Sunday, July 16, 2017

And the 13th Doctor is….


To use the words of River Song, “SPOILERS!!”

So if you really don’t want to know who the next Doctor Who lead is stop reading immediately (and stick your head in a bucket of sand because December is a long long way away).

* * *

A lot of Doctor Who fans were hoping we wouldn’t hear the identity of who would be replacing Peter Capaldi until the annual Christmas Day special. Then all of a sudden, the BBC announces it would be revealed today.

Either they got spooked that it would be leaked, as the past few have been, or there was a backroom deal made and they will be magically showing up at Comic-Con next week, or perhaps a combination of the two.

Ever since Capaldi announced in January he was leaving Doctor Who, the speculation has ramped up over who would be the next Doctor. With that speculation came multiple names of who might be stepping into those shoes. Some guesses were pretty solid actors, while others were far fetched.

Adding variety to this change was the big push to have a female assume the role for the first time. There had been speculation that a woman, or at the very least a non-white actor, would be chosen, ever since the show was resurrected in 2005.

But, it should be noted that it was not until 2011’s episode Let’s Kill Hitler, that the possibility of changing race was added to cannon. Then a couple of years later the idea of changing gender was canonized when we were introduced to Missy, in The Bells of Saint John. (As it turned out, Missy was a regeneration of the Doctor’s arch nemesis, The Master, who we’d last seen seven years prior).

Both of those additions to canon were made by outgoing executive producer Steven Moffat, who happened to also be the writer for both stories.

* * *

Around 5:30 am (PDT) all eyes were fixated on BBC One to get the answer. Viewers’ television screens switched to a forest. A figure dressed in a charcoal gray hooded coat slowly walked away from the camera. Excitement grew with every methodical step. The person had an obvious svelte build. But, that’s all we could tell.

Thirty seconds in a white right hand came up meaning the 13th Doctor wouldn’t be David Harewood or Idris Elba. Seven seconds after that a glimpse of an obviously feminine left eye told us the next Doctor would be the first female Doctor. But, would it be Jodie Whittaker, Olivia Colman or Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who odds-makers were projecting as the first female Doctor. (An interesting fact is that all three of these woman played roles in Chibnall’s Broadchurch.)

The hood was slowly removed to reveal Whittaker as the next Doctor!

As quick as a flash of lightning, the Internet was ablaze with people applauding the choice, as well as those condemning it.

Chibnall is now publically saying the 13th Doctor was always going to be a woman, and Whittaker was his first choice. How much of that is reality vs just trying to stand 100% behind Whittaker is up for conjecture. But, if so, it means he was just stringing popular choice Kris Marshall along; providing he ever met with him to begin with.

* * *

So how do I feel about this major change in direction?

I will admit to being a little disappointed about it. But, unlike some, I’m certainly going to wait to see how things pan out when Season 11 airs sometime next year. Besides, as the sixth Doctor Colin Baker tweeted, “…she IS the Doctor whether you like it, or not!”

It’s been quite some time since I watched Broadchurch so Whittaker might turn out to be the best thing to happen to the show since David Tennant (ironically also of Broadchurch).

A lot of fans seem willing to blame Capaldi, the most recent Doctor. Me, not as much. To me, the show seems to have been hit or miss over the past few seasons. Some episodes were great, while others lacked any kind of spark from the get-go.

I think it would have made more sense to cast a well established male actor, such as Tom Hiddleston, Colin Ferrell, or even Ben Daniels, though the latter is probably pushing the upper age limit of who they’d probably consider, as the viewing audience seems to skew towards those 30 and under, with nearly as many women as men tuning in. Then spend the time on tightly written story lines, rather than what might be looked at as a gimmick used to grab lots of attention.

Should the show tank even further, it will be too easy for the detractors to blame the idea of a female Doctor as being the reason for the failure.

The previously mentioned Elba would have been fantastic as the first black Doctor. But, he’s got his hands full with bringing Steven King’s The Dark Tower to the big screen, along with a follow-up television series.

Another important part of the puzzle hasn’t been revealed yet. Who will the Doctor’s new Companion be?

The Companion is a person who encounters the Doctor by happenstance, and then joins them in their travels around the universe.

Chemistry is very important so perhaps it hasn’t been decided upon, and they want to wait so the potential actors can read against Whittaker. The previous companion, Bill Potts (Perl Mackie), was a breath of fresh air over the previous few Companions. But, only she lasted only one season.

Moffat had apparently wanted to leave Chibnall with a clean slate, which is why he got rid of Capaldi, Mackie and Matt Lucas (Nardole) all in one fell swoop. But, I’d suggest that perhaps Mackie’s character being gay might’ve lead to unwanted controversies with the first female Doctor.

Moffat killed off Potts in episode 11, only to bring her back within the sappy closing moments of the season finale, so it’s certainly possible we haven’t seen the last of her; nor Nardole for that matter, who was marooned on another level of the Mondasian colony ship.

* * *

Will some people label me as a misogynist, homophobe, or both, because I’d rather have another male Doctor? I’d hope not. But, it won’t surprise me either if it happens as It seems easier to do so than to actually listen to any opposing viewpoint on something as inconsequential as a television series.