The Doctor’s Diverse Personalities

Now that I have watched Seasons 1-9 of the new Doctor Who TV series, I would like to write about the diversity in the 4 Doctors that I have watched grow and regenerate before my eyes. The first Doctor that I met was number 9, aka Christopher Eccleston, he is fresh out of the war on Gallifrey and is said to have PTSD from the actions that took place while fighting in this war. Eccleston’s portrayal of the Doctor was supposed to be aimed at the 21st audience, this is seen by his attire, which was a leather jack and black jeans, or black leather pants. He shows people his many personalities by being the hero in the first scene when we meet him, by saving Rose from the plastic army. We learn to love him as he learns to love Rose and we cry for him as he becomes emotional when he saves Rose’s life in the final moments before he regenerates into David Tennant. David Tennant becomes our beloved 10th Doctor and unlike Eccleston, Tennant ends up staying for 3 seasons. We finally get to see his personality through the choice of his clothing, which is a suit and his tan detective coat. This shows that he’s more curious about the world and the universe. This brought on more weird and supernatural episodes and we learn more and more of Tennant’s Doctor’s personality. Tennant portrays the Doctor as charismatic and charming whose likable and easygoing, most days, but it can easily be turned into fury and outrage when he is double-crossed. He also gives off this “years of sadness” vibe, which is reiterated when he regenerates into Matt Smith, by crying and saying he “doesn’t want to go.”

Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor version is a bit unique and crazy. This is seen by his different style change which is also a suit, but picks up different colored bowties. He is also different as he is the first Doctor to travel with 2 companions whom are in a developing relationship, and eventually seen as married, and they have a daughter whom turns out to be married to the 12th Doctor in her past and their future. His characteristics include being quick-tempered, but a compassionate man who uses his youthful appearance which differs with his more discerning and world-weary temperament. This temperament leads into crazy adventures and eventually causes him to get trapped on a planet and eventually die from old age, but gets granted a new regeneration cycle by the Time Lords, leading to him regenerating into Peter Capaldi. Peter Capaldi is the most boring seasons that I have watched out of all the other Doctors. He is also clothed differently in a mostly navy two-pieced suit. He is different from the other’s as he is older than the others we have seen and he portrays the Doctor as a “spiky”, brusque, contemplative, and pragmatic, he also tends to conceal his emotions especially if faced with tough and sometimes ruthless decisions.

As you can see the New Who has shown us many different personalities, faces, and costumes. These details may seem small, but they make up who we have begun to see as the Doctor. This also causes for very diverse and unique portrayals of the Doctor, as you can see in the examples above.

Converse or Bowtie? The Pros and Cons of David Tennant vs. Matt Smith

As somebody entirely new to the show before this class, I didn’t really understand the fervent support or disdain of either Matt Smith or David Tennant as The Doctor in the show. I just saw this debate as two sides of the same coin; they’re both playing the Doctor, what’s the big deal? However, after watching the show, I am beginning to understand the debate.David Tennant was such a well loved actor in his portrayal of the Doctor, but Matt Smith is also no pushover. I am still on the fence about which I like better, but here are some of the pros and cons of David Tennant vs. Matt Smith.

My first argument in favor of David Tennant would have to be his character arc and portrayal of the writing given to him. The tenth Doctor would not have been an easy role at all; he is at times gritty, witty, and over the top just plain weird. Watching the growth and change of his character through multiple companions shows a lot of care and effort on Tennant’s part. From Rose all the way to Donna, we see a total change in how the Doctor acts. His acting ability is superb. Another point in favor of Tennant is all of the interesting arcs that we are taken on with him, to his love story with Rose all the way to the epic battle against the Daleks with all of his companions by his side. The tenth Doctor is just plain cool in the stories that are told through him. One negative of Tennant’s run that I would add is some of the companion development. He is often cold, angry, and dismissive of his companions when they first meet, which really turned me off of his character. Overall, David Tennant’s Doctor was truly amazing and was just what the show needed.

With a run like Tennant’s Matt Smith had a lot on his plate. I think the transition between Doctors was seamless and cool; Matt Smith was perfectly cast for the role he was to play. I understand how some may feel the transition was rocky, but some people are going to believe that no matter what with the attachment many fans had to David Tennant’s Doctor. Matt Smith’s eleventh Doctor is just cool! He’s got an air about him that he is not to be trifled with, with dramatic monologues in nearly every episode. I’m also a huge fan of his style; again, it’s just cool. I can definitely see the merits of both actors in their roles as the Doctor, and I have to say that I really enjoy both of them, but for different reasons. I appreciate both Matt and David in portraying a character that I am coming to appreciate more and more.

