series Five, you had that vivid, eerie moment when little Amy is told that stars aren't real. Even though I've never encountered anyone who's told me that stars aren't real, I can still relate to that deep, sinking that something is Wrong and other people are Wrong. With Series Six, it's just sort of like, oh, uh, okay, I guess that person is that person's daughter? Seems pretty arbitrary.

Besides, mysteries and presences are often much more interesting than explanations. I hate it when writers explain things that do not need to be explained, let alone when the explanation is wholly unsatisfactory. Magicians don't reveal their secrets. Star Wars did not improve when midochlorians showed up, nor did it even really improve when we saw Anakin Skywalker fall from grace. What's really interesting is that Darth Vader exists - can't say I care about the fact that his mom's death left an impression on him.

River Song was so much more interesting as a recurring conundrum. She had a built-in story mechanism to dose out her appearances to be as frequent or infrequent as they were needed. There had been this great sense that she had a life outside of what we saw on the screen. Besides, since the character has such a big personality, a little bit goes a long way. So, they had this whole great thing going on about how River had probably killed the Doctor at some point, but then this was explained away as...brainwashing? So she's not even responsible? And she didn't even really kill the Doctor? So...who cares? Bleh. Moffat should have just kept River Song as this constant (BUT NOT WEEKLY) presence, and left any possible "resolution" for another writer years down the line.

Oh, and the Ponds. I love the Ponds. But, they should have left after Series Five. They could have nipped back for a few episodes, but really, their era should have had a clear beginning, middle, and end. It would have been interesting if they had come back for two or three episodes, but a slightly retooled "The Girl Who Waited" would be the episode where they leave before the Doctor wants them to.

And the catch phrases. Geurgh. Catch phrases basically worked during the RTD era, because NuWho still sort of had a revue feel to it - "let's go see what Ten is doing this week" - but what's good and bad about Moffat's run is that it feels slicker than that. The catch phrases seem very out of place, especially when they're shoehorned in, e.g. why the hell does the Doctor ask for a fez when he's in the White House?

I've only seen the first half of Series Seven. It's...okay. I really liked the first episode, although I'm a bit nervous about Clara as a full-time companion. I say I've been too busy to catch up, but I could have made time for it if I wanted.

It's not so much that Series Seven seems bad, so much that I'm always nervous that Moffat is going to keep drawing those same wrong lessons from Series Five. I don't want a series-long arc any more, and to be honest, I sort of miss the revue-style feel. I just want fun episodes of the Doctor wandering around and getting into trouble.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:36 AM on August 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


There are more dreadful Classic Who episodes than most people would care to admit.

I agree with your statement, except for this bit.

I even have a few fond memories of The Gunfighters.

Who is what it is. A product of its time, and a need to fill 46 weeks a year with stuff. It can't all be classics, but very little of it is 'burn-it-in-fire' Baaad. Especially if you watch it 30 minutes per daty (or week) over years, in context.

It is a show not without its Wolfweeds, but that is why we love it.
posted by Mezentian at 7:52 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mezentian:
A product of its time, and a need to fill 46 weeks a year with stuff.
I think this might also be part of the problem, or at least perceived problem, with current Doctor Who. We get so little of it, basically a season every year and a half, that any missteps are much more prominent. Every episode has to be a blockbuster, there's no time to explore a concept fully with multiple episodes and if an episode doesn't satisfy you... well, that's 1/7th of the Doctor Who you're getting this year.
posted by charred husk at 8:00 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The blockbuster thing is definitely Moffatt and is odd scheduling.
I don;t live in the UK, but I reckon they are okay with 13 weeks on the trot.
Assuming there is sensible scheduling.
I assume UK TV works (in part) on that kind of cycle now.
posted by Mezentian at 8:04 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Doctor timeline for Doctor Who
posted by Mezentian at 8:05 AM on August 6, 2013


