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Sci-Fi Television

Should the Next 'Doctor Who' Be a Woman? 772

Posted by samzenpus
from the glass-tardis dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jennifer Finney Boylan writes in the NYT that for those who did not get beaten up in high school, 'Doctor Who' is a beloved British sci-fi series about a character called the Doctor who is able to regenerate into a new body whenever a mortal would die or whenever an actor grows tired of the gig. The Doctor has been played by 11 different men since the show went on the air in 1963 and with Matt Smith, stepping down this Christmas, many fans had hoped that this time, a dozen cycles in, the Doctorship would finally go to a woman. 'Maybe it was the election of Barack Obama that made it seem, fleetingly, as if there were no more glass ceilings, for offices from president to pontiff,' writes Boylan. 'Whether the 45th president is a woman (Hillary Rodham Clinton?) or a Latino (Marco Rubio?), it still feels, on a good day, as if we've entered a time when there are fewer limits on what men and women can aspire to.' But unlike presidents or popes, we may not get that many more chances at a glass-shattering Doctor. According to long-held Doctor Who mythology, the character's 13th regeneration could be his last. 'As the producers think about whom they want to take on the role next, they should keep in mind the way people's hopes are lifted when they see someone breaking the glass ceiling, even when it's for something as seemingly trivial as a hero on a science-fiction program. Equal opportunity matters — in Doctor Who's universe as well as our own.'"
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Should the Next 'Doctor Who' Be a Woman?

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  • by gelfling (6534) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:12AM (#44507707) Homepage Journal

    Why not a vegan tranny black lesbian Muslim in a wheelchair?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by JosKarith (757063)
      They wouldn't be able to do all the running involved...
    • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:28AM (#44507847) Journal

      The Doctor: "You know the definition of a vegan don't you? They're people too insensitive to hear a carrot citizen of Denigula VI scream."

      • by mellon (7048) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @09:28AM (#44508545) Homepage

        You don't think Dr. Who as a female would make for some interesting stories? Are you dead inside? Political correctness is the last reason in the world why we'd want a female Doctor. We'd want a female Doctor because it would be interesting. Honestly, male Dr. Who has been done to death!

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 08, 2013 @10:01AM (#44508953)

          A female doctor would run like a girl.

        • by Latent Heat (558884) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @01:04PM (#44511363)
          C'mon people, Dr. Who has always had a female sidekick, a very youthful and "pneumatic" (borrowing a term from Huxley) female sidekick, or somehow acquires such a woman companion in the course of the particular adventure or story arc. One such companion was a "cave woman" dressed in (poorly draped, yes!) skins; another was a flight attendant from an airliner that got caught up in a time warp.

          These sidekicks are hot by the standards of women on British TV where the extremes in cosmetic dentistry, dermatology, and plastic surgery are not followed as rigorously as in Hollywood.

          So would the female Dr. Who have a beefcake dude sidekick? Would the female Dr. Who be a babe or perhaps a mature woman in the tradition of Helen Mirren, Judy Dench, or Amanda Richardson? Or maybe a West Indian babe with a delicious regional accent as the police captain who thinks Holmes is a dangerous vigilante and medler into police business as in that Sherlock Holmes reboot (and gosh no, not the Robert Downey Jr. one).

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by ruir (2709173)
      brilliant sirI wish I had mod points. This political correctness only makes me wishing I could vomit. How about Super Woman as a gay man, could it be too?
    • by Tx (96709) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:44AM (#44508021) Journal

      So true. I don't understand why this keeps coming up. Just because Who happens to have the regeneration plot device, which would make it possible for him to come back as a woman, doesn't really make the why of it any different than any other long-running series with a male lead. Should the next James Bond be a woman? I'm a big fan of sci-fi with female lead characters; Buffy, Lost Girl, the Underworld movies, Resident Evil. You do not need to screw around with a series with a male lead character if you want female leads.

      • by 1s44c (552956) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:48AM (#44508079)

        The next James Bond should be Jessica Alba. Now that would breathe new life into a tired out francise.

        Leave Dr Who alone.

