So regular readers will know that when I watched the début of Peter Capaldi’s second series in the TARDIS, I was pleasantly surprised. Having cast my eyes around the interwebs, that wasn’t universally the opinion, but I’m standing by my impressions.
It was funny, it was dark, it was bold, and as the opener to a new series it did what too often New Who has shied away from. The cliffhanger also raises an interesting format, whereby they seem to be going for a collection of two-part episodes, and giving stories two hours to run over. This feels like a little more room for stories to breathe, and a step towards the serials of old.
And given that this blogger grew up on the adventures of Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor (Reruns, I have to stress -Ed), a character which more than a few times Capaldi’s iteration has harked back to.
Of course, setting up a compelling story is all well and good. New Who has always excelled in that. It‘s the resolution that Moffat et al usually fall down on, and it’s that on which “The Magician’s Apprentice”/”The Witch’s Familiar” will be judged.
The previous season, Peter Capaldi’s first in the leading role, was a hit and miss affair, but it did rather end on a high note with Michelle Gomez’s fantastic “Missy” (The Mistress… As in, The Master, but female. Geddit? -Ed) as the perfect villainous counterpoint for Capaldi’s mad Scotsman. One of the finest climaxes, in fact, since the BBC resurrected the series.
This, though, is the difficult second album of the Twelfth Doctor. In some ways a little more hopeful that it might be a little smoother this time around, given that the episodes here have all been specifically written for the Capaldi, rather than Matt Smith’s leftovers.
And, having had a glance down the episode list, it looks to me like the episodes are actually structured as a series of two-part stories. Which, from my perspective, sounds great. What we need from this new Doctor is some exploration of the particular character of this incarnation. And Capaldi is just crying out for a darker, grittier sort of Doctor.
After my verdict on Peter Capaldi’s first episode as the Doctor (he was fantastic, but the episode itself a bit inconsistent), there is everything still to play for with this series.
As I said last week, I have a lot of hope for Capaldi’s tenure in the role. He’s an excellent actor, with a great range, and who brings a distinctly different feel to the role than his immediate predecessors. That said, a good actor isn’t enough; he will need the supporting cast, the writing and the direction to make a victory of it.
Honestly, I think it’s a bit of a risk putting the Daleks in Capaldi’s second episode. They are pretty iconographic of the series, but they have been a little overused since the reboot, and have lost a bit of their fear-based charm.
So can Peter Capaldi weave his magic with the Doctor’s old foe, and make them fresh again?
And we’re done. The act has closed, the curtain fallen, Matt Smith has left the building.
I was never the most vocal of his converts, for me David Tenant’s performance in the role is still the modern rendition to aspire to. But Smith has played a good innings, and made the role his own. His rubber-limbed, Easter Island statue-faced antics have been amusing and moving in equal measure.