I agree, charred husk. Also, the Moffat-era's slickness makes bad episodes unfun. You can have a laugh over the the bad parts of Classic Who, or even RTD-era Who. There was this "hey, we're just a bunch of big fans putting on a silly show" vibe that made you forgive, if not forget, bubble wrap monsters. Even truly awful episodes like "Fear Her" at least had a sort of "oh god, my friend is drunk and needs to stop loudly quoting Duck Tales to the boss" charm to them. However, something about the Moffat-era makes the bad episodes seem more like a waste of time. The bad episodes rarely even have the courage to be truly awful - they won't commit to anything more meaningful than mediocrity, which is worse than bad.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:08 AM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


You can have a laugh over the the bad parts of Classic Who, or even RTD-era Who. ... something about the Moffat-era makes the bad episodes seem more like a waste of time. The bad episodes rarely even have the courage to be truly awful - they won't commit to anything more meaningful than mediocrity, which is worse than bad.

This is related to my take on Moffat's actual problems as a showrunner (apart from the fact that nobody seems to have gotten writing Who for single episodes down): he didn't have the guts to walk away from the really bad stuff from RTD's era, which may have been okay for you but was throw-things-at-the-tv bad for me. (It consistently boggles me that Moffat gets reamed for sexism after how RTD fridged Donna because Ten wasn't emo emough. The companion arcs have been a consistent problem in the new series and they're collectively sexist as hell, but that's not a Moffat problem.)

In the classic series, if something wasn't working, they just changed it and walked away. Oh, hey, budget cut! We're stranded on earth. Oh, hey, the chemistry isn't there between the Doctor and the companion! We write her out after a season (or nine serials). Oh, hey, our projected story arc won't work for whatever reason (like the guy playing the villain died in a car wreck, sadly)! We do something else. The new series has the higher stakes, and in Moffat's case, a need to pack in the hints for the series arc, which requires him to sacrifice precious minutes of screen time from character development and plot to set up the reveal in the finale.

He's clearly a control freak and he ought to have the courage of his convictions and just control things radically. Don't like that everyone wants to bang the Doctor? Just ignore it. Don't like the emo? Just ignore the whole thing. Etc. There's a reason why it's the Discontinuity Guide, Moffat. Take advantage of it.
posted by immlass at 8:22 AM on August 6, 2013


You know, fundamentally, just about all Dr. Who can be easily picked apart and roundly criticized. Every Dr., every companion, every episode.
I was just idly trawling around some lists marked with some variation of "10 worst (new) Dr Who episodes". Dr. Who is like almost any television show, you really have to suppress your critical functions in order to not be overwhelmed.
Yes, absolutely, it is fun and amusing, and I enjoy watching them. But, lord, do not stop and think about them critically or they fall apart like so much wet cardboard.
It's funny reading those lists, mostly it's "this episode is stupid [because I don't like it], here is some subjective verbiage to justify my opinion". There are a few episodes that seem to pop up on many of the lists. But, even then there are ardent defenders of those shows too.
posted by edgeways at 8:49 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


(It consistently boggles me that Moffat gets reamed for sexism after how RTD fridged Donna because Ten wasn't emo emough Moffat gets reamed for sexism

Oh, Moffat has a lot more problems relating to sexism then just how he treats/writes Dr Who female characters. I suspect some of it may be over blown just because of the intense lens he is under, but he most certainly has... issues that bleed through to the show.

(when you say "fridged" do you mean 'shelved'/'canned'/wrote her out, etc?)
posted by edgeways at 8:57 AM on August 6, 2013


I'm one of the few people who didn't have a problem with the rueful fate of Donna Noble. It was tragic, which was interesting, but also striking and even sort of hopeful. Donna's arc had been that she was a "loser" who revealed herself to be amazing, when placed in amazing circumstances. It was cruel to make her forget those experiences and that growth, but the flipside is that she contains so much and doesn't even know it. Donna will be fine, I thought when she had to go - she'll discover herself to be amazing again, this time on her own, this time on Earth, just without the Doctor's help.

