I’ve been dreadfully busy/lazy this month when it comes to articles but today I shall make up for it by expressing my thoughts and opinions on a topic that isn’t related to game design or video games in general. Today I’m going to discuss the concept of a female Doctor in the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who, which I recently became interested in/very obsessed with. If you’re not a fan of the series, you probably won’t have the slightest idea what I’m talking about and for that, I apologize. For everyone else — allons-y!
I’ve always been interested in taking a look at Doctor Who, but never was inspired enough to go looking for episodes until my friend Tamra offered to watch them with me. Keep in mind that we started with the “new” series that picked up in 2005, not the original run that started in 1963, so I won’t say that I know EVERYTHING about the show. Still, I’ve become rather fond of the show and am quickly trying to finish Seasons 6 and 7 so that I’ll be ready for the big Christmas episode that comes out on Tuesday.
The first four seasons of the newer series were mainly written/produced by Russel T Davies, where as seasons 5 to the present were taken over by his partner/co-writer David Moffat. The show is still relatively the same quirky, dramatic adventure in time and space it’s always been, but the writing itself has changed in its style and how certain characters are portrayed (as it is to be expected). In hopes of finding out more about the 50th-anniversary episode(s) of Doctor Who that will take place in 2013, I stumbled upon an article in which Moffat mentioned the Doctor could possibly take on a female form the next time he regenerates.
And the fans blew up. Literally. It seems as though half of them are all for it and have thrown many names of various actresses who could play the part, while the other half threatened to stop watching all together. I was genuinely surprised by this, although I can see the logic behind some of the naysayers’ claims.
First and foremost, people have stated they “don’t believe” a Time Lord can regenerate into a Time Lady. Now like I said, I’m not familiar with the old series, but my response to this is: Why not?
(I’ll skip the fact that in the newer series, the current Doctor played Matt Smith referred to a timelord named the Corsair who was “a bad girl” when she was female and a “strapping big bloke” in another incarnation. By mentioning that, it is canonically possible, but fans who may not believe it could only believe in facts stated during the original series.)
The Doctor is an alien, not a human. The fans of the show are human, and therefore we attempt to place him in categories that we’re familiar with. But who says aliens can’t change gender? Or even race? At the end of the 9th Doctor’s (Christopher Eccelston) run, he mentions that he could regenerate into a creature with two heads, or no head even! I think a vagina is a little more likely. If Time Ladies even have vaginas. I mean, it’s implied, but I don’t think there’s ever been a canonical appearance of the Doctor’s reproductive organs.
Another popular claim the anti-femme-doctor fans were stating over and over again was that the show was a family show and that parents would not like having to explain the gender change to their children. My first reaction to this was that Doctor Who is not a family show. Well, no — scratch that. In my personal opinion, Doctor Who is rather dark and depressing at times, and therefore I wouldn’t be showing it to children who were too young to comprehend the ability of an alien sex change. This could very well be a cultural thing, I understand that! Still, couldn’t you just say “it’s a Time Lord alien thing” and leave it at that?
This could bring up the counter-argument of “OH SO YOU WOULD TELL YOUR CHILDREN TRANSSEXUALS ARE ALIENS”, and the response to that would be no that’s not what I meant. I mean that children of all people should be able to just accept whimsical stuff that doesn’t make sense and not be traumatized by it. Then again, if I were a transexual I’d be pretty darn complimented if people thought I was a time lord anyway.
More people claimed that if the Doctor was a female, that would automatically make his previous romantic interests lesbians! To which I say “Oh, no! Lesbians! What horror! What a terrifying thing to behold!” with much sarcasm. It doesn’t make the previous romantic interests lesbians, it really doesn’t. The girls who fell in love with the Doctor fell in love with a male incarnation, and on top of that, they fell in love with him, not his sex. If they were to find a female Doctor, they’d most likely be very confused as far as their feelings, but they’d tackle that conflict and grow from it. (Except River Song. I’m pretty sure she’d be up for anything when it comes to the Doctor.) Besides, haven’t all of the Doctor’s love interests moved on with their lives by now? It wouldn’t really matter much anyway.
There are also a bunch of people who think Moffat couldn’t write a proper female Doctor because they dislike how he’s written current female characters, but that all comes down to opinion. I’m sure there are a billion other reasons, too, such as the BBC wanting to keep a white male protagonist or how suddenly changing the Doctor’s gender would be jumping on a “politically correct bandwagon” or a cheap trick to shake up the series. Still, they haven’t quite convinced me. As long as the Doctor is done right, as long as the writing is good, as long as it doesn’t come off as a cheap attempt to get more female viewers or be wacky for the sake of being stupidly wacky, I can’t see a female Doctor being a bad thing.
I understand that those who love the original series are unbelievably dedicated to the traditional Who, but isn’t the Doctor character itself a big glowing symbol of change and evolution? Every time the Doctor “dies”, we get a new personality and a new face — but we still have the same old Doctor with the same memories, the same pile of guilt and dirty secrets, the same desire to help make people better. We still have the quirky alien who travels time and space in the TARDIS picking up normal human companions and showing them that they’re extraordinary, inspiring both miracles and tragedies in his/her wake.
I don’t know if we will get a female Doctor anytime soon, but I for one would be more than willing to at least give her a chance — because the Doctor always gives everyone a chance.
August 2017 Edit: We finally got a Female Doctor! Still not ginger, though.