Tagged: Peter Capaldi

John Ostrander: Who Are You?

Let’s have our own little adventure in time and space. At the time I’m writing this, the new season of Doctor Who, starring the new guy, Peter Capaldi, has not yet played. By the time you read this, it will have already been on. A bit of the old timey-wimey thing.

If you’re not a viewer of the time traveling import from the BBC (and we Whovians pity your poor benighted souls), Doctor Who is a fifty-year old TV show featuring a madman in a blue box. The madman is also known as The Doctor and the blue box is his TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space). The Doctor is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey and while he looks human, some bits of him aren’t. Such as the ability to regenerate when his physical body is in close danger of dying. It’s not just a reboot; his entire body changes… and so does his personality. It is this ability to change actors every so often that has helped keep the show on the air for fifty years (give or take a hiatus or two).

That’s one of the exciting mysteries about the new season. We’ve only seen bits and pieces of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor but we already know he’ll be very different from his predecessor. Matt Smith was sort of the Robin Williams of Doctors; anything that came into his head came out his mouth. Capaldi is also older than the three prior Doctors, harking back to the first versions of the Doctor. He also appears to be more serious to the point of being grim. I’m very much looking forward to finding out who and what the new Doctor is.

The challenge for each actor playing the Doctor is to find a way to put their own stamp on the character while, at the same time, finding the core of the character, the part that doesn’t change. It’s a challenge not only for the actor but also the writers of the show and it illustrates an important aspect of writing characters in general.

We are, all of us, like a diamond. Turn the stone and the different facets can reveal different aspects. We have many different sides to us and they come out according to the situation or who we are with. You may be different with your friends than with your parents. Guys are one way with their guy friends but if you introduce a female to the mix, they change. The body posture, the voice, the way a guy expresses himself may be way different with a female (especially a new attractive unknown one) than his buddies. I don’t know but I suspect the same is true for women.

What we find to be true in life should be true in our writing. If you are creating a complex character, you have to find their contradictions. A person can be very brave in some aspects and yet very scared in others. They can go from one thing to the other in a heartbeat. Maybe you’ve noticed that some people are really nice until they get behind the wheel of a car where they can turn into flaming assholes. Maybe you’ve been that person. We have heroes within us; we also have villains. That’s why writing a villain can be a lot of fun; you get to let loose that side of you without any real ill effects.

One of the purposes of a supporting character in a story is to bring out this aspect or that aspect of the protagonist. Have you ever noticed how some people bring out the best of you and others bring out the worst? Back in my college days, there was one person I really didn’t like being around. I finally figured out why; he demonstrated aspects of myself that I didn’t like and seeing those traits made me uncomfortable. As a writer, however, that’s all useful.

The thing to remember is that all those aspects are you just as all the past incarnations of the Doctor are the Doctor. As in life, so in our writing. All our characters are an aspect of us. That’s part of the fun of it.

As for me, I can’t wait to see what the newest incarnation of the Doctor is like. Maybe by figuring out Who the Doctor is this time, I may also learn a bit more about Who I am.


John Ostrander: To Be A Hero

Doctor Who has aired a new trailer for the upcoming season that starts August 23rd*. You can see it here. It’s our first real glimpse at the new Doctor played by Peter Capaldi and I think it all looks very promising. He’s very different from the past few Doctors. In some ways, he’s more reminiscent of the first one.

Something bugged me, tho. At the end of the trailer, he asks his companion, Clara, if he is a good man. She seems a bit flummoxed by this and answers, “I don’t know.”

My first reaction to the question was “I do. The Doctor is a good man. He’s a hero. He has saved the planet, the galaxy, all of reality about a bazillion times.”

Then I thought about it some more. Do you have to be a good man in order to be a hero? You don’t have to be a good person to be the protagonist; many good stories have been told using someone bad or even evil as the center of the story. Hero, on the other hand, is a different matter, isn’t it? A hero needs to have certain moral values – honor, nobility, courage, self-sacrifice and so on. They may have these qualities from the onset of the story or acquire them along the way. They can rise up as heroes as the story progresses or the qualities they already have can be tested.

The hero is something we might want to emulate. Superman in my youth was a big blue Boy Scout. Even Batman, for all the fact that he dresses more like a villain, was more of a hero in a traditional sense.

Then Marvel came along with its more complicated set of heroes. Spider-Man had a lot of hang-ups. At the same time, they were heroes because they rose to the challenges. They exhibited a certain honor, nobility, and so on.

