Doctor Who S6


So, we’re up to “Let’s Kill Hitler” in Season 6, and there’s stuff I don’t overly like in there…

(spoilers after the cut)

River was an awesome character, but the way they make her entire life revolve around the Doctor is… urk, for want of a better word. I mean, giving all your regenerations to save him? Choosing your life’s career, not because you like it, but because you want to meet him again? Saying that, if you meet him again and he doesn’t know you, it’ll kill you? *headdesk*
As I was saying to the H, at least in bad misogynist romances, the woman surrenders everything from her independence to her career, but she gets the guy. River is never ever going to get the Doctor in the way she wants–she’s just going to spend her entire life pining for him (and then kill him, unless I’m not mistaken–no spoilers, please). I mean, if I’m going to give up 9+ regenerations, I’d darn well better get something worth it in return, not a guy who’s fundamentally incapable of commitment (and I’m not necessarily saying sexual commitment here, the Doctor being as incapable of long-lasting friendships as he is of sex).

At least the series has female characters (unlike, say, Sherlock), but I have a rising suspicion that it doesn’t really know what to do with them other than turn them into idiots pining after the Doctor. This is deeply annoying. (especially since so much of the series is good stuff, cool concepts, zippy dialogue, strong performances…)

Also, there’s a big fat paradox which seems to make no sense to me: we know that in a previous incarnation, River shot the Doctor at Lake Silencio, and killed him (it *has* to be in a previous incarnation, since her River Song incarnation is her last one after she gave them all up; and we know it succeeds, or at least comes darn close to it, because of the files in the robot that list the Doctor’s date of death). If you’re River, you *know* that a past version of you already killed the Doctor. Why bother killing him again in Berlin in 1938? Does this ever get resolved, or is it just hopeless of me to want coherence from the series?


  1. I’d suggest you wait and see re. the paradox.

    An technically, River won’t spend her life pining after the Doctor and then kill him. She’ll kill him, then spend the rest of her life pining after him. Which in some respects makes a lot more sense.

    I’m afraid Doctor Who has a long (like, 50-year, pretty much) tradition of not having strong female characters. Even the various companions who have initially been introduced as strong, capable women (which, intriguingly, includes some of the very first companions, but fewer and fewer as time went on) have generally been marginalised. Which is pretty much inevitable, given the character of the Doctor. Now Gaiman’s canonised the ability of Time Lords to change sex on regeneration, we could see a female Doctor, but I rather doubt it.

  2. it doesn’t really know what to do with them other than turn them into idiots pining after the Doctor.

    That’s why I turned off after series one.

  3. Brian: Oh, I’m going to keep watching the series, if only because the H is the one addicted to it at the moment (he’s been making us tear through the first half of the season in less than a week). And yeah, I watched some of the old Doctor Who, and cringed–but I honestly (and stupidly) thought that they were going to adapt to modern mores and not keep the “fragile lily that needs to be rescued” companion… 🙁 I so wish for a female Doctor, but realistically it’s never going to happen: apparently Steven Moffat asked the audience about a female doctor at a Doctor Who convention, and only a very few hands went up–the core fandom of Who would apparently stop watching if their idol ever acquired a vagina, God forbid…
    Farah: yeah, I almost turned off as well. But to be honest I can’t think of many series that are SF and that do a great job with women. The H only watches genre or light sitcoms, and I have little patience for light sitcoms. We could read, I suppose, but it’s a more solitary activity than watching series (if you do have any suggestions of better SF series with women in them, we’d be very grateful!)

  4. I liked Babylon 5 because Ivanova never really fell for anyone, and Delenn kept “John Dear” around as a toy boy. It was always clear who had the upper hand.

  5. He, thanks! The H has already seen Babylon 5, sadly, or I would very much add it to our evening rotation…

  6. “apparently Steven Moffat asked the audience about a female doctor at a Doctor Who convention, and only a very few hands went up–the core fandom of Who would apparently stop watching if their idol ever acquired a vagina, God forbid…”

    I have the perfect compromise solution. Ladyboy Doctor Who.

    Or, um, maybe not (crawls back under rock).

  7. The portrayal of women in Doctor Who has actually gotten worse in the new series. Because while the original series had plenty of companions who pined after the Doctor and plenty of twenty-something actress playing teenaged girls, it also had plenty of companions who did not fit into those categories. And while the original series sometimes married off companions to the third guard on the right (literally in one case), plenty of companions left the TARDIS to go back to whatever lives and careers they had before meeting the Doctor (and unlike the shopgirls, temps and kissograms of today, the original series had journalists, scientists, computer specialists and schoolteachers among the teenaged girls). Some left to help the beleaguered aliens on planet whatever, not many pined.

    In the new series as well as the spin-offs Torchwood and to some degree the Sarah Jane Adventures female characters have only two endings. They can get married (Martha, Donna, Amy, Rose’s Mum, Gwen from Torchwood) and have babies (Rose’s Mum, Amy, Gwen) or they can pine (Rose, River Song, Jack, Toshiko from Torchwood) and die (River Song in her first appearance and everybody in Torchwood who isn’t Gwen). And if a female character gets married, they shouldn’t even dare to hope to nab the Doctor or even Captain Jack Harkness. No, these women get consolation prices at best and unpleasant characters like Rhys from Torchwood at worst. Even Sarah Jane who was so great in the original series and successfully resisted being married off (the actress refused, because it wouldn’t fit the character) is turned into someone who spends her life pining for the Doctor, then adopts a kid and even has to suffer through an episode entitled The wedding of Sarah Jane. Even age does not save a female character from the marriage and children curse in Doctor Who.

    The only difference between old and new Who is that male characters get to pine as well (Jack Harkness pines for the Doctor, Mickey pines for Rose, Rory pines for Amy, Owen from Torchwood pines for Gwen and that pilot woman from season 1).

    As for River Song, I like the idea of a smart, educated, older woman companion, but I don’t particularly care for the actress and the incest vibes of the Doctor/River Song relationship creep me out.

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