Sentinel Progress

The Doctor is IN — and I will be watching

There are many names for die hard fans of certain television shows and movies. Love Star Trek? Congrats, you’re a “Trekkie.” Into the Twilight series? Welcome “Twihards.”

While Harry Potter fans answer to both “Muggles” and “Potterheads” alike, the term “Browncoats” is reserved only for the most serious Firefly fans.

Star Wars, arguably the largest fan group out there, decided to be all boring about it and to this day, despite the franchise’s popularity, they sport no clever name and refer to themselves simply as “Star Wars Fans.”

I, however, subscribe to an entirely different group of geeks who obsess about a show … I am a “Whovian.”

To those unfamiliar with the term let me first assure you it has nothing to do with Dr. Seuss. In fact, “Whovian” pertains to a very different sort of doctor — a 2,000-year-old Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey: Dr. Who.

The show has gained in popularity in recent years, but it can hardly be dismissed as a passing fad — Dr. Who has been on TV for over 50 years, first premiering in 1963.

The premise behind the show is simple: the Doctor (you never learn his real name) travels around the universe in his TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) having all sorts of adventures.

The TARDIS, just like its name implies, can take the Doctor anywhere in time and space and although it was originally designed to blend in with its surroundings, a faulty “chameleon circuit” has resulted in it looking permanently like a British blue police call box from the 1960’s.

Don’t worry, it’s bigger on the inside.

There have been a host of actors playing the Doctor since the show’s creation with early writers explaining the casting changes throughout the years by means of “regeneration.” When the Doctor dies, he doesn’t just die, he regenerates — into an entirely new person.

Memories and experiences are retained but he takes on an entirely different personality and — of course — physically looks different. For example, when the Scottish actor Peter Capaldi took over the role from Matt Smith in 2013, for the first time the Doctor was portrayed with a Scottish brogue instead of his traditional English dialect.

“I’m Scottish, this is great,” the Doctor yelled upon discovering his accent. “I can finally complain about things! Really complain!”

Once the Doctor regenerates, he can come back as anyone, any race and any age. Matt Smith was only 26 when he landed the role, Capaldi was 55.

Despite the allowances for casting diversity in the Whovian lore, the Doctor has never been casted as anything except a white male.

Until now.

The BBC recently announced that English actress Jodie Whittaker had been cast as the 13th Doctor and people are losing their freaking minds over it — and not in a good way.

“I’m a life-long Dr. Who fan and I will never watch another episode,” one (ex?) fan wrote online. He wasn’t alone. There were hundreds — thousands — of similar sentiments posted with people going as far as to start petitions demanding a re-cast.

I was shocked.

This is a show that routinely expresses tolerance and celebrates diversity. The fact that its fans have been so consumed with this sudden voracity of misogyny caught me completely off guard.

And pissed me off.

Why is it such a terrible thing to have a woman Doctor? It’s not like the character is drawn from history or something — it’s about a time-traveling alien for Pete’s sake! Do they think she’ll swap her sonic screwdriver for a curling iron? Or decorate the inside of the TARDIS in pink with puppies and unicorns?

Are they worried the writers are going to change the name of their species and make them “Time Ladies” instead of Lords? Puh-lease …

I began watching the show in 2005 when the BBC re-vamped it and cast Christopher Eccleston in the title role. Since then, I have seen the Doctor replaced three additional times and each time — I hated the “new” Doctor. At first.

When Eccleston handed the job over to David Tennent, I thought he was too young — then he became my (new) favorite. When Tennent passed the reigns to Smith, again, I was outraged. Then he became my (new, new) favorite.

Sensing a pattern here?

The same with Capaldi. When he came on, I couldn’t stand him. Now, I am very sorry to see him leave. Because — yes, you guessed it — he’s my (new, new, new) favorite.

I have watched the show long enough to trust that the writers and producers know what they’re doing. Am I wild about the casting of Whittaker? No, not really. But not because she’s a woman — I’m just sulking due to Capaldi’s departure.

But catch me a few episodes into next season and I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune: Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor?

Why, funny you should ask …

She’s my favorite.

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Strickly Speaking

Kasie Strickland

Kasie Strickland is a staff writer for The Sentinel-Progress and can be reached at kstrickland@championcarolinas.com. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the newspaper’s opinion.