The Tweening of Dr. Who Continues

kgDespite a really strong chemistry between current and fav Dr. Who David Tennant and Jekyll/Bionic Woman remake star Michelle Ryan on the latest Dr. Who special, not only won’t Tennant be getting a new companion for his contracted specials, but the new Dr. Who will actually be getting an assistant even younger than he is.

As I reported a while back, the new Dr. Who, Matt Smith, is a 27 year old actor with little acting credit under his belt who self-reported as having never seen the series but “being really excited about the role.” As I said then, he has a year to learn a lifetime of information about the series and the role. Having seen what people not invested in scifi icons have done to John Connor, Jamie Summers, and Uhura, I’m not holding my breath.

Smith’s new companion, 21 year old Karen Gillan, has just been announced and no one is saying whether she was a fan of the franchise before her small role on “The Fires of Pompeii” episode last season. What they are saying is how much chemistry the two have and how sexy it is to watch them together.  In of the more sexist quotes coming out of the new Whoniverse they also let us know what they are thinking about the new target audience:

“A generation of little girls will want to be her. And a generation of little boys will want them to be her too,” (Steven Mofatt, new head of Dr. Who, as quoted by BBC News)

I realize that I am no longer part of the tweenified target audience, but as someone who has seen every episode of the series and been a loyal fan through some questionable moments, I don’t think saying boys are going to find Gillan hot is doing her any justice as a serious actress nor boding well for the direction of the show. Worse, the fact that Mofatt cannot see her character as a possible inspiration to little boys in their own right speaks volumes about the engendering of his thinking. (Let alone the fact that Mofatt’s quote seems to miss that a number of girls might actually want to be Dr. Who.) Not only are they poised to violate the basic appeal of the series with their new emphasis on a much younger audience, but comments like these also foreshadow a glaring reversal in the strong and powerful female companions who have helped make the show a success.

A word of advice Mr. Mofatt, McG did the same thing recently to the Terminator franchise and for the same reason (money) and neither he nor the studio have made nearly as much as they thought they would. When you sell out the fans for demographics and eye candy, you usually lose. Here’s hoping that despite the recent interviews, both Smith and Gillan prove to be credits to the franchise afterall.

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BBC News/unattributed

2 thoughts on “The Tweening of Dr. Who Continues

  1. I don’t think of myself as particularly old, but maybe I am if I think that the emphasis on youth is misplaced. Are young people today so unable to relate to adults that they must have every character fresh out of high school? What will this mean when they age themselves?

    • I think the push to tween both Who and Torchwood is not so much about youth as it is about the creation and cultivation of a market. It’s a sign that the carving out and branding of “tween” as a unique moment in time (or a capitalist market formally unexploited but ready for mining now) has come into fruition. What producers don’t seem to understand however, is that with franchises that are much older than you and I, the audience is wide and varied. Narrowing it to the Miley Cyrus crowd will actually alienated more viewers than it brings in.

      Isn’t it the conversation on your blog that started the discussion about reversals in gender progress as well? That’s my other big concern here. It’s worth tracking I think.

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