Question of ‘Who’ comes next raises concern
By Amanda Greever | amanda.greever@thedailytimes. com
You never forget your first Doctor.
No, I’m not talking about your dentist, therapist or even your gynecologist, although each plays an important part in your well-being. The Doctor I refer to is way more awesome.
“Doctor Who” is set to celebrate its 50th anniversary later this year. The show premiered in 1963 and centered around a time-traveling alien, known simply as the Doctor. With the help of a companion or two, he flies around the galaxy and beyond in a bright blue phone box, known as the TARDIS.
And yes, I realize how this sounds to those not of the geek persuasion, like me. But bear with me for a moment.
Eleven actors have played the good Doctor over the last 50 years. This past week, actor Matt Smith announced he would be leaving the show after three series, the British equivalent of seasons.
“Doctor Who has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke, and that largely is down to the cast, crew and fans of the show,” Smith said in a statement. “I’m incredibly grateful to all the cast and crew who work tirelessly every day, to realize all the elements of the show and deliver Doctor Who to the audience.”
Since the announcement, rumor mills have been going wild with various actors being thrown out. I’m pretty certain at least half the cast of the “Harry Potter” franchise has been mentioned, with actor Rupert Grint, a.k.a. Ron Weasley, leading the charge. But here’s the interesting thing, males aren’t the only names being included in the rumors.
Many, myself included, don’t think a female would be well received in the role. It’s a 50-year history of a male doctor. Each incarnation has its own character traits, but there is an underlying foundation. The Doctor must be smart, sophisticated, brave and have a killer sense of humor, even if inappropriate at times.
So, why couldn’t it be a woman? Here’s where it gets complicated. When a new person becomes the Doctor, it’s because the old Doctor has well, kind of died. The Doctor is immortal, but sometimes there’s trauma that can’t be fixed, and he regenerates into his next incarnation. He’s always been a white male — of varying ages — but there’s nothing saying he has to be male. Or white. Perhaps a female Doctor has been 50 years in the making. After all, the “Star Trek” universe has female ship captains rather than just putting women in indecently short skirts, or painting them green and throwing them in a bikini.
But maybe, a female Doctor takes something sacred and twists it. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a fine line between honoring something and paying homage to it.
Take “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” for example. Some fans, myself included, were left fuming by the end of the film over some choices the creative team had decided to take. They took déjà vu to a whole new level. I won’t say more and spoil anything for those who haven’t seen it yet.
Then there was the fear that struck my heart when the “Man of Steel” — opening next week — was announced. The creative force behind the movie includes Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder. Nolan directed “Inception” and the most recent trilogy of “Batman” movies. Snyder’s directing credits include blockbusters “Watchmen” and “300.” Oh, and that little gem of a movie, “Sucker Punch.”
Superman/Clark Kent and I go way back. I’ve been a fan since I was little and reading my older brother’s comic books. When I first saw Christopher Reeve in the iconic role, something just clicked. He and Margot Kidder made the perfect team.
2006 saw another big-screen version of Superman hit theaters, this time with Brandon Routh in the lead role. The movie ... wasn’t awful. In fact, I liked it, but I recognized it for what it was. The film took place after Reeve’s “Superman II” and tried to step into the natural progression of things. Routh was decent but wooden, and the film had plenty of issues.
Now 2013 sees us with the new incarnation of the last son of Krypton as Henry Cavill steps into the role. His portrayal isn’t what worries me most. Instead, I worry about what Nolan and Snyder could do to such a beloved icon.
Batman has always been a dark hero, but Nolan managed to take him to an even darker place in his trilogy. And Snyder’s films aren’t exactly rays of sunshine. Superman is a Boy Scout. He’s vanilla to Batman’s Rocky Road. The trailers and everything I’ve seen hint we’re going to see a darker side of the Man of Steel. I just hope it’s not too black.
It can be hard watching others in creative control of something you hold dear. When a film is rebooted or a role recast, you’re putting your faith and trust in someone else’s hands. It can be a scary thing.
And now Doctor Who fans wait with bated breath to see who execs will put in (arguably) one of the most beloved roles in science fiction. I’m hopeful they’ll make a fan-pleasing choice.
Only time will tell. (Hey DW fans, see what I did there?)
Amanda Greever is assistant managing editor for print at The Daily Times. She is filling in for the vacationing Steve Wildsmith, who will return next week. Amanda can be reached at 981-1161 or (firstname.lastname@example.org) Follow her on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com _editor.