Initially I withheld my thoughts on the new companions announcement because I generally felt like the news alone wasn’t enough to stand on its own within an article, but now we have confirmation on Jodie Whittaker‘s costume I felt it’s about time I shared my thoughts on what we know thus far about Series 11.
Okay, you all know by now that I am not favourable about The Thirteenth Doctor being a woman. I have since tried to accept the idea and be more optimistic that this alien premise may hold some merit and push the show in a new direction to make it “good” again, because, let’s face it, the last three series have been utter crap due to disjointed quality and underdeveloped ideas (at least in my opinion anyway). But sadly this latest announcement only furthers my worry towards the future of the show and my inevitable departure as a fan.
I think Chris Chibnall is going to have to do something truly amazing, and inventive, in order to win me back now. My passion is but hanging on by a thread. I’ve just lost all patience with the show now, and it’s truly sad considering it held a special place in my childhood which helped me become the person I am today. But Doctor Who has lost its spark due to creative decisions leading it down the wrong path. Though I haven’t agreed with many of these new directions because of their somewhat imposing agendas I still feel that if done right these ideas could’ve had some sort of pay-off. But that didn’t happen.
Instead everything that has happened felt forced and didn’t hold up enough for me to outright accept them as legit additions. So I’m still very sceptical because I’m not convinced a female Doctor can work. I haven’t been given enough evidence it can work. Missy was an abomination because she didn’t respect The Master’s character, thus becoming a mockery of his infamous status within the show’s legacy and this is precisely why I fear for The Doctor because I don’t want this kind of writing to repeat itself. Plus, The General is a perfect example of agenda imposed strategy to force political correctness down people’s throats when all they want to do is tune out of society’s ill ways in order to enjoy some good old fashioned escapism.
I think I’ve rambled on enough about my overall thoughts on the matter (and I haven’t even started my views on the costume yet) but to round things off I just want to say it’s hard to escape into a world of pure science fiction and imagination when the real world keeps coming back to haunt me with its imposing ideas on how I should think. Just let me enjoy my show and stop reminding me that the world around me just makes me anxious and frustrated.
Anyway, Whittaker’s costume. Honestly, I was clutching on straws that her costume would utterly sway me. But sadly it has only further pushed me into thinking this whole casting is completely wrong. Now, I don’t fully mean that it was wrong for Chibnall to cast a woman, I wish to be more open-minded. A lot of my worry going into this erratic change, as I’ve continuously pointed out, is to do with previous writing techniques failing to capture my thoughts and change them to look at things differently. That, and well, I’m not sure this will do The Doctor’s character much justice and may hinder him and the show.
Regardless of this I generally believe that Whittaker is a huge factor at the moment in my negative feelings because she just doesn’t look like The Doctor. What do I mean by this? I mean each actor who has played The Doctor thus far (including the late Sir John Hurt) had a certain look and identity, both with their personalities and costume, that clearly showcased the traditional traits of The Doctor. Now, we can’t always see this from initial casting because I was unfavourable towards David Tennant (would you believe) for a long time. In fact, it took me till “Tooth and Claw” to accept him because I felt he hadn’t sold the role to me until that point.
Whittaker is giving me similar vibes because I just don’t see her embodying this iconic character. It’s hard for me to judge her on acting abilities because I’ve only seen her in Broachchurch, and whilst I found her to be okay in that show I didn’t think she truly stood out to me, specifically since her character annoyed me some of the time, which brings up warning bells since it was Chibnall who wrote that character.
Then there’s the costume. It looks very generic, almost completely lifeless and, might I say, rather dull. And this is another problem. It doesn’t tell me how she’s going to play the part, nor what kind of incarnation we’re likely to get. Each costume thus far has given us at least some indication into what traits and personality we can expect from The Doctor this time round, but right now I’m not getting any vibes. And this isn’t down to the fact that I still don’t want a female Doctor but because Whittaker herself isn’t doing it for me, thus I believe Chibnall cast the wrong person.
Maybe we needed someone more well known, or someone who looked more like The Doctor? I don’t know. I’m still reserving my final, final judgement until Whitaker’s first full episode next year  because that’s the fairest thing I can do. Then I can analyse her full performance best on acting and her overall look. I guess overall, at the moment, Whittaker just doesn’t look like The Doctor and that’s scary to me.
If I don’t see her as The Doctor then how am I supposed to take her seriously, and thus, give her a fair chance. I know how my mind works. If I go into something and I’m not confident with the product, or simply have bad vibes going into it, then my initial reaction becomes quite biased and unfair because I’m blinded by initial negative thoughts playing around in my head.
