On January 2, 2020, season 11 of Doctor Who leaves Xfinity On Demand. HBO Max is going to scoop it up. I refuse to pay for HBO Max. For the past few years, I’ve been able to binge The Doctor to my nerdy little heart’s content on Hulu and Netflix, and then Amazon Prime. (Yes, I know they’re doing their employees dirty. Yes, I still have a Prime account. No, I don’t shop when I know there’s a worker strike in progress. Yes, I know that doesn’t make me any less complicit.) Now, a streaming service I’ve no interest in is moving in on the territory. This is exactly the flavor of change that I hate. Doctor Who brings me such joy that it absolutely hurts, but I fell off during season 11. The vibe was just different. I’m looking forward to season 12, but I’m determined to binge all previous episodes first. Due to the time constraints in place, I’m starting at the end with season 11.
Now that we’re all caught up, here are my thoughts on DW S11 E1:
Jodie Whittaker is doing a fantastic job embodying The Doctor. Nuff said.
I’ve never seen dyspraxia representation on a major television show before. Ryan Sinclair is obviously more than his diagnosis, and I’ll definitely be writing more about him if I manage to write more about this show, but the point stands. Representation truly does matter. Hopefully, his character will lead more people to research dyspraxia and educate themselves because I feel that representation and education are paths towards compassion, and we all need more of that. Also, it’s darn empowering watching Ryan achieve and succeed at The Doctor’s side. I can only imagine what this type of representation might feel like to those who are actually dyspraxic.
Grace O’Brien should still be alive. Her personality and lust for life are as expansive as the universe The Doctor gets to traverse. She would have been an endless asset to The Doctor and the show in general. Furthermore, dead grandma stuff is a very touchy topic for me. I get angry anytime it comes up in a program I’m watching because I prefer madness to sadness, and because my own grandma is easily one of my top favorite human beings. Beyond that, it’s also very touchy for the only dark-skinned Black femme character in the (formerly) new season of Doctor Who to be killed off in the first episode. Grace obviously would have made an incredible companion for The Doctor. Or, she could have had a similar role to Jackie Tyler where she mostly stayed on Earth with Graham and Ryan checked in with her every so often to share his space adventures with his fantastic nan. I bet she would’ve wanted every detail and maybe sent him back to the TARDIS with treats for him to share with The Doctor and Yasmin. She inevitably would have gone on at least one space and time adventure. I mean, come on. It just seemed like there were infinite options for Grace O’Brien, but the show opted to kill her off. It doesn’t sit well with me and it never will. It’s a contributing factor to why I stopped watching.
I want more Grace. I want to get to know her better through her own words. I want Ryan to have his nan WAY longer. And poor Graham only got three married years with her. He’s lucky to have had even 60 seconds in her presence, of course, anyone would be, but it’s always sad to lose a good partner, especially when you’re older. There’s only so much time left for you to heal and potentially move on if that’s what you choose to do. Healing from something like that…I have no idea if it can even be done.
Graham seems lovely, but there’s also something insidious about Grace’s essence being condensed to a white man’s eulogy of her. I know they’re in love, but I’m just talking historically. I don’t think it was intentional, but it dips towards Magical Negro territory to have to learn from Graham that Grace essentially nursed him from cancer to remission, and now she’s gone. Poof. There’s no real reason for Grace to be dead and not telling/showing us who she is herself. It’s a waste. Grace didn’t need to be sacrificed and had The Doctor had her way no one would’ve been. Although, for the record, I would’ve picked Karl, even though the way Grace died doesn’t remotely fit his character. If someone had to go, it should’ve been Karl, but I don’t think anyone needed to go.
I don’t have a neat and tidy conclusion. All I can say is watch this space because I’m on the rebinge and there will (hopefully) be more to come.