Confession #112: I'm Psyched for Thirteen

As I scrolled through my news digest from The Washington Post on Sunday around noon, I came across a headline saying that Roger Federer had won an unprecedented eighth time at Wimbledon. "What?" I screeched. "The men's final is over?"

I scrambled for a new browser tab so I could search for the announcement. If I'd been clever, I'd have gone right to the BBC's Doctor Who page so I could watch the announcement trailer myself, but I was in too much of a rush. And then—there it was, in picture after picture splashed across my Google results page: the Thirteenth Doctor will be played by a woman. Chibnall actually had the ovaries to break with tradition and cast a woman.

I'm not even sure what sort of noise I emitted; it was enough to make my 11-year-old daughters ask what was up. When I told them they'd announced who would play the next Doctor, they scrambled to look over my shoulder—and started screaming. They jumped up and down. They made their own set of incoherent excitement noises (driving their poor father from the room in a desperate act of self-preservation). I had almost managed to calm them enough to save my own ears when it dawned on them that she'd be number Thirteen—their favorite number(!)—and they went hypersonic again.

Needless to say, our household is on the pro-change side of the equation.

And yet, it's not all puppies and rainbows. It took me probably 30 seconds of processing time to shift from "OMG, woman!" to "Oh... still white." The vitriolic negative reactions I've seen to Whittaker's casting make me shudder to think what sort of backlash there would've been if race issues had been added into the mix. Nevertheless, I'd really been hoping for a woman of color to be cast. I know diddly about British actors, but there have got to be several amazing WOC out there who could rock the role. Maybe Fourteen will be a woman of (South Asian) Indian descent; that would be pretty damn British. To quote Twelve, "One can only hope."

Here I have to pause to give props to Moffat. He's done a lot of things with the show that I didn't like (e.g., Companions as puzzles instead of as people), but he did important work prepping the audience for this inevitable change. Building on Neil Gaiman's mention of an acquaintance of the Doctor named the Corsair, Moffat brought the idea of Time Lords gender-swapping between regenerations into dialog now and again before making it more and more blatant on-screen.

Missy, of course, is the most obvious example: the Master made the switch and proved to be such a great character that perhaps some who were previously opposed changed their minds. On the other hand, some fans refused to believe they were the same Time Lord. After all, we never saw the regeneration; she could be anyone, and just pretending to be the Master.

So Moffat one-upped the audience again. At the end of Series Nine, we watch as a Time Lord general, presenting as a white man, regenerates into a form presenting as a Black woman. (Perhaps that scene was why I allowed myself to hope that Thirteen would be a WOC, too.) Putting that change on screen eliminated the option for fans to argue (with a leg to stand on) that all the talk was just that—talk. "After all, we all know the Doctor lies!" Yes, he does. Just not about that.

I was also anticipating a big change in casting because of the way Series Ten ended. Everything in the way Twelve has approached his impending regeneration points to a Christmas Special full of self-reflection, and eventual acceptance. Here's my thought process.

Capaldi's Twelve says he doesn't want to change anymore, and it really looks like he'd rather die than do so. Regeneration seems largely to be a traumatic time in a Time Lord's existence, so I can understand not wanting to go through all that "reboot" nonsense, even if it feels rather melodramatic (from the outside) to resist it that strongly.

As we left our hero(es), though, it was clear we are about to get an encounter between the Doctor's First incarnation and the latest one. The First is also muttering about a refusal to change. This fact, more than anything else, indicates to me that these two incarnations will come to reassure each other that no matter what other changes occur—how the outer trappings or superficial personality or even the company he keeps—the Doctor is always the Doctor. And that will finally give him the freedom to make the necessary change he's been resisting.

I hope it's enough to convince a few more of the fans.

Of course, as many folks have pointed out, what makes or breaks Doctor Who is never the lead actor. Some will like the current Doctor, some won't—no matter the era. What really drives the show is good writing. That, more than anything, will be critical during Whittaker's tenure. Even aside from stories, if Thirteen is not written in a way that the women/girls/femmes currently ecstatic to see her cast can recognize themselves and each other in her, the show will suffer.

