10 September 2009

You get a cookie Dr Who, but get your hand out of the jar until you learn to share.

The other day I sat down to watch an episode of Dr Who. I'm quite a fan, not least because I'm quite fond of David Tennant. And just for my own amusement, I applied the Bechdel test and the PoC Bechdel test.

It failed.

Not surprising, you may think. After all, it's Dr Who; it's about Dr Who, and Dr Who is a man.

Thing is, I was watching season 3, episode 13, which is about a black woman (Martha) saving the universe.

This on the surface looks like a good example of why the Bechdel test should have stayed as a comic strip. After all, you can't get much more pro-active in your scifi than a black woman saving the universe.

Except... you can. Sure, it's difficult in this episode; although Martha saves the universe, she achieves this by walking the earth for a year, talking about a white man. Dr Who. However, there is some dialogue in this episode, and not all of it is about a man. There was the potential for this to pass the Bechdel test. It contains several black non-speaking characters (Martha's family), and several woman (at least two of whom had major roles). Yet it STILL doesn't pass the Bechdel test.

Dr Who has moved a long way from its origins, and is full of strong female characters. Martha was a pioneer in being the first black companion. The show may never have a female as the main character. It would be impossible to have the show Dr Who without the Doctor, and there is no indication so far as I know that Time Lords can change their gender. I really enjoy Dr Who, and not just to perve on David Tennant. I enjoy the strong female characters, enjoy their diversity, enjoy the fact that they are more than just love interests for the main character. Have a cookie, writers.

But I was very disappointed to find that, even when they write a story where Martha saves the world, they still can't pass the Bechdel test.

I'd analyse this, but it's time for bed.



CaitieCat said...

Y'know, this'd make a good topic for the next Open Thread, if you don't mind my nicking it?

cinnamon girl said...

Be my guest!

cinnamon girl said...

For a while now I've been mulling over a follow-up post comparing this episode to the final three of season four - happy to say Dr Who is always improving on the Bechdel front!