I had meant to post about this not long after the final episode of the last series of Doctor Who aired. However, real life intervened and made my life a hell of busy days and frantic brain goblins. I’ve finally got some time now to get back into blogging and today saw me spot two articles online which triggered me to revisit some thoughts I had following the last episode.
First there was this one:
Yeah, I feel it was fairly obvious that Moffat was using the gender switch with Missy as a way of basically setting a precedent to be used to allow the Doctor to one day have a similar switch. He also did the same with River Song – showing a regeneration from a young woman of colour to a middle aged, white woman. You can dredge up even earlier references to Time Lords even changing species, though Romana’s regeneration into several alien forms in Destiny of the Daleks is largely considered controversial for a number of reasons, it still shows the possibility exists. Not that this has triggered a similar change in the Doctor yet (unless you count Scottish as a change of race?) but the indication that Gallifreyians are basically blind to gender (and also likely race and species) is an encouraging thought and I hope that it is acted on sometime soon. Could this be an indication that Lenora Critchlow now has a good chance of being picked next?
If it should happen that the Doctor becomes female I do hope that it is handled with sensitivity rather than being merely a gimmick. It needs to be done in such a way that the viewers can believe it is the same character and this is not always possible even with a male actor. As for any casting, it needs to be based on who can do the job well rather than focussing on any criteria like ‘has to be female’.
Next there was this little gem:
Now, when I first saw Osgood’s death (and man that hurt…) I did have a little suspicion. You see, the whole set up seemed remarkably familiar. Ancient, evil nemesis of one of the heroes is captured by secretive, government sponsored agency keyed to battling alien threats. Said nemesis escapes and in the course of their fiendishly clever plan to get out, manages to kill a high ranking, popular and geeky member of that agency. Was I the only one who was thinking ‘Avengers’? Whether it was deliberate tribute or unconscious copying, you cannot deny there is a link there between Osgood and good old Agent Coulson.
Which did make me wonder if the plan wasn’t to kick off a spin off series in which a mysteriously resurrected Osgood is put in charge of a rag tag group of UNIT agents and set to fly around the world in a converted jet solving problems and fighting HYDRA… erm, I mean, Daleks… who have infiltrated their organisation. Just picture it, the complicated spy games as they try to figure out which UNIT agents are actually Daleks in disguise (hint: if they can answer a question without using the word ‘Exterminate’ they are probably safe) and the big twist when they realise that one of their own is actually a traitor (they probably should have realised that Dr. Darian Alek was dodgy from his computerised voice and the sink plunger attached to his chest) and the emotional fallout that emerges from that. Has to be compelling viewing.
Though, wait a minute… Doctor Who has already had a popular character killed by a nemesis who mysteriously came back to life to lead a rag tag group of agents of a secretive organisation… Could Torchwood’s Captain Jack have actually been the inspiration Joss Whedon used for Phil Coulson in Agents of SHIELD?
I guess we could trace tropes ad infinitum and claim that all modern SF is actually derived from a stone tablet found in Babylon (probably written by Asimov or Jules Verne) because there isn’t really anything new anymore, just different ways of presenting the same ideas. But I suppose it is not too much of a stretch to wonder if Joss Whedon was familiar with the concept of Torchwood before he developed Agents of SHIELD.
So, in all, I think it is a shame that Osgood has been declared as ‘officially dead’ by Moffat. She was a wonderful character with a lot of potential. Certainly far better companion material than some that have been in that position in recent years. While as a writer I can see the benefit in killing off a popular but not critical character, I feel Osgood’s death was maybe a step too far.
Though, despite all this, I think Moffat is still being beaten by Whedon in the bastard of the century competition. After all, he did kill Wash. You have to be far more brutal in killing off your beloved characters to beat that.
D.A Lascelles is the author of Lurking Miscellany, Transitions (Mundania Press) and Gods of the Sea (Pulp Empires). He lives in Manchester UK. You can sometimes see him writing about Zombie porn on https://lurkingmusings.wordpress.com/ but he mostly blogs about books, vampires, science fiction and Terry Pratchett. He is inordinately proud of the fact that one of his Pratchett articles was referenced on the French version of the author’s Wikipedia page.