One of the brilliant concepts built into Doctor Who is the idea of regeneration. When a Time Lord is mortally wounded or exposed to lethal levels of radiation or what have you, they have a final, powerful mechanism for survival. Their body literally rebuilds itself, taking on a new appearance and stature. This also has the side effect of scrambling their memories and personality, at least temporarily. Eventually, a Time Lord returns to their base nature, though somewhat changed due to the experiences of their previous form.
So it is with the Time Lord known as the Doctor. He has existed in 13 different incarnations, from the old and crotchety (his First, when we finally see it) to the young and optimistic (the Fifth). His personality, while it has varied, always skews towards a curious and scientific brilliance, a love for exploration and investigation, an aversion to unnecessary violence, and a deep sense of compassion. Some Doctors do not quite get into sync right away (see the Sixth Doctor… if you dare), and others are saddled with a few too many companions to the point that the drama and antics within the TARDIS can overshadow what is happening outside of it (the Fifth again, as well as the Eleventh).
Which brings us to the Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi.
We’re only a few episodes into Capaldi’s run, but he is already winning hearts and minds, including mine. His appearance and bearing are reminiscent of the Third Doctor, whose tenure featured plenty of acerbic humor and some crackling action. He speaks with a Scottish accent and has a penchant for manipulation and the occasional mind-game, which reminds me happily of the Seventh Doctor. The interior of his TARDIS is lined with bookshelves and feels very utilitarian, while the chalkboards upon which he writes reveal a mind dominated by analysis and procedure as much as his trademark curiosity. He feels like a very intellectual creature, very much mind over matter, and this is also shown in his awkwardness towards physical contact.
To me, the Twelfth Doctor is a breath of fresh air. After two incarnations who were just as physically attractive as they were smart, to the point that their eligibility with and attraction towards their Companions became major plot points, a Doctor focused on the adventure at hand and the puzzles requiring the intellect of a Time Lord to solve is quite welcome. It may be off-putting to those who have only hopped into the TARDIS in recent years, but I would recommend that put-off fans (a) get caught up with the adventures of older Doctors (the Fourth, Fifth, and Seventh in particular), and (b) give Peter Capaldi a chance. He is doing a fantastic job so far, his Companion is doing extremely well and reminding me of the days of Sarah Jane Smith (I’ll do a post on favorite Companions at some point), and the adventures both hearken to earlier days and promise great mysteries and revelations ahead. I’m definitely excited for the new and upcoming seasons of Doctor Who.
Feel free to leave your comments and thoughts on the Twelfth Doctor, whatever they might be!