So, the two parter which began the new series of Doctor Who is over, and the critiques have started appearing. I've read several. Some of them were very good, and went into great depth about elements of the story and the craft of writing it. Some of them were more superficial, and full of squee. Almost all of them, though, had one thing in common: they all concentrated on the Doctor/Davros relationship.
Now I'm a big Davros fangirl. I think he's a fascinating character, and his relationship with the Doctor is a complex one. I am dead set certain that when the Doctor says to Baby Davros "I've come to save my friend" the friend he is referring to is Davros, not Clara; this two parter struck me as being all about the nature of the Doctor's friendships. But
* it does strike me that there's a big bit missing here.
I am reasonably sure that in any previous Doctor Who story the other major character would not have been so comprehensively ignored by almost everybody, except for those who want to complain about that character even existing. When The Master was a man, his every appearance was greeted with gallons of digital and literal ink dissecting his every nuance. Now (s)he's Missy, (s)he doesn't seem to matter any more. Missy is a woman over the age of forty, and can therefore safely be ignored.**
This really, really
pisses me off, and not just because I'm less than 3 years away from hitting the magic age of invisibility myself. Michelle Gomez has put in a stunning performance as Missy, yet everything I read is about Julian Bleach***. Missy is the fulcrum on whom the majority of this story rests - it is she who gets the Doctor's Last Will And Testament Disc Thingy; it is she who works out that the space station is a fake and they're actually on Skaro; it is she who goads Clara, with the help of UNIT, into finding the Doctor in the first place, and it is she who (magnificently) pokes Davros in his electronic eye. At every turn she is advancing the plot or the other characters or both... And yet nobody seems to have noticed, because the only important thing is the bromance. I can dig that people like a bit of Doctor/Davros - hell, someone once wrote me Six/Davros slash for a birthday present - but really, people, there were LOTS of other characters onscreen too.
I actually feel sorry for the Moff here. I mean, he's clearly made a conscious effort to address his subconscious sexism**** in writing lots of women. And there goes the audience, still concentrating on the men. Because we've all been conditioned to think that what men say and do is important, and what women say and do is frivolous and can be ignored.
C-, must do better, Who fandom.Caveats:
- I have not read every critique on the internet of the first two episode of the new series of Doctor Who. I am sure you can find counterexamples to what I have said here. One or two counterexamples will not convince me you have found anything other than exceptions. No, this does not mean post a huge long list of links that I will have to click on that will turn out to not actually disprove anything I have said at all.
- I am reasonably sure that none of the people I have read are doing this consciously or on purpose. I have spent a long time cultivating my various reading lists so that the sort of person who does this sort of thing on purpose does not appear in them. IMHO the fact that I have spent so much time making sure my reading lists are full of non-sexist people and this kind of thing still goes on is, frankly, even more disturbing.
* I like big buts and I cannot lie
** I don't actually know what Michelle Gomez's age is, but Missy/The Master is several thousand years old, and therefore well past forty.
*** my view? He's good, but he's no Terry Molloy. I realise there are those among you who think "he's no Terry Molloy" is the highest compliment one can pay an actor. You're wrong :P
**** Although not entirely successfully. For example, while all the speaking parts of the scene between UNIT HQ, Missy and Clara were women, women still made up less than 20% of the faces on screen. It's true, count 'em. All the snipers were men, for starters. This is Geena Davies's 17%-in-crowd-scenes thing right in front of our faces, and people on certain internet forums which I will not link to here STILL complained that the women were too prevalent, too noisy, etc.