Is Doctor Who jumping the gender shark? I think, maybe…but I’m leaning towards maybe not as long as the writers’ don’t make it a big deal. For my readers who don’t know, Doctor Who is a juggernaut in televised speculative fiction. It’s been around for over five-decades now, and is a cultural gem in the United Kingdom, much like Star Trek is in the USA, and how Space Battleship Yamato is in Japan. We’ve seen thirteen different versions of the Doctor, all played by men. Over the past few years, starting right as Matt Smith was leaving the series, fans and people started asking for a female Doctor. And why not; The regeneration mechanic is basically a way to bring new people into the role of the Doctor. I will clarify that I’m only a casual fan of the series. I enjoy watching it, and I think about it enough to digest what I like (Amy Pond and Rory Williams are precious and sweet and don’t you dare hurt them) and what I dislike (CLARA OSWIN OSWALD!!!). Two days ago, it was revealed that the new Doctor will be played by British actress Jodie Whittaker. At last, fans of the series are getting their wish. I welcome it, but I have one concern.
I’m afraid that the writers will make the Doctor’s change from male to female too big of a deal. I guess casting a woman in a role that has been traditionally played by men since it’s inception is a big deal, but it should be played off as no big deal, like how they handled Missy and the revelation that she is an incarnation of the Master. See, Missy was a bit of a mind trip because it meant the Master wasn’t dead. That was the biggest deal; the Doctor’s greatest villain was still around, but just had different reproductive organs. And hardly anyone I know, know of, or followed mentioned the different reproductive organs. Almost everyone–in the series and on the other side of the television screen–was flipping out because the Master was alive. After it was revealed that Missy was the Master, she got right back into her old habits of trying to destroy humanity, killing people on a whim, and losing to the Doctor. Good stuff really.
I see no reason as to why the Doctor being a woman should be a big deal in-universe. The 12th Doctor has lost his companions. Bill Potts is now flying, shape shifting, sentient water with a girlfriend; Nardole is stuck on a spaceship protecting people from Cybermen; and the Doctor is alone with his first incarnation on an ice and snow world. From an audience stand-point, there’s no real reason to specifically point to the Doctor’s change in sex, or even talk about it because the Master-to-Missy regeneration proves that Time Lords can change sex when they regenerate. On more thing to mention is that the 13th Doctor will be entirely new. New Doctor, new companions (provided she doesn’t go back for Nardole), new villains, new aliens, new everything, which will be similar to the 9th and 11th Doctors’ introduction in that the audience is getting new characters. In a way, this could be an almost fresh start, and I hope the writers at BBC take advantage of it.
I just don’t want anyone to make a big deal about the Doctor being a woman. I see no real problems with the character changing like that. After all, it is Doctor Who, and we used to not know who the next Doctor would be and what to expect. While we do know who is playing the next Doctor, we still don’t know what she’s going to bring to the character, and I’m pretty excited about that.