'Doctor Who' Christmas Special: How's the New Guy?

Doctor Who's new 12th (or is it 14th?) Doctor appeared for only a brief moment during the Christmas special, but the judgements are already arriving. 

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Doctor Who's new Twelfth (or is it Fourteenth?) Doctor appeared for only a brief moment during the Christmas special, but the judgements are already arriving.

The episode, which was watched by 8.29 million people in Britain, received mixed reviews overall. There was a lot packed into this tale, which mostly served as a farewell to Matt Smith's gangly, charming Eleventh Doctor. Still in Smith's body, the Doctor played a (nude) visit to companion Clara Oswald's family; defended a town called Christmas against legions of enemies; grew old; and, of course, regenerated thanks to a hand from some other Time Lords.

Capaldi's debut lasted mere minutes, but that hasn't stopped people from passing judgment on his performance, which began with the line: "Kidneys! I've got new kidneys!" (Notably, Capaldi gets to keep his Scottish accent for the role, unlike Tenth Doctor David Tennant.) Tim Martin of The Telegraph asserted, based on Capaldi's short performance, that the Scot "looks promisingly demented in the role." At The Independent, Neela Debnath had even more to say about Capaldi's start. "In between checking to see if he could still hop, Capaldi showed off his comic timing," Debnath wrote. "He dispensed with the erratic flailing and the clumsiness that characterised his predecessor’s 'mad professor' style, opting for a more subtle and less slapstick performance. " Debnath, however, thought that Capaldi was "disappointingly hapless." (He didn't know how to fly the TARDIS. If you don't know what that is, well, read this.)

Other reviewers were more concerned about fan reception to Capaldi. "I think he fits the part, feels like the Doctor, but I worry that the kids might not come round immediately," Sam Wollaston wrote at The Guardian. "They've got until the autumn, to grieve, and to get used to the idea of change." Capaldi is older than the last three incarnations of the Doctor: Christopher Eccelston, Tennant, and Smith. Writing for Screen Rant, Anthony Ocasio pointed to Capaldi's introduction as a "weak point" for the episode. He explained: "Capaldi certainly has the ability as an actor to fully embody the Doctor character, and [showrunner Steven] Moffat may be the only man in the world who can make mere seconds satisfying, yet Capaldi’s full-face reveal (unlike theDoctor Who 50th Anniversary) may leave fans with many questions as to whether or not the Time Lord is in safe hands."

Scrolling through Twitter, the reactions to Capaldi run the gamut. Some are convinced he's going to be terrible; others are sure he's going to be great. The debate won't be settled immediately either. Capaldi will assume the role full-time in August.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.