Monday, August 5, 2013

On Doctors...

Who'd have guessed that picking out a new lead actor for a TV show would turn out to be such a depressing experience? I mean, I'm quite sad that Matt Smith is leaving, because the Eleventh Doctor has really grown on me, and even with some of the weaker stories it's been a fantastically watchable performance, but the general state of community around the show at the moment is starting to fill me with fear. I mean, I hesitate to use the word "Fandom" any more; if you read around the web (and I've stopped doing this now, apart from occasional lapses) you'd get the impression that a substantive amount of the shows viewers only watch it to refuel their hate-batteries for the show, it's writers, its actors, and all for which it stands, yet still self-identify as "Doctor Who Fans".

Here's a hint - I don't like "The Walking Dead." Many of my friends do; they watch it, they talk it about it and occasionally I can feel left out of conversations I can't relate to. But you know what? I'm certainly not going to bloody watch it because I don't enjoy it.

Of course this comes around with whenever Who is on the telly or in the news, which of course is going to be a lot this year due to the 50th Anniversary of its first broadcast. Add to this another handover and there seems to be a touch of genuine madness in the air. For a start the whole "why can't we have a woman Doctor" debate reared up again, as it has pretty much since Tom Baker left the role, and with a crushing inevitability they've cast a white guy. Now, personally, I think a female Doctor would be fine, but I also think there is a defensible argument that the Doctor is a Male character and that's that. Gallifreyans are a gendered species, after all, and would you probably find that most of them stick to one or the other (at least most of the time) and others are far more fluid in their gender identity, and hopefully they're a sufficient advanced species that everyone is cool with that.

But course long before any announcement was made there's been a lot of chatter along the lines of that BBC "had" to cast a woman, or a Person of Colour, or else it was final proof of their arch-conservative perfidy. As if the huge problems with race and gender representation on British TV would vanish overnight with a single call from a casting agent. Can Doctor Who still be a flag-bearer for better representation? Of course it can - and should - but I don't see the logic in calling it one way or another based on its main character. Again, speaking for myself, I'd love to have seen a Black or Asian actor cast as the Doctor, because I think that would open some interesting avenues to walk down, and because genre TV generally too often relegates Black and Asian characters to sidekick roles (even more so than women, IMO).

So of course I'm not saying that criticism the show is wrong, or that they always get it right. I've read some really smart and well argued posts on both the direction of the show, its use of women and many of the other issues that may (or may not, depending on your position) surround it. Its really great that it can engage people to that degree. But at the same time, it's only a damned TV show and if you get no pleasure in watching it, then doing so may be unwise. That said, Peter Capaldi is an interesting choice - it's not maybe the braver choice many would have preferred does mark a change in direction for a show after a pair of younger actors that seemed to leave the door closed on an older take on the character. An if I can't get "bold" i'll at least settle for "interesting".

Fuckity-Bye, You Dalek C****