Monday, December 23, 2013

Why Peter Capaldi is a perfect choice for the Doctor, but not mine.

As pretty much every Whovian knows, Peter Capaldi is the latest actor chosen to Doctor Who. Right off the get go, I want to make sure that everyone knows that I'm thrilled with this choice; Capaldi is an artist who has shown that he has not only the range to explore the character of the millenium-aged Time Lord, but also the professionalism and experience to make his role last. I love Capaldi, ever since I saw him play the Angel Islington in the BBC miniseries of Neverwhere. He can swing from innocent to monstrous in a moment, which is necessary in the current identity of the Doctor.

Nevertheless, had the BBC called me, in some moment of madness, Capaldi wouldn't have been my initial choice.

In fact, there's two actors I would have suggested long before the man who made foul language into an art form in The Thick of It.

Firstly, there's this man:

Paterson Joseph. Probably best known (at least by me) from his work with David Mitchell and Robert Webb in Peep Show and That Mitchell and Webb Look, I was introduced to this amazing man through, coincidentally, Neverwhere as the Marquis de Carabas. Switching from pragmatism to idealism, Joseph showcased a wonderful range that fit perfectly with a darker, edgier Doctor that embraced the cynicism of modern society but also showcased the ingenuity of a man who never needed to move beyond politics and intelligence to achieve his own ends and desires. Since the beginning, as Craig ferguson so eloquently put it, Doctor Who has always been about the triumph of intellect and romance over violence and cynicism. Paterson Joseph, in my opinion, could have brought that ideal to the forefront while also exploring the concepts of time travel with the impact of prejudice and racism within time travel. Yes, as a Canadian I can point at the American Civil War, the Underground Railroad and other aspects of the subjucation of those of African descent, but there's also Britain's less than stellar record of colonialism and prejudice. I firmly believe that Joseph as The Doctor could have opened these lines of dialogue and reaffirmed that while we've made amazing strides as a species to remedy these problems, we're far from solving them.

Second on my list of actors, is this woman:

Olivia Coleman. Incorporation all the arguments of a female Doctor, let's look at Coleman specifically.

Again known to me for her work with Mitchell and Webb, Coleman is probably best known to Whovians for her performance as Prisoner Zero in The Eleventh Hour. A unbiquitous character actress, Coleman has done both comedic and dramatic roles and would be a wonderful choice to offset the "traditional" qualities of actors in lead roles. Imagine for a moment a Headmistress Doctor. Patient, loving and understanding, but equallly unwilling to tolerate any breach of her interal code of conduct. To see The Doctor giving a good scolding to some aggressive alien race who got a bit too full of themselves would be a wonderful experience that, while similar to Matt Smith's performance, would provide a wonderful new edge to the character that we've yet to see. Couple that with the opportunities to see a woman's perspective on time and space beyond that of a simpering Companion,
I would gladly wait every week to see what Coleman as the Doctor would do.

Now all this being said, I'm happy for the choice of Capaldi. If there's one thing I know he can do (and he can do a hell of a lot, believe me) it's being monstrous. At the point we've reached with New Who, we need a monster, much like Colin Baker, albeit better written. I have no dount that wkth Capaldi's talent and Steven Moffat's writing we're in for an amazing series.

It's just not the series I would have wanted to see.