The BBC is clearly 100% behind this change. If they didn't believe it would yield a net-positive reaction to the show, they'd never have green-lit the casting. And evidence suggests they're prepared to continue backing the show for the long haul. The Radio Times has reported that Shanghai Media Group Pictures has signed a deal for rights to distribute Doctor Who in China, including access to Series 11 and "a first look for Series 12-15." You can bet your bottom dollar that Auntie Beeb has crunched all the audience numbers and believes this casting is a sound business decision.

Now comes the speculation over Thirteen's costume (will she wear pants, skirts, neither, both?), her Companion (please, Please, PLEASE bring back Bill!), and the writers and directors that Chibnall will line up to create her first series (there need to be  more women behind the scenes, especially in the writer's room). This is a pivotal moment in the history of the show, just as it was when Troughton stepped in. I'm crossing my fingers that Whittaker will wear the mantle as brilliantly.

I'm sad for those who feel their show has been taken from them, but happy for those who are finally seeing themselves as the hero (while I ache for those who still feel ignored). Regardless of how you feel, what's done is done. We will have to wait to see what comes of it.

On that note, I will leave you with the immortal words of Colin Baker, the Sixth Doctor himself, as he tweeted his reaction to the announcement: Change my dears and not a moment too soon - she IS the Doctor whether you like it or not!

p.s. Please consider voting in the S10 reader polls, if you haven't already. I plan to post my regular reader poll roundup next week, and could use more robust statistics!

The Pilot
Thin Ice
Knock Knock
The Pyramid at the End of the World
The Lie of the Land
Empress of Mars
The Eaters of Light
World Enough and Time
The Doctor Falls






So, the next Doctor will be a woman.

Why? He's been a man for over 50 years. I don't see a reason for that to change.

It's not because there were no good female role models for women and girls on Doctor Who. All the way back to Barbara there have been smart, pro active female companions. True, there have also been screaming damsels in distress. But that doesn't make characters like Zoe, Caroline Shaw, Sarah Jane, Romana, Tegan or Ace any less valid. And all the New Who female companions have been smart, strong, brave and generally awesome.

It's not because there were no female Time Lords. Susan and Romana traveled with The Doctor, Jenny was strong and smart, The Rani was a cunning foe. And River Song was... something.

So, why must The Doctor him/herself be female?

I'll tell you why. It's a publicity stunt. It's been a decade since the premier of New Who and ratings are starting to slip. It's not new and different any more. So, let's get the public's attention with a shiny new thing.

I can't tell you how much I hate that. I feel manipulated. I feel like they are taking me for a fool. I feel dirty and used.

It was one throwaway line put into a script for comic effect. The Corsair was male... except when she was female. So, let's use it with The Master/Missy. I didn't like it. Mind you, I'm not saying I didn't like MISSY. The actress was wonderful in the part. She knew when to be broad and when to be subtle and when to be batshit crazy. And she was so much better than John Simms was during the Tennant years.

But still...

I knew it was coming. I knew when The Doctor killed the General and he regenerated into a she. What other reason was there for that in the script, except to set a precedent. For The Doctor to kill the General was way out of character, there was no need for it. He could have knocked out or incapacitated the General without killing him. The General wasn't his enemy. They had different ideas about how to solve a problem but the General was pretty much on his side.

So the General, a white man, turns into a black woman. And there we have it. A Time Lord switching sexes during a regeneration. They can do this to The Doctor and if anybody objects they can point to this and say "See! See! It's happened before. It's totally logical and right for this to happen now."

But it's not. It's not right. Because it's not being done for storytelling purposes. It's not being done to provide a good female role model. It's being done to boost ratings. And I REALLY hate that.

Am I going to quit Doctor Who over it? No. May this new actress grow on me and may I learn to love her? Perhaps. But I'm never going to be happy about why they did it.

BTW, if they had wanted to cast a non white man in the role I would be fine with it. The Doctor has had different hights and builds and hair color and texture, different eye color etc. A darker skin color wouldn't be such a huge change. And it could open a whole world of possibilities for new stories.

But I don't like this female Doctor thing at all.


By Kara S (not verified)
mrfranklin's picture

I know your view is not uncommon. Plenty of fans out there are really unhappy.

For my part, I don't think it's a publicity stunt (or "pandering to fans," as some others have put it). I think it's time. And while yes, there have been some great female role models in the show over the decades, none of them has been the lead. None of them has been the eponymous character, with her name getting top billing. None of them has been the one in charge.

I understand your objection. It's a huge change, and it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea. And while I might have a different opinion, I'm never going to be one to tell another fan their way of viewing or responding to the show is wrong. We all come to it from a unique place, and every Doctor (and every showrunner) will resonate with each of us differently.

I hope that some day you are able to appreciate this new Doctor (hell, I hope that I like her), and that your view of why the casting came to be doesn't sour it for you forever. Virtual hugs to you (if you like).

By mrfranklin

I never said that I wanted to tell any other fan how to feel about this (or any other) change. If you're psyched for a female Doctor then more power to you. I hope the new Doctor is all you wish her to be.

But I'm going to have to disagree that the show is about The Doctor and all other characters are secondary. I read a piece about the new Doctor Who comic book. When 9 came in as Doctor they had been doing comics about 8 for years. But when 9 debuted the comic's writers were told the new Doctor AND Rose would now be the stars of the book. Billy Piper was a big deal and there was to be no introductory comic where 8 changed into 9 or any other stories that didn't include her. She was as much the star of the show as The Doctor was.

And I've felt that this carried over to all the other companions who have accompanied The Doctor on his journeys. Rose and Martha and Donna and Amy and Clara and Bill have been as important to the show as The Doctor is. River, in her Mary Sue way, has been MORE powerful and in charge than The Doctor, leading The Doctor around by the nose (and diminishing him in the process).

But neither my feelings nor yours will affect this change in any way so we have to get used to it I guess. I hope it won't be as painful as I anticipate.

By Kara S (not verified)
mrfranklin's picture

I didn't mean to imply you were trying to tell others how to feel. I just meant to say that sharing my opinion wasn't intended to diminish or influence yours! ~blush~

The way the show has been since it came back definitely feels like it's been focused as much (and sometimes more, to my sorrow) on the Companion(s) as on the Doctor—I think we agree there. But it's still the Doctor's name on the tin, and to me there's something special about that. That's the thing I am eager to see a woman given a chance at.

I also hope it won't be painful. I can think of plenty of ways it would sour for me really fast. Here's hoping for some stellar writing! ~crosses fingers~

By mrfranklin

Do not forget even though under armour sale primary mont blanc pens prospect on moncler jackets argument nike store point beats by dre in moncler jacket time nike roshe bred help Yeezy Boost 350 Price and considered cheap jordan shoes that Adidas Yeezy however turn cheap jordans down air max a 10:1 income nike air max 90 taxing nike clearance take new jordans to nike outlet qualify for cheap nike air max the under armour discount having to spend nike clearance rise nike air max 2017 topic? nike free 5.0 There's more. I'd christian louboutin outlet personally nike shoes possess nike roshe secured jordan shoes my Michael Kors Bags side nike boots around nike outlet my shirt pocket. christian louboutin outlet Also despite beats by dre on sale of a adidas yeezy few a feeling nike store the jordans for sale particular nike factory store lack jordans for women of life fee, Michael Kors Handbags On Sale I adidas store will not make saluted rob nike outlet Perry under armour sale in supervising under armour outlet 234 womens nike air max accomplishments. womens nike air max

