Confession #117: I Don't Want Him to Go

With less than two weeks left of Peter Capaldi's official tenure as the Doctor, I'm shifting gears into full-scale denial mode. I know the cyclical process of getting used to the idea of a new Doctor, learning to love them, and mourning their impending departure is as natural as the whole "circle of life," but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

I find my own reaction a bit odd, really. After all, I was as excited as anyone at the prospect of the Doctor's next regeneration presenting female when Jodie Whitaker's casting was announced. I'm still excited to see her in the role. But I think my apprehension about whether or not the writers will do her justice is adding to my already massive distress over losing an incarnation I love so dearly.

Change is hard, yo.

David Tennant's Doctor giving way to Matt Smith's was my first "real time" regeneration—the first I wasn't watching well after the fact, with an established Doctor waiting for me on the other side. Although I liked Eleven just fine (with the exception of his creepy obsession with his Companions' short skirts), he never resonated with me as deeply as certain other Regenerations. Thus, when it came time for him to relinquish the TARDIS key, I wasn't as distraught.

My appreciation of the overall show had matured during this period, too. Perhaps it's because I began to see the flaws in Ten's run as those in Eleven's leapt out at me that I was so very ready to embrace a return to a stiffer, grumpier version. (After all, Eccleston's Nine was my first Doctor—to my mind, the Doctor's supposed to be a bit prickly.) And so, although disliking the color of his kidneys concerned me, from the moment Twelve stepped onto the banks of the Thames and couldn't remember anyone's names, I was all in.

I know plenty of other fans have been disappointed in the Capaldi era. Especially early on, many folks were put off by the same crusty personality that so delighted me. If you've come to love a more cuddly, bumbly version of the Doctor, I can understand how an outwardly disagreeable one would be dismaying. Since this "hedgehog Doctor" (pointy on the outside to protect the soft underbelly) mellowed over time, I'd like to think that more fans came to appreciate him, but I also recognize that's not the only objection folks have had to the last few series.

While I haven't personally come across anyone who thinks Capaldi himself is to blame for whatever ills are perceived to have plagued his tenure, I've have seen lots of complaints about the writing. I won't deny there have been some stinkers (I'm looking at you, Kill the Moon and Sleep No More!), but for the most part, I haven't found nearly as much to hate as certain other fans have. My overall perception of the last three series is pretty rosy.

I suppose that's why I'm dragging my feet so thoroughly. While I'm always psyched for more new Doctor Who, the prospect of losing the incarnation who has become my de facto favorite Doctor in a matter of days is painful. And while I'm cautiously optimistic about the change not only in actor, but in showrunner for the upcoming years, I'm suffering some classic Fear of the Unknown. "Better the devil you know..." and all that.

Suffice to say that—as with any fan approaching the final moments with their favorite (or even a well-liked) Doctor, heading into an unknown future—I'm simply not ready for him to be done. To paraphrase a regrettable moment, I don't want him to go. But the one constant in Doctor Who and in life is change, and I'm doing my best to accept it with grace.

That's why I plan to milk the hopeful feeling of the next Doctor's untapped potential for all it's worth.







I thought that Twice provided a great perspective on the prickliness. Though by the end of the run, I think Capaldi lost a great deal of that prickliness. That evolution is probably worth its own discussion.

By Matt Cohen (not verified)
mrfranklin's picture

Yes, I'm pretty sure the mellowing was an intentional part of his arc. I understand Ol' Sixie was supposed to have that kind of arc, too, but got canned before it could progress noticeably.

For that matter, Nine was kind of prickly, too. That might have something to do with my fondness for Twelve, since Nine was my first. :)

By mrfranklin
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