8/18/2015

Malcolm Tucker and the Doctor

I was just getting used to finally accepting Peter Capaldi as the Doctor when someone at Buzzfeed decided to point out 21 ways in which we can swear like Malcolm Tucker.  If you click, it's decidedly not for people who can't handle profanity, obscenity, abuse, or any of the other lovely things I came to appreciate watching The Thick of It.

For me, I was very skeptical of Peter Capaldi being named as the Doctor. To me, his face was so associated with the amazing spectacle of Malcolm Tucker, the spin doctor for an unnamed party in British politics in that fictional show. I first watched it on a trip to England in 2012 and fell in love based on Capaldi's ability to so easily display concentrated hatred that could be used for political ends.

So, when he was announced two years ago as the replacement for Matt Smith, I was completely flummoxed. I watched the presentation on a live stream from the BBC with my children present. I didn't know what to expect, but when his named was announced, I was about what kind of Doctor he would play. 

Thinking about that moment two years later, I remember he came out with his thumbs in his lapels, a stance that is associated with William Hartnell's grumpy first Doctor. That made me think he would be carrying over Malcolm Tucker into the character of the Doctor. 

At that time, Matt Smith still had three episodes left. His Doctor is youthful, enthusiastic, and confident about his abilities to defeat his enemies. 

Capaldi shows up at the end of the last of those episodes, at a time when the character has been given a new lease on life thanks to other characters in a way I'm not going to explain. None of this makes sense if you don't know the show, and I get that. But I still want to explain anyway because this is about how an actor can transition from one iconic role to another.

Capaldi appeared in the last minute, and he had short gray hair and said a few things that indicated he wasn't quite with it. When his debut took place, the same vibe continued. 

And now we've had a full season of him, and during that time I've thought about a lot about grumpiness in a person's character and how it's ultimately unbecoming. It takes until the very end of Capaldi's first series during the Christmas episode to understand that he is capable of experiencing joy.

Which brings us to now. The new season begins in a month and in the trailer Capaldi shows signs of continuing to evolve into a role that has seemed purposely tentative. 

There's a real reason I enjoy this show. I identify with a character who is ever-changing who is written in a universe that more or less it knows it is fictional. 

Malcolm Tucker is not the Doctor.

Peter Capaldi played both roles.

Any connection between is in my head, but then I think that I'm not the only one who was concerned. The role was played perfectly, and I eagerly anticipate the season that's about to begin. The trailers don't show an actor anymore. They show a character who is evolving, and that's what I care about.

Because I'm also a character who wants to evolve. The best fiction inspires that in people, don't you think? 


1 comment:

Sean Tubbs said...

Having said all that, #20 in the BuzzFeed post is more or less the Doctor.