Here are just a few thoughts about the announcement of The Thirteenth Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, because I wanted to schedule a post for today, my first day back at work (yuck), and this was the only text I had available.
I don’t have a problem with a female The Doctor. Whittaker was very good in Broadchurch.
And that’s about the extent of my thoughts about the announcement.
I’ve never looked up to The Doctor as a male role model, and can’t even conceive of anyone who has, or what it might be like to be a man who believes they’ve lost their favorite male sci-fi role model.
(Although I have to admit that I vividly remember the Season 4 episode Midnight with the Tenth Doctor where someone suspiciously questioned how The Doctor knew things and he shouted back, “Because I’m clever!” and I was like, yeah, I can totally identify with that, he’s my hero, he’s just like me, except I don’t really consider that a gender-specific sort of hero worship.)
I’m reasonably confident that there are no men who actually look up to Doctor Who as a male role model, and 95% of the people complaining are just part of the outrage industry (that industry being made up of people who somehow profit from righteous fury but don’t actually give a damn one way or another).
For myself, I haven’t watched the show much since the Twelfth Doctor took over. I didn’t much care for the Eleventh Doctor either, but I still watched most of those episodes (more because of Amy and Rory to be honest). My personal favorite is still the Ninth Doctor, with the Tenth a close second. (I didn’t watch the “old” Doctors.) I am also very fond of the Doctor Who music composed by David Murray.
To be honest I’m more excited about Moffat leaving than the announcement of a woman Doctor. Moffat lately seemed to have a knack for giving The Doctor weird unexplained superpowers and plaguing every episode with a completely incomrehensible plot where the solution to every problem was some form of magic.
So I’ll be interested to see what they do with a reboot. It’s the only television show I can think of where regular reboots are expected.
That being said, I do think there is plenty of room for them to get into trouble with a female lead. There will be writing challenges. In the past, The Doctor quite often had to be “rescued” by his companions. How is that going to go over with a female lead?
Another fairly prominent characteristic of The Doctor is his rather humongous ego, his propensity for declaring himself to be the smartest person in the room. (See episode Midnight referenced above.) He typically has the kind of know-it-all personality that most people find abhorant, except he gets away with it because he’s earned it. (Somewhat like Sherlock Holmes.) How is that going to play with a female lead?
I’m not saying it won’t work. But those are traits that we generally don’t associate with strong female characters. (I think there is an unspoken law that every female character has to be a “strong” female character now.) It will be interesting to see how they deal with those kinds of issues. Will they simply overlay those traits on a female Doctor (which would make narrative sense) or will they try to change those traits so that the show is more “acceptable” (which would make business sense)?
I’ll also be curious to see just how often they’re going to go to the well for “oh hey I’m a woman now” jokes. If they do that too often, it will be a disaster. But if they don’t at least acknowledge it, at least in the first episode, it will be unrealistic, because it would certainly be something he/she would comment on.
I’m trying to think of other female characters that might fit the general mold of The Doctor’s personality. Over-confident, brilliant, quirky, theatric, childish, vulnerable. Abby from NCIS? Not quite right. And that’s all I can think of.
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