To each their own...
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:06 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


(when you say "fridged" do you mean 'shelved'/'canned'/wrote her out, etc?)

See Women in Refrigerators.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:09 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the topic of the catchphrasiness - am I the only one who sees Smith making an effort to blunt that by trying to play it as the Doctor trying but awkwardly failing to be catchphrasey and relatable and cool to impress the humans? Something about his delivery of it feels like the awkward person who can only speak in quotes from TV shows and inside jokes the rest of the group loves. Which doesn't change the annoyance of the scripts having him say that stuff in the first place, but I do think he tries with it.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:14 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I took the catchphrases, along with the hilarious air kisses, as being Smith's way of expressing the Doctor's alienness among humans.
posted by plastic_animals at 9:23 AM on August 6, 2013


Oh, Moffat has a lot more problems relating to sexism then just how he treats/writes Dr Who female characters.

Hate Moffat all you want, folks, but the way certain sections of fandom rake Moffat over the coals for being a pig while ignoring the equally egregious sexism inherent in RTD's tenure (totally erasing Donna's character development to increasing the Doctor's emo is one of the more egregious examples, but it's at or near the top of a long long loooooong list) really smells more like fandom grudgewank against him and less like actual concern about the show's context and content. My $0.02.
posted by immlass at 9:37 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure who are the more ridiculous: people who hate on Moffat for not producing flawless masterpieces like RTD did or people who hate on Moffat for not producing flawless masterpieces like "Ghostlight".
posted by Artw at 9:43 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this is another thing about the old series. They did stuff that just flat out failed occasionally because the stakes were lower. This is why they sometimes radically changed things!
posted by immlass at 9:54 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure who are the more ridiculous: people who hate on Moffat for not producing flawless masterpieces like RTD did or people who hate on Moffat for not producing flawless masterpieces like "Ghostlight".

Wait, what? There are people who don't care for Moffat's writing that think RTD produced flawless masterpieces? I suppose so, though I've not seen it, which means simply I've not seen it.

To many of us, Moffat was a good writer, way above RTD in his initial Who episodes, who because of this, could hardly fail to produce less melodramatic drama than RTD, but then amazingly, he didn't. Reading RTD's approach to writing the series reveals why it was so utterly terrible. Why have just a billion Daleks in the sky when you can have a trillion billion. More, more, more! It's more dramatic that way. Really it is! Torchwood was even worse, and Moffat's series 2 of Sherlock was very Whovian and therefore, very unfortunate in the opinion of some (others feel differently of course).

And really, people hate on Moffat? Is this a big thing? I've seen criticism of his work but no outright hatred. I'm sure I've missed it.
posted by juiceCake at 10:17 AM on August 6, 2013


Really? It seenms like Moffat so much as sneezes and theres someone there to tell you how it's the worst sneeze ever and that he has ruined sneezing and RTD did the best sneezes or that all the good sneezes happened in the good old days and anyway sneezing is sexist.
posted by Artw at 10:51 AM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


:/ is there a lot of that going on here?
posted by edgeways at 11:32 AM on August 6, 2013


An amount, yes?
posted by Artw at 11:39 AM on August 6, 2013


I've said this elsewhere, but Moffatt is a phenomenal relief pitcher who was moved up to starter and as such, yeah, we got one great season out of him before it all went off the rails.

Additionally, Moff's writing is very conceit-based, which is great (brilliant, really) for those stand-alone episodes that made his name but problematic for longer-running characters (which I'd argue is the problem with Clara - she's not a character so much as a concept.)