So, yeah, it’s not looking good for me. I really don’t want to abandon the show but I can’t be swayed if I generally believe the direction Doctor Who has taken is a bad one and doesn’t suit my preference. And bare in mind I have been watching this show since I was a young child, growing up on repeats of the Classic Series, then fully jumped on board when Doctor Who returned in 2005, and since then I’ve been widening my love wherever I can (most recently through Big Finish Production’s range). So I can’t stress enough how emotional all this change is to me and personal it would be for me to no longer have Doctor Who in my life.
It used to be my yearly passion, the thing I looked forward to most, the thing I wouldn’t shut up about, heck, you wouldn’t get me saying a single bad thing against it. But now all I’m left with is disappointment, negativity, which has led to serious anxiousness towards its future, one which I don’t know if I’ll be a part of if the show continues to deliver a bad experience.
As for the casting for the companions, I couldn’t be happier. Although I will say that I have no idea who Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill are but from looking at the group picture of them with Whittaker they seem to fit into the formula of what we have come to expect from the companion’s role.
I’m just hoping Chibnall will continue to shake-up the show by having these companions more like Classic companions, i.e. they aren’t all boring generic people from modern-day Britain because that has become so tiresome now, to the point where most fans are just fed-up with the concept, crying out for something different. Let’s have companions from different time periods again, or from other planets. Bring a little more excitement back to Doctor Who. The TARDIS can go anyway in time and space, so let’s see this actually happen for a change within the modern era!
I’m so glad that we have Bradley Walsh on-board. This was the rumour that was released by the Daily Mirror a while back that I hoped would come true, and it actually did. Welsh (most prominently known for hosting UK gameshow The Chase) is so full of energy and knows how to get a good reaction from his audience through his fun and welcoming personality, plus from what I’ve seen from clips of Law & Order: UK he’s a great actor who can perform those serious and drama based moments. I just hope he isn’t side-lined and actually serves as one of the main companions because it would do great service to the show by having an older male companion for a change.
Plus, this does wonders considering we now have a female lead, so why not have a secondary male cast to balance things out. Also, with Walsh in the line-up for companion there’s less likelihood of there being a romantic interest (which has become another tired New Who trend). This is something I seriously don’t want to see happen. The Doctor has been male for over 50 years, and it’s been made clear time and time again that he’s a grandfather and a husband so don’t take that away from him. Don’t suddenly push the agendas further by making him gay just because he’s now a woman. It really wouldn’t do much for the character, and if anything, just make things more awkward and alienate more viewers than gain because it’s a change way too far.
The final bit of news came with the acknowledgment that the episode count had been dropped again. This first happened for Series 8 (Peter Capaldi‘s first run) when the 13 episode formula (and Christmas Special) was narrowed down to 12 episodes a series (plus the usual Christmas Special). Now we will only have 10 episodes a series, with a Christmas Special presumably following as usual on Christmas Day 2018.
However, this radical change doesn’t seem to come with any real perks because the episode’s length have only been increased by 5 minutes instead of the hoped 15 minute increase, capping the stories at an hour in length. That means that we’ll only be getting 50 minute episodes as opposed to 45 minute episodes.
I will admit that a lot of people (including myself) are worried that this will hinder Doctor Who as the 45 minute formula had already caused significant problems when it came to pacing, particularly when it came to wrapping up the narrative, often leading to rushed, underserved resolutions. 5 minutes ain’t going to make much difference in the long run. And of course those extra three episodes allowed for multi-part narratives to easily be slotted in without losing the amount of stories you could tell each year (usually ranging between 9 or 10).
If you were to have a couple of two-part stories you’d knock the amount of stories being told in Series 11 to a grand total of 8. Add another multi-part story in to rekindle with the formula of Series 1-5 and you’d be down to only 7 stories. Thus might sound daft at first but that does overall hinder what you can and can’t tell within this formula, ultimately restricting the creativity that this kind of show should have. And with the shaky grounds Doctor Who is already on, what with the rapid decline in views during the Capaldi era, and now the fandom being divided by Whitaker’s casting, it’s fair to say a lot is riding on Series 11 to succeed otherwise the future of Doctor Who could be in jeopardy.
Perhaps I’m just looking into this too much. But the bottom-line is things need to get better and the general audience (as well as the fandom) needs to be eased into this new era with reassurance otherwise they will quickly disengage and abandon ship to watch something better. At the very least I could just take Tom Baker‘s wise advice, thus give it a go and see what I think and if everything should ultimately fail then the BBC will most likely re-cast Whitaker back into a male and 2019 will serve as a fresh slate.