By Michaela Bennett
In the first five decades Doctor Who has given us from a lot of scientific creatures. From two hearts to fish fingers and custard they had it all, but the biggest scientific phenomenon that some viewers cannot get over is a female doctor. But, has Doctor Who has advanced into an inclusive television show, focusing more on gender and ethnicity rather than a great scientific story for the whole family?
Freshly regenerated Jodie Whittaker has received a lot of comments, from her costume to the TARDIS as well as the inclusive cast, but with the previous female master what is the big deal? It normally takes each actor a while to settle into their role, and Whittaker is no exception. With her lack of information on over fifty years of Doctor Who this could possibly give her an advantage on giving freshness into the character.
Unfortunately, the freshness that was expected did not come. Instead, viewers saw Whittaker as a copy of previous doctors. The new Doctor has energy but fails to deliver emotion with dialogues especially comparing to her predecessor Peter Capaldi. Needless to say, the first episode was a let-down, even compared to previous intelligent and assertive female companions like Alex Kingston (River Song) and Billie Piper (Rose Tyler) to name a few. The Doctor no longer seems like the smartest person in the room, ‘Where, why and what’ are common phrases used by Whittaker, and with the plethora of rhetorical questions, it seems to re-emphasise her lack of confidence. When she does attain information, it is mainly from her new sonic screwdriver, so she perhaps could be overshadowed by other eccentric and strong-willed characters.
Even though there is no right or wrong way in playing the Doctor, it will be interesting to see what Whittaker’s interpretation of The Doctor will be. Comparing Whittaker to Michelle Gomez’s Master, makes the new Doctor seems kind of plain, which is seen from the trailer alone, as her intro line is,‘when people need help I never refuse’ which doesn’t seem as strong of a quote compared to ‘hello, I am The Doctor, basically run’ which is giving the audience excitement for a new adventure that we are ready to embark on. Whittaker’s Doctor seems more as part of a team, like someone from Sarah Jane Adventures than a standalone unique character- a woman from Gallifrey. Compared to Gomez’s strong psychotic performance which gave humour and excitement with her looks alone, whereas Whittaker has the potential of falling into being just a member of the ‘gang’. The abundance of companions creates companions striving for lines, thus leaving The Doctor as just another character.
But what seems worse yet? The famous Doctor Who tune, and the famous times of Murray Gold music seems to be a time of the past, and sadly being replaced by a Pop song at the end of ‘Rosa’ episode, instead of using the iconic Doctor Who tunes, to create greater anticipation for next week’s episode. Another striking feature is the simplicity of Chris Chibnall’s stories, compared to Steven Moffat’s complexity of both characters and narrative. Nevertheless, with all new monsters and characters, it is a great method from Chibnall to attract a new and perhaps younger audience since the air times have changed too.
The next big topic of discussion for fans is the new design of the TARDIS, both interior and exterior. The new exterior design of the TARDIS is less of an issue, even with few changes it still attains most of its initial features, thus not being as noteworthy as the interior design. The alien-like orange, yellow and blue lighting compare to the opening credits, giving us some lively active energy. The console itself has some new gadgets such as an hourglass and custard cream biscuit deliverer, which seems to take us back in time with celery, bananas and fish fingers and custard, which for any Doctor Who fan looks promising.
The potential for a great female lead as The Doctor is there, but it is questionable whether it is Whittaker for the time being. Whittaker’s previous roles in Broadchurch and Black Mirror were appraisable, however, those characters required many different traits. Can she deliver the feel for adventure, energy, and passion as well as emotion and heartache?