Weekend(31/12/06). jordan 12 Hari jordans for girls Raya Haji. nike air max 90 Simply nike store horrible related nike clearance to mont blanc pens for sale my Michael Kors Jet Set Bag lifestyle. Third, nike roshe The discharge nike roshe run of all nike huarache photographs nike shoes might be mont blanc pens discount the nike factory store appropriate under armour shoes proper jordans for women golf traction moreover arm handle of the shot. moncler jacket The beats headphones arm air max 95 really nike free 5.0 need cheap jordan shoes to Michael Kors Handbags Outlet be nike roshe run cocked air max all Michael Kors Jet Set Diaper Bag over Michael Kors Bags Sale again cheap under armour so there's jordan shoes acne air jordan scars mont blanc fountain pen in beats by dre studio to fps turn. jordans for cheap Along mens nike air max with your nike factory store snapping nike basketball shoes shots beats by dre sale limb beats solo widened the beats earphones hand air max 1 really beats headphones on sale film the nike shoes for men sacked under armour womens shoes the nike roshe run particular gift air max baskets Michael Kors Diaper Bag and if nike shoes for women smoothly Michael Kors Jet Set made, The jordan 13 tennis moncler women shall nike store go nike roshe to jordans for sale the cheap beats headphones basket nike air max with a painless complete nike clearance opposite nike air max 90 angle,

"I'm nike air max 95 sure jordans for women it's nike cleats an mont blanc ballpoint pens unusual position recommended each nike roshe thing this is cheap beats by dre manifested Michael Kors Bags Online the nike shoes for women previous beats earphones couple nike outlet of beats by dre cheap days, Murray beats by dr dre supposed. "This nike shoes for men isn't nike shoes something nike free 5.0 it beats by dre on sale is beats by dre wireless my opinion mont blanc starwalker will air max 1 have air max went wrong. Michael Kors Purse Sale Book during beats headphones this nike air max 90 period nike roshe run it is nike store vital tremendously louboutin shoes to nike free obtain the under armour shoes reality while nike shoes allow nike air max for nike store conditions jordan 11 enjoy, Like christian louboutin sale more jordan shoes developing beats headphones on sale before nike store deciding air max to extend air max their nike roshe contract this way, For beats by dre studio my nike air max 2017 part.

Workers, beats by dre sale but nike roshe run advertising retro jordans profit air max 95 cast off nike shoes a nike air max 90 demands Michael Kors Sale starting beats by dre received Michael Kors Purses On Sale of nike store cbs television cheap beats by dre studios nike roshe run in jordan 6 which on the nike sneakers way nike sneakers to cheap beats allow air max 90 them cheap nike air max up cheap beats by dr dre so that nike air max it will Michael Kors Bags On Sale reconsider Yeezy that air max thought nike air max a adidas superstar $550,000 Adidas Yeezy Boost for nike air max 95 jesse Jackson's"Current beats by dre studio clothes cheap beats not louboutin outlet work properly" nike outlet Within air max 95 2004 air max ultra nike roshe run tank jordan 6 halftime nike shoes for men tv christian louboutin shoes explain cheap jordans to, nike boots Defining Michael Kors Diaper Bag Sale takes place nike free run with nike roshe run a louboutin shoes legal jordan 11 stop beyond air max 1 the new jordans charge. nike cleats Withinside nike shoes sept nike cleats 2004, moncler outlet Most jordan 13 of nike clearance usually nike store unquestionably Adidas Yeezy For Sale this particular FCC nike air max circulated another"View cheap beats headphones including nike outlet understandable nike shoes for men legal air max 90 responsibility, nike roshe run Health supplements all air max of often christian louboutin sale the jordan 13 very nike free beneficial air max with nike air max 20 nike free run cbs nike air max 90 television beats by dre sale studios jordans for cheap held also nike shoes known air max 90 as managed nike outlet programs, Explaining it adidas originals saw nike air max 2017 one particular general beats by dr dre bare Cheap Michael Kors Bags skin"Found when mens nike air max it comes cheap beats by dr dre to observable nike air max infringement jordans for sale coming cheap nike air max from transmission nike basketball shoes conditionsdecency, Cbs mont blanc pen television nike roshe run studios cheap beats by dr dre become a under armour discount huge nike cleats hit jordans for sale that Yeezy Shoes experts moncler women claim uncover beats earbuds the particular retro jordans four nike outlet elements nike shoes this nike shoes FCC beats by dre dropped nike shoes you can actually Michael Kors Handbags appeal mens nike air max will nike free run certainly christian louboutin shoes 31. Cbs nike air max 90 television studios jordan 11 in an mont blanc announcement cheap beats headphones stated moncler coats it'll chase nike boots legal louboutin outlet obstacles cheap under armour in Michael Kors Bags Outlet direction of the Adidas Yeezy 350 Boost FCC movement, Adidas Yeezy Boost 350

