Jodie Whittaker has made her debut as The Doctor and, contrary to the warnings of the closed-minded, the world has not come to an end. Not even on television.
Her appearance in the Christmas special is short: she’s got a grand total of one line–two words–but that’s as expected. A Doctor’s last episode is always about the outgoing version, which is as it should be. Before taking off in “radically new directions,” it makes sense to look back at where you’ve been.
From that perspective, by the way, it was an excellent episode, looking back all the way to the first Doctor, and touching several major points in between Numbers One and Twelve. That it also gave the scriptwriter an opportunity to point out how The Doctor’s attitudes toward women, non-whites, and the LBGTEtc communities have changed since 1963. One suspects many of the people objecting to a female Doctor are more in accord with the first Doctor’s sentiments than the twelfth.
Despite the brevity of Ms. Whittaker’s appearance, the doomsayers are already declaring her run a failure. The kindest such remarks I’ve seen are along the lines of “If you suddenly turn into a woman, the first words out of your mouth are going to be ‘What the hell?’ and not ‘Oh, brilliant!'”
I say “kindest” because that comment puts the burden of disapproval on the scriptwriter and not the actress, but rest assured there are plenty of complaints aimed at her.
But I want to talk about that complaint, because it highlights just how desperate the naysayers are to discredit Ms. Whittaker and everyone associated with the show.
- Time Lords changing sex when they regenerate is canon. One has to look no further than Missy for proof, but there have been others. Whether you as a viewer like the fact, it’s part of the universe. And so, while it might not be at the top of a regenerating Time Lord’s mind, it’s a possibility they all live with.
- The Doctor is at least 1,500 years old. He’s been everywhere and everywhen. He’s burnt out and so far beyond bored he can’t even see it from where he’s standing. Now he’s got a chance to try something radically different. You think he’s going to complain? And let’s face it: a willingness to try new things and see the universe from different perspectives has been one of The Doctor’s core values since that first Doctor.
- Historically, The Doctor has been somewhat manic immediately after regeneration with all the over-the-top enthusiasm that implies. And let’s not forget that nearly every Doctor has been convinced he’s the best and most attractive incarnation yet. Hell, it’s a running joke that whenever two Doctors meet, nearly the first words out of the earlier one’s mouth are a complaint about how he doesn’t like what the newer one has done with the body. So of course she’s going to approve of the new look and be eager to get on with it–even if she doesn’t know what “it” is yet. Because that’s what The Doctor does.
- Finally, remember what I said last week about the Last Jedi haters? Same thing applies here. The people who create the show are the only ones who get to decide where the story goes. If you don’t want to go there, you have the option of staying home. If enough people stay home, the show will be canceled (or, in the case of a cash cow like Doctor Who, more likely the creators will be replaced). Okay, end of rant.
And here we are with a new Doctor, an exploding TARDIS, and a fall from high altitude without a parachute. Brilliant!