Notes from extinction (pickwick) wrote,
Notes from extinction

I wanted to be ginger

I was about eight hours late hearing the news about the new Doctor Who companion, and I feel like I'm totally behind the times and out of the loop. That's the internet age for ya. I've been out in the sun reading a book about Philip Pullman/ Northern Lights.

Karen Gillan!

So very pretty

There's only one of her (I want multiple companions)

Hope she gets to keep her Scottish accent. And I'd love it if she wasn't from contemporary Britain. (These are not necessarily exclusive - lots of planets have a Scotland.)

I've seen a few people complaining about her age (she's 21), and people complaining much more vehemently about the people complaining about her age. She's certainly younger than I would have preferred, though the Catherine Tate thing has taught me not to throw my toys out of the pram beforehand.

But James Moran (DW writer) said:

I was very surprised and displeased to get lots of messages complaining that she's "too young", and that this is a bad thing for the show. To those people, I have this to say: She's an actress. HER AGE IN NO WAY AFFECTS THE QUALITY OF THE SHOW. It didn't turn into a comedy sketch show when Catherine Tate was hired. It didn't turn into a motel-based soap when Freema Agyeman was hired (her first job was on Crossroads). It didn't turn into a teen pop song show when Billie was hired. Seasons 1 and 2 didn't have Rose singing a song at the end of every episode, about how cute Timelord boys are. Season 3 didn't have the Doctor and Martha opening a motel. Season 4 didn't have Catherine Tate dressing up as sweary pensioners or donning lots of prosthetics. Karen Gillan is 21. Not 12. She's an adult. But it doesn't matter how old or young she is, or what parts she played before, or how tall or short she is, or what colour her hair is, or what her opinions on cheese are, or anything else. She's an actress, and a very good one. That's all you should be worried about.

Now, I love and adore Moran, in general, but this is bollocks. Completely spurious comparisons - an actor's past work can and should be ignored, but their age can't be.* Height and hair colour are mostly irrelevant to a character, but age has a huge influence, or it should have if you're doing it right. If you want a character to be true-to-life, whether they're 20 or 40 is going to make a MAJOR difference in the situations they get into, and the way they react to those situations, and the way other people react to them. So the storylines, or the way they play out, should definitely be influenced by the age of the character.

Whether that means the quality of the show will be affected is of course arguable, mainly because quality is subjective. Having two protagonists in their early 20s, though, makes people worry we'll get more of the soap opera romance type storylines that RTD was fond of with his early 20s companions. They might well be very high quality soap opera romance storylines, but that's not what I watch Who for - if I want romance storylines with Who characters, I'll read fanfic, which is allowed actual sex. Actually, I don't mind either the Doctor or the companion having other romances, but when the Doctor and the companion are together, I want the story to be focused on adventure and loyalty and friendship and trust. Or, y'know, aliens. So my initial complaint is not about the age of the actress as such, but about the effect I'm worried it will have on the storylines (or whether she was cast that age with those storylines in mind).

The other reason I'm disappointed by her age is that it means 3/4 of the New Companions have been 19 to 23-year-old women (assuming, again, that she's playing around her real age). Some variety would be nice. I've said before I'd like multiple companions; I'd like male companions, I was happy with a slightly older female companion. If they de-accent Gillan and make her from contemporary London too, I will despair slightly. On the other hand, I'm not ranting just now (I'm just, er, wittering at length about theoreticals) because they could do all sorts of interesting things, and I hope they do. She could be from the past, or the future, or another planet, or be the reincarnation or regeneration or younger version of someone, or be gay, or they could just write interesting and innovative new stories. It's just that, to me, Gillan's age and gender makes it more likely they'll focus on romance, and makes it harder for them to differentiate her from the last few companions.

* With the normal disclaimers about SF and time travel and age in DW, and assuming the character is the same age as the actress until I hear otherwise. The Doctor is a special case, because you've got to take into account both his real age and his current apparent age, but since that's an integral plot point to the show it's usually dealt with OK.

..I had more to say about that than I expected.
Tags: whovian
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