New Doctor Who Off To A Mundane Start

new doctor and clara

Peter Capaldi made his debut as the new Doctor in “Deep Breath”, the season premiere of Doctor Who. Unlike the two other modern regenerations we’ve seen, this debut episode of a new Doctor had a very different tone.

To be blunt it was rather underwhelming.

This verdict doesn’t have anything to do with Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, it would be harsh to judge him solely based on this episode. On the other hand, when new actors took over the role of the famous Time Lord, they left very deep impressions. who horseCapaldi’s Doctor doesn’t have any particular quirks or kinks about him and that was a shame. Yes, in the new episode “Deep Breath” the Doctor was characteristically confused after his regeneration at the end of the special “The Time Of The Doctor”, but Capaldi seemed to be just going through the motions. It felt like when he was spouting off disjointed lines about not knowing his hands or talking to a dinosaur that he was just acting.

Even as he settled into the role later into the episode it was very clear that this Doctor would be more subdued and less flamboyant, eccentric or even energetic like the three previous actors to play the Doctor.

It’s a change of pace, but it may turn off some Doctor Who fans who were used to fast-talking and goofy Doctors, which were so endearing.

But Capaldi’s interpretation of the Doctor wasn’t what was offkey about the episode “Deep Breath”. Rather, it was the story itself.

As stated in the opening, this debut of a new Doctor was decidedly different. It was more low key and unfortunately mundane at times with its center being an uninteresting mystery taking place in Victorian-era London.

The episode starts with the Doctor’s Victorian compatriots the Paternoster Gang: the reptilian Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), her wife Jenny (Catrin Stewart) and the warrior Strax (Dan Starkey) witnessing a rampaging t-rex in downtown London. The dinosaur coughs up the Doctor’s space/time vessel the Tardis and that is how the Doctor and his Companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) first appear in the episode.

dinnerAn interesting start, but then “Deep Breath” dovetails when the new Doctor (the 12th? Wouldn’t he be the 13th if you count the War Doctor? Or is he a reset?) starts rambling about in a forced manner at his friends’ residence. Clara is trying to grapple with the fact that the Time Lord she knew and loved (Matt Smith) is now morphed into this noticeably older and confused man. Seeing the two of them together with the in-your-face age difference was jarring to watch and the dynamic between the two feels strained.

After a few uncomfortable scenes of that, the story shifts to this cyborg (Peter Ferdinando) going around abducting people to cannibalize them for parts. This part of the story was rather predictable and mundane. Even the listless fight sequences between the cyborg’s army and the Paternoster Gang wasn’t interesting to watch, nor was the confrontation between the Doctor and the cyborg.

new tardis

“Deep Breath” did come to life near the end of the episode when a certain character made a surprise appearance. As welcome as it was, the cameo served to remind Clara (and the viewers) to learn to accept the new Doctor and to support him. However, the problem wasn’t accepting the new actor, but that his character deserved a better episode to launch his stint. It’s way too early to write off this understated version of the Doctor and some clips from the upcoming Doctor Who previews look intriguing. It’s just lamentable that the new Doctor is off to an unremarkable start.

Annette DeForrester

An American Doctor Who

The first time the Eleventh Doctor wore a cowboy hat in the Doctor Who episode “The Impossible Astronaut”, an idea began percolating in many heads. That is what if the character were to be remade as being distinctly American? In other words, do a version of Doctor Who that predominantly takes place in the U.S. instead of London with an American cast–or at least actors playing Americans.

Many classic American TV shows were actually based on British ones like All In The Family and The Office, and Syfy is now airing an American version of the U.K. genre hit Being Human. So would an American Doctor Who work? Of course, the idea sounds blasphemous to many die-hard Who fans but it could be pulled off, and more importantly, would demonstrate the show’s universal concept and appeal.

An American Doctor

With that stated, what would an American Doctor Who be like? The concept would be basically the same; it would be about a slightly daffy humanoid alien who traverses time and space with Earthling Companions. It could have the same plot lines and background. The Doctor would still be near-immortal, lonely and slightly odd, only this time he would have an American accent. Plus he would also  have relationship issues with his female Companions. Yes, there would be episodes that take place in England and the rest of Europe but in the same ratio as current Doctor Who episodes take place across the pond. It really doesn’t matter where the show takes place since the Doctor travels anywhere in the universe.

Police boxes are very British so the Americanized TARDIS can’t be based on that. How about a vehicle? And try something outrageous like an RV. It would fit in with the eccentric nature of the Doctor and be a tip of the hat to the Back To The Future films. Needless to say, the RV would be bigger on the inside…

Bigger on the inside…

As for the Doctor himself, well this Americanized Time Lord would have the basic personality traits of the Doctors seen in the BBC version. But he would have an American twist. He would be adorned with clothing from various eras in U.S. history. Just look at the current Doctor in the episodes “The Impossible Astronaut” and “A Town Called Mercy” where the Doctor sports a cowboy hat. The American Doctor could wear a cowboy outfit throughout a season or two. Then when he would regenerate he could take on the personality of a surfer dude and run around with tropical shirts and a Panama hat. Throw in some cargo shorts for good measure. Have him take on the aspects of a biker with a heavy leather jacket. It would work, look at how cool the Ninth Doctor looked with his leather jacket and jeans during his brief run on the show. Or adorn the Doctor in a mishmash of styles that would be part hippie, part cowboy, part yuppie and part something else.

The would-be Doctor and his Companion.

There wouldn’t be a shortage of actors who could play the Time Lord. If Doctor Who made the transition into a full-length film then it’s easy to imagine Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, or Johnny Depp playing him. But for the small screen, the producers could offer the role to someone who can do drama and comedy. The show isn’t a straight comedy but the current show does have a humorous bent. For that reason, they can hire French Stewart to play the Doctor. Bryan Cranston is another good choice if they want to have the character seem a bit older, which would be more in spirit with the first few Doctors. Besides, having Cranston traveling in an RV would be nice nod to his show Breaking Bad. One advantage for producers with the Doctor being a metamorphic alien is that if an actor wants to leave the show, it would be simple storywise to replace him. Although it is easy to imagine that an actor would stay with the role much longer than in the U.K.

The Doctor and his buddy Companion drive off to new adventures.

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José Soto