The anti-hero seems more in tune with modern society. He or she is the protagonist of the story but not the moral center. Typically, they are in it for themselves and what they can gain or they are simply tossed around by life and not masters of their own fate. Kafka’s Joseph K in The Trial is an anti-hero because his choices simply do not matter. He is a victim and cannot change his own fate.

I tend to write more towards the anti-hero side of the scale. I like the moral complexity they present; it interests me as a writer. Even a good person will struggle to find the right thing to do in a given situation. J.K. Rowling in one of the Harry Potter books has her character Dumbledore say that the time is coming when people will have to choose between what is right and what is easy. There’s always a cost involved to do what is right.

Can you be a hero without also being a good man or woman, at least to some degree? I don’t think so. It may be difficult for the character to make the “right choice” but they need to have somewhere inside of them a degree of courage, empathy, honor and so on. George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life has to struggle with his frustration and sense of helplessness. He lashes out in anger towards the climax of the movie against people he loves. Yet even in his deepest despair, he will jump off a bridge to save what he thinks is a drowning man.

So, is the Doctor a good man? He certainly is a hero and, whatever his failings, he is a good man. The fact that he asks the question makes him a good man; a bad man wouldn’t care.

* Also coming to a handful of movie theaters, probably not near you. 
















To See Or Not To See, That Is The Question


So, as you may have heard, first the scripts from the first five episodes, and then a work print of the actual first episode of Doctor Who leaked last week.  And those fans with access to the internet (also known as “all fans”) all felt like Pandora, wondering whether or not they should take just a peek

Now for a moment, let’s play conspiracy theory.  Back when Titanic was in the planning stages, it was largely predicted it’d be a colossal failure that would make Heaven’s Gate seem like a boutique release.  But then Harry Knowles got an anonymous tip (from what was certain from Cameron’s office) that there was to be a preview screening in the Twin Cities.He immediately sent out the word, and made sure the screen was packed with his readers.  And lo and behonl, the reviews came back glowing, and just like that the buzz did a reversal.  Contrariwise, we’ve been hearing stories that all the rumors concerning the Batman V. Superman movie have all been from a fake script, written by Kevin Smith, and deliberately leaked to throw people off the scent.

In short, people know how to manipulate the fans to get them ginned up about whatever they like.  So what are the odds that this work print, missing (sorry, allegedly missing) most of the effects, in black and white, and with no new credits, was leaked out there do give the dedicated fans a look at Peter Capaldi’s portrayal of The Doctor, but in a rudimentary form that it’ll only whet their whistles to see the final version on August 23rd?  Not likely…but not quite impossible.

The fans who sought out the print are doing a good job of keeping quiet, as the BBC has requested.  And those who have asked to hear more don’t really want to know what happens in the story.  The real question that everyone wants an answer to is, “Is it good?”  More specifically, “Is HE good?”  Because the various interviews Moffat has given, talking about how the show needs “an edge” and needed a change, had a lot of fans worried that the show might change so radically that it wouldn’t be fun anymore.  They feared an older Doctor might remove some of the energy of the show.  They don’t want to have anything spoiled, they just want to know “Is he good?”

So…is he good?


“Doctor Who” rumored to feature fan-made credits


Or so claims Bleeding Cool.

Apparently the credits included in the leaked Doctor Who scripts (you’ve heard about those, yes? More on those later) say the new credits are by “BBC Wales Graphics based on original idea by Billy Hanshaw”.

Billy Hanshaw posted these credits some months back, which caused many clothes to become stained.

If this is true, it’s an amazingly cool thing for the BBC to admit that a fan inspired them (well, he’s a professional in media, but he is a DW fan), and more importantly, to provide credit.

It’s not the first time that’s happened in the new series.  A good bit of the plot of Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel came from a Big Finish Audio adventure, “Spare Parts” by Marc Platt.  Showrunner Russell T Davies got Platt a writer’s fee, and he received a “Thanks to” credit in the episode.

We shall see in August how true this is – The premiere episode will be touring the world with the Who crew, including visits to New York City, South Korea, and Rio de Janeiro.

Welcoming Peter Capaldi

Peter Capaldi Doctor Who“And his name is The Doctor. He has saved your lives so many times and you never even knew he was there. He never stops. He never stays. He never asks to be thanked. But I’ve seen him, I know him… I love him… And I know what he can do.” – Freema Ageyman as companion Martha Jones

My geek is in overdrive.

