And so yesterday it was announced:
Much ado has been made that this is the first female incarnation of The Doctor. After reflecting on this announcement for the last day, here are my initial thoughts.
1. Good Choice.
Whittaker is a fantastic actress. I am a big fan of Broadchurch and her performance in that series is top-notch. She is able to go to emotional places that are extreme and yet believable. And since the new series show runner is the man behind Broadchurch, I think that he will get some extraordinary performances.
2. Extreme Change
It would be foolish to shrug off this change as if it were not a massive moment in Doctor Who. The change from the 9th through the 11th Doctors were significant but not extreme in the way it was between the 11th and 12th Doctors. Going from the youthful and playful Matt Smith to the serious and scarred Capaldi was a big adjustment. But it allowed for the show to explore stories that wouldn't have made sense with the other Doctors. I think that Whittaker presents an opportunity to do the same thing.
3. Please No Politics
If the choice to have the first female Doctor was to tell new and interesting stories, then I am 100% behind the change. Time Lord lore holds that they can switch sexes with each regeneration, just as in some Eastern religions you can be born a different sex when you are reincarnated. But if the choice was done out of some desire to make political statements in the show, then the show will quickly lose me. It isn't that the creators cannot or should not have a strong point of view. But if their primary aim is to proselytize about political controversies of the day, not only does that alienate some viewers but more importantly it is BAD STORYTELLING. And it does not matter what the message is if the message trumps the story. Notice how most Christian movies are terrible because they are more interested in preaching than on telling a story. The worst episodes of Doctor Who are the ones that try to be timely (like when they parodied The Weakest Link) or when they push an agenda (like their worst episode: "The God Complex."). Broadchurch was fairly evenhanded when it came to things like religion, so I'm hoping the same will hold for Doctor Who. But I do not completely trust the BBC in this area.
4. Wonder Woman
I have watched the promo several times and the thing that I like about it is that it seems to be returning to the Doctor's sense of wonder. I think for me it was the smile. The emphasis on Capaldi was always the intensity of the his eyes, which were full of sadness, rage, compassion, and pain. What I saw in that little clip of Whittaker is a return to the sense of wonder that I saw in Matt Smith. There isn't much in that promo, but that little smile that she gives in the end gave me a sense of adventure and wonder.
5. Still Not Ginger
This appears to be the last regeneration barrier to crack.