- Entertainment and Media»
- Television & TV Shows
The newest Doctor Who is *gasp* a woman!
But does it really matter? Hint: By the time she takes on the role, probably not
On Sunday, July 16th 2017, Whovians waited as the suspense of the Wimbledon tennis tournament bored them for the trailer which would reveal the incoming 13th Doctor. Said trailer began with a hooded figure walking through a forest and having the TARDIS key appear magically in their hand. It then cut to a suspiciously-feminine looking pair of eyes before the Thirteenth Doctor revealed *gasp* "herself" to be Broadchurch actress Jodie Whittaker, whom I later learned was selected partly because she worked with incoming head writer Chris Chibnall on said series and he wanted her from the start. And we had to put up with the usual fan boy and girl gripes when a new Doctor is announced, but for a different reason.
In my first HubPages article, I talked about how I used to feel like an outcast in America for loving what was an obscure cult show in the 90s and I still kind of do despite how big it has gotten now. Reason being, every Doctor since 2005 had to work hard to win me over, except for the current actor who is leaving this Christmas, Scottish Peter Capaldi. Despite the fact that I grew to like them all very much, none of the other three modern Doctors looked like the kind of Doctors I'd been used to watching on VHS in the 90s, they were all reasonably young. In Eleven Matt Smith's case, he was incredibly young. In the cases of Eccleston and Tennant kind of ordinary looking. The Doctors to that point had been older and unusual-looking. The reason Mr. Capaldi has not had to work to win me over, even when he wasn't in the best episodes which were many episodes of his first series, was because he is older, fifty-five when he took the role, and he is wide-eyed and unusual-looking. Plus, his Doctor started out kind of rude, also like the old-school Doctors were. And I am sure Jodie Whittaker will also work hard to win me over and succeed.
However, the "I hate you when I first see you, I warm up a bit before your first ep ends, I love you so much four episodes in, please don't go, you're the best Doctor ever when you say you're leaving!" cycle is is not the main reason for the new Doctor backlash for once. The main reason is because Jodie Whittaker is a woman. But as much as these stubborn, and in some cases sexist, people complain now, this was pretty much inevitable.
In 1981, when the legendary Tom Baker was, much to every fan in England's dismay, leaving the show, he and producer/showrunner John Nathan-Turner, apparently after a night of drinking, decided to have a bit of fun with the press and fed them a line that the next Doctor might have been a woman. It didn't happen but it sparked several decades of that rumor popping up again every time the current Doctor was about to leave. In fact, the author just found out that in 1987, after Sixth Doctor Colin Baker was fired due to personal differences with then-BBC chairman Michael Grade, who hated the show to begin with, the show's creator Sidney Newman got in touch with the BBC and suggested the Seventh Doctor be a woman to add new life into the show but they didn't take him up on that. The rumor was even floated around as recently as 2013 when Matt Smith was leaving. But that's not the main reason this had to happen sooner or later.
Girl power is much more prevalent in entertainment than it used to be in the 2010s. Director Paul Feig is notorious for films like Bridesmaids, the Heat, Spy, comedies that feature women in leading roles and appeal to open-minded men because they're raunchy. The CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls featured Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs as the titular characters and although it was not (even close to) the best-written sitcom ever, the fantastic chemistry between Dennings and Behrs as a modern-day Lucy and Ethel or Laverne and Shirley made the show worth watching, particularly because the two were apparently not just two girls hired to play best friends and were just as close off-camera as on. In addition, World Wrestling Entertainment's three main shows, Raw, Smackdown, and NXT all have female divisions and many of the women on all three shows are just as fun to watch as the men. NXT's ladies champion in particular, Kanako "Asuka" Urai, is a force who could probably legitimately beat up most of the men on all three shows. Also standing out in WWE is Ashley "Charlotte" Fliehr, daughter of the legendary "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. Though she is not anywhere near as great a talker as her father was, as a former fitness trainer she is a natural athlete and I dare say she just may be far better than he in the ring, which says a lot. In addition, though former ladies' UFC bantamweight champion "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey's, reputation diminished a bit after losing her last two fights, those people whom it diminished with would likely be ripped apart in a fight with her, male or female, and I am sure she will do well in her own new career as a WWE Superstar.
