Thursday, July 20, 2017

Doctor Who: Who Is New?

ON Sunday 16 July 2017 the internet was all ablaze, at least the Sci-Fi part of it, with news of what actor would take on the mantle of the title role of The Doctor on the long lasting British Science Fiction Television show Doctor Who. The announcement was made after the Wimbledon Finals in the form of a video teaser trailer. One of the big questions was would they make the risky decision to cast a woman in the role? The announcement would answer that as well one way or the other.

In a risky casting move The BEEB Chose actress Jodie Whittaker to portray the 13th (well technically 14th, or 15th) incarnation of The Doctor. Not to be confused with American actor Johnny Whitaker who s famous for playing a character named Jody. Jodie is most known for the BBC Series Broadchurch which was produced by on-coming Who producer Chris Chibnall it also stars Doctor 10 David Tennant with another potential choice for first female Doctor Olivia Colman, as well as Who Alumni Arthur Darvill, and the sci-fi movie Attack the Block. I have wanted to see Broadchurch which has ended after 3 series (seasons) but haven't gotten around to it or the made for American TV Gracepoint which as far as I know is a complete remake using Tennant and maybe a few other of the original actors but not many. I've been meaning to pick up the DVDs. I am also a several series/seasons behind in picking up Doctor Who DVDs.

It would be best if they don't make any obvious comments about the sex/gender change in dialog. However during her "just after the regeneration" scene when she is checking out what has changed. At some point she will notice her breasts probably very casually and will have to make some kind of acknowledgement that she is now female- "face, smooth skin, delicate features, small ears, firm breasts, (checks hair and sighs) pity still not ginger..."

It might be interesting if they do visit it when she meets the Daleks for the first time. After a couple of skirmishes The Doctor and her companion(s) are captured by the Daleks. The Doctor is taken for interrogation.

DALEK: I-Dent-Ti-Fy! I-Dent-Ti-Fy Your-Self!
DOCTOR: I'm the Doctor.
DALEK: The Doc-Tor? But you are a Female. The Doc-Tor is Male!
DOCTOR: Check your files I do change from time-to-time.
DALEK: Yes it is true The Doctor does change his appearance often.
DOCTOR;  His? Oh Well, there you have it. I've changed again. Silly me.
DALEK: But you are still...
DOCTOR: Yes, yes, yes I'm still a Female and I AM The Doctor. Imagine that. Now here's the part where you tell me all I need to know about your plans of domination of this planet, and don't forget the clever bit where my companion(s) and I make a daring escape and ruin all those maniacal plans of yours before you can say "Ex-Ter-Min-Nate".

Now a few years ago I was in the "Never A Woman" camp. Partly because of Tradition and probably more so thinking that if the producers made that change they would be caving into the PC crowd that wants to change sex, gender, orientation, race, ethnicity, everything and anything about a character just for the sake of changing it that way. Or that they were doing it as a gimmick.

I realized that it doesn't matter for the Doctor what his/her sex or gender is. It is their character, and good quality writing. Now for a character like James Bond switching to Jane Bond is a No-No. Having another 00Agent sure fine, but Jane Bond is a different character than James. Hmm I wonder has there ever been a case of an established female character switched to male? There have been a few where the original draft, or source material like the original novel, or maybe even a draft script was originally written as a female. For instance in the Original Star Trek series the original vision had the 2nd in command as a woman. Number One in the originally un-aired "The Cage" played by Majel Berrett (Roddenberry). Before the series started regular production the character was changed into Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy).

There have been some very successful male to female changes to characters. Starbuck and Boomer in Battlestar Galactica. In the James Bond films they changed Bond's boss M into a woman. I recall in Comics Marvel gender-swapped their Capt. Marvel after they had killed him and made her Ms. Marvel. Recently the entire Ghostbusters crew was swapped. Many fans of the original hate the all-female version, but I like it. Loved the cameos from the original actors Dan Aykroyd as a cabbie was great. I don't love it like I do the original but I enjoyed it, except for the hippity-hoppy music during the end credits with their silly dance moves an establishment of the situation is OK but a full blown full "music video" performance ah no. It is like when songs add an all music break, or a solo in the middle of a song, often it breaks it up too much.

There have been many nay-sayers who have said they will no longer watch the show because of this decision. Over the years there have been fair-weather "fans" like that before, even as recently as when Peter Capaldi took over the role 3-4 years ago because he was TOO OLD. bah. I will still watch the series for as long as it lasts, or for as long as I last which ever comes first.

Here is a fun video that is worth a few laughs:

Some more fun was done for one of the Comic Relief specials Doctor Who - The Curse of Fatal Death. Parodies the Doctor regenerating and of course a gender-swap. At the time Joanna Lumley had been mentioned as a possible female Doctor.

I am fine with the decision. It surprised me at first, but I am OK with it. If this had been 4 or 5 years ago I might not have been, but I don't think I would have abandoned the series. I hope Jodie has wonderful writers for her stories and that she blows everyone away with her performances.

Just remember the first producer for Doctor Who was a  woman Verity Lambert.

The Announcement Videos:
13th Doctor Announcement Teaser
13th Doctor Announcement Reveal

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