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article imageReview: Capaldi as Doctor Who- Excellent first show

By Paul Wallis     Aug 24, 2014 in Entertainment
London - Given the almost impossible task of taking over from the truly brilliant, irritatingly likeable Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi certainly gave a Herculean effort. That was no script for beginners they gave him, either.
The show received critical acclaim and a very mixed bag from fans, only to be expected with the strongly loyal, partisan Doctor Who audience.
The show received a mixed reception on Twitter, with some viewers deeming 56-year-old Capaldi "brilliant" and "amazing", while others describing the episode as "middle of the road" and "gimmicky".
"More depth and much better with an older actor. It's 1973 all over again and that's no bad thing," tweeted one fan.
"Overall I think Capaldi is going to be good, but the episode wasn't great. Pretty much what I have come to expect from Moffat," tweeted another, who landed the blame squarely with Doctor Who show-runner and Sherlock writer Steven Moffat, who penned the episode.
Naturally, the fans didn’t agree with each other, either. Others loved the storyline, and one was barracking for the Daleks to come and do something about it all.
As a matter of fact, Capaldi and the wonderfully Impossible Jenna Coleman did a style of Doctor Who show which many will recognize on sight. This was a 2014 version of a Pertwee/Tom Baker type plot, faithful to the intrigue, bizarre and unexpected. Bearing in mind this isn’t the old 70s multi-show format, they packed in a lot, including some commendably quirky plot lines, one of which is apparently likely to continue.
It starts with a conflict of interest between a Tyrannosaurus and the TARDIS, and then gets complicated. That’s about all you need to know about the show before watching.
This Doctor and Clara, however, have different chemistry. This is awkward, given the fantastic chemistry and inspired performances by Smith and Coleman, and the inspired, fabulous scripts of the Smith incarnation. “Pond” and Clara were major assets for that Doctor.
Given the sad news of Coleman’s impending departure, (If you’re not in love with Clara, you may be dead or simply a horrible person, check immediately) finding a proper foil for Capaldi may be a bit… tense. Capaldi is a complex Doctor, but in a surprisingly honest way.
He’s “older”, but doesn’t act older. Quite the opposite, he’s an active Doctor, unexpectedly so. I think he could do a Pertwee Doctor/Jo Grant/Sarah Jane Smith type of combination quite easily.
In fact, the Doctor seems to have been going around with much younger women for quite a while, at least 50 years, so it wouldn’t even be out of character in theory. However, following companions isn’t all that easy either, so he needs a strong, interesting, companion at the very least.
One thing that must be said about Capaldi is that he wasn’t given an easy minute with that script. He was thrown in to a truly demanding performance. That was a real character workout, and he definitely passed the physical.
This was an irrational Doctor, a vulnerable Doctor, and a sensitive Doctor. The Doctor at a series of disadvantages, in fact. All good Doctors hate being at a disadvantage, particularly when trying to manage a relationship with a companion, let alone an Impossible companion who’s been saving his life a lot.
There is a tradition about Doctors who follow great Doctors- They try to excel, and more often than not, they do. God knows Troughton, Pertwee and Tom Baker had to survive merciless comparisons with their predecessors, and did. I’d say Capaldi will do justice to Eccleston, Tennant and Smith’s achievements.
Anyway, give the man credit — He can hold a meaningful dialogue with a Tyrannosaurus.
More about Doctor Who, Jenna Coleman, Peter capaldi, Premiere season 9 Doctor Who 2014
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