Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Not what the Doctor ordered

Boring. Perfectly acceptable choice, perfectly fine actor, perfectly predictable result. No spoilers, just another white male Doctor Who. Like I said, boring. I mean, sure, instead of being a young white dude this time we have a slightly older white dude. Huuzah! Because middle-aged white men get so few breaks in this business, you know?

But it’s no so much the news from this weekend about 55-year-old Scottish actor Peter Capaldi taking over as Doctor Who that’s upsetting. And, yes, I know he’s a very good actor and very funny and very all of those good things. It’s that once you’ve been offered a glimmer of hope at a smorgasbord of endless wonder, to be given the same – albeit slightly older – dish seems a terrible disappointment. Really, mashed potatoes, again? I mean, I like mashed potatoes – who doesn’t. But, again?

That’s the thing about the world, the more we see the more we grow. And the more we’re exposed to, the more we want to see. I want to see great shows with great diversity because it opens the door to a whole new world. More can mean more interesting. Sure, not always. Sometimes less is more. Sometimes. But more gives us the chance to tell a different kind of story. A female doctor, a doctor of another race, a LGBTQ doctor. Anything, something. Just not more of the same. Same can be quite good, but it will never be more.

I watch shows like “Orange Is the New Black” and “The Fosters” and, yes, even “Glee” and I see racially, culturally and sexually diverse casts not led by a single white male and it is glorious. But they are still the exception, not the rule. NBC’s new fall lineup is entirely shows built around male leads. Time yourself and try to name 10 shows on broadcast primetime TV with non-white and/or non-male leads (that are not primarily a large ensemble show without a definitive lead) in less than a minute. After Shonda Rhimes creations, it gets damn complicated.

Look, TV producers, the time is now. The world is big. Take a chance, be different. Stop giving us mashed potatoes and expecting us to keep getting excited with each subsequent dish. And stop insisting it’s us ladies who keep telling we will only accept mashed potatoes (Really, Stephen Moffat, really?).

What I lament in the latest Doctor Who announcement isn’t the actor, who I am sure will do a fine job. But the missed opportunity to give us something so very new and so very exciting. Just like our taste bus, our minds need new flavors to stay alert. In a world that’s always bigger on the inside, why keep giving us the same superficial outside? Seems a shame, sweetie. A damn, damn shame.

p.s. I for one think they should have bent space and time and made River Song the next doctor. I mean, they fly around in a blue police box with a swimming pool in the basement, anything is fucking possible.


elfeleventy said...

oh, come now. If you were willing to trust Moffat with a female Doctor or a non-white Doctor, then you've got a screw loose. He can barely write female companions, and NOTHING passes the Bechdel test.

As for an "LGBTQ Doctor," you must only be conversant in New Who, and not the classic series! Check out the recent Queers Dig Time Lords for a couple of really great takes on earlier Doctors. Ten and Eleven's romances aside, historically the Doctor has generally been a queer character. Nine had zero problem with Jack's kisses. That the Doctor has an explicit sexuality at all is a recent invention. My hope is that we'll get away from such a heteronormative thing with an older Doctor.

I'm a queer woman, and I don't need the Doctor to look like me or behave like me. I'd like to see that someday, but not without a much better showrunner! Given that Moffat's still running the show, I'm excited for Twelve, and ahistoricist naysayers like you can't take that away from me.

Nancy Grönholm said...

oooh, I agree with previous post in that The Doctor has been queer friendly for quite some time now BUT my first reaction when it was made clear that there would be a new doctor in the house, was the same as yours - we need a breath of fresh air! I've loved the new generation but it's getting a little stale. I used to watch it for the characters (and the fan service), nowadays I find myself fast-forwarding the episodes that are meant as fillers (or are they, what do I know). Personally, I'd've loved to see Donna come back and, if not her, then I agree with whatever poll it was that favourited Miranda Hart! But I'll still watch it, of course. :) (love reading your blog, btw! :))

Carmen SanDiego said...

All hail Shonda Rhimes and her rainbow tent of casting!

Anonymous said...

This is why I don't bother with having TV service. I refuse to support the "same ol same ol" way of doing things. You would think with so many "gays and women" in the business that things would have changed more then they have. I only watch shows via Internet and only after there is a lot of buzz about it ... And it does not have to be gay for me to watch just good. So much on TV is crap.

Anonymous said...

I'm just happy that at least he's not young anymore, since this whole "she loves him more than anyone human" Doctor-companion relationship really pissed me off.

Anonymous said...

I haven't been keeping up with Dr Who but had always meant to check it out purely because for those of us of a certain age around UK and Australia, Steven Moffat was the writer behind a teen show on the 90s called Press Gang.

I've been reading quite a few comments recently about his writing of female characters which both surprised and disappointed me as Press Gang ran for five seasons, won multiple awards (BAFTAs and the like) and the lead character was a strong, complex female.

Anonymous said...

I'd be down with a female Dr. Who. Dr. Who can technically become anybody right? So then why is the good Doctor always a white male, if Dr. Who were a real person being a white dude for all of eternity when you could choose to be anybody you wanted seems incredibly dull.

I love new things, it makes my brain go nom nom nom.

Anonymous said...

well, the good news is, the doc only gets 12 regens in this body format.
this last doctor is "it"

now, they have a couple of ways they can go about this.


two, they could reactivate the "doctor" part of donna.
sadly, this would kill donna outright, but then she would regen into another doctor.
(donna was my favourite companion)

(i hold out a tiny candle of hope that seh could regen as herself... but yeah, it's a tiny tiny candle)

OR... after the 12th dies, they could start as the female line of doctors. 12 new generations.

and if they would fucking hurry up already, i think they should start with Helen Mirren (ZOMG SQUEE!)

there were female time lords. and it would not be a hard stretch of the imagination to take it from one side to the other. afterall, they are a complex alien race with backup organs and everything :)

ok... done...honest :)
(helen mirren, donna, or river... i'd win so hard any of those roads taken)

Erin O'Riordan said...

Mmm, Helen Mirren. I've never watched any episode of Dr. Who in my life, but if anyone could make me watch one, it would be Dame Helen's sexy ass.

riotgrrrl said...

Moffat is a misogynist and arguably a homophobe. Whilst I love Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It is probably the funniest thing ever) and think he will be an excellent Doctor, I could not be less surprised or enthused by the news. I truly loathe Moffat; on the live show on Sunday night when the new Doctor was unveiled, he addressed the issue of gender diversity, saying that he agrees and the Queen should be played by a man. What a monumental prick of a man.

Your friend, Rusty said...

Count me among the disappointed. I wasn't a fan of Matt Smith and was looking forward to a new doctor. River or Donna would have made great choices and would have been plausible.

BBC America is looking into going its own way with Doctor Who. I know that horrifies folks but I'd give it a chance if they were a bit more clever with the casting.


browngbt said...

I know Peter Capaldi is going to be a great Doctor and am looking forward to seeing how he builds his character, shaping it in a new set of stories. Doctor Who is not Moffat - it is an ideological perspective, a challenge to human frailties reflected through story and having watched it since a child, l like the pattern and the comfort of such

I don't need everything i read, watch, listen to, or breath attempt to be a version of me and my mother and my brother and my friends and my work colleagues and my children's lives to know they are equal, worthy, diverse and ultimately, we need each other to survive. Interestingly that value was played out to me by the Doctor Who of my childhood challenging the suffocation social constructs of the time. Model, imbue and reflect worthy core values and what we are trying to achieve, across the world, will follow. It does not matter by who.