Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

The Doctor Is In…Kind Of


Having discovered Dr Who rather just lately, I’m finding myself binge watching to get caught up. It’s difficult to catch up to a television series that has been around since the sixties. It’s cutting into my book reading, that’s for sure.

What I’m not going to do is a great big discussion on “Whoism,” there is much dedication to Doctor Who, and I am not qualified (actually I’m a bit terrified of offending the fan base).

What I am concerned with is my unmitigated preference for the former doctors. I’m not in the least interested in the new doctor–at all.


He has transgenerated into a woman doctor. The doctor now ponging about the universe is a she instead of a he, and that really bothers me. The issue is not with the new doctor, Jodie Whitaker–don’t know of her at all. I’m more bothered that I’m bothered.

Let’s make something very clear. I applaud capable heroes. Big fan of Captain America. Mostly I like James Bond. Angie’s Lara Croft set a standard. JLaw’s Katniss is so empowering and endearing. And I absolutely cheer the new Wonder Woman.

Notice there really isn’t a pattern. Men and women heroes dashing about saving people, because that’s what they do.

And that’s what I like about The Doctor. It’s been set up since the show started that this peculiar (some Doctors being more peculiar than others) alien preferring human form, is running away from his home planet responsibilities getting in predicaments, getting out of them, saving the universe, saving people. Because that’s what he does. It worked in the prior series. It works very well in the reboot. David Tennant and Peter Capaldi bring a new dimension to Doctoring–smart scripts and dazzling production are mentioned here.

The Doctor is a pattern: idiosyncratic intelligent alien with human characteristics–a guy ranging in age anywhere from 30ish to 60ish. A guy. Oh yeah, he has a sidekick known as a “companion.” These have been mostly women, a couple of times a guy has helped drive the Tardis.

It’s not a gender thing. Really it’s not. I think it’s a pattern thing. I’m used to a Doctor pattern and they changed it up. However, I relished how the Master became a Mistress. Missy brought some dazzle to the frenemy role. Just leave the Doctor as is, thank you.

Think about it. Would it be okay, acceptable, if suddenly James became Jane? “Bond. Jane Bond.” I wouldn’t care for that at all. I am okay with the all female Oceans 11. Nice switch out. Not okay with the change up that’s happened with The Doctor.  So I am running through some self-diagnosis about my Doctor preference..

Am I gender-biased? A traditionalist? Close-minded? Maybe I just know what I like. Okay, I can handle being picky. It’s quirky that I abhor cucumbers yet adore pickles–baby dills, thank you. So, I rally towards male Doctor Whos and instead utter “really?” towards the female Doctor Whos. I didn’t care for Jenna Coleman’s stint as Clara being a Doctor for the nano second she had the part and I think Clara quite capable. I imagine she could parallel park the Tardis when needed. Nope. The Doctor Who I need to save my planet from Daleks and company is an idiosyncratic guy, particularly with a Scottish accent.

Am I alone in my Doctor dilemma? Anyone else in a quandary?

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8 thoughts on “The Doctor Is In…Kind Of

  1. You raise interesting points. First let me point out that as an American who doesn’t subscribe to BBC America, I have yet to see the new Doctor – except in the reveal moment in the regeneration episode. I get my Doctor Who via seasons on streaming services well after the original broadcast date. I understand your comments about character preference, and accept your premise about it not being about “because she is a woman.” I have felt similar things about Doctor Who changes, and this goes back to when Tom Baker relinquished the role and Peter Davison took it over. It went from quirky alien (arguably, Tom Baker set the bar here, but I think he built upon the oddities that the actors before him had) to the more dashing hero archetype. It wasn’t as compelling because that wasn’t necessarily the trait that held my interest as a viewer. The attempts other Doctors made afterward fell flat, for whatever reason. Fast forward then to the reboot – Christopher Eccleston was an antihero type – which fit well with viewers at the time – brought up on Dark Knight, etc. , and I bought into that. I struggled with the change to David Tennant, but he realized the need for the Doctor to be slightly odd – yet he kept the antihero traits that Eccleston used. Then I did not see how Matt Smith could possibly fill these shoes – but I point back to his first episode – meeting Amy Pond – again and again, and his manic character is amazing. The basis of his take on the Doctor is the struggle with his self – and he was excellent, but still maintained a bit of the previous Doctor’s edge. I struggled mightily when Peter Capaldi took the role, and honestly, I feel like he struggled for a season to settle into his interpretation of the role. It’s as you put it, crusty Scotsman, but it works. But if you watch closely through his last season, he softens considerably primarily due to Clara, but also his interactions with Bill. The success of Doctor Who has always been its ability to successfully reinvent the main character. During the show’s reboot run, they’ve succeeded so far. I am curious to see Jodi Whittaker’s take on it, whether she holds onto the quirkiness, the bravado, the sympathy, and perhaps something a little different. It does not bother me that the Doctor is a She, but it will detract if the character does not hold true to the quirky traits that brought us to this point.

    • True. Very true. Keeping the quirk, yet bringing a new quality to The Doctor is essential. I didn’t care for Matt’s comic take on the role. I thought David Tennant brought a tremendous amount of empathy to the role, how he loved being The Doctor, yet despaired the burden. Remember the episode in season three when he was a school teacher? I came undone as he struggled with having to choose being human or taking on the mantle of being The Doctor once more. I haven’t watched any new episodes and that’s my concern: I have no real desire to do so. And here I thought I had become a Whoian, an addict. Whew—

  2. Personally, I would be totally jazzed if there was a Jane Bond. I’ve always had a preference for woman butt-kickers. Especially if they wear glasses. And…

    And, um, maybe I am revealing too much about myself?

  3. I’m with you. I’ve only watched bits and pieces of Docter 9-12, but I haven’t watched ANY of 13. I’m not interested at all.

    • I realized I watched Jodie in Broadchurch, which I watched because of David Tennant being The Doctor. I wonder if Jodie knew then she would become The Doctor. Those Doctors just keep bumping into each other.

  4. My oldest was a fan, so all I knew of it was the police box and the pushy robots that always caused a ruckus. I’m with you though – some reboots, such as “One Day at a Time,” in my opinion, bring enough fresh and preserve enough essence to be both appreciated for their newness and remain tied to the original.

    Some, like the new Annie, just don’t, for me.

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