      • Exactly! No one had ever posed the question before that should the doctor regenerate as a female. If you want a strong female lead character then write a strong female lead character. Stop with this fucking bull shit.
      • by N1AK (864906) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @09:21AM (#44508447) Homepage

        Just because Who happens to have the regeneration plot device, which would make it possible for him to come back as a woman

        It also makes it possible for 'it' to come back as a man. The point some people are making is that there is no reason not to have 'it' come back as a woman. The character has been largely asexual and could remain so. Personally I think they've selected the next doctor well but I think it'd be nice if they cast one of the many capable actresses available at some point in the future.

        I think you're probably fully aware of the nonsense of your James Bond remark; largely because if you're able to use the internet you would realise that James is a man's name, a male character and human thus not able to change gender. That said, I personally would have no issue with it if they rebranded as "007: The next films not enough" and the next 007 was a woman; it'd be quite refreshing to see the bravado of James Bond portrayed by a woman and I think we're finally reaching the point where it wouldn't seem jarring.

        • by Richy_T (111409)

          It would seem jarring because this weird contemporary idea that women can match men in a one-on-one physical confrontation is simply bullshit for all but a tiny section of women (of which a female Bond could possibly be a member. But not any of the actresses they'd cast for her) vs a relatively small section of men (so all Bond's enemies would have to be wimps basically).

    • by interval1066 (668936) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:48AM (#44508077) Homepage Journal
      I think the next Dr. Who should be a woman, deffinately. With the usual hot female sidekick. Deffinately.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 08, 2013 @09:18AM (#44508415)

      Also, what kind of sexist demands for Doctor Who to be a woman? Certainly not a single woman I've ever met. They want a charming sexy man, and who 'd blame them? :)
      But those same sexists would probably call that "sexism" too.

      Doctor Who is a man. I don't go demand that female roles be played by men either!

      The whole thing is fucking retarded, and a textbook example of what happens to a good cause, when a bunch of monkey-see-monkey-do passive-thinking morons go overboard with it.
      The women who originally started the equal right movement would probably die just to turn in their graves.

    • by hey! (33014)

      If you're concerned about political correctness making it's way onto Doctor Who, that tardis has long since sailed. It's not only gay-friendly to a fault, it's eco-friendly and anti-militarist. UNIT doesn't count -- our brave boys in berets represent a military reduced to its proper scope: gamely attempting to repulse cheesy alien invaders while someone with more brains figures out what to do about them.

      In Dr. Who the military isn't some kind of awesome war machine, it's more like occupational therapy for

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:12AM (#44507709)

    That is just absurd !!

  • Ever notice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ganjadude (952775) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:12AM (#44507711) Homepage
    It seems there is a subset of people out there who just can never be happy unless they are going against the grain. There will be people out there who make a big deal about who the next Doctor is regardless of who gets it. Not everything has to be groundbreaking or new. Sometimes tried and trusted are the way to go.
    • Re:Ever notice (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dr. Manhattan (29720) <sorceror171@gmai l . c om> on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:21AM (#44507787) Homepage

      Sometimes tried and trusted are the way to go.

      From here [penny-arcade.com]:

      We learn how to act, and how to accept things, through our fiction, and we have a gigantic problem with women in authority. By creating a female Doctor, and then giving her interesting male companions and having them work together without falling mutually in love, having sex, or keeping her locked in the male gaze, we could begin to work through some of the issues our society has with women in authority.

      It may seem silly to pin these hopes on pop culture, but remember that it took Star Trek to bring us one of the first scripted kisses on television. A female Doctor wouldn't just be fun, it would be important. It could be a way to teach young men how to treat powerful women with respect, a lesson that is rarely discussed well, anywhere.

      • Re:Ever notice (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...net> on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:31AM (#44507889) Homepage

        I don't accept the premise. We have lots of powerful women in our society. Not enough, granted, but the ones we do have don't seem to have trouble being taken seriously by the majority of people.

      • Re:Ever notice (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:36AM (#44507931)

        Yes indeed. Everything, and I mean everything must be co-opted to support the feminist cause or it has no right to exist.

