The Thirteenth Doctor

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The Thirteenth Doctor

Postby bakamatt » Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:18 pm

Meanwhile, in the land of foreign media from Britain...

The story is getting enough coverage overall that you could have easily heard: the new, thirteenth Doctor is a woman.

And should this remark be entirely out of context for you, here's the skinny. In 1963 the BBC launched a new sf franchise called Doctor
, featuring a human-looking alien with a time machine (that was stuck looking like a police call box) who protected the universe from
various threats. And, except for a hiatus from 1989 to 2005, the show's been in production ever since. When the first actor to play The Doctor (never "Doctor Who" - that's the name of the franchise) retired from the role, the producers wanted to keep the series running, so they concluded that when The Doctor (or any "Time Lord") dies, he reincarnates in a new body with his memories intact, but a new personality.

So, in continunity this has happened eleven times, and will shortly happen again, hence the "Thirteenth Doctor". Doctors One through Twelve were all played by white men, so while the selection of a new Doctor is always a big deal in a certain fandom, this particular choice has additional social overtones. (The Twelfth had a bit of that, as he was played by a 55-year-old following two popular younger Doctors that achieved the status of sex symbols. One of whom was played by an actor called Matt Smith, to my entertainment.)

Now, while I'm not a Whovian (as the fans have come to be called), many old friends and acquaintances are, so between obligation and osmosis, I've had some exposure to the mythos and have seen a handful of various Doctors' episodes. I also feel like I have to respect any fandom of a foreign media, although it irritates the stuffing out of to me know that they won't even sample any other foreign country's media (i.e., anime).

And while I was thinking about this news and the inevitable backlash to replacing a male character with a female one, I had an insight that might partially explain my antipathy and indeed why Doctor Who fandom skews female. I saw a post in which someone complained that The Doctor "is a male role". Which I not only felt was hogwash in general, but was a particularly poor choice of "man's role". See, for just about his entire history, The Doctor hasn't at all fit the mold of the "action hero": he relies on empathy, compassion, wit, emotional and intellectual judo, intuition, and knowing when to run away. A list that includes far more traditional female tactics than male ones. Which means what I found myself watching was was an "action" show where the hero didn't so much as punch a single bad guy. I guess I'm not mature enough to cope.

I put a post on Facebook in which I paraphrased the prior paragraph, and suggested that it wasn't that the BBC was making a mistake casting a woman now, but had made the mistake the twelve prior times of casting a man. The post has been far better received than I expected, as I felt I was being somewhat snarky to the rabid fans of Doctors Ten and Eleven, David Tennant and Matt Smith, to suggest that they should have been women. But no one seems to have thought it through that far.

The Doctor has always had one or two human Companions on his adventures. In the case of Ten and Eleven, these were female and there was some suggestion of sexual tension written in since, as I mentioned, the actors proved to have quite a bit of sex appeal to female viewers. So people are assuming Thirteen will have a male Companion. But I'm sure the writers would like to do something
novel with that dynamic; I was thinking they could give her two male Companions that become romantic rivals. Or five or six, at which point I realized I'd created Doctor Who the anime.
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