Amidst all the insanity that surrounded the announcement that Jodie Whittaker would be the 13th Doctor (a woman! Shock! Horror!), I think a lot of people have forgotten about the astonishing Peter Capaldi and how amazing he was in his last series as the Doctor.
When he first regenerated, Peter’s Doctor was harsh, grumpy, uncaring, and seemingly cold-hearted. After the energy, warmth, humour and fun of the previous two Doctors, 12 was a bitter pill to swallow. I found the 8th series of Doctor Who pretty uninspiring – there was the odd shining star (Flatline and Mummy on the Orient Express) but the overwhelming feeling was one of apathy, disconnect, and a lack of the awe that the other incarnations of the Doctor all seemed to have for time and space travel. I definitely missed it.
Thankfully, this feeling improved in the 9th, and subsequently 10th series. No where is it more obvious than in Pilot and the next episode Thin Ice, where the Doctor actually has a reason to stay put on Earth, but he just can’t resist the call of his brilliant blue box and the adventures that await him in time and space. The awe was back, and so was the fun.
I think also this sense of fun had a lot to do with the new companion. Bill Potts was clever, intelligent, independent, and she didn’t let the Doctor pull one over on her. She was tough but she also knew her limitations. She reminded me so much of Donna Noble, my favourite companion. I also think Pearl Mackie and Peter had great chemistry together – they certainly felt like friends, which I think was missing with Peter and Jenna Coleman. Jenna’s character always felt more like a plot device than a fully fleshed person.
I think also the writing improved so much since the 8th series. Peter was finally given scripts that were worthy of his talent, and stories that allowed his Doctor to shine. He could make grand speeches and save the world from epic alien incursions without massive plot holes or magical sonic screwdriver waving.
Finally, the series finale two parter is definitely Stephen Moffat’s best. World Enough and Time was beautifully written sci fi; a supposedly deserted spaceship held in place by a black hole, with Bill stuck at the slow end, and the Doctor at the other. The ending was heartbreaking and perfectly set up the final episode.
The Doctor Falls was exactly what it promised, and Peter Capaldi was magnificent. From a character I had initially thought was cold and unfeeling, he was all heart. He stood tall amongst an army of cybermen and in the face of insurmountable odds. He cared about doing the right thing, about saving people, about fixing what Missy/The Master had broken. My Doctor was back!
All in all, I’m pretty happy to say that it was my favourite series since Matt Smith’s first series way back in 2010. I cannot wait to see how the 1st and 12th Doctors are going to be together in the Christmas episode – what an episode for a regeneration!