      • but remember that it took Star Trek to bring us one of the first scripted interracial kisses on television.

        Fixed. Silly cow.

        It could be a way to teach young men how to treat powerful women with respect, a lesson that is rarely discussed well, anywhere.

        Um, how about respecting all women? Like the strong female human characters who've been the Doctor's companions since 2005 (actually since 1987, and prior to that as well if you ignore Mel)?

      • by SirGarlon (845873)

        We learn how to act, and how to accept things, through our fiction

        That rather over-emphasizes the importance of fiction. I learned how to act, and how to accept things, from my parents and peers -- you know, the REAL WORLD. Most people do.

      • by AxemRed (755470)
        Not everything has to be "important" or has to teach people something. And that goes double for teaching them something specific. If we're going to have a female Doctor specifically for the purpose of "teaching," why not have a black or an Indian or a middle eastern Doctor? Or we could teach people about other social issues of the day... drugs, poverty, etc. Or maybe the Doctor could come out of the closet?

        People watch Doctor Who primarily for entertainment. When you start forcing changes, it feels forced
      • Which society would that be? American or British? Britain has had many Queens ruling the country and a female Prime Minister, whereas the United States has not had one female President. Doctor Who is a BRITISH TV show and it's cultural identity is British not American.

        You got a problem with American TV, write to the networks. Stop badgering a British icon.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      It was bad enough with Russel T. Davies ramming it down our throats.

    • Re:Ever notice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Joce640k (829181) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:40AM (#44507989) Homepage

      The whole point of Dr. Who (well, one of the points) is that the female assistants keep on showing him up...it's a showcase for smart, self-empowered women.

      • Re:Ever notice (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @10:11AM (#44509081) Homepage
        So how are men supposed to look up to capable, masculine role models? Tim "Tool Time" Taylor and his thousands of bumbling, idiot clones did massive cultural damage to men by teaching them the best thing they can do is nothing. Helping only harms or makes you look stupid.
      • Re:Ever notice (Score:5, Insightful)

        by wiredlogic (135348) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @02:36PM (#44512325)

        it's a showcase for smart, self-empowered women.

        It's a common trope of portraying men as bumbling fools in need of a woman to steer them through life. Witness just about every sitcom and police procedural in existence. There would be much hell raised if a female doctor was constantly being upstaged by a male companion in the same manner.

    • It is probably a fluff opinion piece, just to stir up some mild controversy -- so she got paid this week. Ever noticed how Magazine articles on BBC news are similar, ask some brain-dead question with a hint of controversy, discuss it a bit, then back down from the controversy without reaching a definite conclusion. This is obviously what keeps 'magazine' readers entertained, and everyone gets paid. It is not to be taken seriously in any way.

    • by fermion (181285)
      You every notice how there is a subset that get upset when anyone suggests that we might go against the grain? These are the folks who got upset when we put in personal computers, and they could no longer control our lives by controlling the mainframes. These are the people who hated GPS on the phone because they could no longer charge us $200 for map updates. Certainly a women doctor may not matter one way or the other, but complaining that we are discussing it is like complaining that we are discussing
  • No (Score:5, Funny)

    by davidbrit2 (775091) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:12AM (#44507713) Homepage
    No, because that means Samuel L. Jackson would be out of the running. (Admit it, you'd watch that.)
  • It seems awful to me. The writing is bad. The characters are bad. The plots are bad. The props/special effects are bad.

    Is it something we Ironically like because its so bad or does it have good aspects I've over looked?

    Don't get me wrong. I love science fiction. But this seems like garbage.

    Anyone have an idea as to what I'm missing here?

    • by thaylin (555395)
      I believe it is something you have to go into knowing it is not as good graphically or plot based as something like Eureka or Stargate. Once you do that it becomes a fairly good show.
    • by Nyder (754090)

      It seems awful to me. The writing is bad. The characters are bad. The plots are bad. The props/special effects are bad.

      Is it something we Ironically like because its so bad or does it have good aspects I've over looked?

