Roundtable: The New Who Era – 2005-2015

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All of time and space…or at least the last ten years of it. The BBC restarted its classic sci-fi Doctor Who series in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston playing what was then known as the ninth incarnation of the Doctor. Ten years later, Peter Capaldi is now called the Twelfth Doctor, and a lot has happened in those ten years. Join Talk Nerdy With Us writers AJ and Jenni as they discuss the New Who era.

AJ: In the New Era of Doctor Who, what do you think about the personalities of Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, and Peter Capali as The Doctor? I think that Eccleston brought a new generation to Doctor Who with his goofy grin and his “cool” style, with the leather jacket. Tennant was a whole different kind of cool–sharp suits combined with Converse. Matt Smith, whose Doctor made his own definitions of cool, was quirky and had an infectious energy while at the same time harboring a dark, brooding side. Capaldi….Capaldi I’m not sure on yet. His portrayal of the Doctor seems confusing. He is funny, then snarky, then heartbroken.

Jenni: Eccleston’s Nine is a man suffering from PTSD, Tennant’s Ten is a ladies’ man (he led Martha on, even if it was unintentional), Smith’s Eleven is a dark matter bomb hidden inside a puppy. Capaldi’s Twelve is a lost old man desperately trying to remember who he is.

AJ: I love your turn of phrase there: “a dark matter bomb inside a puppy. ” What do you think is the best part about Eccleston’s portrayal of the Doctor?

Jenni: I think where he shines best is when he tells the Daleks that he’s coming for Rose. He really convinced me that he cared a lot. I hate when people skip Nine. Eccleston really brings a different take on the Doctor that you don’t get with Ten through Twelve. I think he cares the most.

AJ: I agree that he brought a caring Doctor to a new generation of Whovians. Tennant and Smith’s Doctors both cared as well, but in different ways. Tennant’s tenth Doctor was smitten with Rose, which was a pity for a companion like Martha Jones who had the misfortune to fall for him after he lost Rose. His relationship with Donna was so vastly different from the other companions during Ten’s era. She may have just been “the best temp in Chiswick” but she was the Doctor’s equal in so many ways. She gave as good as she got, and the Doctor respected that. Eleven’s type of caring was the most tortured. He carried a lot of guilt on his exuberant shoulders. He built his own family of sorts, trying to fill the void of losing so many friends and companions. Capaldi’s Doctor is still learning how to care. He was so hurt by the amount of caring that caused him so much pain that he unlearned how to care and has needed Clara’s  guidance to teach him to care again.

Jenni: I totally agree on Capaldi. He’s so standoffish most of the time, but his softer side comes out when it’s needed most.

AJ: Which actor do you think has had the biggest impact on the return of Doctor Who? Though I’m a Matt Smith fan through and through, I think that David Tennant’s looks and charm brought more fans into the fold. Sure, Eccleston rebooted the show, but I think it’s Tennant that gave it the life and momentum that it has now.

Jenni: Tennant definitely had the biggest impact. It’s who most people think of when they think of DW.

AJ: What do you think will be the impact of the BBC reformatting Doctor Who to make it similar to Sherlock, with longer and fewer episodes per season? Will this benefit the struggling show or is the BBC jumping the shark?

Jenni: It might make it more enticing in the beginning, but soon people will be begging for their annual thirteen episodes.

AJ: I think they’re reaching for ideas. Capaldi’s use of sonic sunglasses instead of the screwdriver, plus his guitar playing in half the episodes so far, seem indicative of a network trying too hard to appeal to a younger generation. I don’t know if it’s the writers’ idea, Capaldi’s, or someone else’s, but it’s getting annoying. I feel like it’s flat-out pandering.

Jenni: I hate hate hate the sunglasses. The Doctor without his screwdriver is like the Doctor without a TARDIS.

AJ: If they get rid of the TARDIS, I’ll have wasted a lot of time on a cosplay for nothing lol

Now, you and I are both fans of Smith’s Eleventh Doctor. I, for one, enjoyed his buoyancy and exuberance, but I also loved that he could portray the darker side in a heartbeat. Such a wide range. Then there was the family dynamic of him with the Ponds and River Song. What do you think?

Jenni: Eleven made me cry more than any Doctor combined (although Ten’s regeneration comes in a close second).  I loved how he was both a puppy and an attack dog at the same time.  And the River kisses make me melt.  It’s also funny to think of the Ponds as his in-laws, but they were his family before River.

AJ: What about River–or Rose for that matter? In the past (Original Who), the Doctor didn’t really have romances on the show, though we know he had to have had them off-screen because he had a granddaughter. Then there was Rose, the love of Ten’s life, and River’s unique out-of-time relationship with Eleven. River is also slated to show in the upcoming Christmas episode. Again, she meets the Doctor out of order so to speak, and she’s said that “her” Doctor was older, so Capaldi could have a good romance with her. Thoughts on the Doctor becoming a ladies’ man?

Jenni: A whole bunch of nopes on that one. I don’t mind a one-off relationship (although I didn’t care for Rose’s infatuations) but I hate the idea of turning the Doctor into a romantic interest. I mean, it’s okay to fantasize and create fan fiction of it, but as far as it being canon NOPE NOPE NOPE.

AJ: I like his relationship with River. I mean, I think he deserves to have relationships (why can’t he? Depending on the point in time, he’s technically single) but realistic ones.

Jenni: True, realistically speaking he would need to have a love interest at some point in time, I just wish they didn’t presume to make it a young twenty-something.  Which is why I really like River; she’s not a young’un, but older and more experienced. And it makes for great comedy when she gets paired with Matt Smith, who is at least a decade younger.

AJ: Ah, but depending on what point in time River is with the Doctor, she’s pretty young, too. Remember, Melody was a young’un when she regenerated into River. And we don’t really know how long she was River before she died in the Library

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