The Netflix series GLOW is a fictional dramedy about the real-life women's "wrestling" TV show Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling and is set in 1985 when the real show was launched and the show, led by mostly the women on the show-within-a-show, is eerily similar to Penny Marshall's classic 1992 comedy A League of their Own. Though the real-life GLOW could only be classified as a guilty pleasure, the Netflix GLOW is an excellent, well-performed, well-written show. Last summer's Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot in the titular role, in addition to being unusually excellent for a DC Film, was a smash-hit.
Even on Doctor Who there is more girl power than there used to be. In the 1970s (but officially on the series it was the 1980s), the Third Doctor aligned himself with UNIT, United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, a military organization which helped him against the alien threats he faced. UNIT was run by the Doctor's old acquaintance, Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, played by the late great Nicholas Courtney. The Brigadier, though somehow lovable anyway, was the definition of manliness, he was stubborn, gun-crazy, impulsive and occasionally dopey. And when he passed on, who did he leave in charge of the organization? His only child, his daughter Kate Stewart, as played by Jemma Redgrave. Also, the same American female director, Rachel Talalay, has returned to direct the two-part series finales three years in a row and now the 2017 Christmas special because she is one of the best directors the current version of the show has. In addition, since it had been officially established in 2011 or 2012 that Time Lords can change gender when they regenerate, the Gallifreyan War General (Ken Bones) who had previously been in the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor and had a love-hate relationship with the Doctor, regenerated into a black woman when "he" was dying and proclaimed that she was now back to normal and that she'd never been a man before that. And there is the show's primary antagonist, The Master.
Yes, folks who haven't been watching lately, for the last three series, the Master, the Moriarty to the Doctor's Sherlock Holmes, has been a woman named Missy (short for "Mistress"), as portrayed by Michelle Gomez. Though towards the end of her run she may have been too a bit too empathetic for the Master, as her previous incarnation John Simm pointed out when he visited her this series, otherwise she worked out just fine and was wonderful portraying the most evil genius in the Universe as a dark Mary Poppins. And while she worked well with Capaldi, who apparently had known her before the show (Scottish actors stick together, I guess), I'd always felt she would have had better chemistry with a woman Doctor. It is for all these reasons that a female Doctor was pretty much bound to happen sooner or later.
As for the complaints, people say, "What's next, a female James Bond?" Well, for starters, this Atomic Blonde film with Charlize Theron appears to kind of be just that. Since Bond is, you know, human and incapable of actually changing his face and gender unlike the Doctor, you will still have plenty of male James Bonds in your lifetime, folks, even if Atomic Blonde becomes a franchise. Then they say, "First Ghostbusters and now this." Again, the Ghostbusters are human and unlike the Doctor, that probably wouldn't have worked in 2016 even if you kept the new people male or (especially) brought back Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray.
So before you go freaking out that they did something different (because we certainly would be talking about it fifty-one years later if in 1966 Patrick Troughton was exactly like William Hartnell!), watch Jodie and Chris Chibnall's first episode. I'm sure the proper "new Doctor cycle" routine I mentioned earlier will continue on schedule when you do.
In the recent Series 10 finale, The Doctor Falls, when the Twelfth Doctor agreed with a decision his female companion/friend Bill Potts made, an exasperated John Simm's Master asked, "Is the future gonna be all girl?" to which he replied, "We can only hope." Well, he got his wish. And just for the record, most of the former Doctors, including her immediate predecessor Capaldi and her former Broadchurch co-star David Tennant, have fully endorsed her.
So this isn't the end of the show. If it had been on in 1997, I'd be saying it was twenty years late, even if I would have been too stubborn in 1997 to endorse poor Jodie (which I would have been because I was sixteen years old). So open up your mind to Jodie, naysayers, because she's coming whether you like it or not. And it doesn't mean the Doctor will never be a man again, it just means that women are now eligible too.