This will be the saddest Christmas: Matt Smith has announced that he's stepping down as the star of Doctor Who at the end of the Christmas special. Smith is irreplaceable, but already people are speculating on names to replace him. We have no idea who will take the role, but here's what we'd like to see from the Twelfth Doctor.
Top image: Vampiric Time Lord on Deviant Art
There are plenty of names being bandied about as the next incarnation of the Time Lord, many of which are exciting. Including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Zawe Ashton, Rory Kinnear, Russell Tovey, Colin Salmon, Ben Whishaw, Rupert Grint, Helen Mirren and Olivia Colman. Of course, the actors who are named as frontrunners for the role are never the ones who actually get the role, so you can pretty much assume it won't be one of those.
In any case, none of us has any way of knowing who the next Doctor will be, and going by past experience it could be an actor we've never heard of. But here are the qualities we'd like to see in the next Doctor:
A slightly older Doctor would be nice. We'll probably never have another Doctor who's an elderly gent like some of the classic Doctors, and that's fine. But after the young, gamboling Smith, it would be nice to have a bit of a change of pace and see a Time Lord who's got at least some of the years written on his or her face. Apart from anything else, when a young actor has played the Doctor, he's usually wound up as a young man deliberately playing older. And conversely, a somewhat older actor in the role often paradoxically brings out the eternal youthfulness of the Doctor. So that could be fun.
The next Doctor should have more anger. This is something that Tom Baker and David Tennant both excelled at — the Doctor's burning outrage at injustice, in particular. And part of what made Christopher Eccleston so electrifying in the role was that you felt he was always just barely containing his anger at the Time War. And Matt Smith certainly brought some anger as well, particularly in the bitter speech in "The Beast Below" and the "Colonel Run Away" speech, but I'd love to see the next Doctor really burn with rage again.
Similarly, the Twelfth Doctor should be darker. Because he's getting closer to becoming the evil Valeyard, who lies between the Doctor's twelfth and thirteenth selves (and has been reaffirmed as a future by the Great Intelligence.) We may never see the Doctor become the Valeyard, as such, but we should see that as a danger that he's close to falling into. (That's assuming that John Hurt's "Doctor" isn't the Valeyard, and that he doesn't "count" as a Doctor, or else Matt Smith's Doctor is actually the twelfth.)
The next Doctor really ought to have male friends. There's no point in complaining about romance in Doctor Who — it's part of the show now, and arguably it was always part of the show, with characters like Jo Grant and Romana. But one of the hallmarks of the Matt Smith era is that the Doctor is always slightly disdainful of male "rivals" for female attention, particularly Rory in the early episodes. (This is commented on in some of the DVD cutscenes.) And I miss the Doctor's friendships with men like Jamie, the Brigadier or Captain Jack. It's great that he has Madame Vastra and Jenny and Strax, but assuming we get another male Doctor (more on that in a sec) a full-blown bromance wouldn't be a bad thing.
Less Troughton, more Pertwee. It's become fashionable for everybody to name Patrick Troughton as their favorite classic Doctor — because he's so great. He arguably made the Doctor the character he is today, and made the show's longevity possible. But his isn't the only interpretation of the character that made a huge mark in the show's first decade — Jon Pertwee's gregarious, kung-fu-fighting, swashbuckling, perpetually horrified incarnation also shaped the character a lot. And since Matt Smith borrowed quite a bit from Troughton for his characterization, maybe it's time for a Pertwee-influenced Doctor.
Let's see a Doctor who never takes the easy way out. I know, I just got done saying a darker Doctor would be nice — but so would a Doctor who sometimes makes things harder because he won't just blow up the bad guys. For some reason lately I've been thinking a lot about the bit in "The Doctor's Daughter" where Tennant's Doctor proclaims himself a man who "never would." At the time, that scene struck me as maybe just slightly hackneyed, but it's stuck in my mind since then. I'd like to see the Doctor more often seizing the moral high ground, even if it means he risks losing.
Let's have a female Doctor. Come on. Really. The Doctor can be anyone, and assume any form. And it would be fantastic to see someone like Mirren or Tilda Swinton take on the role, and show us just how different the Doctor can be. Given that this show is committed to being about romance, it would be nice to see a spin on that theme in which the Doctor is the female party. Of course, the British papers are reporting that the BBC balks at the idea of a female Doctor because parents might complain, and this show is one of the BBC's biggest cash cows — so this may be too much to hope for. But Doctor Who has always been ahead of its time, right?