Doctor Who is a British television science fiction program produced by the BBC since 1963 that depicts the adventures of a Time Lord called “the Doctor”, an extraterrestrial being, to all appearances human, from the planet Gallifrey. The Doctor explores the universe in a time-travelling space ship called the TARDIS.
The Thirteenth Doctor is the current incarnation of the eponymous hero of the BBC show and is portrayed by Jodie Whittaker, the first woman to portray the character in the series. To account for different actors’ departure from the series, the program introduced the narrative concept of regeneration, a means for a Time Lord to gain a new appearance and a distinct new personality when the Doctor approaches the end of the current incarnation. Whittaker appeared for the first time as the Thirteenth Doctor at the end of the 2017 Christmas special and stars in the show’s eleventh series.
Even if you don’t watch the BBC, you’ve heard of Doctor Who. And if you haven’t been living under a rock for the past year, then you have heard about Jodie Whittaker playing Doctor Who as a woman for the first time. Unfortunately, like most shows, the high-ratings the show garnered when it premiered have begun to drop. While this season’s numbers are a bit higher than last season’s, the ratings for last season were pretty poor.
However, anyone that comments that a show that’s lost 4 million viewers over the first six episodes is noteworthy, is being labeled “alt-right” or misogynists. In fact, there are strange strategies being implementing when those who aren’t fans point out that the ratings for the show have been sliding significantly. Amidst rumors that the lead actress and showrunner may be leaving sometime next year over dissatisfaction, many columnists and opinion writers have been deflecting that rumor with accusations of racism and misogyny are to blame, not for the lower ratings, but for the people who are making a big deal about the lower ratings.
Pat Stacey of the Independent in Dublin, Ireland shot off a scorching rebuke to anyone who dared question the success of the current series in an incredibly long-titled and emotional article “Right wing Doctor Who haters are lying -- series is far from failing with Jodie Whittaker” (emphasis added) where he deploys what’s been jokingly referred to as the “Sony Ghostbusters Strategy”:
Reading the below-the-line comments on some of these dailies’ websites after a Doctor Who episode is a nauseating experience that leaves you wanting to rinse your eyeballs with Optrex.
It’s like plunging into a sewer of misogyny and racism. Regular complaints tend to include the following: “Too many women. Too many black and brown faces. Too many namby-pamby plots, smuggling in messages about racism, imperialism and inclusiveness. The lefty pinkos at the BBC won’t be happy until the Doctor is played by a one-legged black lesbian wearing a #MeToo T-shirt.”
In the grand scheme of things, the fate of a mere TV series ranks low on the list of priorities. But don’t be fooled: this is The Big Lie in action.
The Big Lie, invented by Hitler, perfected by Goebbels and practised with dismaying success by Trump on his obliging base, is an ingeniously simple concept. Tell an outrageous lie often enough and soon people will begin to accept it as fact.
Well, don’t accept it. Doctor Who is doing just fine without a penis.
Whew, lad. It’s a wee bit much, dontchthink?
I happen to agree with Pat on this one particular point; the fate of Doctor Who ranks quite low on my list of priorities. I’ve never watched it, and I don’t intend to. But is this how one has an open dialogue of ideas? Can people no longer criticize works of art or entertainment that feature a woman? Will complaints about the writing of a show only be acceptable if the show isn’t about a “marginalized” person?
Then, from this very website’s always reliably SJW inspiration, there was the expected, but still boring, dirge of lectures being targeted at any adult in geek fandom who has complaints about Doctor Who. Be sure to check out the comment moderator assisting in the push-back of anyone going off-script:
So for all the people who claim that Doctor Who is a failure, that’s not true. Real-life numbers indicate it’s a success. A show does not get cancelled just because you shout about how much you hate it on social media.
And think about it for a second: you are a grown man complaining about a children’s television show.
At least if you’re writing it in the Daily Mail, you’re getting paid for it. But you still come out looking ridiculous. Children don’t read the Daily Mail.
They watch Doctor Who, and are the better for it.
There now. Feel disciplined enough to say nothing unless it’s nice? I didn’t know Doctor Who was a children’s television show. We’ve seen this defense used frequently in geekdom before.
By all accounts, this season of Doctor Who generally been a success with both the public and critics. Although there has reportedly been a small segment of Doctor Who fandom that is vocally unhappy at Whittaker being the first female actor to portray the long-running Time Lord. Whittaker’s first episode was watched by 10.54 million viewers. Ratings have since dipped to an average of around 7.5 million viewers, but Whittaker’s performance has on average been praised.
What none of the show’s sagging ratings defenders seem to bring up are any of the show’s weaknesses. The only complaints I’ve seen regard the scripting of the show coming up a bit short. I’ve yet to see anyone complain about Jodie Whittaker playing the title role. Even third wave feminists have been complaining about problems with the show turning into infotainment, and most of the fans we’ve heard from all lay the blame squarely on Chris Chibnall, the head writer and executive producer of Doctor Who since the eleventh season.
Here is one Doctor Who die-hard fan that has opinions of their own. I hope no one tries to label them as racist, misogynist, Nazis for their negative reviews.
Kneon and Geeky Sparkles of Clownfish TV have been looking at this pushback against the critics, and have weighed in their own brand of insight.
I’m on neither side of this battle. To me, any geeks salivating at Doctor Who’s poor ratings are as loathsome as Ain’t It Fool News’s op-ed writers defending or “white-knighting” for Jodie Whitaker’s sagging ratings. The bottom line is that the ratings aren’t terrible, but they aren’t so great either. This series’ ratings are well below the heights of Doctor Who and slightly better than its worst performing. With the value of the Doctor Who IP, this show is not in danger of cancellation, at least for the foreseeable future. However, if the BBC wants to improve ratings perhaps some better writing would help.
FWIW: I recommend you check out both those Youtube channels above.