Saying goodbye to Martha :(

Throughout the series and episodes that I have watched during the course of this term I fell in love with Martha.  Literally from the Shakespeare episode I knew that i liked her more than Rose.  I realize that this is not a popular opinion nor realistic to many long time fans of the show due to the large role she had to follow up.  Rose was probably the best character to continually pull attention to and hook the audience due to her love for the Doctor and his eventual love for her.  The sob story stuff was a hit to everyone except me.  I hated Rose, she treated Mickey like crap, left her mom stranded alone and only cared about herself throughout time and space.  Too often she abandoned Mickey and others to follow her interest in the Doctor and would do anything for him.  Including look into the heart of the TARDIS.  Probably the worst way to end the suspenseful BAD WOLF thing they had going btw…  After she goes away (finally) they had to introduce a new female character to accompany the Doctor and continue tradition.  Luckily the producers had their heads on straight and decided to included a person of color as the main companion to the Doctor.  Martha to the rescue! In her to short of time on the show ,in my opinion, she was able to rationally change the Doctor and his perspective on many things.  Donna even says that she did him some good.  I hate Donna too by the way.  Only because shes loud and not Martha :-).  Martha brought a lot to the table and helped progress the story-line.  Most notably her addition to the racial diversity of the cast but also the long consistent flow that seemed to develop with Rose.  She loves him, he loves her but doesn’t show it well, he’ll do anything for her, has to save her… blah blah blah.

At the end of the day I feel that Martha Jones did the Doctor a lot of good and opened his eyes a little bit into how he affects the companions during and after he leaves them.  She didn’t let herself get stuck in the loop and continue to follow the Doctor like a puppy but rather made the grown up decision to help her family and stay at home.

Basically whenever a new character is introduced I am less and less excited because it isn’t Martha and all i want is for her to come back and have more adventures with the Doctor. 😦

Similarities in the Doctor Incarnations

Christopher Eccleston set the stage of incorporating more diversity in the Doctor Who reboot being from the northern part of the United Kingdom. This was extremely diverse for the UK because everyone is to try to be posh and speak like the Queen does because that gives them status both economically and socially. Otherwise the Doctor is still a white British male who isn’t ginger yet. Though the Ninth Doctor didn’t seem to bring anything back from previous versions he rather built a new persona. The only thing he brought back was his know it all attitude that he carried otherwise the clothing was ‘normal’ for the Doctor. Nine was very rebellious and seemed to be trying to move on from any connection to his past.

David Tennant being Scottish brought an even broader audience because he is a more popular actor who brought more viewers. Though still not ginger the Tenth Doctor brought a new style of acting and clothing. Ten went back to an odd outfit with a suit, long coat, and converse but it is still not as out there as a long scarf or a celery stalk. He did however, bring back a lot of the fifth Doctor with the glasses and they each dash around but appreciate beauty in the things around them. They each also stand with their hands in their pockets in tense situations which gives a casual appearance. Ten also aligned with the First Doctor in his final days by becoming selfish and trying to avoid regeneration and moving on.

Matt Smith brought a youthful feel being the youngest Doctor ever cast. This many would say is an age chosen by the Doctor to hide an old weary soul. Smith portrays the Doctor a lot like the second Doctor because he is goofy, can be physically awkward, and his love of hats. This Smith has credited to being that the Second Doctor was the Doctor of the stories he watched after being cast due to not having Doctor Who while growing up. Eleven also kept a suit but had sand boots instead of converse and later adopted spectacles for a few episodes to go with Five and Ten. Smith when cast as the Doctor wasn’t well known but this role brought him to fame.

Peter Capaldi again being Scottish brought some variety to the Doctor. Capaldi is the oldest doctor cast other than John Hurt who only has appeared a few times playing the War Doctor. The show did play some on Capaldi being from Glasgow with Clara making a few jokes here and there. Twelve being older than his two previous incarnations showed that he is accepting the maturity that he showed in his earliest incarnations. In season eight Twelve had a style that reflected the Third Doctor with a look almost of a magician. And in season nine he adopts a ‘disheveled “cosmic hobo”’ look like the Second Doctor. However, he shares a lot of traits with the Third Doctor like the love of invention and a sense of flamboyance with dramatic pointing or poses.

Jodi Whittaker being female also brings another sense of diversity into the Doctors incarnations. However, she is still white so maybe the 14th Doctor will be a person of color. In her outfit, she adopts the stripes of the Fourth Doctor on her shirt, the long coat of the Tenth and Fourth Doctor, the boots and suspenders of the Eleventh Doctor, and high waisted trousers like the Second Doctor. So overall most of her look comes from previous incarnations. But still not ginger! So, we will see where the Thirteenth Doctor takes us and how she acts compared to her previous incarnations.

