Peter Capaldi lands as the new Doctor this Fall, and may his reign be long, fun, and full of running. I am as stoked as I could possibly be about seeing Capaldi take on the part. It's a welcome change for the new series, and I think that even the most vocal of fans hoping for a non-white or non-male Doctor are still happy with the choice. Some actors just are The Doctor, and Capaldi is clearly one of them.
That said... it's very likely that in three or four years we will once again be playing the guessing game as we wonder who will step into Capaldi's shoes once he too regenerates into a new form. With a brand new cycle of regenerations we're set for another twelve actors to be given a sonic screwdriver, but between now and then it's time for us to really sit down and be honest with ourselves.
It's not that the next Doctor should be a woman, it's that the next Doctor needs to be a woman.[jump]
First of all, let's get this out of the way. There is plenty of precedent for a Time Lord changing his sex upon regeneration. The Eleventh Doctor himself mentioned his friend The Corsair doing so in "The Doctor's Wife". In fact, there is a Big Finish audio story in which we do have a female Doctor played by Arabella Weir. Granted, it's from a set of stories set in alternative universes, but the fact remains that in both the television show proper and a major licensed media franchise the concept exists and is openly acknowledged. There is no in-universe reason why we can't have a female Doctor.
The major complaint you hear from people opposed to the idea is that The Doctor has always been male. That it's an established part of the character. Maybe, but I don't buy it personally. Sex is something that all 13 actors have had in common, true, but does it really define The Doctor in any meaningful way? All of the traditional TV Tropes associated with male characters (Strength, speed, wisdom, and a commanding presence) have all also been embodied in female companions who in many cases did it better any way.
The Second Doctor could never have outfought Zoe, Leela could leave the Fourth in the dust, River Song was always one step ahead of the Eleventh, and no Doctor could ever have told Donna Noble what to do. What tropes are left that require a male Doctor?
No, that's not the promise, is it? The promise is "Never cruel or cowardly. Never give up. Never give in." If that's your measure of a Doctor, then Rose Tyler was more of a Doctor than Nine ever was.
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