Doctor Who’s premiere is on August 23rd on BBCAmerica this side of the pond (that’s the premiere date for much of the rest of the world, too) I’ve been hitting BBCAmerica’s website for news and sneak peeks. I’ve binge watched Matt Smith’s last seasons as the Time Lord. I’ve held off doing something else – like raiding the refrigerator or even going to the bathroom – during commercial breaks while watching the channel in case there’s a new teaser. And I switched my ringtone from Buffy The Vampire Slayer to the show’s opening music.

I was one of those who was sincerely pissed off and sincerely mourned the passing of the torch by David Tennant to Matt Smith – Tennant was just so superb (and sexy!) as the Time Lord; he brought so much to the role; humanizing (if you’ll excuse the expression) the alien. I wasn’t ready for him to leave – and as Tennant so brilliantly played his regeneration scene, it was obvious that his Doctor wasn’t ready to leave either. When he said, “I don’t want to go” in “The End of Time – Part 2,” I parroted (along with millions of fans, I’m sure), “I don’t want you to go, either.”

And to be honest, Smith’s premier episode, the one with the “fish and custard,” really didn’t do anything for me; Smith was so different, and the whole “going through this kid’s refrigerator” scene felt forced, not funny. But of course, Matt more than proved himself to me, so much so that I still feel that his Doctor was cheated out of a truly emotional regeneration scene – well, okay, Karen Gillian’s cameo as Amelia Pond (“Raggedy Man, good night.”) was brilliant and definitely teared me up, but overall too much time was wasted on destroying the Daleks…again *snnnnore*. Smith – and the fans he brought in, fans who made the show a truly worldwide phenomenon – deserved so much more.

But I did love Peter Capaldi’s first words (“Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?”) and Jenna Coleman’s – as companion Clara Oswald – horrified “what the fuck?!” look.

I didn’t know that much about Peter Capaldi – not that it bothered me, because I didn’t know Tennant or Smith either before their respective runs as the Time Lord. Well, let me rephrase that. It was more one of those “I know I know Peter Capaldi, but from where?” type of deals. Meaning that I didn’t recognize him as the actor who played the British Home Secretary John Forbisher in Torchwood: Children Of Earth. I didn’t realize that was he playing Caecilius in the Doctor Who season 4 episode, “The Fires of Pompei.” And it took a Google search to discover that he had been in one of my favorite films, 1983’s Local Hero, which starred Burt Lancaster and Peter Riegert. But I have been watching and mucho appreciating him as Cardinal Richelieu in this summer’s The Musketeers on BBCAmerica (Sundays at 9:00 P.M). In fact I think he’s brilliant in the role, and it’s whetted my appetite for his debut as the 12th (13th?) Gallifreyan.

So I’m ready to love Peter Capaldi, if no other reason that I don’t want the show to go away, to be cancelled, to end.

But I don’t know how the younger fans, most of who came in with Matt Smith’s Doctor, will react to him. Will the show lose that part of its fan base? My niece Isabel’s first words about Mr. Capaldi after seeing him for those few moments as the end of “The Time of the Doctor” were quote “He’s so old!” unquote.

Isabel will be fourteen in August.

I remember Mike Gold saying to me once, “Everybody loves their first Doctor best.” Or something like that. And it’s true. My first Gallifreyan was Tom Baker (I thrilled and tingled when he made a cameo appearance at the end of “The Name of the Doctor.”) My first companion was Elisabeth Sladen. (I loved her return as Sarah Jane Smith during Tennant’s run, and how she immediately recognized him despite his changed appearance,) It took me a long time to “catch on” to Jon Pertwee, who, although he came before Baker, was my second Doctor. (It took me even longer to get hip to a new companion – not until Billie Piper. That’s a long time.)

So I get it, Iz. Matt Smith was your first Doctor. And he was cute and funny and resourceful. You’ll always have a special place in your Whovian heart for him. You’ll naturally feel some resentment to Capaldi for daring to take the controls of the TARDIS.

But remember, Iz, without regeneration, you and me, and a whole generation or two, would never have even met the Doctor, never would have traveled in the TARDIS, never would have known Sarah Jane Smith or Rose Tyler or Amy Pond and Rory Williams, never would have known the Daleks or the Cyberman or The Master.

And remember, Iz, like I told you that day, and as I reiterated here, I didn’t like Matt Smith at first. But I grew to love him.

So, Iz, give Peter Capaldi a chance.

I will.


Mike Gold: Peter Capaldi as the Ultimate Evil

Peter Capaldi Musketeers

This is the second part of a two-part look at the actor who has taken over the lead in Doctor Who. The first part discussed his work in Hotel!, In The Loop, and in the Oscar®-winning Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life. This week, we focus on another upcoming performance.

