Skip to content

The Whovian Physicians’ Desk Reference: Part 2

Welcome back to part two of my big retrospective on the various incarnations of the Doctor and what traits and/or ticks from these versions Peter Capaldi might integrate into his portrayal of the famous Time Lord. I kind of got hosed by the BBC as I finished part one (which you can go and read here) the day before they went ahead and released the pictures of Capaldi in his new duds for the show making all my clever (and fairly accurate) speculation moot. Thanks a lot, guys!

With this in mind, I will still be mentioning the clothing choices of each Doctor as I do think they say something about the character, but it will be more brief and general. Also, I will be commenting on the new Doctor’s outfit and give a final rundown on how I think he is going to play the Doctor given the limited information available. So without further ado, let’s get crackin’!

The Seventh Doctor, played by Sylvester  McCoy

Seventh_doctorThe Seventh Doctor couldn’t have entered the world under less dramatic circumstances. The rogue Time Lord the Rani shot the TARDIS while in flight causing the Sixth Doctor to bust his head on the console, triggering a regeneration. The Seventh Doctor came out a bit of a mess and was so out of it he couldn’t tell the difference between his companion Mel and the Rani unconvincingly dressed up like Mel. He seemed like a clown who fell down a lot and had an affinity for playing the spoons. Soon however, the clown was revealed to be a front for a much darker and calculating persona, a chess master playing deadly games with the dark forces of the universe to try and keep them at bay. While previous incarnations had for the most part been content to roam the universe stopping evil when they came across it, the Seventh Doctor was proactive. He actively sought out the monsters to beat them back into the dark holes they spawned from. He kept secrets from everybody, even his closest allies, and sometimes his plans didn’t work quite right and people got hurt.  He was still honorable and noble to the very core, but his methods did rub people the wrong way. It was strongly suggested in one of his stories that this version of the Doctor would go back in time and become the Merlin of Arthurian legend, and perhaps that is the best way to think of the Seventh Doctor, as a magician.

While other Doctors had been content to meddle from the sidelines (especially the Second Doctor), the Seventh Doctor walked straight up to the bad guys faces’ smiling and stated he was going to trick them and dared his opponents to stop him, letting their ego and pride speed them along to their defeat. The interesting thing about the Seventh Doctor’s clothes is not so much the clothes themselves, but the actor who wore them. Sylvester McCoy could go from Chaplin-esque  scamp to to the center of power and authority in a millisecond in those clothes using only body language and tone of voice, and of course the umbrella was an invaluable prop for both sides of the coin.  Capaldi could really use some of the Seventh Doctor’s showmanship for his Doctor. People have already compared this new Doctor’s outfit to that of a magician’s, so why not embrace the idea and ask the forces of darkness if they want to play a game?

The Eighth Doctor, played by Paul McGann

43178Now we come to the tragedy that is the era of the Eighth Doctor. This Doctor that had entered the world with so much hope and enthusiasm, only to be worn down by misfortune and manipulation. Due to horrors of the Time War, he was forced to face the day when being the Doctor just wasn’t enough anymore, and decided to go to war. With barely any screen time under his belt, this is another Doctor who had to thrive in other forms of media such as books, comics, and the audio works of Big Finish. The Eighth Doctor was a romantic explorer at heart, he wasn’t interested in playing the hero, although he was one whenever there was call for it. For him, the biggest joy was what was on the other side of the hill. While the Time Lords had forced previous Doctors to do their bidding, which had left a sour taste in all of their mouths, the Eighth Doctor was perhaps the angriest of them all about it. His freedom was the wind, yet everybody sought to deny him it. A good deal of the Eighth Doctor’s companions died along the way, making him all the more reclusive and bitter. Finally the Time War erupted, and although the Eighth Doctor did not fight, he saw his ability to doing anything of value stripped away in a universe on the very brink of disaster. With nothing left but going to war or death, the Doctor chose war not because he feared death, but that he feared for the lives of everyone else. He was a good man who always hoped for better days, but rarely ever found them.

While most mistake his duds as either Victorian or trying to look like Lord Byron, they are in fact originally part of a Wild Bill Hickok Halloween costume. Be it Wild Bill or Byron, both men liked to live by their own rules on the fringes of society as the Eighth Doctor tried to do. Late in his life the Eighth Doctor would cut his hair and take a more pragmatic style of clothing including a WWI leather jacket. The leather jacket would be a motif that his next two incarnations would follow in as well. Towards his last days however, the Eighth Doctor chose to wear a modified and rather disheveled  version of his Wild Bill outfit, perhaps in a fleeting attempt to try and relive his better days. Capaldi will not being pulling anything from the Eighth Doctor. Moffat invested a great deal to get past the Time War and the scars it had on the Doctor and move towards something new and more positive. Taking from one of the most abused Doctors of all time in any significant way would ultimately be a step backwards, so it isn’t going to happen.

