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Posts Tagged ‘Peter Capaldi’

Twelve’s Night

August 28th, 2014 No comments

The arrival of a new Doctor Who is cause for both celebration and trepidation. As Peter Davison once said, “You quite never know what you’re going to get.” Some days you’re greeted with the charm of a Tom Baker or David Tennant, other times Colin Baker shows up at your door in a fucking clown suit.

Obviously, showrunner Steven Moffat was feeling trepidation about his new leading man, Peter Capaldi. And well he should, because for most of the nine years since Doctor Who returned to the air, the Doctor has been young and relatively handsome. His younger fans only know him as a manic, romantic figure. Along comes Capaldi, the second oldest actor to portray the Doctor, only months younger than William Hartnell was when he was cast in the part.

As someone whose first Doctor Who was Jon Pertwee, I’m perfectly okay with an aged, cranky Time Lord. Honestly, I’m slightly relieved. For as exciting as it was when Russell T. Davies suggested that there might indeed be “hanky-panky in the TARDIS,” it’s going to be nice to have a Doctor/companion relationship that isn’t centered around flirting.

So, how was Capaldi’s debut? Well, it wasn’t an out-of-the-park homer, more of a solid triple. (Hmm, must remember to substitute culturally-appropriate cricketing metaphor.) On the other hand, you can’t always go by initial impressions. The Eleventh Hour was a cracking good kickoff for Matt Smith, but look at how all that turned out.

Deep Breath was a low-stakes adventure, more of a “getting to know you” than a proper plot. Much of it centered around Clara’s difficulty accepting the Doctor’s changed face. (Which is odd, given that her status as “the Impossible Girl” has given her more insight into the Doctor’s many incarnations than any other companion.) By the time Matt Smith phoned up–a clever cameo recorded during last year’s Christmas special–to exhort her to give the new bloke a chance, it was hard to ignore the message aimed squarely at the audience. It’ll be okay. Mr. Bow Tie is gone, but Grandpa is nice too.

There’s one matter to discuss which is far too much of a spoiler to include without fair warning. Join me below for my thoughts about the mysterious “Missy.”

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The episode’s stinger was a short scene introducing a befrocked, umbrella-wielding woman named Missy. (You can see her at the far left in the above photo.) She referred to the Doctor as her “boyfriend,” and appeared to be the prime mover of recent events, down to giving Clara the TARDIS’ phone number back in The Bells of St. John.

My first thought was that Moffat was finally paying off the oft-repeated tabloid rumor that so-and-so would be playing the female renegade Time Lord known as the Rani. But in the post-show discussion that aired on BBC America, Chris Hardwick casually slipped in a theory that seems likely to be the correct one: Missy is the Doctor’s arch-foe, the Master.

It fits with recent rumors of the Master’s return. Moffat has denied the stories, but he’s got an obvious out here: he can always say “you didn’t ask me about the Mistress.” (“Missy” strikes me as exactly the sort of winking pseudonym in which the Master has frequently indulged.) It further establishes the idea of cross-gender regeneration hinted at in The Doctor’s Wife, and sets the table for a female 13th Doctor. Moffat toyed with this very thing in his charity skit The Curse of Fatal Death, in which the Doctor’s final regeneration was Joanna Lumley. (And it’s worth noting that it ended with the Doctor and Master pairing up.)

If so, this could go horribly wrong. I’m not eager for River Song Mk. 2. That said, I’m intrigued and very much hooked into the new season. As someone once said, it’s “change, my dear, and it seems not a moment too soon.”