I normally don’t like to talk about a new season before it talks, but with all the hype about the new direction things are going, I thought I’d bend the rules a bit and talk about what we know so far. I’ll be critiquing each item that’s been announced, with the exception of the new composer because we don’t even have a name yet, and even if we did, I’d need a listen to the person’s repertoire.
Let’s start with the wardrobe. I like it. I’ve always felt the Doctor’s outfit should look odd, but not overtly ridiculous. The Doctor has never really gotten fashion right as a male, so why would a female Doctor? It doesn’t look too bad, and I like the color scheme of her shirt.
Our new companions are played by Mandip Gill (Yasmin), Bradley Walsh (Graham), and Tosin Cole (Ryan). I know nothing of what they’ve done before this show, and even if I did, I wouldn’t judge them this early. My main problem is the number of companions. I’ve often felt Doctor Who was at its best when we had one or two companions. The show always makes good use of a small cast. When you have more than two companions, the stories can become a mess and often a character doesn’t feel developed enough. This happened in both the Hartnell and Davison eras. Susan and Nyssa got shafted, and they really shouldn’t have. I’m not saying this will ruin the show, but I don’t like the idea.
Well, not only do we have a new Doctor, but we also have a new composer and a new executive producer: Chris Chibnall. Chris is actually someone whose history with Doctor Who has been hit or miss. I’ve liked some of his stories, like “42”, and there were some that I didn’t outright hate, but I didn’t rank highly either, like “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. On the other hand, he also wrote many of Torchwood‘s best episodes.
While I do have faith that Chibnall will do the best he can, I can’t help but think of what I would do if I had the job. Here’s some ideas I had:
- My Doctor would be either Eddie Redmayne, star of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, or my dream pick Liam Neeson. Both have shown they can do both dramatic and comedic performances, and I’d want a Doctor like characters they’ve portrayed.
- One idea that they’ve already addressed is extending the run time. As I said in my overview of the Capaldi era, the pacing was a big problem. Many episodes felt like they didn’t have enough time to flesh out their concepts. Chibnall has decided to add fifteen extra minutes to the run time, which for Americans like myself means the show will probably run about 75 minutes with commercials.
- No more leaks! Last season, we had too many things spoiled: Missy’s return, the Mondasian Cybermen, Rona Munro returning to write “Eaters of Light”, and the returns of John Simm and Matt Lucas. True, many of these did become great, but I’d much rather be surprised by their success. (Especially when the hype didn’t work out, as in the case of “Eaters of Light”)
- No spin-offs–Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures were fine. We already have great spin-offs from Big Finish, we don’t really need more, especially when we have what happened with Class, where one of the big problems was that it was placed in a bad timeslot and it was barely promoted.
- I have two companion ideas. One is a female android named Ardra. On her planet, androids are forbidden, even though they are programmed with the laws Asimov concocted for his robots: Don’t harm humans, do what humans tell them, and protect themselves. Ardra is also a blank slate, something the Doctor would have to fix. Ardra is looking for her “Father”, her inventor David Nikola, who would be introduced at Christmas. I don’t have preferences for their actors/actresses because I’d rather whoever got picked be relatively unknown and become a success later on, like Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, and John Barrowman have.
Well, it happened. A couple weeks ago, the new Doctor was announced. And it’s Jodie Whittaker, the first woman to ever play the role. And what happened? Exactly what I predicted. This is why I didn’t want a 13th Doctor. This is why I said it would kill the show. Many fans are rage quitting, although some don’t care. And Radio Times is saying “If you don’t accept her, you’re not a real fan.” (Real smooth) Some fans like myself are claiming that Doctor Who is once again caving in to pressure from special interest people and giving in to the new gender politics. Some of my fellow Christian fans of Doctor Who have considered this the final betrayal and are giving up on the show entirely. I’m conflicted myself. As I said, I didn’t want this. But I also said I’d watch to see if I’m proven wrong.
First, let’s refute some arguments. No, I don’t have a problem with a female lead. I currently watch Bones, Supergirl, and Jessica Jones. And one of my favorite Star Trek spin-offs was Voyager.
I also don’t mind gender swaps when they work. The Doctor Strange movie had Tilda Swinton playing The Ancient One, who was originally male in the comics. That idea wouldn’t have worked in the movie, because he was stereotypically drawn to look like the typical Asian character–Fu Man Chu mustache, yellow skin, you know the look. That would’ve led to more problems, and Swinton was up to the challenge. Voltron: Legendary Defender changed Pidge into a girl named Katie Holt, who now uses Pidge as an alias. This was fine because the original Pidge was an androgynous effeminate boy, so I think making her a tomboy works better.
No, my problem is that I perceived the Doctor’s masculinity as part of his character. To all you women who love this idea, I want to ask you something. Let’s say they rebooted the Alien movies, and had Vin Diesel playing Ellen Ripley. That would be a bad idea because the whole point of those movies is that Ellen, a woman, is saving the day instead of a man. It’d reduce the movies to a generic sci-fi action flick and nullify its significance.