SPOILERS! (Don’t worry, I talk about the previous Doctors for a bit before the new guy. Feel free to skip this post if you’re tired of the fandom!)
A couple of my friends have asked me what I thought of the new Doctor.
I liked him right away.
I’ll preface by saying this–I started out with the 9th. I had a little trouble transitioning to the 10th because I felt the character could be explored more. He was emotional, tough, unreasonable, hopeful, and realistic. He wasn’t afraid to say hurtful things, but you could see his pain when he did. Looking back, he was comfortable with who he was post-regeneration before he even knew what he looked like.
The 10th grew on me really quickly. He presented the previous Doctor’s quirks in a completely different light. He was a defender and was able to define who he was very quickly after his regeneration. He was very emotive, compassionate, and knew what he believed. He also had great companions.
I had more trouble transitioning to the 11th. Probably partly due to the 10th’s heartbreaking line. He was endearing and much more child-like, but I didn’t much care for the company he kept. I never particularly liked Amy. I felt like she never truly respected Rory and it felt out of her character when she followed him via Weeping Angel. Regardless of how she felt about him, she treated him like crap. I also felt like this Doctor’s rules and values were murky. Like, if he were filling out a survey, he would keep to the middle unless it were something like, “Killing people is bad,” “Strongly agree.” He was charming, he did care, he was expressive, and definitely corny. I really wanted him to be a favorite, but it just didn’t strike a chord with me like the previous two. I’m trying to put a finger on why, but it’s just not quite there.
(I feel like a shout-out to the War Doctor is in order. I don’t think John Hurt could play a role poorly.)
STOP READING HERE IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE NEW SERIES!
And now the 12th Doctor. I’ve heard mixed feelings about him. That was to be expected. There is always a disconnect when people are trying to accept the new face and attitude. Personally, I liked him from the start. He’s worried about different things now, his perspective has changed (kidneys vs ginger). He also got very little in the way of a regeneration nap. 10 got most of an episode of a nap and 11 had his 5 minute “re-calibration” turn into 12 years. After a regeneration, the Doctor is always confused, out of sorts, and the TARDIS is probably crashing.
This Doctor has just gotten through re-fighting a war through 11 lifetimes (which he tried to repress), he just came out of a huge paradoxical scenario where he directly interacted with two of his other selves, his body was forced to push beyond its natural limits (regenerations), and everyone sounds wrong. These things could very well warp a man who just woke up in a body that appears/feels decades/centuries older than it did five minutes ago. He is also trying to distinguish himself from his previous incarnations with very little information. This is a Doctor who would have every reason to be suffering from PTSD considering the trauma he just experienced.
12 delivers clever, witty lines very well. I enjoy his banter with Clara. I know several people are bothered by it. Mainly by his jibes at Clara’s appearance. The first time I read, “I hate how the Doctor insults her all the time,” I had to stop and try to figure out what they were talking about. Clara is very rarely phased by any of these comments. I wrote it off as the two being very close friends. I can joke with my friend about her “mustache,” and she can laugh about my chest being described as, “wide and shallow,” by the lady fitting me. There are only two differences between my experience and theirs, the Doctor is older and a man. I interpreted the jibes from the Doctor as jokes to a close friend rather than a legitimate statement about her looks. Whether that’s more revealing about me or the writers is your call.
I find the crotchety, crabby new Doctor to be refreshing. Nine episodes in and he’s still figuring out who he is. This is taking longer than the previous regenerations. His past selves have embraced the new-them. 12 is terrified of what he may have turned into. Rather than pushing people away, he’s asking for their help.
The other difference I’ve noticed is the Doctor/Companion relationship. Clara is able to manage a life without the Doctor. She didn’t sink into depression waiting for the day he came back. She found herself a boyfriend, a job, and made sure she was back from her adventures in time to keep up with her responsibilities. When her adventures come to an end, I have no doubt she’ll be able to find meaning in her life. The Doctor has also displayed that he is equally capable of having his own life and adventures without her. This may be the healthiest Doctor/Companion relationship I’ve seen since 10/Donna.
I like cranky 12. I like that he doesn’t have all the answers and constantly questions his own motives. I like his snarky quips. I’m also intrigued by the afterlife story arch, but it hasn’t progressed enough for me to form an opinion. Say what you will about the story-writing or biases or whatever else, I have confidence Capaldi will maintain a very interesting Doctor.