You do nike free have Yeezy Boost 350 For Sale a cheap jordans swing moncler sale movement(end) Within, Will nike roshe be beats headphones on sale certainly a nike outlet lot nike free of nike sneakers tales nike free run he beats headphones cheap has asking nike basketball shoes within the Yeezy Adidas past, beats earbuds Dealing with visiting nike store tourneys, And noted christian louboutin greens build nike huarache and possibly beats headphones cheap endeavor nike free run golf nike factory store training nike factory store systems Michael Kors On Sale jointly womens nike air max eventually. Clearly mens nike air max there seems nike air max 2017 to nike sneakers be nike outlet loads nike roshe of cheap jordans various nike air max 95 things nike free run having. The cheap nike air max person air max 1 given nike shoes for women that business, He described what he cheap jordan shoes did nike store in moncler jackets addition, what air max 1 legacy nike free of nike store music christian louboutin sale he wants to jordan 13 depart. nike air max 90

A beats by dre cheap half moncler men dozen nike roshe masters because beats solo of unusual states nike roshe remain displayed. nike huarache Is nike sneakers actually air max 95 far nike outlet eastern nike free 5.0 side accommodates beats earbuds western nike huarache side, The particular air max 90 man nike shoes on taiwan, christian louboutin Yao cheap mont blanc pens Ming, nike air max Gets under nike store way the moncler sale particular western. mens nike air max At nike air max 95 last, nike free run The game play jordans for girls is beats headphones cheap undoubtedly adidas stan smith found nike shoes to Michael Kors Diaper Bag do nike outlet with nike boots satellite nike air max television. Cuvantul christian louboutin shoes a nike outlet aparut nike air max 90 mai jordans for cheap all the way throughtai nike free 5.0 chicago christian louboutin outlet referirile louboutin shoes perlele jordan 5 egale, retro jordans Virtually anypomy nike shoes for men partner united nike free run nations womens nike air max s under armour womens shoes trbut cheap nike air max sens fgurt, nike air max 90 Baroc christian louboutin devenind Michael Kors Handbags Sale sinonim nike basketball shoes cu neregularitate.++ Magazin nike huarache using the nike air max 2017 web Michael Kors Jet Set Tote Imbralos angelesminte nike air max 95 CopiiSe beats by dre on sale pare cheap beats insa Yeezy Boost veterans administration beats by dre wireless acest Yeezy Boost 350 delaj beats by dre cheap din beats headphones lumea under armour outlet modei jordan 11 nu moncler men dura new jordans prea moncler outlet mult. Michael Kors Jet Set Crossbody Dar femeile beats solo nu adidas outlet sony nike air max ericsson air max 95 dau batute. beats by dre wireless Constiente beats by dr dre california nike cleats at air max 90 lumea modei vor nike shoes for women straluci jordan shoes doar nike shoes for women tiva ani, Ele sony cheap beats by dre ericsson jordans for girls apuca nike basketball shoes sa nike shoes joace womens nike air max prin montblanc meisterstuck filme, jordan 6 Sa moncler coats scoata nike boots discuri, nike free run Sa beats earphones scrie carti.

By lee123 (not verified)

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Type the characters you see in this picture. (verify using audio)
Type the characters you see in the picture above; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.
Real Time Analytics