Thursday, November 13, 2014

Doctor Who Ratings Slip - Now the Blame Game Begins

One season with the new Doctor and at the close of it the verdict is in. Fans of Doctor Who still haven’t totally warmed up to Peter Capaldi as the 12th (or 13th depending) Time Lord. It isn’t that he isn’t a good fit for the role it is simply most fans are still infatuated (and rightly so) with the over abundant performance of the previous actor who played him ... Matt Smith.

The ratings on BB1 in the UK and BBC America in the colonies also give witness to the frustration being felt by many of the viewers of the long-time staple in sci-fi programming.

The ratings certainly are not dismal (nearly 5.5 million in the UK), but they do show a significant enough drop over previous seasons that some at the BBC are beginning to wonder if it is a matter of their chosen lead or has the Doctor reached viewer saturation and need a rest after this coming 2014 Christmas special.

Blame cannot be laid at the feet of the scripts as this season has shown some phenomenal writing ... nor can it fall squarely on the shoulders of the production staff. Steven Moffat, though hated by some, continues to steer the TARDIS and its Time Lord in the right direction.

That leads one thing left -- Peter Capaldi. I am of the opinion that Peter is certainly not the blame for the slight fall-off of viewership, but his performance of this regenerated Doctor is so great and so completely different from the previous three who came before him, particularly the hyper-exuberant Matt Smith, that fans simply haven’t caught up yet to just how fantastic a change it is. This Doctor is the product of having finally come face to face with the warring side of his nature, that side the Time Lord has spent millennia keeping from himself and the rest of the universe. However, it is a side most familiar to his enemies, the Daleks, the Sontarans, Cybermen, and especially The Master (or Mistress) in 2014. They do not fear the Doctor because he is a Time Lord, but they see in him a destructive force so great that it brings even great dread. As Peter Capaldi’s Doctor starts becoming more aware of this hidden darkness within himself he even dares to ask Clara that all important and revealing question, “Am I a good man?”

I would hope that the BBC and those in charge of making decisions as to the future of the show give Capaldi, Moffat and the writers time to continue fleshing-out this new Doctor and give all the fans room to finally realize the brilliance behind his new face.

I believe that in time Peter Capaldi’s portrayal of Doctor Who will be rated as one of the finest in its six decade-plus existence.

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