Doc­tor Who changes gen­ders; fan re­ac­tion mixed

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST/TELEVISION - MICHAEL STOREY The TV Col­umn ap­pears Sun­day, Tues­day and Thurs­day. Email:

I asked the res­i­dent news­room Who­vians if they were outraged and dis­gusted. No­body was.

Who­vians are to Doc­tor Who what Trekkies are to Star Trek. Only not so creepy. One Who­vian here even has a toy Doc­tor Who TARDIS (time­trav­el­ing po­lice box), a sonic screw­driver and an 11th Doc­tor Who (Matt Smith) ac­tion fig­ure (atop a Dr. Hooves My Lit­tle Pony) on her desk.

But some fans are peeved be­cause the BBC and BBC Amer­ica made the un­prece­dented move of nam­ing Jodie Whit­taker (she’s a fe­male) as the new Doc­tor Who, a space­and time-trav­el­ing alien from the planet Gal­lifrey. She will be the 13th Time Lord in the hugely pop­u­lar sci-fi se­ries that de­buted in 1963 with Wil­liam Hart­nell as the Doc­tor.

How big was the news? The BBC made the rev­e­la­tion on live tele­vi­sion af­ter the Wim­ble­don men’s ten­nis fi­nal. The Twit­ter­verse ex­ploded.

In case you’re out of the loop, the show adopted the con­cept of the Doc­tor re­gen­er­at­ing into a new body in 1966 when Hart­nell be­came ill and had to leave. That’s how we get dif­fer­ent Time Lords as the years pass.

Whit­taker will be re­plac­ing Peter Ca­paldi, who is leav­ing the se­ries in Jan­uary. He has played the Doc­tor since 2013.

About her as­sum­ing the iconic role, Whit­taker told the BBC, “I’m be­yond ex­cited to be­gin this epic jour­ney — with [new head writer Chris Chib­nall] and with ev­ery Who­vian on this planet. I can’t wait.”

About all the fuss, Whit­taker said, “It feels com­pletely over­whelm­ing, as a fem­i­nist, as a wo­man, as an ac­tor, as a hu­man, as some­one who wants to con­tin­u­ally push them­selves and chal­lenge them­selves, and not be boxed in by what you’re told you can and can’t be.”

And for those up­set about the break with tra­di­tion, she added, “I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gen­der. Doc­tor Who rep­re­sents ev­ery­thing that’s ex­cit­ing about change. The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, dif­fer­ent one, not a fear­ful one.”

About his de­ci­sion to pick a wo­man, Chib­nall (also the cre­ator of Broad­church), said, “I al­ways knew I wanted the 13th Doc­tor to be a wo­man and we’re thrilled to have se­cured our No. 1 choice. Jodie is an in-de­mand, funny, inspiring, su­per-smart force of na­ture and will bring loads of wit, strength and warmth to the role.”

And to fi­nally si­lence any trolls still hat­ing on the in­ter­net, Ca­paldi said, “Any­one who has seen Jodie Whit­taker’s work will know that she is a won­der­ful ac­tress of great in­di­vid­u­al­ity and charm. She’s go­ing to be a fan­tas­tic Doc­tor.”

View­ers may rec­og­nize the 35-year-old Whit­taker from her many BBC roles, but most re­cently as Beth La­timer on Broad­church.

New on Net­flix. Mis­souri’s Lake of the Ozarks, about two hours north of Bran­son, is a lovely va­ca­tion spot. One hardly ever as­so­ciates it with “in­fi­delity, cor­rup­tion, en­trap­ment and mur­der.” But that’s what’s go­ing on with Ozark, the lat­est orig­i­nal se­ries stream­ing on Net­flix.

Ja­son Bate­man (Ar­rested De­vel­op­ment) stars as a Chicago fi­nan­cial ad­viser who has been laun­der­ing money for a drug car­tel king­pin. Triple Os­car nom­i­nee (You Can Count On Me, Kin­sey, The Sav­ages) Laura Lin­ney plays his wife.

Things in Chicago get heated, so he moves his wife and two teenagers to a quiet lit­tle place on the lake. Things don’t re­main quiet for long.

Ozark is a tense, 10-episode crime thriller, as well as a se­ries about a frac­tured fam­ily strug­gling to put back the pieces.

Room 104. This an­thol­ogy com­edy/drama (maybe even hor­ror) se­ries from brothers Jay and Mark Du­plass (To­geth­er­ness) pre­mieres at 10:30 p.m. Fri­day on HBO. The late time slot ought to tell you some­thing.

The ma­ture, some­times dark themes play out over 12 half-hour episodes with a dif­fer­ent cast in each, but all set in a non­de­script room in a non­de­script, lower-end Amer­i­can road­side chain mo­tel.

The set­ting is also a char­ac­ter. Think of it as a se­ries of one-act plays all set on the same stage. It will be ec­cen­tric and eclec­tic.

The large en­sem­ble in­cludes a num­ber of ac­tors whose names you prob­a­bly don’t know, but there’s also Or­lando Jones (Sleepy Hol­low) and James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek, CSI: Cy­ber).

Plots in­clude a cou­ple of Mor­mon mis­sion­ar­ies in the midst of a cri­sis of faith; a crash sur­vivor de­bat­ing on whether she should pre­tend to be dead and start her life over; and a house­keeper who meets her younger self in Room 104.

Jodie Whit­taker has been named the 13th Time Lord in Doc­tor Who. The first wo­man in the iconic role be­gins her du­ties when the se­ries re­turns to BBC Amer­ica in De­cem­ber.

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