Doctor’s Orders: The Verdict on the Female Doctor

When it was first revealed that the Doctor who would supersede Peter Capaldi would be a woman, it didn’t take long for a Twitter storm amongst misogynists to brew.

Which mainly told us that people fear change. Doctor Who is pretty much a British institution. We’ve had 12 male Doctors, so it’s only natural that some narrow-viewed people thought the boat shouldn’t be rocked and the role should be gender specific. My favourite comment so far which I’ve stumbled across on social media comments sections is “I accept that she’s female, but does she also have to be Northern?”. Of course, there were a lot of crasser things being stated. But it taught me a lot about inclusivity and diversity in the media. Which should come as no surprise, given that viewers have been conditioned to like an archetypal casting and role.

Casting Jodie Whittaker was definitely a gamble for the showrunners. They would have had better odds if they played Cleopatra and enjoyed a few spins over at Egypt Slots.

Was Jodie Whittaker the Woman for the Job?

Now that we’ve seen three episodes from Jodie Whittaker, now we can finally make a verdict on her suitability to the role. A lot of people make the mistake of judging a new Doctor on their first episodes, yet first episodes after regeneration never really tells us much about what kind of Doctor we’re dealing with.

Whilst more people favoured Matt Smith or David Tennant to Peter Capaldi, he was still a hard act to follow. His intensely aggressive monologues captivated us, and we saw how he dealt with his grief and his anger in a better way than we’ve seen with the former Doctors. So, of course everyone would have had to get used to the change between the actors and the temperament of the Doctor. It’s no secret that the screenwriters like to mix it up between the Doctors, and could any actor or actress match the potent angst of Capaldi?

After the first episode aired, I waited for the fallout from angry fans affirming their beliefs that a woman was never fit for the role, yet there was nothing but admiration for her stellar acting and unique approach to the role. Sure, she was a little ditzy and “blonde,” but that can be forgiven – she had just regenerated. But there was so much to love about her, including the fact that she got her first outfit from a charity shop and her ability to stand up to a monster with a face made of teeth despite not even knowing herself. From the start she was authoritative, not overly cocksure with herself, and in short, pretty God damn fabulous.

Whilst Jodie Whittaker may be the perfect for the role, the casting and the writing for the companions is still rather questionable. Firstly, we all know that the Doctor works better with one companion. From the first episode we were overloaded with the four companions. Even though by the end there was only three, there was little opportunity to truly get to know each of their characters. It was even more difficult considering the fact that all they did was run around proclaiming variations of “oh my God” and “We’re going to die.” Yet, after the third episode “Rosa,” the chemistry between the characters seems to be coming together seamlessly and the rest of the season holds a hell of a lot of promise. The third episode was the first opportunity in this series to see the real humanity within the Doctor. There was no over-the-top melodramatics and a hell of a lot more gravitas.

Whether it’s relevant that the fact we have a female Doctor and the episodes seem to be becoming more poignant and relevant to issues faced in 2018, that’s a matter of opinion. Yet, it’s undeniable all the same. In the first episode they didn’t set out to save a whole race of people as they usually do. They set out to save one (rather annoying) character with whom we had a brief encounter at the start of the episode. Which portrayed the message that each life is important. Which was further reinforced as you saw him practicing self-care telling himself that “he’s special.”

The second episode was a little hit and miss, yet the third episode truly pulled the emotive punches. A lot rested on the third episode, as they met Rosa Parks back in 1955 and were faced with the responsibility of ensuring that history went according to plan. There was no threat from grotesque monsters. Just a racist time-travelling agent who wanted to disrupt history to make sure that equality was never a possibility. There was so much emphasis on the fact that little moments in history can change the world. It was clear that the Doctor along with her companions was highly affected by what they stood to lose if history went off course.

The Feminine Touch

Now, if you can imagine Christopher Ecclestone, David Tennant, Matt Smith, or Peter Capaldi dealing with the weight of that situation? The 13th Doctor has a hell of a lot more empathy than those who took the previous roles, so the future episodes hold a hell of a lot of promise for the series. Younger fans may not have got the excitement of exploding spaceships, chase scenes, and the threat of iconic monsters such as the Daleks. But more mature audiences didn’t fail to let the stark message behind Rosa resonate. Especially the scene where the racist police officer came in search of Ryan and Yaz because they had been “upsetting people in the town.” It happened in 1955, and it’s still happening today in 2018.

In episode four, they’ll be tackling arachnid enemies in modern day Britain, so, it will be interesting how they intend to carry on the emotive structure of the episodes we’ve seen so far. Yet, with that said, episode three was still worlds apart from episodes one and two. The trailer for episode four is now on YouTube.

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