We love Peter Capaldi. He is a fantastic actor, and he did a fantastic job as the Twelfth Doctor. However, we are not fans of number 12.
Again, this is isn’t a criticism of Capaldi at all. He was great in every scene, always bringing his A game. He made some bold choices, and they all worked. It just felt to us that the showrunners didn’t really know where they wanted to take his doctor.
The ninth and tenth doctors had to deal with the war doctor. Eleven started fresh, effectively rebooting the series, and reminded us why the Doctor needs others. However, when he left, he also left his current companion. Clara (not Jenna Coleman, who we also adore) was a massive problem for the twelfth doctor.
Clara’s story was actually over when the eleven regenerates. Yet, instead of starting fresh, Stephen Moffat decided to make her focus be that she was a companion to a man who wasn’t the eleventh doctor. He tried to tidy it up in the first episode, but, for us, it left a huge shadow over the first season. The idea of the twelfth doctor exploring his past and wondering if he was a good “person” was a brilliant premise and made us excited when his trailers come out. However, it always felt as if he was being held back by having to deal with Clara. The second season with Clara, the year of the two doctors, was even more disappointing in our books. We never really got to feel as if we knew who the Twelfth Doctor really was. It wasn’t until his second season episode “Heaven Sent” that we felt we got to know to realize what this doctor could be.
This Doctor really came alive for us in his last season (and “The Husbands of River Song”). The Doctor was freed from the baggage of the past, well as much as he could be, and allowed to explore who he was. It also helped that he had a new companion in Bill. Bill’s journey in getting to know the Doctor on who he was as number 12 allowed us to do the same. For the first time, we got to feel what made up 12 instead of trying to figure out how he was different from 11.
That doesn’t mean there were not great episodes during his run. There were, and the addition of Missy was a godsend for his character.
Now, I’m basing this over one viewing of Capaldi’s Doctor. Maybe, a rewatch will allow us to catch things we miss.
Maybe we will become emotionally invested in his stories like we did with 9, 10, and 11. The work Capaldi put into it deserves that.