Meanwhile RTD's Who was a little like Axe Cop - fun as hell but with essentially zero internal logic or consistency and no real attention span and YOU KNOW WHAT'S SCARIER THAN A DALEK? INFINITY DALEKS! Say what you will about Moffatt but he never would have pulled that Dobby-the-Elf, Tinkerbell Jesus bullshit with an otherwise awesome Master storyline.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:47 AM on August 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


What I've liked about recent series - and I think it's one of the most remarkable things on television - is that they've gone for a much more interesting extrapolation from the idea of time travel than usual. For example, normally time travel is seen as an analogue of moving through space - Marty McFly literally gets in a car and drives to 1955, then he drives back to a nicer version of 1985, then he drives to 2015, a nastier version of 1985 and so forth - each time is like a village connected by roads, and you can only get from one place to another using certain roads.

The model that Dr Who has increasingly adopted (and it's a development of the mantra "time can be rewritten", which first appeared towards the end of RTD/Tennant) is that moving through time is like visiting stories - the temporal landscape isn't quasi-physical but narrative. The Doctor holds it all together literally by sheer force of personality. At the end of the most recent episode, Clara and The Doctor literally enter the story of the Doctor's life. There are also the books (the Melody Malone detective story and the children's book) that intertwine with the narrative.

This fluidity and ambiguity is quite unusual - at least I'm not familiar with many examples of it, and the one big parallel I can think of is Michael Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius books, where Cornelius and his gang are constantly popping between different times and places and worlds without batting any eyelids at all. He also sometimes reminds me of Ambush Bug who is (if I remember correctly) a person who fell into comic books, and consequently is in the unusual position of knowing he is a character in a comic book. There is something in Smith's performance of a child playing at being The Doctor, and as long as he plays seriously, the world goes along with his game. When the world refuses to play along it knocks all the wind out of him.

One thing that I really enjoy about this is that rather than being incredibly complicated (as many people describe it) actually it's very simple, and makes perfect sense as long as you let go of most of your usual expectations of what "sense" is.

All of this is tailored perfectly to Smiths enthusiasm, charm and energy. Capaldi, being a totally different actor, will not only give the character a different personality, but the series will become a completely different series, which I'm looking forward to in hopes that I enjoy it as much as I've enjoyed the last few, though in a different way.

After all, between the late sixties and the early eighties the series was a story of a strange little man who wandered into sieges all the time; a militaristic, earthbound, techno-thriller; high space opera; Hammer-style horror; comedy; something approaching actual science fiction and something approaching soap opera, with a few other genres thrown in for good measure. The important thing about the series is that every few years it's totally different, which ought to make its extremes rather easier to take.
posted by Grangousier at 12:59 PM on August 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


The model that Dr Who has increasingly adopted (and it's a development of the mantra "time can be rewritten", which first appeared towards the end of RTD/Tennant) is that moving through time is like visiting stories - the temporal landscape isn't quasi-physical but narrative.

Let's not forget how the Second Doctor visited The Land of Fiction in "The Mind Robber" (1968). There the biggest threat to the Doctor and his companions was that they'd literally be turned into stories by a hack writer. It's one of the strangest yet most self-aware adventures of the series, old and new. Since Moffat has gone on record declaring Troughton as his favorite, the influence this one in particular has had on his tenure as showrunner is pretty obvious.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:44 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's weird that Neil Gaiman's episodes didn't touch on that aspect more, since stories about stories are very nearly his whole thing.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:54 PM on August 6, 2013


Yes, though if The Doctor's strategy might be considered to be shaping the world through imaginative play, and Clara his playmate (more than Amy, who was stand-offish, and Rory, who was openly sceptical), it's interesting that it's in Gaiman's Cybermen episode that she most clearly demonstrates her own imaginative play abilities - taking on the role of the military leader - because this is something she does of her own initiative rather than as part of a double act: she's playing her own game, not just participating in his. Having this capacity is what qualifies her to enter the story-within-the-story of The Doctor's life story and save him.
posted by Grangousier at 2:14 PM on August 6, 2013


Incidentally, the last series - the set of twelve or thirteen episodes that began with Asylum of the Daleks - is much better second time around, or at least I found it to be so.
posted by Grangousier at 2:19 PM on August 6, 2013


Moreover (I'm watching The Name of the Doctor right now), he's a character who wants the story to go on forever - "he doesn't like endings". That he goes on to accept and facilitate the ending that's being referred to there suggests that he might be changing he position on that, albeit unwillingly.

