Doctor Who: An Open Letter To Peter Capaldi

Torchwood: Children of Earth, but like Colin Baker, Freema Agyeman, and Karen Gillan before you - you've been invited into a more permanent seat in the TARDIS. Namely, the Pilot's seat. As fun as it looks, it's a tough gig in all sorts of ways: mainly, you'll be doing little else besides working on Doctor Who for the extent of your tenure. Still, as a humble fan, I'd like to give you some notes on what I've been seeing on the Internet, and what I believe you can do to help fans acclimate to your presence. First off, ignore all of the fans who are complaining that you're "too old" or you're just "another lanky old, white man" playing the role. Until your formal announcement, everyone from Idris Elba to Helen Mirren was rumored. Even long before Matt Smith surprised everyone with the announcement of his departure, people were pushing for "more diverse" Doctors. So naturally, now that your appointment is fresh in everyone's minds, they're going to engage in the classic first stage of the "Regeneration Cycle"...they're going to complain. Eventually, one of two things will happen: you'll either make such a negative impression on fans that they'll disown you, or you'll make such a positive impression on fans that you'll end up being missed when you eventually hand off the Screwdriver. (If the rumors that the Sonic is going away aren't true, that is.) Second, even when/if the fans accept you, they're still going to grouse. Steven Moffat, a man whose name has become associated with sadness and murder from his years of employing those two devices in his storytelling, has made some enemies as well as some friends in his tenure at the helm. To a certain degree, this is going to be transferred to you. Some fans don't know how to separate the showrunner from the episode writer from the stars, and to a certain extent it's going to splash over to something about your Doctor they don't like. Your costume, your mannerisms, your catch phrase, even the way you walk in the role...all of that is going to be put under such a fine microscope that even when they seem to love you, they'll hate you just a little bit. Third, and most importantly, nostalgia is a seriously pervasive factor in the Whovian franchise, and you yourself could attest to this as you've been a fan since you were 9. People came in at different times, with different Doctors, and they've all latched on to certain portrayals that they're extremely fond of. Just going by the modern run, Eccleston fans like to lament that the show went all young and weird after he left, Tennant fans miss the serious/emotional bits that he had (especially the ones with Rose Tyler), and Smith fans are going to miss his awkward giraffe interactions with Amy, Rory, and (in some cases) River and Clara. Claiming a First Doctor is like claiming a Best Friend in Kindergarten, you're aiming to keep that friend for life, through all of the trials, tribulations, and obstacles that are going to be set up in your path. When we lose that friend, it's upsetting and it makes us feel like we can't continue the journey; but sometimes, if we're lucky, we find a new friend to lead us along the way. Matt Smith Premiere Now that I've gotten all of the seriousness out of the way, I'm going to tell you the one fact that negates all of that AND should manage to stop you from scurrying into your cupboard and resigning within a week: these gripes, nit picks, and fussy behaviors that Whovians display are in fact what makes us the best fandom out there. Who can blame them for being so picky? That first episode of Who, the one that turns you on to the whole smash, is sacrosanct in and of itself. It could be Rose, or The Christmas Invasion, or even The Eleventh Hour, no matter the quality of the episode, it's still going to be the one that opened your eyes to the world of Companions and The Doctor. It's something you can't come back from, no matter how hard you try. Once you're a fan, good luck leaving, because if the material doesn't keep you, the fans will. C'mon...the fans!!! While we're fussy and nit picky and OCD about our Doctor Who, we have to admit that "bad" Who episodes are better than bad TV. We'll take a marathon of "Rose", "Fear Her", "42", "The Stolen Earth", and "Cold War" if it keeps us from watching almost any of the ghastly reality shows/sub par sitcoms that are out there. At least when Who is bad, we can complain together and look forward to when they eventually recover the ball. We're the people that dress up for Conventions. We're the ones who stand in line from 6 am until 6 pm, waiting in line outside of a one screen theater in New York, just to see Matt Smith pull up in a DeLorean...and we don't even have tickets to see the premiere! We practically run Tumblr, Etsy, Twitter, and Facebook; showing off art projects, songs we've written, skits we've devised, and our favorite What Culture articles listing the best of the best in the show's history. Why do we do all of this? The criticisms and the creativity? It's because we love the show. We love the fact that it shows us that anything is possible, and that "intellect and romance" will win out over "brute force and cynicism". In other words, we like seeing the quirky, smart guy win against the brutes. It gives us hope for the future, as well as our own selves, because just as any of us could be a companion, any of us could be The Doctor. The bottom line here is that you, Mr. Capaldi, have walked into one of the most demanding roles in Entertainment history...and you're going to love it! And you know something? Knowing your body of work, your fandom credibility, and even the fact that you're best friends with uber-fan Craig Ferguson...it's hard for me to be anything but optimistic about your forthcoming tenure. It'll be a shame to see Matt Smith go so early, but it'll be a treat to see what you bring to the table from December 25th on. We'll be watching for your first words, and waiting for your first adventure after that sad Christmas moment where we say goodbye to an old friend, but say hello to a new one. On behalf of the Doctor Who staff, but mostly myself, I say welcome! It's going to be an honor and a privilege to see you shine. Best, Mike Reyes, Doctor Who Editor - What Culture.com

Contributor
Contributor

Mike Reyes may or may not be a Time Lord, but he's definitely the Doctor Who editor here at What Culture. In addition to his work at What Culture, Mr. Reyes writes for Cocktails and Movies, as well as his own personal blogs Mr. Controversy and The Bookish Kind. On top of that, he's also got a couple Short Stories and Novels in various states of completion, like any good writer worth their salt. He resides in New Jersey, and compiles his work from all publications on his Facebook page.

Discussion