Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Doctor Who?

In a move that was, in my opinion, long overdue, the powers that be who run Doctor Who, the longest-running science fiction programme on television in the world, have decided to cast a woman in the title role.

A brief note for those unfamiliar with the show, but who may wish to know more -- Who fans, feel free to skip ahead:  In 1963 the BBC debuted a program for kids called Doctor Who which featured a crotchety old alien inventor called simply "The Doctor" who lived in a British police telephone box that was, thanks to his alien technology, bigger on the inside than it was on the outside.  The box, called the TARDIS, could not only travel through space, it could also travel through time.  The scriptwriters could literally send the Doctor and his companions anywhere, and anywhen.  The TARDIS had something called a "chameleon circuit" that allowed it to blend in wherever it landed, but the circuit broke while visiting Earth in the 1960's and it was stuck looking like a phone box.  The original Doctor, William Hartnell, suffered from what we know now to be a form of early-onset dementia.  Despite his increasing inability to perform, the show was doing very well and the BBC was reluctant to simply let it go.  So someone on the production staff had this absolutely brilliant idea:  Since The Doctor was an alien, instead of dying from severe injuries, his body would "regenerate."  The regeneration would change his appearance and aspects of his personality, and the end result of all of this was that a new actor could be brought in to be a new Doctor, whenever the current actor became unable to play the role, or no longer wished to be part of the show.

Pure genius, and a concept that has allowed the show to persist for over 50 years through 13 different Doctors.

A special note about regeneration:  Some years ago, in a comedy special for Comic Relief, the British comic actor Rowan Atkinson played the Doctor, who after a mishap, regenerated into actress Joanna Lumley.  While not exactly canon, it did open the door for the idea to be introduced into the show.  There have been female Time Lords (Time Ladies?) before, including such characters as The Rani and both Romanas.  This past season a longtime Doctor Who villain, the Master, had regenerated into the Mistress, or Missy.  In a previous episode, David Tennant's Doctor mentioned that another Time Lord, the Corsair, had been both male and female, and in one of the major Peter Capaldi episodes, the head of Time Lord security regenerates from an old white guy into a young black woman.  Clearly, the precedent is well established.



So after three seasons in the role, the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, is retiring.  There is some contention over the circumstances of his retirement.  He may have been asked to do so by the powers at the BBC, or he may have decided to leave since a new showrunner is coming on board for the first time in a decade.  There is often a strong impetus to give a new showrunner a completely clean slate and a new cast whenever possible, and no show makes it more possible to start everything anew than Doctor Who.  The TARDIS can even change its own interior appearance if it "wants" to, so the only thing a new showrunner is absolutely stuck with is the blue police box.  Everything else can be made up from scratch.

In recent years, there has been a tradition of having big things happen during the Doctor Who Christmas Special, and this year will be no exception.  At some point, the current Doctor is going to regenerate into a new Doctor, and that new Doctor will be portrayed by a woman, Jodie Whittaker.

And of course, the Internet has gone absolutely batshit.

Comments and tirades include:  "I'm done with this show," "RIP Doctor Who," "Thank you for crapping all over my childhood," etc. etc., ad nauseam.  It reminds me of all the nonsense that was spewed when Paul Feig had the audacity, the audacity, to re-cast the Ghostbusters as women, for God's sake.  The world is ending as we know it, and let's hound and harass the actresses, especially the black one, right off the Internet if we can.

What a bunch of babies.

Moronic, misogynistic, idiotic babies.

Get over yourselves.

My idol, George Carlin, used to say with regard to oppressive television censorship, that the TV has two knobs:  one turns it off and the other one changes the channel.  You don't like the new Doctor?  Take your ball and go the hell home.  You are neither needed nor welcomed here, nor are your opinions in the least important.

I'm happy to say that about 4 out of 5 comments on the BBC sites have been favorable.  The fifth one, as Monty Python used to say, can go run up an alley and holler "fish."  Screw you guys, and screw anybody who cries foul about casting before the show has even been seen.  Remember all the outcries about "Mr. Mom" being cast as Batman?  Now Michael Keaton ties with Adam West as "Best Batman Ever" in polls.

Give her a chance already.  I'm excited for the change, and I look forward to the next chapter in the great saga that is Doctor Who.