Doctor Who Jumps into the 21st Century

This past weekend saw millions of women standing up and protesting the ascension to the highest court in the land someone who could literally take their rights away. It was not a silent protest. It was loud and obnoxious because otherwise they would be ignored. Otherwise, they’d be dismissed. Even with the signs and the crowds, women still were not believed because power was far more important to a group of crusty, old, white guys.

That same weekend saw millions of people watch a woman crash through a literal glass ceiling to kickoff the latest incarnation of the long-running show, Doctor Who. Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor made me proud and excited. For my daughter, who found a strong, smart and funny role model in Buffy Summers and fell in love with Matt Smith when he took over as the Doctor, to now see Whittaker embody the Doctor is less a slap in the face of the men who came before her, but a celebration of the progress.

Reality and fiction are so very far apart these days.

But are they really?

“The Woman Who Fell To Earth” opens by introducing us to four characters — Ryan (Tosin Cole), Yaz (Mandip Gill), Grace (Sharon D. Clarke) and Graham (Bradley Walsh). Since I’d seen the promos minus Grace, I knew she was in trouble from the start.

I loved the first episode and found Whittaker’s portrayal to be wonderfully well executed. It reminded me a bit of Matt Smith’s first go-round with the memory loss, Sonic, and smart dialogue. Whittaker sprinkles a dash of Smith and Peter Calpadi and a lot of David Tennant to set up a Doctor who is clever, caring, and charismatic. She was immediately the show’s star and hero as well as quirky alien with a touch of amnesia (like all good Doctor’s just after regeneration). Overall, the episode was a great introduction of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor and a surprising cliffhanger of an ending.

I can’t wait to see what happens next.

What I love about Doctor Who is the same thing Craig Ferguson admires, “It’s all about the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.”

I’d hate to put more weight and gravitas into a silly science fiction show, but silly science fiction shows can change the world. Star Trek changed the way we thought of war, race, diversity, and prejudice. The later version of Battlestar Galactica examined war, terrorism, and identity. So far, I think Chris Chibnall is going for diversity and inclusion. And not a moment too soon.

I think with Cole, Gill, Walsh, and Whittaker, the cast is interestingly diverse. There’s more diversity behind the scenes as well. I can only guess, but I would imagine the theme this season is going to be an exploration of variety and differences. Again, right on time and perfectly aligned with what our pop culture should be tackling.

The Doctor says in the episode, “We can evolve while still staying true to who we are.” It’s something the show has done for decades.

And I think it’s something we ought to be exploring here in the real world too.