The Whovian Physicians' Desk Reference: Part 1 | One of Us

The Whovian Physicians’ Desk Reference: Part 1

1 Submitted by on Thu, 30 January 2014, 10:01

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately for John, he finished this article right before the BBC released the first official photo of the new Doctor in his costume. Despite this, the speculation is worth comparing to the actual outcome. The second part of this article will address the new developments. 

If there is one thing Who fans love, it’s speculating about a new Doctor. Everything from his clothes, personality, to the new Doctor’s eating habits is mulled over a thousand times by fans trying to guess before it is revealed. One popular part of this speculation is wondering which previous Doctor(s) this new incarnation will be most like, so I thought it would be fun to throw in my opinions on how much (if any) Peter Capaldi’s Doctor will pull from each of the previous incarnations. Let’s go!

The First Doctor, played by William Hartnell

First_Doctor_colourCapaldi was born in 1958, which means he’s been on the Who wagon pretty much from day one (the show premiered in 1963) and that means his first Doctor was the First Doctor. Many people hold to the idea that your first incarnation of the Doctor is destined to become your favorite. While I don’t totally subscribe to that theory, I do believe that your first Doctor greatly colors how you think the role should be handled. The First Doctor was a bit of a cranky old man who didn’t suffer fools and left the fighting to others. Over time, we got to see the loving and dignified soul underneath all the grumpiness. Since this version of the Doctor is the start of a whole new cycle of regenerations, it might be fitting to go right back to the source and have Capaldi be a grouch with a heart of gold. Capaldi could easily pull off a First Doctor-esque costume and I would like to see Capaldi have a prop to work with (other than the Sonic Screwdriver) like the First Doctor’s cane or the Seventh’s umbrella. While I do think this new incarnation will indeed be crabbier than Matt Smith’s version (Capaldi is way too good at angry and frustrated for him not to be), I don’t think going full First Doctor would be in any way palatable to the modern audience. Modern Who also needs a man of action and that most decidedly isn’t the First Doctor’s style.  Capaldi might pull from Hartnell in terms of fashion and being a little short tempered, but that will be about it.

The Second Doctor, played by Patrick Troughton

2nd-doctorTo many (myself included), Doctor Who didn’t fully form into the show we know and love today until the Second Doctor came along. This incarnation was energetic, fun-loving, and enjoyed playing the clown to lull his enemies into a false sense of security. He was a bit of a fidget that always seemed to need something to do, often playing with hands, his recorder, or whatever else he could get his hands on to keep himself occupied. The Second Doctor is lovingly nicknamed “The Cosmic Hobo” due to his disheveled appearance. His clothes were a reflection of just how much more carefree the Second Doctor was in relation to the First, an outward reflection of his somewhat scatterbrained genius, and another tool he used to make himself appear non-threatening. All this except for the clothes sounds perfect for Capaldi, except that the previous Doctor, Matt already Smith pulled so much from Troughton. It is no secret that Tomb of the Cybermen was the story Smith watched when he said he had figured out how to play the Doctor, and while Smith’s Eleventh Doctor was his own man with his own ways, it is impossible not to notice the Troughton influence in Smith’s performance. That is why Capaldi will have to steer clear of doing the Second Doctor because Capaldi and Moffat will want this new Doctor to be different than the last so pulling from Second Doctor is pretty much out of the question.

The Third Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee

Third_doctorNow we come to the Doctor that I feel Capaldi will most pull from, the Third Doctor. Number Three here was the dashing man of action and no longer relied on his companions to provide the muscle. This was a Doctor that could kick your ass, but would much rather tinker with things and have a nice cup of tea. He wore fancy clothes because he could pull it off damnably well. He was the James Bond of the Doctor’s incarnations. He was upright, moralistic, and direct, but also was the most outwardly paternalistic of all the Doctors. He saw his companions as charges to be looked after and he got quite attached to them. This version was like if your dad was at least fifty times cooler (and my Dad is pretty cool to start with)  and wanted to take you on awesome adventures. This style of Doctor is perfect for Capaldi. Not only does he look damn good when dressed up, but this approach lets him play with the intensity he is known for while balancing it out with the softer paternal side. The paternal angle also works for how he should act around his current companion, Clara. Given the obvious age difference between Capaldi and Coleman, this path would avoid any possible negative reaction a more causal or even romantic  relationship might incur from the fandom and parents of the little kids watching the show. Time will tell if I’m right, but I do feel this approach would make a great fit.

The Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker

Stones of Blood Publicity 2The Fourth Doctor really was his own animal. He was a bit on the messy side like the Second Doctor, but unlike the former, it wasn’t any part of a put on, it was just who the Fourth Doctor was. This enigma of a man had a serious sweet tooth, a ridiculously oversized scarf, and a passion and hope to find something new and exciting around every corner. He was an egotist (to an even greater degree than his third incarnation), a contrarian, and free spirit. He was a man of extreme principle who had little reverence for position or titles. He judged all not by who they were, but by what they did. To him the most terrible things in the universe (after the Daleks of course) were anything tedious or boring. He was every bit the Bohemian. It is fitting that this version of the Doctor was the one that once dressed like Sherlock Holmes as he shared more than a few traits with the famous detective. The Fourth Doctor, my favorite Doctor by the way, was simply that, The Fourth Doctor. I don’t see Capaldi going for anything remotely Fourth Doctor-ish in terms of outfit, Baker’s look is still so iconic. What Capaldi may try and grab onto is this version’s mercurial nature. We can also expect a great deal to be done with the eyes as Capaldi has the most expressive eyes of any actor to take the role since Tom Baker and both actors are known to use them to great effect.

The Fifth Doctor, played by Peter Davison

fifth_doctorThe Fifth Doctor was a reaction to the previous four. Where all the former Doctors had appeared middle aged or in the First Doctor’s case, elderly, the Fifth Doctor was younger and more upbeat. it was a new era for Who and Peter Davison was leading the charge. This new Doctor loved the sport of cricket (his outfit, in fact, was that of Edwardian cricketer’s kit), wore a stick of celery, and was much more of a team player then any of the previous incarnations. This was a Doctor who used  the skills of those around him instead of trying to do everything himself. He was plain-spoken and earnest, and he believed in the best in people. He wasn’t the commanding presence taking the room with a thunderous voice when necessary as the last two Doctors had been. Instead, he was the calm voice of reason who tried to mediate everything if possible. When his words didn’t work, he backed them up with action. This was a Doctor ready and willing to put his life on the line to keep his word or achieve his goals. His run ended with him saving the life of his companion Peri, unsure if he was going to be able to regenerate or not. This Doctor was the first to really deal with loss, as the tragic death of his friend Adirc haunted him until the very end. I don’t see Capaldi taking that much from the Fifth Doctor in terms of clothes or personality. That fresh-faced, aw shucks attitude of the Fifth Doctor just doesn’t seem like something Capaldi could pull off in a convincing manner.

The Sixth Doctor, played by Colin Baker

sixth-doctorThe Sixth Doctor came into this world like a shot. The rough regeneration due to the poisoning of the Fifth Doctor left this Doctor initially in what seemed like a case of bipolar affective disorder. He was soon more stable, his only problem now was that he was an ass. Outspoken, bombastic, and with a ferocious wit used on friends and foes alike, the Sixth Doctor had little patience for anyone or anything he didn’t feel was worthy of his time, which was in fact, a great deal of the universe. His choice in clothes was a reflection of his splintered psyche and total lack of giving a crap what anybody thought about him. He, in fact, considered himself to be highly stylish.  His was a journey to regain humility and perspective, that core of goodness we all loved about the Doctor was still in there and it slowly began to show more and more as the Sixth Doctor went along. The Sixth Doctor was the victim of interesting ideas that were poorly executed. This was a Doctor that never had a chance to fully come into his own on screen, and in fact most of his fans point to the comics, novels, and of course the Big Finish audio dramas for proof of his greatness and not the show itself. These outlets were able to take the time and develop the character in ways the TV show was trying to do but for various reasons never got the chance. This was a man of great moral integrity and a fire burned in him against all the injustice in the world. He wasn’t abrasive because he didn’t care, he was abrasive because he cared possibly too much. Here was a man who knew how the universe should work and was constantly pissed that the people in it weren’t living up to their potential. Many think given Capaldi’s previous role as Malcolm Tucker that this is the path he will choose to take with the Doctor. However, it is for that very reason I suspect this won’t be the route Capaldi takes his Doctor. As much as many of us now love the Sixth Doctor, I don’t think that either Moffat or Capaldi are stupid enough to try and go down this road given how badly it could blow up in their faces. If Capaldi channels anything from number Six, let it be his quick wit and passion against injustice and leave the rest to Colin Baker.

So, what do you think of my thoughts so far? Do you think I’m on the right track so far  or way off base? Part two covering the other Doctors will be up soon!

Written by

Nine months before John was born his parents had sex. Born and raised in the cultural bubble that is the far Upper-Midwest, geek culture was John’s outlet to the outside world. John’s love of imagination and storytelling led him to passionately embrace the worlds of comics, TV, and film. It is a source of constant joy in John’s life that he wakes up every day with new avenues of geekdom to explore. In his brief stint on the planet, John has been everything from a dishwasher to a soldier serving a single tour in Iraq. John graduated from the University of North Dakota with a BA in English and currently resides in Grand Forks, ND, where he does stuff (and also things).
  • Bradly Martin

    Great Article! Can’t wait for part two! Thought Capaldi was amazing in “in The Loop” as well as the BBC show on which that movie is continued. My biggest hope is that we can get back to a more eccentric Doctor that doesn’t have every female he passes throwing them selves at him begging for his attention at every turn. It’s gotten old. I don’t hate Rose Tyler, or Martha Jones, or Amy Pond, Or Jenna Coleman (what was her characters name again?), Or Jack Harkness (please come back Jack Harkness) or every single side character that has attempted to seduce the doctor but its old now. Please more zany less horny!