We all know, by now, that Peter Capaldi is taking over the mantle of the Doctor. And, aside from him being just another white dude, there's the other thing. He's old! Maybe not OLD old, we're sure he sees himself as more “middle-aged,” if that, but he’s definitely older than the Doctors we’re used to. At 55, Capaldi isn’t just more than twice as old as Matt Smith was when he first became the Doctor (27), he’s actually the oldest Doctor since the original, William Hartnell in 1963. In fact, even though Hartnell’s Doctor was more of a “cranky old grandfather” character, he was really the same age as Capaldi is now. Which I guess goes to show how much better people are aging now than they used to!
Of course, having an older Doctor isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are plenty of advantages for the Doctor’s newest regeneration being an older man:
For one, the Doctor can now qualify for all kinds of senior citizen discounts, which might come in useful if he and Clara ever wanted to take a break from saving the universe and go see a movie. He can also get in on some of that sweet Early Bird Dinner Special action, and be all done with dinner by six o’clock, leaving him with the whole night free to save the universe. Or just get back to the retirement home in time for bingo night, and then bed.
As an older man, the Doctor can play up his oldness by feigning deafness. Just imagine the Doctor facing down the Daleks:
“WE WILL! EXTERMINATE! THE DOCTOR!”
“What? You’ll have to speak up, my hearing’s not so good anymore.”
“Yes, I already ate, I had the Early Bird Special.”
“EXT- OH FORGET IT! THIS ISN’T! FUN! ANYMORE!”
And then of course, the Doctor is supposed to be over 900 years old anyway, which is a lot more believable coming from someone like Peter Capaldi, as opposed to Matt “I just finished with puberty last Thursday” Smith. Imagine, if you will, the Doctor trying to get into a nightclub, because the DJ is actually a Cyberman who’s going to assimilate—I’m sorry, I mean “upgrade”—everyone there:
Bouncer: I need to see some ID.
The Doctor (Smith): But I need to get in before the Cybermen destroy the whole universe!
Bouncer: 21 and older only, buddy.
The Doctor (Smith): I’m 900 years old!
Bouncer: I can’t let you in without ID.
And then, while the Doctor’s stumbling about trying to remember which pocket he left his psychic paper in, everyone in the club have become Cybermen and all of time and space is doomed. Meanwhile, let’s picture this scene with Peter Capaldi as the Doctor:
The Doctor just walks right in, unobstructed, defeats the Cybermen and spends the right of the night spinning some old classics from way back when. The end!
Seriously, though, being old is no barrier to kicking ass. Sci-fi and fantasy are filled with older heroes: just think of Captain Picard, or Cable from X-Men, or Dumbledore before he got Obi-Wanned. Heck, Aragorn in Lord of the Rings was supposed to be 87 years old (even if Viggo Mortensen, the actor who played him, was only 44).
But more importantly, having an older Doctor is good because it shows, in a way, which direction they’re planning on taking the show next. Now that Doctor Who has been firmly re-established in contemporary pop culture, the character of the Doctor is coming back to his roots. The three modern Doctors have all had very similar relationships with their Companions, a sort of romantic, will-they-or-won’t-they, should-we-be-friends-or-lovers relationship. (Except maybe for Donna Noble, but even she shared a kiss with the Doctor on at least one occasion.) With an older Doctor, it can bring the relationship back to more of the teacher-student level of Classic Who, which if not necessarily better is at least different from anything we’ve seen in years.
As this year marks the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, it’s great that in some ways they’re bringing the show full circle. It’s definitely better than had they gone in the opposite direction and kept making the Doctor younger and younger. We might have ended up with some 18-year-old Justin Bieber clone, and nobody wants that. Either way, we're really excited to see where the series goes next with the 12th Doctor and beyond.
And maybe, in a few years, we’ll get Chiwetel Ejiofor for the Thirteenth Doctor!
What do you think of the 12th Doctor being so much older?