As soon as word went out that the BBC was going to be broadcasting the announcement of Matt Smith’s successor on Doctor Who, just about anyone with any claim on geekdom, or Whovianism, immediately ditched plans for the appointed hour (11am Pacific yesterday.) Yes, of course I was one of them—Don’t be ridiculous—Although not without a bit of grudging reluctance, bordering on antipathy.
The whole idea of an event to name the next Doctor just seems so low rent and tawdry that it really goes against my grain. Seeing the heir to the legacy of Galifrey named on a game-show-like special, hosted by a distaff Richard Dawson, just reeks of hucksterism, and a studio mentality that doesn’t seem too far off from the one portrayed in the 1987 Schwarzenegger film, “The Running Man“, which actually co-starred Richard Dawson. The event had a nose with a distinct air of frommage…Limburger to be precise. Is this what the BBC is coming to? Srsly?
No, I want my future Doctors to be revealed in the right way…The appropriate way. I want to find out the new Doctor’s identity when the old Doctor regenerates. No hints, no spoilers, no pimped-out specials featuring everyone who ever played a bit part on the show giving fond reminiscences and musings about the nature of the Doctor while everyone in the audience sits there going “JUST FUCKING GET ON WITH IT ALREADY!”
I mean, really.
Some would argue that given today’s 24-hour news cycle, and the pervasive power of social media, keeping something like the identity of the new Doctor a secret is nigh on impossible and, that being the case, you can’t judge the BBC too harshly for creating an event, complete with Carnival-like theatrics, to make the most of their multi-million dollar, world-wide phenomenon of a franchise. Well, except I think that is, to use a term, complete bollocks…Stay classy BBC.
As to the choice of Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor? I’m fine with it…Happy, in fact, to see that Moffat and company have selected an older actor, bucking the idea that the Doctor has to be under 40 to capture the youth market. Again, some folks are disagreeing, and they are free too (but they are wrong.) It was a brilliant decision, one that will take the show in a completely different direction, and return the Doctor-Companion dynamic to one of a mentor and guide opening up the Universe to our surrogate selves, and put the lid on the Doctor/Companion romance themes that have been dominating the series since the Doctor and Rose Tyler first started traveling together back in 2005 (although I have always suspected that Sarah Jane Smith would have shagged the 4th Doctor rotten if he gave her even the slightest bit of encouragement, but that’s another matter.)
As far as the more blatantly ageist critics of Capaldi as 12th Doctor go…Get over it. We’ve had older dudes playing James Bond that drew audiences in droves, including Connery who, at the age of 82, is still getting it done with audiences, especially the ladies…There is something inherently compelling, and attractive, about the combination of experience, wisdom, and being a complete badass. As long as Capaldi does justice to the role, and serves the show and the character well, I believe the majority of the fans will embrace him…And for those who don’t, there is always Netflix.
I was actually hoping for someone like Chiwetel Ejiofor to be the next Doctor. No, I was seriously wanting Chiwetel Ejiofor to be the next Doctor, as, to me, he represents the pefect combination of wit, wisdom, and badassery to fit the bill, but he’s still got many good years ahead of him, and could still be the 13th (do you hear me Moffat????), now I’m anxious to see what Peter Capaldi can do with the part. But you can’t make everyone happy, and some folks would just object to whoever was cast…Just the nature of the situation.
And speaking about the situation, and nature of the Doctor…
There were a lot of folks who wanted to see a female in the role. There was even a bit that acknowledged that in the special yesterday, with Moffat saying something along the lines that it is canon that Time Lords can be female, adding, “I am aware that Helen Mirren has stated it is time a woman was cast, well all I can say to her is I think it’s about time we let a man play The Queen!”
When Moffat is being brilliant there is no one better at it.
Although Jill Pantozzi, a great journalist and advocate for both geek girls and feminism in general, disagreed with me on Twitter about this yesterday, I believe Moffat was saying, “Yes, there can be female Time Lords, but the nature, history, and mythos, of the Doctor has always been male, and having a woman play the Doctor would serve the character about as well has having a man play the Queen would for that character.” And I agree…
Moffat’s comment was fast, off-the-cuff, and maybe not the most sensitive way of addressing the issue, but I don’t agree with those who feel he was trolling feminists…I think it was a short-hand way of expressing what he felt was best for the character and, if it came of as being glib one has to remember what it’s like to be under the pressure of a live interview, and take it at that.
It has nothing to do with not being an advocate for female roles, not being a feminist, or anything like that…I just feel that the Doctor, as he has been portrayed for 50 years now, is in his character and nature, essentially male, and that casting a woman in the role would do a great disservice to the character, and the legacy of the show.
Feel free to disagree, but it’s not something I want to get into a debate about (like with the jackass who was trying to flame bait me on Twitter yesterday…) It’s just my opinion, take it, or dismiss it, at that…But also don’t take that as me, or Moffat, being closed-minded, it’s just a choice. If I were the show runner, I would do whatever I felt best served the character and, as I said, for me that would be always regenerating the Doctor as a male. We’ve met the Doctor’s mother in the 10th Doctor’s later days, and he is the son she raised, not the daughter…I could keep going on, but it will still draw criticism from people who feel that it’s a political matter, and not one of dramaturgy.
I’d welcome stories about women Time Lords, and would love to see the Doctor’s ‘daughter’ brought back for some continuing adventures, as both the character and the actress (Georgia Moffett, daughter of Peter Davison, the 5th Doctor, and wife of David Tennant, the 10th Doctor) would make for some very compelling storytelling, I just don’t want to see The Doctor cast as a woman…With one possible exception.
If Helen Mirren were ever to be cast as the Doctor, I would embrace that with open arms…She’s the one actress with the combination of humor, fire, and complete badassery that could do justice to the role, and she would probably be the greatest Doctor ever (with the exception of Chiwetel Ejiofor, who would rock the role beyond the telling of it. Got me, Moffat? 😉 )
Looking forward to November, and the next series…