      Don't get me wrong. I love science fiction. But this seems like garbage.

      Anyone have an idea as to what I'm missing here?

      Those sort of comments made me do the beating up in High School. "Talk shit about my Doctor will you?" *Punch in the eye* "EXTERMINATE!" *kick* "EXTERMINATE!" *kick*

      But seriously, most of what you said is what makes Doctor Who so charming. At least old Doctor Who. But they used to do 3 hour story arcs, now it's a 45 min story.

    • by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:36AM (#44507939) Homepage

      Also it has no explosions caused by bullets hitting a car tire, no bodybuilders screaming slogans only three words long yet still incomprehensable, no storylines designed to last for 20 seasons only to be cancelled after the second season, nobody trying to be "cool" or "edgy" or "bad-ass". Quite frankly, it's a breath of fresh air amongst so many sci-fi series desperately trying to appease pubescent boys.

      I thought Dr. Who would be tacky/cheesy/lame as well until I actually saw a whole episode, now I'm hooked.

      • by Warma (1220342) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @10:12AM (#44509101)

        While I try to refrain from insulting entertainment by insinuating that it's aimed at pubescent boys, and while this might make me seem one in your eyes, I feel that Dr. Who actually is cheesy and lame.

        I had avoided the show for various vague reasons until recently, when a friend of mine forced me to watch the first episodes of the most recent series to change my mind. While the writing was rather interesting and the retro visuals had enough charm to make me understand why someone might like it, there are some serious problems with the show.

        First, I was annoyed that The Doctor is portrayed as somewhat all-powerful for no reason at all. He can threaten his enemies and make appeals with no credentials whatsoever. I kind of understand that scenes where he says that "the Earth is protected" by him are perhaps awe-inspiring to a 50's born nerd who has watched all of the previous 200 episodes, but I really don't get why the aliens he is currently facing won't just incinerate him on the spot. To an outside observer, it simply seems like a lame would-be superhero saving the day by just boasting about it. This is actually repeated twice during the first three episodes.

        Secondly, while all of the previous posters are talking about strong female leads, I was left with pretty mixed feelings about this character in the most recent show. Of course she is shown as intelligent and resourceful, but at the same time, she is shown to be a slave to his charms, eloping the very day before her wedding. The convenience of the former is rather astounding, as the series of course contains time travel and implies that the female lead can experience a whole new life, whisked away to adventure by an exciting man, and still return to her life with the random beta (or absence of it, depending on the attitude of the scriptwriters), like nothing had happened.

        Is this really what being a strong woman is about?

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...net> on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:37AM (#44507951) Homepage

      garbage

      It seems you are not British, so perhaps you see it differently to us. A lot of the Russell T. Davies stuff was cheesy crap, but Moffat's episodes are good. Many of them are quite dark and produce a real sense of drama.

      It works both ways of course. A lot of US shows that people rave about seem pretty bad to us too. Many of the good ones have British actors in the major roles.

    • by LordLucless (582312) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:52AM (#44508119)

      Really depends on what you've seen. A show that's spanned half a century has some good ones and some bad ones.

      If you want to check out the best of what the new series can offer, try The Girl in the Fireplace [wikipedia.org], or Blink [wikipedia.org].

    • by SirGarlon (845873)

      Nostalgia. Try a couple of the Tom Baker episodes from the 1970s: say The Talons of Weng-Chiang [wikipedia.org], The Ark in Space [wikipedia.org], or Genesis of the Daleks [wikipedia.org]. If you don't like those, then Doctor Who is probably just not for you. (I cannot recommend anything from the more recent seasons because I haven't gone out of my way to find them in the US.)

      If you are looking for great production values and special effects, the Doctor Who is definitely not for you. It's always been campy, yet cerebral. Much like classic Star Trek, the

  • If you want a sci-fi story with a strong female protagonist, then feel free to write one. Leave the doctor alone. He is a he, has been a he, and should remain a he. He's had complex relationships that would be all too complicated and distracting to bring up and try to weave into a "she". And this isn't that kind of story. It's not meant to be going into social situations and analysing them. It's sonic screwdrivers, weeping angels, tardis and interesting companions. Go away with your politically correc
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:20AM (#44507777)

    I think that people who want to see the next Doctor be some sort of handicapped post-op lesbian hermaphrodite never watch the show but just want to push some sort of agenda to get some checkbox filled somewhere. They would never watch a single episode with their politically-corrected Doctor but that's not really the point.

