The Possibilities of a Female Doctor
Guest contributor Gustaff gives his thoughts on the heavily debated issue.
The news that Matt Smith will not be continuing the role after Christmas 2013 was a mighty shock to our system. And then, rubbing salt into our wounds, rumors started up again about the Doctor regenerating into a female. During Series 7, an interview took place in which Sherlock star Lara Pulver expressed an interest in seeing the Doctor regenerate into a female and taking on the mantle of ‘Time Lady’. Shortly afterwards, fans voiced their opinions. They were mostly – ‘No! Don’t do it’! But would it really be so bad, or is this one of the fixed points in Doctor Who that should never be tampered with? That can’t be fiddled with. Let’s take a look…
The Doctor’s Wife has been one of the guiding forces surrounding this notion lately. Thanks to an off-the-cuff line, the Doctor mentioned that it was indeed possible for a Time Lord to regenerate into a Time Lady and that his good friend the Corsair was one of these individuals. This line caused rapture between fans. Some felt that such an idea was not only fresh, but would push Doctor Who into a new light. The majority however, felt that it would force it back into a permanent wilderness. Going back even further, The Curse of the Fatal Death, which is of course non-canon, played with the idea by actually turning the Doctor into Joanna Lumley. In its defense, it was incredibly naughty and sometimes inappropriate for younger viewers, which is what Doctor Who is for at its epicenter.
The Effects on the Doctor
I can’t imagine this change happening to the Doctor any time soon as it would cause all sorts of problems. The first would be his sense of identity. For 1200 years he’s been male. What sort of psychological damage would it inflict if he suddenly found himself female? That’s like going from being the smartest kid in class to the dumbest in zero seconds flat. What sort of self would you have left if all the other morons in your class suddenly had IQs which made yours look like a joke? Although it would create an interesting story arc for the Doctor, it would be too ‘drama orientated’ and not enough SCI-FI or fantasy. Furthermore, the Doctor has always expressed interest in females. If he suddenly turned female, what would fans expect? The reverse or the same stuff as before? Either way, this would create a whole new set of problems that I don’t even have to go into for obvious reasons.
The Effects on the Viewer
There are several routes available. The first is: 50 Years of one thing, let’s try something else. The likelihood of this move drawing in new fans is undeniable. It does cater to new fans, but will most definitely alienate old fans and let’s count them: 50 years’ worth. Every actor, writer, lorry driver and medical student who grew up with Doctor Who as male – most gone! If you read the above, you’re thinking that this move will then never happen, but I refer you to Season 7 of the classic era. Doctor Who was on the verge of being cancelled for the first time before the series got a complete reboot. Added backstory, no space/time travel, earth bound stories. No characters were carried over from the previous season. Brand new everything – and it worked! People loved it and UNIT became a big hit. Actually, go back to Series One of 2005. Doctor Who back on our screens. Time Lords dead, the Doctor a chick magnet, no more four part serials, no more three cliffhangers, thirteen episode arcs – and fans loved it! Unfortunately for diehard fans, Doctor Who does change very well. It’s how it’s managed to survive; so maybe giving up a few diehard fans is worth it if you can double your viewing figures. At the end of the day, that’s all Doctor Who is to the higher-ups – a cash cow.
Best of Both Worlds
Just because the above would enrage diehards, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a cash cow idea lurking in there somewhere. The Doctor’s Wife was a novel conception that put the TARDIS’ soul into a female body for a time. The same is true here and the possibilities are there. We just have to dive into them.
This one isn’t so much a transition from male Doctor to female Doctor and it isn’t new as the comics and short stories have featured the Doctor and his companions swapping bodies, but they never really addressed the issues of what it would mean to find yourself in a new body. For the Doctor though, I can accept the fact that he isn’t fazed by it for obvious reasons. Furthermore, the body swap notion is pretty common and has been used almost to death in movies and TV shows such as Warehouse 13 or Charmed, so the likelihood of this happening in Doctor Who is slim, but it is a familiar idea that has in the past produced some funny television. The main thing to remember here is it provides a role reversal where the Doctor would be taking on the companion’s role while the companion becomes the Doctor for a short time.
One Day Plague
Doctor Who is the perfect balance when it comes to genre. This is true because it can cater to any story in any time period, on any world and more or less anything can happen. Probably the only thing I enjoyed from The Girl Who Waited was the plague that had the Doctor reaching for his army coat and covering his mouth and nose. A plague that affects only two hearted races and kills you in precisely one day is quite specific and utterly nonsensical. Which is what Doctor Who is…nonsense! That’s why it works. That’s why it manages to entertain so many people. Therefore, why not dedicate an episode where the Doctor is temporarily changed into a female by some plague, alien, psychic attack or whatever. Have a laugh at him or put him in a situation where he has only a set time limit to find the cure. Seriously, does this idea sound any more ludicrous than a man who once lived on a cloud or sailed the skies towed by a flying shark? Actually, come to think of it, our protagonist is a person with thirteen bodies who lives in a 1960s police box for that matter. How much weirder can it get?
One, Maybe Two Ways Out
This idea came to me while I was watching the Best of specials last year. Chloe Dykstra cosplayed as the Eleventh Doctor which was kind of cool and a little bit naughty, but who cares. She was the inspiration for this section.
Most people tend to think that there are only thirteen Doctors out there. The last two we haven’t encountered yet as we usually follow Doctor Who from the Doctor’s subjective POV. Most people would be wrong. There are actually thousands, if not millions of Doctors out there. This is because of something called alternative universes. Sort of like the recent Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS episode which had viewers following the exploits of an alternative Doctor for the most part of the story who hadn’t been lucky enough to find the Big Friendly Button in time. For every choice made, there exists a version of reality where the choice wasn’t made.
So why not introduce our lovable Time Lord to a Doctor from one of these parallel universes where, in that universe, the Doctor’s eleventh regeneration resulted in him being female or where he was born female from the start. Have the two of them work together to save the universe for an episode. Maybe even a two-parter! We have the budget apparently. We just don’t seem to have enough to make episodes that are longer than 45 minutes.
As you can see, the female Doctor idea is not without potential. If it is utilized correctly, it might produce an episode that could potentially rival some of the all-time classics such as Blink, The Caves of Androzani or the very recent The Name of the Doctor.
I will end this article by informing you that I too am against the permanent change. I invite you to share your thoughts. Not your thoughts on whether the Doctor should change gender (we already have several articles for that), but which of the alternatives I mentioned here you would most likely want to see happen if the concept was ever considered.