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No Debate: The new Doctor is great news ...

Published July 17, 2017 12:45 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Here's some good news amidst all the bad.

— Jodie Whittaker named first female star of 'Doctor Who' — Jill Lawless | Associated Press



"London • British actress Jodie Whittaker was announced Sunday as the next star of the long-running science fiction series 'Doctor Who' — the first woman to take a role that has been played by a dozen men over six decades. ...

" ...Whittaker is the 13th official incarnation of the Doctor, a galaxy-hopping Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who travels in the Tardis, a time machine shaped like an old-fashioned British police telephone booth. ..."

I wasn't eager to see the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, go. I thought he was wonderfully gruff. But I also don't watch the show as much as I used to, since it moved from commercial-free PBS to annoyingly commercial-full BBC America. (It's also been dropped by Nexflix, darn it.)

But, combined with the success of summer blockbuster "Wonder Woman," this is good news.

Someone on one of the websites I read yesterday said something like, "The new Doctor Who will spend most of the first season patiently explaining that she is not Nurse Who."

(Actually, the character's name isn't Doctor Who. It's The Doctor. Not The Nurse. Not that there is anything wrong with nurses.)

— A female Doctor? She's the revolutionary feminist we need right now — Zoe Williams | The Guardian

" ... We take it seriously when a mainstream show, especially one for children, breaks a cultural taboo, and rightly so: you can evolve as far as you like towards diversity and pluralism in the worlds of poetry or sociology, but if you don't bring those values into the living room – particularly for a Christmas special, a cultural mop-up that catches impressionable, young minds and bigoted, old drunks at once – you will always be niche, ignorable, contestable. Appearing as the Doctor is the definition of acceptability; people are still free to grumble, but from that point on it is they who are on the outside, looking in. ..."

— Ten things we can expect from the new female Doctor Who — Lucy Mangan | The Telegraph

— Girls' Excited Reactions to the Doctor Who Announcement Will Make Your Day — Austin Elias-de Jesus | Slate

I would be interested to know what Andrew Sullivan — writer, best blogger ever and big fan of the Doctor — has to say about this. Until that appears, here is some of what he had to say four years ago:

" ... It would be hard for me to express how powerful this television show was in my fledgling imagination. I never missed an episode, and got really hooked in the Patrick Troughton years. Yes, that Doctor's male assistant, Jamie, was one of my first crushes. I just wanted to be him in some inchoate way that would eventually evolve into sexual and emotional attraction. Maybe it was the kilt that did it. There are also episodes in the Pertwee years which I can still close my eyes and remember vividly – The Green Death was my favorite (with giant maggots threatening Surrey!). But Tom Baker and Sarah Jane Smith became the iconic Doctor and his assistant for me – and for lots of Who-nerds growing up with me at the same time. Baker in some ways created the character in its fullest, final incarnation: querulous, curious, funny, fearless and yet also all-powerful. ...

" ... The Doctor never kills, unless by accident; his enemies are always defined by their love of violence, their lack of a moral compass and what the English would regard as an absence of that Orwell virtue "decency". You knew that aliens were evil because they kidnapped hostages, killed indiscriminately, and could even use torture at times. The Doctor always won by virtue of never sinking to their level – and laughing uproariously when they tried to intimidate him. The show is just as moralizing as Star Trek at times – but free from most sentimentality and filtered through irony. The Doctor was so often kidding.

"I see the new and brilliant re-imagination of the TV show – with its huge global success – as my generation's tribute to the spark of imagination that lit up our youth. I'm as old as Doctor Who – the show, not the Time Lord. I was born in the same year and grew up with the Doctors. The show was as familiar to me as weekly mass as a kid. Even now, there is something immensely comforting about watching it – recalling those old plots that occasionally resurface, or the feeling I had seeing the same monsters at 50 that I did at 5. A television show has this power in a way a single book never can. It unfolded before me as my own life did – and I lived a small part of it in thrall to those vistas of time and space that the Doctor invited me into, and where he taught me never to be afraid or humorless. Or cruel."

 

 

 

 

 

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