Why I Love the Jodie Whittaker Era of Doctor Who
It’s Doctor Who Day today, and I’ve been pondering on what exactly I would like to write about the show that has dominated my entire life (that I haven’t said already, at least). And, with Jodie Whittaker’s era recently coming to an end, I’d like to talk a little about why I happen to love it, even though I know it’s far from the most popular Whovian opinion at the moment.
There’s a lot of stuff I do really enjoy about this era, even though I know it’s far from the most popular one – Jodie Whittaker is still so perfect as the Doctor, Sacha Dhawan might be my favourite Master ever, and Flux was a genuinely interesting and even pretty successful experiment for the show. There are a few standout episodes in this era – It Takes You Away, Rosa, and Village of the Angels are my personal favourites – but there’s something special about it that warms the cockles of my chilly little heart.
For me, what fundamentally defines the Jodie Whittaker/Chris Chibnall era of Doctor Who is connection – familial, friendly, romantic, whatever it might look like, it’s a show built on the importance of finding and sharing connection with other people. From Graham and Ryan, Graham and Grace, to the Doctor and her Fam, the Doctor and the Master, the Doctor and Yas, it feels like one of the richest and fullest character-based eras of the show – it harkens back to Rose Tyler’s tenure, with the cast of characters who filled out her storylines back home, which is still the gold standard against which I judge the rest of Doctor Who. It’s an era that seems to hold playfulness, friendship familiarity, and love in all it’s forms above everything else – sometimes even good writing or decent acting – right down to Jodie Whittaker’s invitation for the next Doctor to take her place (“Tag, you’re it”).. Consistently amazing chemistry between the cast really made this land for me, especially Yas and the Doctor herself, who’s relationship (while ultimately unsatisfying in the finale) meant a lot to me as an LGBTQ woman who grew up watching the show.
And it’s this connection that ultimately rescues this era for me. Doctor Who is a show that, to me, should revolve around this thousand-year-old alien with a deep and abiding love for humanity and everything that comes with it, especially the possibility of the depth and width of connections available there. One of the major issues I had with Peter Capaldi’s run was how often it seemed cynical and smug, even if the plots were often cripser and sharper. At it’s heart, the Doctor Who I know and love is one that is all about compassion, one that says everyone is worth something, even when they might not believe it themselves. Even when the stories are wobbly (and God knows that a lot of them have been), as long as there is that warm, human heart(s) to the show, I’m still watching the Doctor Who I love most.
I understand that this isn’t enough for a lot of people – or that it’s not done well enough to satisfy their expectations for this aspect of the show – but for me, it’s not just enough, it’s everything. The warmth in the centre of this era, especially represented by Jodie Whittaker’s impossibly likeable Doctor, will always make it land for me, and I can’t wait to get on another re-watch as soon as I can.
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