I like it.
I like it a lot. In fact, I am overjoyed that Executive Producer Steven Moffat went with an older Doctor. I definitely appreciate a Time Lord with more gravitas. Not that Matt Smith was lacking at all — no one has ever played an old soul in a young body better than Matt — but going with a young actor again would have been a mistake, because continuing that trend would have brought the show dangerously close to a situation where saving the universe might conflict with the Doctor’s bedtime!
My own dream casting would have been Bill Nighy. Even though he was offered the part before and passed, I was secretly hoping he would change his mind. To me, he would have made a Doctor who was a blend of loveable and irascible!
Nevertheless, Capaldi is a wonderful acting talent, so his casting was, in some sense, a no-brainer, but it was also a brave decision — choosing an older leading man when conventional wisdom would suggest skewing younger. But Moffat has been doing DOCTOR WHO his way for his entire tenure, so why stop when he had a chance to cast another Doctor?
It would appear there never really were any other candidates, which is quite a switch from years past. And there never was — nor will there ever be — a possibility of a woman being cast, so it was probably a bit cruel for the DOCTOR WHO production team to play along with that old John Nathan-Turner publicity stunt. (People were really taking a gender switch seriously this time.)
Some have suggested that casting an older gentleman means a younger male companion will have to be added to handle the action material, as in the days of William Hartnell’s First Doctor. Well, Capaldi is 55 years old — in a nice bit of symmetry, the exact same age as Hartnell when he was cast — and just because the 12th Doctor will be older than the 11th doesn’t mean he’ll need to be fitted for an anti-grav wheelchair. Capaldi’s Doctor could very well be a throwback to Jon Pertwee’s spry Third Doctor. Despite Pertwee being in his early 50s, his Doctor was never shy about literally leaping into action and was arguably the most physical Time Lord of them all. Venusian Aikido, anyone?
Capaldi is Scottish — following in the footsteps of previous Scotsmen Sylvester McCoy (Seventh Doctor) and David Tennant (the 10th) — so I wonder: After taking flack for letting Christopher Eccleston‘s Ninth Doctor speak with an obvious Northern accent, will the show let Capaldi “sound” Scottish? As an American, I was frequently left behind by Tennant’s lightning-fast delivery, and I’ll admit that I liked Eccleston’s accent because it was quite different. I’ll probably regret it if Capaldi cuts loose in his native tongue… I might need subtitles!
Beyond just the new Doctor, this should be a rebirth for the show itself as it embarks upon its next 50 years. I am a solid Moffat partisan, and I’m hoping he will be energized by the challenge of taking the show in a new direction. He must have a plan in mind if he made this particular casting choice. Moffat has said the arc for series eight is all mapped out. I’m ready for the show to shed River Song and move on to a new phase and build a new mythology.