There must be a law somewhere that mandates an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers every several years. Punch it up on IMDB and your computer will explode. Some of these movies and teevee series are quite good, others, well, suck… although I’m quite partial to the movie version that starred The Ritz Brothers. The latest version, The Musketeers, went up on the BBC earlier this year – it will be on BBC America in June – and it’s as rip-roaring as any. I’ve seen the first five, and I enjoyed them. Political and religious intrigue, swordfights, gunfights, fistfights, buxom femme fatales, handsome leading men… what’s there not to like?

Particularly when there’s a great villain in the mix. Only Ming the Merciless tops Dumas’ Cardinal Richelieu when it comes to great movie villains. And when it comes to great Cardinal Richelieus (Cardinals Richelieu?), Peter Capaldi is among the very best.

That’s saying a lot. Recently, Christoph Waltz played the part and Waltz could read off a bowl of Alpha-Bits and make it seem insidious. Other Richelieus include Stephen Rea, Ben Cross, Tim Curry, Charlton Heston, Vincent Price and, arguably, Michael Palin. That’s quite a club.

Capaldi’s performance is more nuanced than most. He can say more with a slight turn of his head than by eating the scenery, befitting a villain who’s in a British television series and committed to the long haul. Richelieu’s lurks over every scene, even in those episodes where he’s only around for perhaps five minutes. He is as smooth, as powerful, and as controlling as a true top-rank villain should be.

Coincidentally, The Musketeers was developed initially to fill the Doctor Who slot (in part) during the latter’s off-season. The Musketeers’ producers did not know Capaldi got the part as the Doctor until… well, until you did. Now they have to plan for a second season without Peter, and without Richelieu.

I find myself of two minds. The Musketeers is great fun and well-made, shot in the Czech Republic with an internationalish cast (mostly British, but many of the leads are from western Europe) and a costume budget that could feed a small nation. Capaldi is so good here that I’d be perplexed if I was the one who had to decide to leave the show for Doctor Who.

After going though all this material, I can understand why Steven Moffat and friends chose Capaldi for the part in Who. I believe he’s likely to bring back a bit of that crusty edge that most of the earlier Doctors possessed while interjecting his own unique quirkiness, just as the eleven – or is it twelve – performers who previously had the job.

Besides, the Millennials deserve a punk rocker Doctor.

Particularly one who will play the part with a genuine Scottish accent.

Mike Gold: Who Is Peter Capaldi?

When Peter Capaldi was presented to us as the new lead in Doctor Who, a tiny bell dinged in the back of my brainpan. I recalled his appearance on Craig Ferguson’s show; he and Craig were in a couple punk rock bands in the 1980s and had remained very good friends. I thought that was amusing as Ferguson is a big Who fan – he’s had a TARDIS on his teevee desk for many years now.

Capaldi’s casting was praised from hither to yon, and initially I dismissed all that for typical showbiz “sincerity.” But this wave expanded and seemed genuine. Since I’ve had little I could do the past month or two outside of annoying my daughter (and I already was pretty good at that), I decided to track down some of his work and determine his worthiness for myself. (more…)

This just in: Doctor Who’s Peter Capaldi is the sweetest man ever

No man stands so tall as when he stoops to ask a child dressed as a Dalek if he can be The Doctor.

There’s lots of cool moments in  this video of Doctor Who filming at Mermaid Quay, like the first scenes by new recurring castmember Samuel Anderson as Danny Pink.

But right at the end, there’s is a moment of new Doctor Peter Capaldi talking with a little girl who came all the way from Aberdeen to see the shoot.  While security tried to get him to keep moving, he took the time (along with signing endless autographs) to make her feel better about what is surely her first case of New Doctor Angst.


I’m not crying; I’m smiling so hard the corners of my mouth are squeezing my tear ducts…

BREAKING: Peter Capaldi to wear clothing on “Doctor Who”

tumblr_n02poztDwR1qijoeyo1_500The BBC released today the first photo of Peter Capaldi’s costume for his tenure as Doctor Who.

“Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is officially recorded in history today with the unveiling of his new costume.  It’s sharp, smart and stylish – The Twelfth Time Lord means business.”  said Charlotte Moore, Controller of BBC One.

Peter Capaldi said: “He’s woven the future from the cloth of the past. Simple, stark, and back to basics. No frills, no scarf, no messing, just 100 per cent Rebel Time Lord.”

