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Canberra Today 18°/20° | Monday, January 24, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Time lord ‘Doctor’ Jodie says it’s time to take flight 

Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who… proved the critics wrong.

Chivalrous streaming columnist NICK OVERALL comes to the defence of Jodie Whittaker, the departing Doctor Who who, he says, proved the critics wrong.

IN her final outing as the iconic time lord, Jodie Whittaker leaves with her a legacy that proves “Doctor Who” is a role for a woman as much as it is a man.

Nick Overall.

Whittaker has announced she’ll leave the role next year following the conclusion of the show’s 13th season, which is currently ongoing.

A vocal minority hissed at the idea of a woman playing the titular character when she was first announced in 2017.

Take the hashtag ‘#notmydoctor’ that started trending on Twitter before she even had the chance to prove herself as one example of the outcry.

How terrible, a fictional alien smorgasbord that can take any form might by some strange chance turn out to be female – what an absolute cosmic travesty.

But Whittaker has proved them wrong – bringing a humble charisma to the role and a portrayal worthy of one of the most popular characters of all time.

However, last year the ratings of “Doctor Who” hit their lowest in the UK since 1986, leading to some speculation that it might spell trouble for the time lord.

“Lowest since 1986” is still four million odd people, mind you – the kind of viewership many shows dream of.

If indeed the show is “struggling”, it’s a result of its writing being some of the most hit and miss it’s been in years.

While there have been some gems, the show has also exhaustingly milked modern political issues, believing it has some kind of right to preach from a platform where the main character flies around in a magic police box. 

What happened to episodes such as “The Empty Child” of the Eccleston era, where terrifying, gas-mask-wearing children haunted the streets of London during the blitz? Or the emotional “Vincent and the Doctor” from the Smith era, where Vincent van Gogh was taken to the future to see his own museum and the celebration of his art – recognition he never received while he was alive.

These are the sorts of concepts people escape into “Doctor Who” for, not to be bombarded with political messaging that’s already everywhere else they look.

Don’t get me wrong, there are absolutely some standout episodes that allow Whittaker to shine.

“Ascension of the Cybermen” did some unique work with a popularly established nemesis of the time lord and “Spyfall” threw a James Bond spin into the mix and even saw the doctor take a visit to Australia.

But even these episodes certainly don’t hit the heights of what “Doctor Who” fans have come to expect – certainly not like what was seen in the David Tennant era of the doctor.

Tennant, still widely considered as the best portrayal of the character to date, also had some of the best material to work with.

Take classics such as “Silence in the Library”, where the doctor found himself in an empty, planet-sized library, or “Midnight”, which set the majority of the episode inside a single room and became a creepy guessing game of which person was the alien impostor in disguise.

It’d also be remiss not to mention fan-favourite “Blink”, where viewers were first introduced to the terrifying weeping angels.

Written by renowned British television writer Steven Moffat, the doctor barely featured in the episode at all – only occasionally appearing through a TV screen to give cryptic warnings to characters that the audience had never seen before.

Ideas like these are how “Doctor Who” reinvents itself and stays fresh – not by cheaply capitalising on modern politics. 

It’s just a shame that Whittaker hasn’t had originality of this level to play with during her own tenure.

There’s certainly no shortage of places to stream the adventures of the time lord in Australia.

The new seasons of the show, from its reboot in 2005, can be found on Amazon Prime Video and Stan, but ABC iView is the platform that viewers will be able to stay most up to date with new episodes of season 13 releasing weekly.

But for those wanting to go old-school, right back to the doctor’s early adventures, they’ll have to turn to BritBox.

The platform, dedicated entirely to British television, has episodes that stretch as far back as 1963 when the show first appeared on black and white television screens around the world.

Now there’s a time warp.

 

 

 

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Nick Overall

Nick Overall

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