There’s a maxim that it’s possible to love the Doctor for the man, himself, but still favor certain incarnations. Watching forums, it quickly became evident that a failure to love the same regenerated forms as everyone else can be dangerous business. In fact, even my fiancé has expressed some concern at my lack of affection for David Tennant.
That said, my love of traditional sci-fi in the fashion of the old “Flash Gordon” serials left me more deeply attached to the classic Doctors. But even there, my favorites seem to differ from the mainstream. Yes, I like Tom Baker (I’ve met very few Whovians who don’t), but I can’t honestly say that I like him as much as Hartnell or Pertwee.
Older Doctors (not necessarily classic ones) have a unique repartee with their companions. Fathers and grandfathers, rather than lovers, they evoke a certain mystery. Like bottomless fonts of wisdom, teachers with but a few pupils. The affection they express for their companions is the same I would hope to receive were I fortunate enough to travel on the TARDIS – enough to know they care, but no so much that they become a threat to a regular romantic relationship.
This is important since, to be honest, I think my fiancé has been a little concerned that he might just end up getting left behind if a blue box suddenly materialized in front of me. A few too many episodes of Matt Smith’s Doctor (for whom I do feel some affection) have left him in a position where he can confidently cast himself in the role of Rory. Fortunately, as much as I appreciate the energy and wide-eyed-wonder of Smith’s character, he isn’t the one with whom I’d be most willing to travel. So I stick to my guns. I’m a first/third Doctor girl. Or at least I was.
I have to admit that I was quite curious when I noticed that the distinctly not-young Peter Capaldi had been cast in the role. While fans of the new series threw fits over the injustice of choosing a man old enough to be their father, I watched with ever deepening curiosity. And found myself slowly becoming a twelfth Doctor girl.
I can’t, of course, give Capaldi all the credit. While he plays the Doctor, he wasn’t the one responsible for all the throwbacks to classic “Who” that marvelously appeared throughout the eighth season. (I confess that I appreciated the bits of nostalgia scattered throughout.) But the slightly grumpy, distinctly charming incarnation grew on me with each episode.
Then “Dark Water” happened. I admit that I’m not easily spoiled, so the accuracy of the speculation about Missy did nothing to ruin the episode for me. I absolutely loved the Cybermen (and the fact that the Doctor missed something so incredibly obvious). But what I loved most was the opening sequence… the bit where Clara decides to get her due.
Despite the seemingly universal hatred for Clara, she is one of my favorites among the newer companions. (I admit to rather having liked Donna, too.) There is something about her innocence and strong will that harkens back to earlier companions like Sarah Jane. And I particularly love the strictly platonic relationship she has with the Twelfth Doctor. The result was that I felt the full impact of her betrayal in a way I couldn’t have anticipated.
I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat. Waiting. Waiting to see if the Doctor would do what most people would have done or whether he would prove himself the hero I hoped he was. I bit my lip as he responded to Clara’s question regarding the future of their friendship. And I slid to the edge of the couch as the Doctor replied, “Do you really think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?”
It didn’t really matter how the series ended. It didn’t matter that I thought the Cyber Brig was a bit of an overkill or that I thought the Danny/Clara sequences went on a bit too long. I simply didn’t care. From that line on, I was a 12th Doctor girl. If I were going to travel with just one of them – Capaldi’s Doctor would be my first choice.