No talking of writing today, other than to say it’s coming along. I awoke today realizing that yesterday I worked on writing things all day. First I edited, then I blogged, then I worked on buildings, then I worked on my Camp Story. As the song says, same as it ever was.
But I have something else to chat about today.
I want to talk Time Ladies.
If you are a bit of a geek like me, you know about the upcoming Changing of the Time Guard on Doctor Who. Matt Smith, aka He’s One More, He’s Eleven, is leaving to find gold at the end of the movie rainbow. As has happens many times before, there is not only the search for the next actor who would be The Doctor, but a lot of betting and speculating, including who the fans would love to see take over the TARDIS.
Sure, people would like to see someone high profiled take over, but there’s this thing called “money” that prevents that from happening. That means having to go with actors who are not going to break the budget, and you’re seeing names on the short list like Julian Rhind-Tutt, Emun Elliott, Richard Coyle, Burn Gorman, and the person who has been tipped as the favorite for the while, Rory Kinnear.
Yesterday another name popped up on the short list, and if you listen to some of the report, the name is close to, if not at the top of the short list. And that name is Sheridan Smith. If this were true, then for the first time the producers of the show are considering an actress for the role, and for the first time in fifty years (okay, not fifty in a row, but you know what I mean), we might have a Time Lady running her fingers over the TARDIS console whispering, “Hello, Sexy.”
Me and a few of my fangirl friends were like, “Yes, bring it!”, when the news came out. Since the show was revived there’s been a lot of changes that couldn’t have happened during the first three decades. And now that we know regenerating means not only getting a new body, but perhaps a new gender (blame Neil Gaiman for that one, folks), some of us are like, “Hey, isn’t it time we had a lady at the controls?”
However . . .
I’ve seen a couple of people indicate they wouldn’t like this drastic a change, that they might have a problem with gender switching, that the show doesn’t do well when it’s experimenting, that such a move would turn fans off and hurt ratings. Now, I don’t want to stereotype, but of the people who’ve said these things to me, how many of those comments came from guys? Strangely enough, the answer is all. I know: I’m shocked.
As a long-time viewer–and by that I mean I’ve seen every episode two or three times–I have to look at the show and think: when hasn’t the show had change that could turn fans off? I mean, lets forget for a moment the the First Doctor considered killing one of his companions with a rock, but lets look at change:
Every time there’s a regeneration, there’s change and experimentation. After the First became the Second, and then the Third, the producers could have said, “Hey, play it like the first guy,” but they didn’t. They went from being an old pain in the ass (which the First Doctor was), to “a Dandy and a Clown,” to quote the old pain in the ass. Then he went all, what was the phrase? “Teeth and Hair”, as the Third Doctor said. Then he was some punk kid in a cricket outfit, and who thought some guy under thirty could do the role justice?
Then we go to the U-boat Captain and Doctor Emo and The Bow tie Hispster, and you get the idea: there’s change, and with change you get something different than what came before. The show runners are experimenting, and either the fans adapt, or they leave. Most people who still pine for the Tenth Doctor Fjords have no idea what it was like when Tom Baker left and that new kid, Peter, took over. I mean, what did he ever do for the show? (Note: that last was sarcasm. I know what he has done.)
Companions. Lets talk change and experimenting. First couple of doctors had some good companions, some bad, and some who got chucked out an airlock because no one knew what to do with them. Then the Third comes along and what do you get? First you get the Lady Scientist, which totally raised the bar for companions. Then you get the Doctor Who version of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, aka Jo Grant–and why the hell she isn’t getting pulled into the Fiftieth shows I don’t know, but that’s another post. Jo was a smart, cute, mini skirt go-go boots wearing lady, and had no problem using Beatles lyrics to describe the Doctor. (She also posed naked with a Dalek, but that’s also another post.)
And who replaced Jo? Why, one of those . . . Feminists! Which was exactly what Sarah Jane was. Don’t believe me? Go back and check. As popular as she became, producers found that she was scaring off the 25-45 male demographic, so when Sarah Jane said bye-bye, they replaced her with a Savage in a Loincloth and Leather Boots. Hellloooo, Leela.
Every time there’s a new companion, there’s change, there’s experimentation. Some good, some bad, some you kill with fire so hard their take out dinosaurs. And some you love because they blow shit up with home made explosives.
Those were the old ways, however. Today, we have–
Interracial couples. Interspecies couples. Gay couples. Interspecies lesbian couples. Bisexual con men (RTD’s description of Captain Jack, not mine.) Werewolf royalty. Human Daleks. An episode considered the best of the revival that hardly has the Doctor in it. Chav companions. People of Color companions. Annoying companions that saw death threats sent to the producers. Horny companions. A somewhat horny TARDIS. Married companions. Worst of all, you have The Doctor snogging! Sometimes in the TARDIS! And not only that . . . you have companions making TARDIS babies! Does no one remember the First Rule of Doctor Who: “No hanky panky inside the TARDIS.” We won’t mention that the TARDIS baby ends up marrying the Doctor after making friends with her much younger parents, who she originally got to start dating, but only after we first saw her die . . .
It could be said that since 2005 the show has been . . . experimenting. How’s it doing, you say? Pretty good, if the fans are any indication.
If after all of that one might say that having The Doctor turn into a woman for their eleventh regeneration (or is it their eleventh? Dun, du, duuuuuu!) could be a mistake, that it might turn fans off, that it might hurt the show because it’s a little to experimental . . . the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but may lie somewhere inside.
The great thing about science fiction, the thing that sets it apart for most other fiction, is that it you can take chances, you can push things, you can experiment. Look at every great science fiction story, and you’ll see where the writer took things and turned them beyond eleven, and not only said, “What if?” they considered “if” a bit too mundane, and went further.
Maybe it’s just me, though. Maybe the idea of swapping genders isn’t that big of a deal to me–and trust me, it isn’t. I’ve seen that in games, I’ve seen that in stories–I’ve written stories where it happens. I could see how it could open up a whole new side to The Doctor, and not because she’d get to wear a frilly dress now and then.
I mean, there are so many ways one could take that . . .
If only I had Stephen’s number, I’d be musing him out right now.