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David Hines [userpic]

thoughts on the eleventh Doctor

January 3rd, 2009 (05:07 pm)

So, the eleventh Doctor Who has been announced, and it's...

...Matt Smith.

Doctor Who?!

Smith is just 26, which will make him the youngest Doctor ever. He's three years younger than Peter Davison was when he got the part. That's a disappointment for me, because, let's be frank, I'm practically an anti-shipper. One of my greatest annoyances with fandom over the years has been the ever-increasing tendency to write fanfic as if the most important things about beloved characters are with how many people and in what configurations they can fuck. And, let's face it, a young and pretty Doctor is shipper candy. To which I say: yecch! and also: reanimate William Hartnell.

I'm not the only person who didn't get what I want. A lot of folks I know are disappointed because, to put it bluntly, Smith is white. There was a rumor swirling for months that Paterson Joseph was going to be the next Doctor. (Rich Johnston of the comics gossip column "Lying in the Gutters" has been the biggest "it's Joseph" guy, so it'll be interesting to see what he has to say about this.) The always-great Chiwetel Ejiofor was another rumored contender, although I'd never seriously thought there was even a chance that he'd do it -- the guy is in major demand in movies, so I wouldn't think he'd go do something as time-consuming as DOCTOR WHO. Both Joseph and Ejiofor are black, so progressive fans -- of whom I have many on my flist -- got their hopes up that we were going to have the first black Doctor Who. Smith's selection dashed those hopes, which means this may be the first time anyone has objected to a new Doctor's casting on ideological grounds. (Though I'm sure that if Joseph had gotten it, we'd be seeing the same thing from the folks who think that the Doctor should remain a white Englishman or at least somebody convincingly masquerading as such.)

I understand the hunger for diversity on television, particularly from people who feel underrepresented. When I was a little Jewish kid in North Carolina, I positively thirsted to see characters who were like me; as an adult, I've pretty much given up on seeing Jews on TV. (I can think of a total of three Jewish characters on all the television shows I've watched in the past ten years: 1) a fence on a recent episode of SCC, 2) Ari Gold, on HBO's ENTOURAGE, and 3) BTVS's Willow Rosenberg. Swear to God, we give Asian male characters a run for their money in terms of invisibility.) Maybe that's part of why I don't particularly care whether the next Doctor is black or white: I put on my helmet a long time ago. But I hope that the people who were disappointed, like me, that they didn't get what they wanted will give Smith a fair shake. While my initial inclination is to say, "Feh! A prettyboy!", watching the extended interview with him made me think Smith has a pretty good vibe. It'll be interesting to see how he does.

And hey, if nothing else, Paterson Joseph's at least gotten some good publicity out of this.

(All that said, one note for the new kid: get a haircut.)


Posted by: Greetings Fellow Comstoks! (fengi)
Posted at: January 3rd, 2009 10:26 pm (UTC)

My question is what was up with the BBC officially encouraging race and gender rumors just 12 hours ago when they knew the pick was mundane? It's like they deliberately wound up American fans excited by the year of Obama and Clinton just to take the piss.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: January 3rd, 2009 11:21 pm (UTC)

You think BBC Wales and BBC News talk to each other?

Oh and... http://scifipulse.net/?p=4001

Posted by: Greetings Fellow Comstoks! (fengi)
Posted at: January 3rd, 2009 11:39 pm (UTC)

To quote from that link: "Even the BBC news program that ran shortly before Confidential, was still reporting that David Morrissey was the favorite."

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: January 4th, 2009 12:36 am (UTC)

BBC News didn't know what BBC Wales was going to announce.

Posted by: gabriella (gabby_silang)
Posted at: January 3rd, 2009 11:11 pm (UTC)
coming or going?//beatkicks

I...yeah. I feel you. I'm not generally shippy about the Doctor, and it's that overwhelming tremble-lipped, melty-eyed shippiness that's scared me off the New Who fandom, really. So. So this. Huh.

Then again, Chiwetel and Paterson are good looking guys themselves. And I guess I was kinda hoping for something...different.