Image: tonyblews.co.uk

Martha Jones: The Companion

Martha Jones is the 10th Doctor’s second companion. Jones is an acquired taste. Some people say that Jones is too forward because she does not like to be the damsel in distress.  Martha likes to think of herself as the Doctor’s equal. She does not want to be looked as the companion that is dependent on the Doctor.  Martha looks at the Doctor as her partner and not as some powerful alien. She argues with the Doctor with a purpose. Martha does not like to be bossed around if it is not necessary. However, I think it is obvious that she is a dominating force when she on the show, but she is still just a companion. Martha does get in situations where the Doctor must rescue her. She also is seen to have a temper,

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but I believe it because of her strong personality. She doesn’t like to know that there is nothing more that she could do to help the Doctor. A lot of the “Whovian” fandom dislike Martha because she fails to be a Rose or a Donna. Despite this, Martha works harder than any other companion. She leaves her medical career to continue helping the Doctor with his crazy adventures. Martha is loyal, reliable, and she’s strong. She is by far the best companion that the doctor has had.

 

Regeneration Continuity

In one of David Tennant’s final adventures, a team of his most famed companions/allies is formed.  The team consisting of Harriet Jones, Rose Tyler, Jack Harkness, Sarah Jane Smith, and Martha Jones come together to aid the Doctor in stopping the end of the world.  This gallery of characters were iconic during the adventures of previous incarnations of the Doctor and Tennant’s edition of the Time Lord.  Their presence in “The Stolen Earth/ Journey’s End” helps provide a storybook ending to Tennant’s run as the Doctor, but is it’s unfair to the characters that the viewers grew to love during the tenth Doctor’s adventures.

Rose Tyler traveled with both Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant’s version of the Doctor.  She added continuity to a somewhat abrupt change to the iconic role.  She anchored Tennant in the first few episodes of season two, and she also gave the viewer some continuity within the show.  At the end of Tennant’s run, we are given closing points for Rose, Jack, Sarah Jane, Martha, and Donna.  This bookend for the series was beneficial in that it gave the show a “mini-reboot,” but it hurt the show in that the eleventh Doctor didn’t have a continuity point from the tenth Doctor, and seemed very lost in his first adventure.

Rose was a dynamic character that the viewers already knew, and this made assimilating the new Doctor much simpler.  In Matt Smith’s first episode, he acknowledges his former versions of himself, but not his former companions.  This feels out of character for the Doctor, and it hurts the chance for these former companions to appear alongside the eleventh regeneration of the Doctor.  Without watching ahead, I think this is a disservice to the characters that travelled with Ten, and it also hurts the mythology of the famous television show.

Favorite Fan Video

This video is great because it takes a show that is usually fun and quirky and puts an interesting darker spin on it. One of my favorite parts of Doctor Who is the constant question of how much influence the Doctor should have on the course of history. Is he making the right decisions? Would the universe be better off without him? How far is too far? And should anyone have that kind of power? My favorite episodes are the ones that explore this fine line between good and evil. I think this fan video highlights this well.

Martha Deserved Better

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Six years ago when I watched Doctor Who for the first time I did not like Martha very much. I found it extremely annoying how she always pined after the Doctor and I, along with the Doctor, viewed Martha as a rebound companion after he lost Rose.

Re-watching the third season though, I ended up liking Martha. Looking back on my old opinions of Martha, I’ve realized that they probably spawned out of racism that I wasn’t previously aware that I had. In truth, she is intelligent, brave and has a great sense of humor. Also, she had enough self-respect to leave the Doctor as soon as she realized that she deserved better than being with a man who made her feel like “second best,” and I respect that.

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While it’s great that the show was diversifying itself by adding Martha as the “first” black companion (some would argue that Mickey was actually the first), it failed in properly representing the black community in a few ways. The first being that the writers avoided addressing racial issues in episodes that take place in the past. The most obvious example is in S3E2 The Shakespeare Code when the Doctor and Marth first arrive in Elizabethan England. Martha is immediately concerned about how she’ll be treated being black.

MARTHA: I’m not going to get carted off as a slave, am I?

DOCTOR: Why would they do that?

MARTHA: Not exactly white, in case you haven’t noticed.

DOCTOR: I’m not even human. Just walk about like you own the place. Works for me. Besides, you’d be surprised. Elizabethan England, not so different from your time.

The writers had the opportunity to make some great points on racism and use their hugely popular show as a way to spark a conversation. Instead they chose to take the easy way out and dismiss her as though her worries are completely invalid. It’s also offensive that the Doctor assumes he knows what she’s going though and compares his experience as an alien with the outward appearance of a white man with that of a black woman’s.

The second way that the show failed in diversity with Martha is that the Doctor was mildly racist towards her. He never showed her the level of respect that he did towards Rose or would to Donna, Amy, and Clara. When the Doctor first met Donna he invited her to travel with him with no stipulations and she, of course, turns him down at first. When he meets Martha just an episode later though, he specifies that he is only going to take her on one trip and then right back home. The audience is supposed to think that this is because his heart is still broken over loosing Rose, but if that were true, why didn’t he give Donna the same condition?