Much of The Doctor’s character comes from the clothes he wears, from the very formal attire of William Hartnell, to the “Space Hobo” of Patrick Troughton, to the iconic scarf of Tom Baker.  This outfit bears some similarities to Matt Smith’s final outfit; sans the bow tie and the red jacket lining has already got everyone talking.  Like Matt and David Tennant before him, the outfit is simple, stylish, and doesn’t shout louder than the actor within it.

Hopefully it doesn’t clash with his kidneys.

Mindy Newell: Good Night, Raggedy Man

newell-art-140113-150x137-9249487“We’re all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”

The Doctor, Doctor Who, Series 5, Episode 13

Perhaps I expected too much.

Yesterday my dear friend and fellow columnist John Ostrander did an excellent job in explaining “wibbly-wobbly storytelling” that marred “The Time Of The Doctor,” Matt Smith’s final bow as the Gallifreyian.

I feel the same way as John. Though I will try not to repeat what John wrote because I expect you to click here and read his thoughts, but I just want to add some of my own.

The whole episode, as John and others have said, did feel extremely rushed and cramped – it could have used at least an extra 15 minutes, though I would have preferred a two-hour special, which I believe Matt deserved as it was his Doctor, especially, that reignited the global Doctor Who frenzy.

I still feel cheated out of seeing more interaction between the Doctor and Clara’s family. So much of Clara’s story as “The Impossible Girl” has to do with her mom and dad, I was excited when I saw the rest of the family sitting around the set-for-Christmas dinner table. We had never heard mention of them before, but unfortunately, it just fell completely flat for me. In fact, I think I felt a bit of embarrassment here, just as Clara did – umm, naked? Really? Naked?? Yeah, I know that being clothed in nothing but your birthday suit is expected when attending the Church of the Papal Mainframe, and the Doctor was about to whisk Clara off to see the Wizard – sorry, I mean Mother Superior Tasha Lem, but again, it just felt rushed and uneven.

I mean, since the return of Doctor Who in 2005 the families of the companions have played important roles in the Whovian story, especially Jackie Tyler and Wilfred Mott. Wouldn’t the Doctor have been at least a little curious about Clara’s father, the man who was led by a falling leaf to meet Clara’s mother? Couldn’t we have seen at least five minutes more of interaction?

Having Clara hanging on to the outside of the TARDIS, creating a “drag” on the time machine as an explanation as to why 300 years passed before she was able to return to the Doctor was an awfully complicated twist to emphasize just how long the siege of Trenzalore was, and to allow the make-up masters behind the scenes to work their magic in aging Matt Smith – although they did do a masterful job in hinting at William Hartnell in Smith’s appearance.

Actually, about Clara – do you agree with me that, as a companion, she just sort of played more of a Watcher (to borrow a Marvel Comics character) when compared to Rose or Martha or Donna or Amy and Rory? I understand that, as the Impossible Girl, the role of Savior is her ultimate role in the Doctor’s saga, but in too many episodes she seemed to be sitting by and waiting, and although her impassioned plea to the Time Lords on the other side of the crack in the wall was beautifully written and beautifully acted by Jenna Coleman, I would have liked to have seen Clara engaging in more physical action, as she did in “Nightmare in Silver.”

And the bestowing of the “extra” regeneration energy by the Time Lords as a way to get around the 12th and final regeneration was the biggest cheat of all – though it was a clever way and use of “dues ex machina” around the myth, which of course was set up years ago because who in 1963 could imagine that 50 years later the show would itself have regenerated into a world-wide phenomenon?

But, oddly enough, of all these flaws, the one that really got to me, the one that made me feel most cheated, was the regeneration of Matt Smith into Peter Capaldi. It happened in a literal “blink of an eye.” I suppose we are to understand that we didn’t see the “burning time/regeneration energy” flowing out of Matt because he spent it destroying the Daleks, but there was no punch – when Christopher Eccleston regenerated into David Tennant, and David Tennant (admittedly the most heartbreaking of all the regenerations, with his Doctor’s poignant “I don’t want to go”) into Matt Smith, you felt it.

Yes, Matt’s removal of his bow tie, letting it just fall to the floor, was wonderfully moving.

Yes, Karen Pond’s return as Amy was tear-jerking (and bravo to the BBC and Moffat and all of the Doctor Who crew to keeping it secret!).

But I think the final gut-wrenching heartbreaker would have been Matt suddenly blazing into energy as Amy said…

“Good night, Raggedy Man.”