Yeah, I officially do not know how I feel about this. I see what you mean about the guy's vibe, but until I actually see him in action, hrm. My worry is that they liked his vibe so much that they couldn't let him go, and let him mature a bit, and keep him in mind for later.

Also, he shares a name with my ex-boyfriend, so that's weird.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: January 5th, 2009 12:17 am (UTC)

Also: dude, that hair.

Posted by: Lisa Bouchard (lisa_bouchard)
Posted at: January 4th, 2009 01:46 am (UTC)

I've given up finding Jewish characters on TV. If I run across one (the Eppes family in Numb3rs) I'll point it out to my kids, but I've moved on to pointing out Jewish people doing good things. It's discouraging, but of all the things I have to worry about Jewish fictional representation is low.

Posted by: Niall Harrison (coalescent)
Posted at: January 4th, 2009 03:27 pm (UTC)

I've given up finding Jewish characters on TV

Try The West Wing? Or Babylon 5. I find your comment and hradzka's interesting, because I haven't noticed a lack of Jewish characters in the US TV that makes it over to the UK -- indeed, relative to UK television, I'd always thought of Jewish characters as common in US shows.

Posted by: Lisa Bouchard (lisa_bouchard)
Posted at: January 4th, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)

It may be the case that there are more Jewish characters in US television, but my kids aren't really ready for adult shows yet. The oldest is 12 and the youngest is 5, so many shows are right out for them.

It's not such a problem because I'd rather show them real people doing real things than fictional people doing fictional things.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: January 5th, 2009 12:12 am (UTC)
unfair to batgirl

I'll give you THE WEST WING (Josh is Jewish, right? I never watched the show very much, as Sorkin gives me hives), but BABYLON 5 has been off the air for over ten years.

...God, that makes me feel old.

B5 actually did remarkably well in terms of Jewish visibility, though: what with Ivanova, Theodore Bikel's character in TKO, and presumably one of the dudes in line in "Parliament of Dreams," the show had three Jews onscreen in the course of its run. That's more than we usually get.

(Now that I think about it, the show that has had the most Jews, unquestionably: LAW & ORDER. None of the main characters have ever been Jewish, but since it's set in New York they've done several episodes dealing with some aspect of the Jewish community.)

Posted by: Niall Harrison (coalescent)
Posted at: January 5th, 2009 07:52 am (UTC)

Josh is Jewish

Both Josh and Toby; and various other guest characters.

Posted by: Petra (petronelle)
Posted at: January 4th, 2009 02:44 am (UTC)

I am withholding final judgment about Eleven till I've seen him in action, but it would've been cool to have a non-white one.

Regarding the latter issue, my knee-jerk response is "Even Mad Men has Jewish people." Though it's not what I would call a flattering depiction, I wouldn't describe Mad Men's take on darn near anybody as flattering.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: January 4th, 2009 08:40 am (UTC)

Mad Men has Jews? MORE THAN ONE?!

Posted by: Petra (petronelle)
Posted at: January 4th, 2009 12:31 pm (UTC)

They're related, but yes.

Posted by: Maire (mkcs)
Posted at: January 5th, 2009 01:00 am (UTC)

The early incarnations of the Doctor seemed mostly (and pretty reasonably) to see their companions more as very clever pets than as equals.

I still can't quite make my mind stretch to sex between Gallifreyans and humans as a result -- he really isn't the same species, and because I picked that up when I was really young and the relationships had that feel, it just seems weird.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: January 5th, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC)

That's not my chief objection; I'm just heartily sick of TV shows where the writers shuffle their characters around in romances with each other until the actors get too expensive or the cast dies from old age.

I enjoy romance, sure -- I'm amazed and delighted that Rob Thomas's CUPID is coming back, albeit with a new cast -- but jeez, there are other types of human relationships.

Posted by: Maire (mkcs)
Posted at: January 5th, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)

Given that I liked Doctor Who best when it was a kids' horror and sci-fic show, with occasional drifts into fantasy, and where the mystery or conquer-the-bad-guy/save-the-world plot was the focus, I agree.

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