Monday, July 17, 2017

A Female ‘Doctor Who’ Is Exactly What the Franchise Needed

“I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender. Because this is a really exciting time, and Doctor Who represents everything that’s exciting about change. The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one.” – Jodie Whittaker

It’s the groundbreaking casting decision that’s caused aftershocks to ripple across the internet: 35-year-old Jodie Whittaker, best known to U.S. TV viewers as Broadchurch’s Beth Latimer, will be the thirteenth actor to portray the central character in the long-running BBC series Doctor Who, marking the first time in the show’s 54-year history that the part will be played by a woman. Some will call it political correctness run amok, and they’ll be entirely wrong.

This development is something Doctor Who desperately needs — not even counting the 27 years of it that ran from ’63 to ’89, it’s an old series at this point. In its latest iteration, it’s been on for ten seasons across 12 years, amid a sci-fi/fantasy/superhero TV marketplace that gets more crowded every season. In order to stay relevant, Doctor Who must continue to reach for the stars and do things that make it stand out from the pack. It’s no longer enough just to be the oldest sci-fi series on TV. Making the Doctor a woman wasn’t just necessary, it was inevitable.

Read the rest of this piece by clicking here and visiting Vulture.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Doctor Who: The Doctor Falls

As I’ve written in past seasons, Steven Moffat two-parters tend to be composed of two very different types of episodes. While “The Doctor Falls” indeed follows that pattern, it was refreshing that the important plot points set up last week pay off; “The Doctor Falls” is indeed the second half of “World Enough and Time” in most every respect. The biggest questions I had (which didn’t even occur to me until after I filed my recap) were: Why was the Master on the spaceship in the first place, and why was he in disguise? Early on here, the Doctor offers up a lengthy theory that the Master neither confirms nor denies, and whether or not it’s on the nose is irrelevant — at least some method was given for all the madness. (Late in the episode, the Master does reveal to Missy that he blew his dematerialization circuit after arriving on the ship and he’s essentially been stranded ever since.)

The thing that concerned me most going into “The Doctor Falls” was that, based on the previews, it would be a raucous affair loaded with battles and explosions. While the episode does have both of those, it manages to place intimacy and character front and center, rarely allowing the battles to take center stage. Moffat has frequently said things like, “We don’t have the money for that anyway,” and thank goodness for that because nobody tunes in to Doctor Who for the fight scenes. High among the things we do tune in for are tears, and “The Doctor Falls” is loaded with them on both sides of the screen. After the big Beeb-sanctioned spoilers of last week, pretty much everything about this one was closely guarded, so there were no shortage of surprises.

Read the rest of this recap by clicking here and visiting Vulture.

Graphic courtesy of Design by Stuart Manning.