The new Doctor Who season started Saturday and I just got around to watching the season opener. I think Peter Capaldi is going to make an excellent Doctor. I’m pretty pleased to see the show return to an older Doctor. Since it was restarted in 2005, the Doctors have been getting younger and younger, but anyone who watched the classic show knew that the Doctor has historically been a mature figure. The show even played around with this in the 50th anniversary episode with a previous version of the Doctor wondering if his later youthful incarnations was some sign of a mid-life crisis.
Still, an older Doctor, particularly one that looks to be a bit rougher and edgier that we’ve been used to, appears to have the producers a little worried. Anticipating the reaction of a major portion of the audience that probably never watched the classic series, they had Clara react against the new Doctor, wondering if he was the same man she knew before and why a regenerated Doctor would look so old. A good portion of this opening episode is her coming to terms with him, and the episode features a pretty disarming surprise at the end to help clinch their relationship.
To make our acclimation of the new Doctor a little easier, the episode, in addition to Clara, also features Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax, with plenty of Strax humor to lighten the dialog. Even the villain turns out to be related to one from a David Tennant episode several seasons ago.
As I noted above, Capaldi’s Doctor is a bit ruder and grumpier than the last couple of Doctors. In many ways, his performance reminds me of Tom Baker’s Doctor from the 1970s. There’s even an oblique reference to that version of the Doctor when the new one briefly considers wearing a scarf, then decides it would look ridiculous. Since his was the first one that I watched as a boy, Baker’s Doctor will always be my baseline for judging others, so I’m pretty happy with the new Doctor’s similarities.