The War Doctor, played by John Hurt

War_DoctorHere is the Doctor that the Doctor wishes time forgot, the man who went to war. This is the incarnation of the Time Lord we know the least about, and as such, anything anybody has to say about is for the most part sheer speculation. This version didn’t call himself the Doctor, though it does appear that others still often referred to him as such. He most likely just didn’t reply or said something to the effect of “I’m a Time Lord” or “I’m nobody” when anyone asked him who he was. His clothes were for the most part practical and built to last and resembled the Eighth Doctor’s alternate get up. Perhaps the War Doctor trying to keep one small ember of the man he was alive.  It seems he was a one man army, not for the Time Lords or against the Daleks, but against the madness of the war itself.

It is telling that this incarnation did not start out looking like the old man we were first introduced to in the TV series.When he first regenerated he was young looking and then was wore down to the state we first met him in by the Time War, which gives us some indication of just how long he had been fighting. Finally when he learned that the high council of Gallifrey was going to escape the Time War by destroying the universe and having the Time Lords become beings of pure consciousness, the War Doctor had to face the sad realization that no matter which side won, the universe was still going to burn. Seizing a doomsday device known as The Moment, a thing that even the Time Lords were afraid to use, the Doctor set out to do the unthinkable and wipe both the Daleks and Time Lords from existence. Whether or not the War Doctor ever used the devise remains a subject of debate:  some claim that he did but thanks to the power of The Moment, time was rewritten and with the aid of all his incarnations he found a way to zip Gallifrey away to an alternate dimension; others claim that he never did but unfortunately his mind was wiped of the knowledge so he was left thinking he had. Which ever way you choose to look at it, the Doctor was going to believe that he did destroy Gallifrey, a burden he would carry around for the next 400 years, a toll that spanned the following three incarnations of his life. The war over, the tired old soldier retreated to his TARDIS and found that he was starting to regenerate, his task was done and the Doctor would soon be on a journey to find himself again.

Capaldi won’t be taking anything of John Hurt for the role as there is so little to go on. No, what Moffat and Capaldi will work with is what the War Doctor allows them to do. the next three incarnations of the Doctor were all running away from the the events of the Time War, each regeneration appearing physically younger than the last as the Doctor sought to bury the war in his mind and attempt to recapture his glory days. The Doctor making peace with who he had to be during the war allowed him to make peace with his age as well, perhaps this in part is the reason the Twelfth Doctor has the appearance of an older man. The War Doctor allows Capaldi and Moffat to blaze their own path going forward into a new era. While this Doctor may never have thought he was worthy of the name during this time, I do, and I never will think of him as anything less.

The Ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston

Ecclestonwho2The Ninth Doctor came into being right after the end of the Time War, the mental and emotional scars of which showed very near the surface. The most plain dressed of all his incarnations, not needing or wanting to dress up or stand out. With his planet gone and thinking himself the last of his kind, the Doctor retreated to the only other place in the universe that had ever felt like home, Earth. Earth had not felt the ravages of the Time War, probably due to efforts of the Doctor, so it was the perfect place to go to to try and find himself. He started calling himself the Doctor again, distancing himself from who he was during the war and re-dedicating himself to his principles, as his principles were really all he had left.

This Doctor had a fiery rage boiling in his gut and a serious case of self-loathing, neither of which took much provocation to come out.  He never stayed for parties or celebrations, in part because that wasn’t what he was there for, but also because those things lead to attachments and roots, things the Doctor didn’t want for fear of losing it all again. He was a loving man, but his judgements were cold and harsh.  He was hypercritical of humanity, calling us names “stupid apes” when he saw us act small or petty, perhaps making him wonder what he fought so hard to try and save in the war was worth it. He was also a big proponent of bananas, for whatever reason. Number Nine’s journey was one of healing. He wasn’t done by the time he had to go, but he had managed to make the first few steps. Capaldi’s Doctor is going to have a good deal in common with the Ninth. The Ninth Doctor’s direct nature is perfect for Capaldi. Other Doctors had a habit of making speeches and grandstanding, while the Ninth Doctor instead would walk up and yell in your face, which is perfect for Capaldi.

The Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant

Doctor-Who-TennantThe Tenth Doctor was kind of like a greatest hits album of Doctor Who. David Tennant is a life-long Who fan and his Doctor had traits from every version from his early childhood on up. He annoyed and distracted his foes with odd conversational segues, pretending not to pay attention to them and had a touch of the melancholy like the Fourth, worked well in groups, was springy, youthful, vibrant and occasionally wore glasses, like the Fifth, was flashy, vain, and a showboat like the Sixth, secretive like the Seventh, had semi-romantic relationships with his companions like the Eighth, and had all rage, pathos, and the lack of the desire to stay for celebrations of the Ninth. The Tenth Doctor always tried to give the baddies a pass, often offering to help them in some peaceful way, but when pushed, he brought the thunder. The Daleks started calling the Doctor “The Oncoming Storm” during the Time War and that name may best fit the Tenth, given all the fire and destruction he was willing to bring down on his foes.

Due to luck and a great deal of circumstance, this Doctor was able to use a regeneration only to heal himself instead of fully change, however after cheating “death,” the Tenth Doctor became more and more obsessed with his mortality. This initially confused audiences, as we didn’t know about the War Doctor or that his sort-of regeneration counted towards his total regeneration (Time Lords can regenerate twelve times), but this preoccupation makes more sense now that we know that he only had the one regeneration left. Tired of losing people and in a fit a rage, the Tenth Doctor broke the Laws of Time and started to go a little power mad until the person he had fought so hard to save sacrificed themselves to preserve the timeline and show the Doctor his folly. His clothes, while still slightly offbeat, were for once in fact, very stylish, he was cool as hell and he wanted everyone to know it. The Tenth Doctor was seen as a bit of a heartthrob, a direction that Capaldi has expressed no interest in following so I don’t think we will be seeing much of Ten in this new Doctor.

The Eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith

eleventh-doctorThe Eleventh Doctor was an old soul in a young man’s body. Like many people facing their twilight years, the Eleventh Doctor chose to focus on the parts of his life he liked and forget about all the bad. Out essentially for one last hurrah before the inevitable, this Doctor was out to live life to the fullest.  He didn’t tell anyone that he had used up all his regenerations because he didn’t want to worry anyone or be the subject of anyone’s pity.More than perhaps any other incarnation, this Doctor enjoyed playing the hero. He loved the admiration of children. He was like if your loving old grandpa had been given all his youth and energy back. What brought the Eleventh joy was seeing the wonder of surprise and discovery in the eyes of those he surrounded himself with. He was so uncool that he actually managed to loop around to being cool again. His desire to keep those he cared about around, the Eleventh Doctor opted to be more accommodating in his travel arrangements. He gave his companions free reign to go about their lives with the understanding they could come and go as they please. The Doctor just didn’t want to be alone. Finally, after centuries of denying himself, he once again found himself a family in his companions Rory and Amy, which is why he fell into such a funk when he lost the ability to ever see them again.

Retreating to Victorian London, the Doctor had decided that he was just going to sulk and wait for death. Eventually driven out of his depression, the Eleventh Doctor spent his final days finding a sense of peace within himself for his actions during the Time War and defending the people of Trenselor and Gallifrey from all the forces of the universe who would destroy them.  Ready to die, and maybe even happy about it, the Doctor was given another regeneration cycle by the Time Lords. so that he could continue to fight, and one day lead them home. As I said before, Matt Smith was inspired by Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor, adopting traits from Troughton and blending them with his own to create his own unique take on the Time Lord. As such Capaldi, needing to set the tone  for a new era as well as a new Doctor can’t dip into either well for inspiration for fear of being accused of just copying Matt.

And now, ladies and gents, I introduce to you:

The Twelfth Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi

TwelthdoctorHere he is folks, and he looks like a bad-ass! The new outfit feels like a blend of the First and Third Doctors, both of which I said would be a good fit for Capaldi.

“He’s woven the future from the cloth of the past. Simple, stark, and back to basics. No frills, no scarf, no messing, just 100 per cent Rebel Time Lord.” –Peter Capaldi

I’m very happy with the coat, but I do think it would work better all the way open. The lack of any neck adornment is an interest choice seeing as said lack of adornment is a trait shared with only the Fifth and Ninth Doctor. Another thing I seemed to have pegged right is how the Doctor/Clara  relationship is going to be going forward, Capaldi calling the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors in a recent interview “‘your boyfriend’ Doctors”. There still of course is the matter of personality, my prediction being that the Third Doctor will be the strongest influence, with a dash of grumpiness from the First Doctor. They’ll use a dash of the Seventh Doctor’s gamemaster bit to try and fill in for not being able to use much if any Troughton influence and the Ninth Doctor’s wide-eyed in your face nature.

Only time will tell if I’m right.

So what do you fine people have to add? Do you think my predictions will hold, and what are some of your own? Let us know in the comments below!


Sources: BBC America and BBC Blogs