Season 11 of Doctor Who, with the new female doctor Jody Whittaker, premiers this Sunday 10/7. It’s on BBC America at 1:45 and again at 6pm. Same local time in the UK, information that’s worthless any more since the Beeb figured out how to block VPNs. It was so cool to be able to watch the show hours before most people in North America. But that’s another story…
There’s been a lot of moaning and whinging about having a female Doctor, and IMHO it’s pretty dumb. You can’t call yourself a real fan of Doctor Who if you don’t remember that the very first episode no November 23, 1963, established that Time Lords are (reproductively) bisexual: We met the Doctor and his granddaughter. And then there was Missy in the recent series, the formerly male Master who one day regenerated as a woman.
Personally, I”m a little unsure about the particular female actor, Jody Whittaker. I watched “Broadchurch”, and Whittaker’s character in that show didn’t suggest shoulders big enough to be the flamboyant center of attention of Doctor Who. I thought perhaps somebody like Tilda Swanson would have really kicked some serious ass. Or dozens of other strong female leads. But I have no firm reason to doubt Whittaker’s ability. We shall soon see.
I’m more concerned that they’ll make major changes to be making changes, and they’ll break Doctor Who the way it was broken in the 1980s. I watched some Classic Who over the summer, and I could see how the succession of producers made more and more gratuitous changes as time went on. The were flailing. Now the BBC has made no bones about expecting Chris Chibnall to shake things up, and god help us all.
I’ll be looking for a key clue early on: The theme. In the 80s it kept getting farther and farther from Delia Darbyshire’s theremin classic, till all that remained was some thumping bass guitar and awful electric organ.
It was a New Coke moment: Nothing says flailing about at random like twisting one of the most iconic TV show themes of all time completely out of recognition.
The less said about Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy the better. Here’s the nadir of the theme at the end of the Classic era, McCoy’s time in the box.
Wadda y’all think? Filled with trepidation? Anticipation? Ennui?
Here’s the first theme, from Delia Darbyshire and the BBC’s Radiophonic Labs: