It really is a brilliant plot-device. The regenerations of Doctor Who mean that fans periodically get a whole new show, but with the familiarity of the Tardis and some characters. It is always an adjustment for the companion and for the Whovians. Peter Capaldi is no exception.
Clara Oswald, the Impossible Girl, struggles every bit as some of the Doctor Who fans to accept the newest regeneration as “the Doctor.” It happened with Rose, and it has happened with other companions throughout the years. Even though we know that that the actress who plays Clara, Jenna Coleman, will be with the show through the fall season, there is that element of uncertainty that she WON’T accept the new doctor as her doctor. Will we?
When he first appears on the scene in the season opener “Deep Breath”, there is a big dinosaur in the background that just threw up the Tardis. Old friends are standing near – Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax. But the Doctor is confused. Even quite daft. Clara is clearly having trouble adjusting. Indeed, there is little to indicate that the strange man on set is even the Doctor at all, except the fact that he just came out of the Tardis.
The story-line of the dinosaur in London, spontaneous combustion, and robot scavengers is largely secondary to the all-important journey to the acceptance of the older gentleman as the Doctor, both by Clara and by the audience.
Peter Capaldi is not what I expected, though I am not sure what I expected. He is certainly very different from the youthful old-soul of Matt Smith, the previous doctor. Throughout the episode, there are glimpses where one can see the passion of David Tenant, or the brooding melancholy of Christopher Eccleston, but Peter Capaldi is certainly his own distinctive incarnation of Doctor Who.
In every regeneration, the new incarnation of the Doctor has to figure out who he is and who he isn’t. This time, he has grey hair, and “independently cross” eyebrows, so big that they are a statement in and of themselves. It takes the character a bit to remember who he is at his core, and to decide what parts of the previous incarnations remain. Not the long scarf.
Even in the Doctor’s interactions with the villain, there is an underlying common bond, because the robot villain has replaced so much of himself that he isn’t even him anymore. There is a hunger in Capaldi’s voice to identify what it is about himself that make him who he is, to find the essence of who he is, even though literally every cell in his body is transformed.
Fans were delighted to see another glimpse of the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith. Because the Time Lord is a being who travels back and forth through the timey-wimey stuff of time and space, he can show up again. I must admit that I cried as #11 phoned Clara from the time before the regeneration, knowing that his end was near. Clara’s heart melts as she hears that familiar voice one more time, pleading with her to help the new Doctor, because he would need her. When the 12th Doctor comes out of the Tardis, and she realizes that he wasn’t eavesdropping, that he remembers the conversation that he had with her from his past as 11, it all clicks for her, and hopefully, for the fans. This IS the Doctor, very different, but the same.
Even the opening sequence is different, as previously reported by The Inquisitr. The Tardis is less the focus, and there are all of these gears and time-elements that take it to the next level.
It’s a emotional journey to acceptance of the new Doctor, and the next couple of episodes will hopefully cement that as we come to accept the new personality and face as “The Doctor” that we know and love. What do you think of the new Doctor? Are you there yet, or do you still need time to adjust? Are you excited about the new season? Let us know.