Never seen Doctor Who? This season is for you.
I, like many people, don’t love change. Sure, I am always harping on about ‘good’ change. Change that benefits the environment or empowers the underprivileged but change the layout of the grocery store (looking at you, Woollies), and I fall into the universal victimhood of ‘BUT, WHHHY’. To the best of my knowledge, my local supermarket – which actually is undergoing a painfully long refurb – was not being inundated with angry demands from people unable to find their carrots (although now I bet it is).
The point of this preamble, nor this post, isn’t carrots, nor is it even store layouts. It is Doctor Who.
About to embark on the most radical change in its 55-year history, Doctor Who returns to our screens with so many promises of newness it is enough to make any fan anxious. It promises to offer new viewers an opportunity to tune in to the decades-long tale and feel at home, to understand what is going on, and to enjoy it.
Of course, like all changes, many people aren’t thrilled. After all, there is a reason it is revered the way it is. It is no surprise then, that there has been a small to medium angry revolt from the core fandom who are simply not down for all these new developments, and have sworn off the series forever (lates, dudebros, you won’t be missed).
So, what’s changed exactly?
- The show has been taken over by a new showrunner, who has decided to go in a completely different narrative direction
- The episodes will be largely standalone, meaning that there will be little – if any – continuity between them. This makes them essentially little mini-movies.
- Instead of there usually being one companion who travels with The Doctor, there will be three. And two of them won’t even be white.
- Long time, fan-favourite icons, such as Daleks and Cybermen shall not be returning.
- And of course, the newest incarnation of The Doctor will be a *gasp* WOMAN.
Now, the first three points really freak me out as a fan. I am not a fan of “monster of the week” format shows, wherein each episode ends with a neatly dealt with conclusion. I like the long game, the messy, entwined, often ridiculously long story arcs of Steven Moffat were what drew me into the Whoniverse in the very first place. These are all very valid fan concerns, I feel. Of course, they compromise of 0.5% of the internet’s anger. The real issue, of course, is that The Doctor will be a woman and how unbelievably offensive is that.
Everyone know women cannot be doctors, let alone time travellers, or heroes, and above all a woman couldn’t conceivably be the lead star of a such a high profile, successful television programme.
As a fan, the changes to the format, characters and showrunner sound like my worst nightmare, yet I have never been this enthused or excited about a new Doctor Who, or maybe even a television episode of any kind (and this a very big call).
When I embarked on my Doctor Who journey, I never envisioned a female Doctor Who and when the idea started being floated a few years ago, I didn’t love it.
Doctor Who has been one of the extremely few good male characters, male role models and all around actual ‘good guys’ to hit the screens, and I felt that that was important. And it is. But the thing is, there are 54 YEARS worth of man-Doctor Who episodes that do all those things. Those EIGHT HUNDRED AND FORTY episodes are not going anywhere.
When I watched the reveal of the new Doctor (which aired right after a tennis final and took so long that I thought they really were announcing that Roger Federer was the new Doctor), I was surprised by how elated I was to see Jodie Whittaker under the hood, TARDIS key in hand. When the companions were announced and one was a young Indianish woman, all my wildest expectations had been exceeded. The enormity of my emotional response confirmed the one thing we’ve all known for years but can never truly express:
Doctor Who premieres in Australia on Monday, 8th October on ABC via iView or at 7:30pm if you’re still into normal TV. Even if you have never seen an episode: tune in. Do not forget to invite friends over, rope in unwitting relatives, and above all, don’t forget to arrange snacks. Good luck finding the carrots.