He also never gave Martha a proper goodbye. After traveling the world alone for a whole year telling everyone she could about the Doctor in order to save him and her family being imprisoned and enslaved by the Master, she deserved his utmost respect. Instead she just receives a “thank you” whereas, in comparison, Rose got a Doctor substitute and Donna got a winning lottery ticket.

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Overall, Martha isn’t a popular companion and is often overlooked by fans. This is probably partly because she came after the love interest Rose and hilarious Donna, but is also partly because of racist bias. Hopefully the show starts to diversify its companions more and uses these opportunities to address social issues.

Pitting Women Against Each Other Part Two

In my previous post I discussed the issues with female representation in the episode School Reunion and I will now address the issues with S2E4 The Girl in the Fire Place.

In this episode the Doctor, Rose and Mickey find themselves on a broken down spaceship with windows that lead into France in the 1700s. What they later find out is that the ship’s crew is using human body parts to repair their ship and that the windows are all moments in Madam de Pompadour’s life since they need her brain as the final piece.

The first couple times the Doctor fleetingly meets Madam de Pompadour, otherwise known as Renette, she is a child. When he meets her a third time though she is a woman and she almost immediately kisses him and he is thrilled yelling out,

DOCTOR: I’m the Doctor, and I just snogged Madame de Pompadour. Ha, ha!

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Renette is set up as a love interest for the Doctor from the get go and since Rose had already been well established as a love interest, this forces the audience to pit these two women against each other.

Later on in the episode the Doctor and Renette have a short conversation where he goes into her mind in order to find out why the crew wants her. He becomes enamored with her and when she invites him to a party he accepts, seeming to forget about Rose and Mickey who are in grave danger. When Rose ask him why he would leave them in harm’s way his simple explanation is that he “invented the banana daiquiri a few centuries early.”

The Doctor and Renette only get closer as the episode goes on and by the end he considers bringing her onto the TARDIS and making her his next companion. When he goes to the future to pick her up though he misses her by a few minutes making that impossible.

The issue with this episode is that it diminishes a strong woman in history by making her a love interest through lazy writing and cheap tricks. The Doctor is almost a thousand years old so meeting Renette would have been a tiny speck of his life to him. On top of that, he had only met her twice as a child for a few minutes before they are suddenly making out and running off to parties together. It’s a love story that makes no sense. Why create a love triangle that the writers never intended to follow through with?

It’s unfortunate that the writers of Doctor Who make almost every woman that meets the Doctor fall in love with him. An incomplete list of these women would be Rose, Sarah Jane, Renette, Martha, and Amy. Why can’t a woman want to travel with the Doctor simply because she loves adventure and wants to explore time and space?

Pitting Women Against Each Other Part One

In the second season of Doctor Who there a two episodes in particular that are especially terrible when it comes to female representation. Those episodes are School Reunion and The Girl in the Fireplace. While these episodes feature strong female leads who are capable of defending themselves, they fall into the trap of pitting these women against each other.

The first of these episodes is S2E3 School Reunion in which Sarah Jane Smith, companion of the Third and Fourth Doctors, returns. The Tenth Doctor and Rose run into her when all three of them are investigating strange occurrences happening at a school. When the Doctor first introduces Sarah Janes and Rose they immediately dislike each other.

ROSE: Does anyone notice anything strange about this? Rats in school?

SARAH: Well, obviously they use them in Biology lessons. They dissect them. Or maybe you haven’t reached that bit yet. How old are you?

ROSE: Excuse me, no one dissects rats in school anymore. They haven’t done that for years. Where are you from, the dark ages?

Then there is this quick bit of dialogue.

MICKEY: Ho, ho, mate. The missus and the ex. Welcome to every man’s worst nightmare.

While it has been strongly implied that there are romantic feelings between the Doctor and Rose for the past two seasons, there was never a romantic implication between the Doctor and Sarah Jane, so why try to force one now? It should not be immediately assumed that a man and a woman who are friends must be in love with each other. Also, while I acknowledge that Mickey’s line was intended to be funny, it should also not be assumed that two women who are friends with the same man or even have dated the same man are automatically going to hate each other.

It is later on established that Rose is worried that she is not as special to the Doctor as she previously thought since she just found out that she is only one of many companions the Doctor has had. Sarah Jane on the other hand feels that Rose has replaced her and that the Doctor just brushed aside someone he once considered his best friend. After coming to these realizations and bonding over the Doctor, Rose and Sarah Jane have a good laugh and get along for the rest of the episode. While it is good that Rose and Sarah Jane learn to accept each other and get along, this episode would have been much better from a diversity standpoint if they had never fought in the first place.

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I will address The Girl in the Fireplace in part two of this post next week