The long running British science fiction phenomenon Doctor Who has reached one of the highest points of controversy in the show's fifty-seven year history. The show focuses on a time travelling alien, a Time Lord known as the Doctor, who is able to regenerate, or heal their body, in place of dying. However, this healing process causes their entire body to change, allowing for new actors to take place of the show's main character. Additionally, the show's lore has revealed that Time Lords can only regenerate a total of 13 times before they truly die. The Doctor focuses on using their words and knowledge of galactic laws rather than violence, to solve the problems that arise throughout the show, and this pacifist approach to science fiction is very unique and has attracted a large fanbase. However, these dedicated fans can get very set in their ways, and are not always accepting of the Doctor’s new regeneration, or the altering of the lore, and fans are even more so disgruntled when the mold is broken with the casting of a female doctor.

Up until season 11, which premiered in 2018, the actors for the Time Lord had all been male, and the Doctor perceived as a masculine role. With the new season came new writers, new monsters and a female regeneration of the Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker. The show's long-time showrunner Steven Moffat was released in favor of Chris Chibnall, who wanted to introduce viewers to new monsters in the universe, rather than playing with the return of past enemies that fans have enjoyed for years. However, this introduction of new creatures did not excite viewers, as they were not given much backstory or characteristics and were rarely referred back to in later episodes. Fortunately, fans did eventually get a returning villain in the Christmas special when a Dalek was unveiled in the last episode of the season, after months of criticism of Chibnall’s new direction.

Season 12, on the other hand, improved its writing by bringing back characters that viewers were more accustomed to, and also gave more backstory to the new companions to the Doctor that were introduced in the previous season. Additionally, season 12 incorporates the overarching mystery of the Timeless Child that was hinted throughout each episode and finally revealed in the last finale of the most recent season. The Timeless Child is the controversy that I referred to earlier, and if you have not seen the most recent season, I recommend that you skip these next paragraphs to avoid any spoilers for the show.

The Timeless Child was revealed as a child that had unlimited regenerations, whose genetic code was able to grant the Time Lords their own regenerative abilities through a series of experiments. Because this acquired gift was not truly theirs, the Time Lords received the aforementioned regeneration limit. However, the finale of season 12 reveals that the Doctor was this Timeless Child, meaning that they have no cap on the number of regenerations they could endure before they would permanently die. This causes a serious dilemma because it now means that the Doctor is basically immortal, and retcons the new regeneration cycle that was supposedly granted to Matt Smith's 11th Doctor in season 7 of the Modern episodes. Additionally, a new regeneration of the Doctor was glimpsed about halfway through season 12, played by Jo Martin. This new face was confusing to both Doctor and fans, as it has still not been confirmed which regeneration Martin's Doctor is supposed to be. Although she was only around for one episode, her appearance and claim to be the Doctor caused mayhem across the fandom, with fans insisting that there could not possibly be a new form of the Doctor, especially one whose characteristics were from the classic, or earlier regenerations. But when the Timeless Child plot was revealed, Martin's Doctor began to make a little more sense. Nevertheless, fans are still questioning where the show is headed, and many have given up on it. 

On the other hand, I believe that this new idea of the Timeless Child confirms a myth from the early years of the show, back in 1976. In the episode to which I am referring, the Doctor is shown a series of faces, labeled as previous incarnations of the Doctor, though these actor's adventures were never shown on screen. This slight nod to the classic episode that Chibnall has created with the story of the Timeless Child reveals to me that the showrunner has a specific idea of where he wants to take the show, despite the fact that much of the fanbase, including myself, is left in the dark about the direction of the Time Lord's story.


Doctor Who’s extensive history shows that the program is well versed in the field of criticism, as each new Doctor is not always accepted by the fans because they had become so attached to the previous actor and their mannerisms. While this might not be the case for some of the fans that refuse to accept this female Doctor, I believe that Jodie Whittaker is doing an exceptional job playing the Doctor, and that she just needs a bit of better writing to create a good story with her and to better develop her character. Season 12 greatly improved upon this in my opinion, as the show began to focus on the Doctor and her own personality, instead of trying to introduce and defeat new villains each and every episode, as they did in season 11. While I think that Whittaker is starting to grow on fans as they watch her interact with classic villains, the Timeless Child is still a topic of great confusion for a majority of the community, though I believe this should not impact one’s decision to watch or drop the show. I for one, am excited to see how things play out with the Timeless Child, and I am curious about how this revelation will change the Doctor’s behavior. Due to the Doctor’s dizzying intellect, I do not believe that they will begin to flaunt their immortality, but I could see the Doctor searching through time and space for mentions of their previous faces that they may no longer remember, giving fans brand new stories for decades to come. Just as fans have been fascinated by 13 iterations of the Doctor thus far, I believe that the show will continue to keep viewers hooked with these new installations, despite the underlying confusion or controversies.


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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): PlayStack
Developer(s): Maze Theory
Genres: Science-Fiction
Themes: Science-Fiction
Release Date: 2019-09

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