I have to tip my hat to Steven Moffat. I'll be honest and say right now that I seldom enjoyed Dr Who early on in its Russell T Davies reboot. I found the stories too short-sighted. How many times can you wipe out ALL the Darleks? And why is that a good idea on any level? It's like killing all the Klingons or Mysterons; you know you'll have to find a way to bring them back cause you need them! Then there was the way David Tennant would cockily waddle into a room full of bad guys and have a cheeky chappy showdown, thus completely destroying the viewers' sense of danger or fear of said bad guys.
Steven Moffat created episodes that didn't rely on saving not only earth but the entire universe or the total existence of everything in any time or dimension. There was no towing earth back into place with the TARDIS. He took the series from the ridiculous to the sublime. Episodes like Blink and Silence in the Library showed what Who could be with a bit more thought and a little less brashness.
When he took over as lead writer for Matt Smith's debut season I was thrilled. He didn't disappoint. That season (Season 5) was superb. Amy Pond was a brilliant character and her coming into Who at the same point as the new Doctor let them build a great on-screen relationship. Episodes like Vincent and the Doctor live long in the memory. My only criticism of Moffat's tenure would be the unnecessary sexuality at certain moments, Amy Pond actually trying to seduce the Doctor on her bed at one point. Not needed, not wanted.
Moffat has always shown a love for storytelling. He was at great pains to tell viewers not to spoil the ending to a series when it was leaked via a premature release of the US Blurays. He wants people to enjoy the stories, not have them spoiled. He has shown the same attitude with Sherlock, teasing audiences with nonsensical clues as to how the sleuth cheated death in The Reichenbach Fall, whetting appetite for the reveal in the coming months.
His sense of showmanship was again evident when we got a grand live reveal of the new Doctor. Sadly, the correct name had somehow managed to get to top of the bookmakers' odds but it didn't take much away from a great little piece of tele.
A Good Choice?
As an actor, I think so. He has tremendous screen presence and his age affords him authority that could bring something new to the Doctor going forward. My only concern with Capaldi is the shadow of his past work. Dr Who is primarily a family show, watched and loved by millions of kids. I'm not sure it was wise to choose an actor whose most famous role was one of the most foul-mouthed, loathsome characters in recent television history. The montages of Malcolm Tucker language over Dr Who imagery were inevitable and arrived promptly. Does it matter? In this day and age probably not, but I'd like to think family entertainment was still worthy of keeping whiter than white, naïve as that makes me.
I will stick my neck out and say that I'm glad they didn't give the role to a woman or a black actor, as was rumoured. For me, the Doctor is a white male. I wouldn't have any strong objections to a black actor in principle as let's face it, the whole regeneration thing makes little sense anyway so changing race wouldn't be outrageous, but I'd have worried that had they chosen to do so at this moment they might have been bowing to the absurd criticism recently levelled at the programme that it is 'thunderously racist.' Moffat made it clear he would happily give the role to anyone that he thought was right, regardless of skin colour or gender. I believe him. Personally, though, I feel changing the Doctor's gender would be too much. All characters have characteristics, gender is pretty fundamental. You wouldn't change James Bond's gender and expect the franchise to carry on remotely as it had before whilst skin colour really wouldn't matter.
I'm fascinated to see where it goes from here. I hope it gets a bit grittier and less twee but I'd imagine it will carry on more or less as it has, albeit with the Clara romance a little scuppered perhaps?
…but I digress.
cover image: By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (Steven Moffat Uploaded by Dudek1337) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons