Monday, 5 August 2013

Peter Capaldi & Doctor Who Live

Before I continue, I'd just like to say I am not judging Capaldi's performance before he's started. I'm not forming an opinion on his Doctor, and I'm not questioning his ability to play the Doctor.

But - I do have an opinion on his casting, in a "compared to everyone else - would you pick him?" kind of way.

The short answer is no, I probably wouldn't pick Capaldi if I was Show Runner. I'd have definitely gone with Matt and just written darker scripts for him, but Capaldi is probably not a choice I'd have made. I was explaining to Mum after the announcement that if I was lining all the potential actors up - so maybe Anuerin Barnard, Harry Lloyd, Peter Capaldi, Other People On My List, and some others, Capaldi is not a choice I'd make. And that's simply because in my eyes, if it's possible, he's too well known. The way he was revealed didn't help, and I think that's more what I'm against. So at least - even if I picked Capaldi, who definitely has a more classic look that I'm excited to see him use - I wouldn't have revealed him on Doctor Who Live.

For me, Doctor Who is a show that has reached popularity it never expected to reach again, yet it's not a show that fits Saturday Night shows in the mould of a game show or of X Factor.  Doctor Who Live, as lovely as it was seeing all these celebrities feel a real enthusiasm for the show, and as funny as Rufus Hound's mistakes were, just felt wrong for the series. The montage of clips with a John Hurt narration was excellent. I've missed that kind of thing that Confidential used to be. Talking to the old companions, talking to Bernard Cribbins, and even Zoe Ball's enthusiasm, it was all lovely. But - shouting Peter Capaldi as if he'd just won a talent contest sends shivers down my spine. In a bad way. And this is where the "he's too well known" doubt comes from.

Before there was an 'intimacy' to the announcements, there was a kind of "I'm the only one watching this - he's my Doctor". Capaldi's announcement in front of viewers worldwide emphasises the fact that Doctor Who is no longer a nice little programme that is deservedly popular - it is a brand. So fittingly, they've cast an actor who's popular, and who goes with the brand. He is a face for Doctor Who. For me, it feels more like "but he's Peter Capaldi! He's only gonna do a 20 minute Comic Relief special". He's that well known, it seems like we don't deserve to have him. It's great that he wants to do it, it's great that he's a fan (his letter in the Radio Times got him a lot of credit from me) and it's great that he seems genuinely nice to the fans. That all matters. But - it still feels like a bit of celebrity casting, and the very high profile way he was announced means that that was more important. The brand overtook the show.

Of course, even though he is famous, he can still do the job and very well I expect. I am excited to see what he does. He just doesn't quite feel like an actual Doctor yet. The way it was announced makes it seem even more showy. The other thing is that we missed out on a whole load of stuff. I want in-depth Moffat interviews - I want an in-depth Capaldi interview - I want decent promo pictures rather than just a white background one. Doctor Who Live replaced all the good stuff Doctor Who Confidential used to do (bar the montages) with Saturday Night (even though it was a Sunday) showy things. And in a way - it reduced the significance of Capaldi's casting. It was like OH MY GOD A FAMOUS MAN WILL BE THE DOCTOR not THIS IS YOUR NEW DOCTOR, BY THE WAY HE'S CAPALDI as it should have been.

So I definitely think Doctor Who Live missed several tricks. I do object to the way it was announced, as it focussed more on Capaldi's status as famous, rather than his ability to the job. That's probably influenced my bias about him being too famous.

I am very excited to see what he does though. I'm sure he'll do a great job. I want darker storylines, no love storylines, and at last, we might be rid of the fan girls. There are thousands of opportunities his casting allows.

I just hope the opportunity to publicise/merchandise it more isn't the only one taken advantage of. And they haven't made a good start.

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