Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks

The "Adult" Doctor

So a lot has been written about Doctor Who as the show embarks on a new season with a new Doctor, the excellent Peter Capaldi. Personally I have enjoyed the first two episodes and really think Capaldi has done a wonderful job so far. And for the most part people seem to agree, at least about Capaldi. But one thing that has bothered me about the praise is the citing of some kind of mystical "adultness" that the show now exudes with the older Capaldi in charge as opposed to younger actors David Tennant and Matt Smith. This strikes me as a disservice to all three actors and any fan of the show.


First off, it's just not true. Look at the character arc of the 10th Doctor for example. You start out with a man full of hope and love, and then you see it stripped slowly away from him, beginning almost immediately, when Harriet Jones commits an act of genocide right in front of the Doctor. From there he loses the woman he loves, hurts one of his dearest friends and inadvertently gets her family enslaved, finds another Time Lord and a daughter only to have both die in his arms, and then he has to violate the mind of his best friend to save her life. This leaves him alone, angry, bitter, and leads to him breaking the laws of time and forcing a woman to commit suicide to clean up his mess.

And when faced with the end of his existence, he rages against an unfair universe that has taken everything away from him and given him nothing in return.

Fantastical? Certainly, but I fail to see how Ten's journey is somehow kiddie fare that make Twelve's adventures a breath of adult approved fresh air. Ten, despite being hit with crapstorm after crapstorm, put on a smile and kept moving forward, all the way to the end. What's more adult than that?


Does it have something to do with audience? It has long been accepted that David Tennant's run lead to the apparently unfortunate side effect of teen girls flocking to the show, something TRUE WHOVIANS could not stand. The casting of Peter Capaldi led to an explosion of maniacal glee that with Capaldi helming the TARDIS those unwanted girls would vanish, allowing Who to mature and leave to show to real fans.

This is a bunch of grade A horseshit of course, but focusing on the supposed adultness and darkness that Capaldi brings to the role provides people that feel this way with a coded(and in some cases not so coded) way of expressing their joy at what they view as their fandom being cleansed of unwanted elements. It's a despicable use of a quality actor to further a regressive, reactionary agenda that defines maturity and respectability as looking one way, sounding one way.


Saying Capaldi has some kind of intangible power that somehow makes the show more mature is further insult to the actor. Capaldi's Doctor is good because Capaldi himself is a talented professional who knows what he's doing and what he wants to communicate with the character. Stating otherwise reduces Capaldi to a blunt instrument to beat people over the head with without expressing the ugly ideas you really want to say. It helps create an environment that allows one group of fans to define what the fandom should look like, using the show and its lead actor as unwilling accomplices.

I'm certainly not saying that you cannot like a certain Doctor. What I'm against is crafting some BS that states that Capaldi has some inherent quality that improves the show by driving out those viewed as unwelcome. It's an insult to the fans, the actors, and what the show itself attempts to stand for. Enjoy Capaldi's run on the show for whatever you are looking for in the show, but not because it allows you a chance to lash out at people you don't believe are true fans.

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