  • If you ignore the reincarnation aspect and treat it as separate actors playing the same role you might ask if it's time for James Bond to be female?

    It might be time for stories to be written about female secret agents, but that doesn't mean the one agent you've written about has to change genders.

    BTW, nothing wrong with changing genders and in scifi scenarios where it was already written (lots of Ian Banks books for instance) it's welcome that the character might become female or male. If anyone wants to t

  • "13th regeneration" (Score:4, Informative)

    by barlevg (2111272) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:26AM (#44507825)

    the character's 13th regeneration could be his last

    Okay, first, the article means his TWELFTH regeneration, his thirteenth INCARNATION. Secondly, it's already canon that doctors can regenerate far more than twelve times [wikia.com].

  • Or maybe.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:31AM (#44507887) Journal

    So somehow changing an indubitably male character into a woman is a 'victory' for women?

    Perhaps we could just work on creating an interesting, engaging, successful female character and celebrate her? Or celebrate one of the many strong female characters already present in media?

    Perhaps there's a moral in here for the whole feminist movement.

  • by ggraham412 (1492023) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:35AM (#44507927)

    Surely a science fiction concept with a female lead can be developed outside of the current Dr. Who franchise. Or, a spin-off series featuring a female timelord can be developed in parallel, like Star Trek did with Voyager. The can have separate adventures and then guest star from time to time on each others' shows. Seems like you get more audience that way. Why is there a need to take an established character and turn it into something completely different?

    Dr. Who will always be Tom Baker in my imagination anyway.

    • Or, a spin-off series featuring a female...

      If I can conveniently cut you off just there, there was The Sarah Jane Adventures [wikipedia.org]. More for kids, admittedly, but still. There's also Gwen Cooper in Torchwood (essentially joint lead with Captain Jack, just minus superpowers). And she's a mother!

  • Oh, shut up. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geminidomino (614729) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:44AM (#44508027) Journal

    Jennifer Finney Boylan writes in the NYT that for those who did not get beaten up in high school...

    Whining about diversity and coming out with the stereotyping right out of the gate(and yes, it's a quote from TFA, I did check). Maybe she thought that was cute?

    I had a nice rant with lots of big words about diversity not about messing with established characters and missing the point and all that, but you know what? Screw it.

    Why should we bloody-nosed, inhaler puffing masses give a fuck what this imbecile has to say?

    • Whining about diversity and coming out with the stereotyping right out of the gate(and yes, it's a quote from TFA, I did check). Maybe she thought that was cute?

      FYI she's transexual, so 'she' grew up as a boy. What you say is correct, but that just adds another twist to the mystery of her insanity.

  • One word... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bazmail (764941) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:52AM (#44508123)
    .. why? If gender doesn't matter any more why are we fixating on it here?
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @09:03AM (#44508223) Homepage

    I realize she's pushing for gender equality here, but the Doctor is male.

    He had a wife and kids, and in the newer series someone made a partial clone of him which is now kind of his daughter. There were female time lords, be he isn't one. So why would his regenerations turn him into a female?

    Now, I don't know how they'd drum up a TARDIS for her, but Jenny [wikipedia.org] should still be out there in the universe.

    I realize that with Doctor Who you may not need to worry about being strictly canonical, but there's never been anything to suggest (that I know of) that regenerations could flip your gender.

  • by isj (453011) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @09:15AM (#44508369) Homepage

    The Doctor should never be a woman. We have seen how that turns out in the spoof "Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death", where the female Doctor notices the sonic screwdriver has "three settings".
    Links:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Who_and_the_Curse_of_Fatal_Death [wikipedia.org]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p18DKN27IZQ [youtube.com]

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