The Doctor has entertained audiences with many faces for over 50 years. Each one comes with its own endearing quirks. In the 50th anniversary special “The Day of Doctor,” for instance, Matt Smith and David Tennant’s incarnations met face to face with a heretofore unknown version played by the late John Hurt — a rare, but not unheard of treat for Doctor Who fans since the trio’s subsequent misadventures took a microscope to their individual peculiarities. But when Peter Capaldi’s glaring eyes made a brief cameo toward the end, viewers were left wondering what his 12th Doctor would be like.
The next four years would leave Doctor Who fans in the dark, mostly. The special’s three main Doctors were all well developed — Smith’s was a seemingly innocent child who was “incapable of speaking without flapping [his] hands about,” Tennant’s was a lanky ladies’ man, and Hurt’s curmudgeonly “War Doctor” kept complaining. But Capaldi? The mere seconds his eyes graced the screen weren’t enough to leave an impression, but as two seasons and three Christmas specials would prove, his time at the helm apparently hasn’t been enough to endear him to audiences as strongly as his immediate predecessors.
Those who’ve stuck with Doctor Who have struggled just as much as Capaldi to understand and accept his take on the character. An early emphasis on his Doctor’s lacking identity, constant costume changes and even a “soft reboot” in season nine have done little to render things any clearer. Now that Capaldi’s time is almost up, however, perhaps 2017 will be the year he truly makes the Doctor his own.