I’ve been reading this morning about several individuals who are championing a female incarnation for Doctor Who. You can read one of the articles here.
Ok, let’s get something straight here. This is the dramatic truth (in my mind, at least) about the Doctor. His fundamental nature which cannot be altered without destroying the character.
He’s Peter Pan.
Except for the end of the Rose storyline, where it was revealed she was in love with the Doctor and he was probably in love with her as well, he is a 12 year old boy. He happens to be a 1000 year old 12 year old boy who has a T.A.R.D.I.S. and a sonic screwdriver, but that doesn’t change his fundamental nature. If he were to become a she, what would happen to this fundamental nature?
My guess is, unless handled by a truly masterful series writer – which Stephen Moffat simply isn’t – such a change would at best muddy the waters and at worst dilute the character until he wasn’t enjoyable. If he ever stops being “The Doctor” – whatever that is to you – then the show is doomed.
I want to be very clear that this isn’t a sexist issue for me. I’d love to see female timelords, but unless they get very creative, the writers have closed that door forever. There is only one Timelord, and he is a male.
Yes, when the Doctor regenerated into his current form he did act relieved that he was still a he. But I don’t think you should read too much into this. I don’t believe it was a big foreshadowing of things to come. I think it was funny, and Matt Smith was more than aware of this.
If you want to get very nerdy, when the Doctor regenerates, he’s all sorts of messed up. Perhaps in that moment he wasn’t remembering himself very well, and was just relieved to find anything familiar, be it hands or…other body parts. Just because Matt Smith did something funny in the first 30 seconds of his time playing the role doesn’t mean the fundamental nature of the character should be changed.
Let’s talk about change.
Mr. Moffat has done the show a disservice by much of his writing. I have to say I’m not pleased with where the show has gone under him. I’m not horrified, but I’m not pleased. And one of the biggest changes he’s made is not risking more interesting companions. The majority of the Doctor’s companions under Moffat continue to be women, and the majority of them young and pretty. This is a poor choice. I will say without a doubt that Donna Noble and Wilfred Mott were my favorite 10th Doctor companions. Especially Wilfred. Getting Bernard Cribbins to play a companion was brilliant. Neither of these companions was what you would call young (sorry, Ms. Tate. But you were amazing!), and I enjoyed them both because they had a life before the Doctor. Having all the companions being young, pretty women makes me think the Doctor has some issues he needs to talk to a therapist about.
And yes, this is the same argument I make for an older Doctor as well. Young, beautiful people are a dime a dozen. But people with a couple lines on their faces, they speak of experience. They speak of choices made and roads taken. They have depth to them.
The reason I liked Rose so much is because she became a much richer character by the end of her time. She had earned that depth. The later companions haven’t had the same growth, in my opinion. It’s like the writers don’t want them to grow up.
And all of this discussion about companions is the solution to the “Make the Doctor a Woman” talk we’re hearing today. You wouldn’t consider making James Bond a woman, would you? Bond, Jamie Bond? It just wouldn’t work. If you want strong women on Doctor Who, then he needs strong companions. Find a way to write in another Timelord who happens to be a woman; bring Romana back. Or, give him another companion, one who isn’t 19 and still getting used to wearing a bra. No offense to Jenna Louise-Coleman, but she’s just a variation on a theme. Perhaps she has the acting chops to prove me wrong, but I’m not seeing it yet. She is just one in a series of pretty young faces.
In fact, bringing Romana back would open up a bazillion interesting stories since they have such history together, and you could tie in so much from the old show.
And what about River Song? Isn’t she basically a female Timelord? Not officially, but in practice she is. And she’s the strongest woman on the show, bar none. Sarah Jane Smith was very strong in her day, and Rose was very strong in her own way, but River is the only one that can constantly go toe-to-toe with the Doctor. Doesn’t she rate in this conversation? I think she does.