Graves have already (in The Angels Take Manhattan) been established as immutable narrative points.
posted by Grangousier at 2:38 PM on August 6, 2013


Did Idris Elba turn down the role of the Doctor?

Duh. He had to leave his schedule open for the Pacific Rim sequel and to eventually become BOND JAMES BOND.
posted by Dr. Zira at 3:58 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like Grangousier, my appreciation of the last three seasons grew a lot by rewatching Series 7 and 5 after my first viewing of the recent season. We'll see if that holds true when I start rewatching Series 6 later this week. I can't find it right now but I think Moffat recently admitted that he got a bit too far into the weeds in Series 6 (and that was why Series 7 was more straightforward).
posted by plastic_animals at 4:00 PM on August 6, 2013


> On the subject of that which can’t be unseen, behold his turn in Ken Russell’s Lair of the White Worm.

Just once, I'd like to see The Doctor defeat an alien race by chasing them off with bagpipes.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 6:55 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


They'd have to be sonic bagpipes that did everything and anything as needed.
posted by juiceCake at 9:02 PM on August 6, 2013


.... Malcolm Tucker .... having tears in his eyes ....
Isn't that one of the signs of the apocalypse?
posted by MILNEWSca at 6:43 AM on August 7, 2013


Mentioned this scene in the other thread, but the scene in In the Loop where Malcolm gets slammed by Linton Barwick for being useless and all of a sudden his rage is completely impotent you can see the tears well up! And immediately every muscle and vein in his head and some I'm sure humans aren't even supposed to have works double-time to keep them in and turn pain into even more rage. For a minute there I really thought the rest of the movie was going to be the story of Malcolm's complete mental break and murder spree.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:09 AM on August 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Doktor Zed:
Let's not forget how the Second Doctor visited The Land of Fiction in "The Mind Robber" (1968).
My 50th anniversary super fanwank story: Things continue to get weirder. White robots begin showing up. He can't visit Jamie or Zoe at any point except after their death. The Doctor figures it out and in a tearful scene opens the TARDIS doors and uses his sonic screwdriver on something that explodes and he and the TARDIS disappear in a puff. Out of the smoke and fire you see the 2nd Doctor awaking while attached to a machine and saying, "Oh dear oh dear oh dear." Cliffhanger.

Next time we see the 2nd Doctor stumbling through the Land of Fiction to his TARDIS. He falls to the floor and regenerates into... Peter Capaldi! "So am I the third or the twelfth? Did any of that even happen?" He flees to earth.

Materialized in London, of course. Steps out of the TARDIS and is mobbed by fans. He is confused and then startled when Sylvester McCoy grabs him and pulls him along. "What do you think you're doing, Peter? If anyone known how hard it is to have Doctor Who cancelled from under them it's me, but you just can't go running about in costume before the show!"

The Doctor is led to a dressing room where all the remaining living actors who played the Doctor are suiting up for a live 50th anniversary show. He about flips. Peter Capaldi shows up and things get awkward. He takes them to the TARDIS to prove who he is at which point it is commandeered by the Time Lords who want to put the Doctor on trial for stealing the TARDIS and the Hand of Omega. They all go to Gallifrey where hi-jinks ensue.

Also, Patrick Troughton is the first, short lived Doctor in the TV series since that is where the projected, fictional stories about the Doctor begin. It is also why he increasingly becomes the most important person in the universe, because it DOES all revolve around him.

All I'd have to do is insert myself into the story somehow and it would become the ultimate fan wank.
posted by charred husk at 10:44 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


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