Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Gaiman, Moffat weigh in on "Doctor Who" casting

In the aftermath of the big casting announcement for "Doctor Who" on Sunday, The Mary Sue has a nice little roundup of quotes from showrunner Steven Moffat and writer Neil Gaiman that sheds a bit more light on the whole process, as well as where the show could potentially be going.

Gaiman has several awesome responses. Moffat, well ... not so much. (*shakes fist*)

Gaiman, who has penned two episodes of "Doctor Who," made the big revelation, first of all, that a black actor actually turned down the role of the Doctor at some point. (He wouldn't say who it was, though!) He says that he is sure that there will be a nonwhite Doctor and a female Doctor at some point, but, as a writer, he doesn't think it's time yet.

He wrote:
... if I were show-running (I’m not) I wouldn’t cast a woman as the Doctor yet, and it would absolutely be on my list of things to do in the following regeneration ... Some of that is stuff I’d find hard to articulate, mostly having to do with what kind of Doctor you follow Matt Smith’s Doctor with: someone harder and much older and more dangerous and, yes, male feels right to me, as a storyteller. Where you go after that, ah, that’s a whole new game…
First of all, I absolutely agree, as I wrote in a blog entry on Monday. (And, for the record, I had not read Gaiman's thoughts before I wrote that blog entry. I just think like Neil Gaiman!) I think Capaldi is going to be a perfect change from the extremely manic Matt Smith, and I think he's going to be a great lead-in to a more groundbreaking Doctor. I really, really believe that's where the show should be heading.

Secondly, I have no problem with casting Capaldi - in fact, I continue to get more stoked about him taking on the role - if he's the right person for the job. I would hate for a female or minority actor to take the role and have him or her be the wrong choice. Not only do I want the right person as the Doctor because I'm a big Whovian and I want the show to be completely awesome, but I also want a groundbreaking casting to go well to prove that a woman and/or minority actor can succeed in the role too.

So, Neil Gaiman and I are in agreement about Capaldi's casting, as well as the idea that a woman should be the Doctor on the next regeneration.

What does our buddy Steven Moffat have to say about the whole thing?
It's absolutely narratively possible [that the Doctor could be a woman] and when it's the right decision, maybe we'll do it. It didn't feel right to me, right now. I didn't feel enough people wanted it.

I don't have a problem that it didn't feel right to him. I don't have a problem that he didn't do it this time. But really? "I didn't feel enough people wanted it." What a cop-out, wussy answer.

Creative writing should not be a democratic process. There have been many, many, many times something has happened to a character on a show, in a book or in a movie that I didn't want. Shall I count how many times that a favorite character of mine has died? (Keep in mind I'm a big fan of both Joss Whedon and George R.R. Martin!) That a character made a poor romantic decision? That a piece of fiction ended in a way that I didn't want it to end (even if I could see it hurtling that direction)? We can just use the new "Doctor Who" episodes to prove that! Did anybody in the audience want Rose's fate, bittersweet as it is? How about Donna Noble? Considering the fact that I still can't watch the episode "Journey's End" without weeping, I would say that I did not want Donna's fate. That doesn't mean that they weren't the right things to do. A lot of times those things that people don't want to happen are the things that move a plot along or change a character in a way they need to be changed. Even more importantly, sometimes those things that people don't want to happen are the things that really hit readers/viewers at their emotional core, and isn't that what we want from a great book or TV show or movie? It's what I want - there are few things in this world more weirdly satisfying than getting so emotionally wrapped up in a story that I start to cry. (As long as my husband isn't in the room, since he likes to tease me for crying over fictional characters' fates.)

Like I said, if Moffat didn't think that the Doctor should be a woman this time around, that's fine. In fact, the consensus of many sci-fi-lovin' feminists of the internet is that Moffat probably is not the right person to have anything to do with the first female Doctor, since he has a hell of a time writing women who aren't horribly problematic. (There is something to that theory, as much as I generally like most of Moffat's work.) But Moffat needed to have the cajones to say, "Yes, it's a possibility for the Doctor to be female. No, this was not the time to do it," and leave it at that, instead of blaming other people for that decision.

Oh, and then Moffat twisted the knife a bit with this quote: "Oddly enough most people who said they were dead against it – and I know I'll get into trouble for saying this – were women. [They were] saying, 'No, no, don't make him a woman!'"

Ugh, bite me, Moffat. If it's not the right decision, don't do it, but don't be obnoxious about it.

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