Doctor Who thing: what if the Doctors were played by American women?

Tina FeyBack in February, Jef with One F at Houston Press’s Art Attack shared with us his “An Alternative History of 11 American Doctors.” Now he’s back with “An Alternative History of 11 American Female Doctors.” Intriguingly, Jef doesn’t just plop a couple of pretty pictures next to the existing Doctors but develops a truly parallel path for the show. To wit:

Second Doctor: Virginia Mayo (1966 – 1969)

It started as a sort of sexist joke in a production meeting about how often women change their clothes, but the concept of regenerating a new body when the old one was damaged was to become a core concept in the Doctor Who mythos. When Eve Arden stepped out of the Tardis for the last time, former vaudeville turned screen star Virginia Mayo sauntered in.

You could not possibly have two more different women. Arden relied on a quirky poise, while the vivacious Mayo tended to use her undeniable physical beauty combined with a slightly off-putting style of humor to manipulate her surroundings. She had a tendency to cater to ditzy dame stereotypes, but used her appearance as a somewhat helpless damsel to secretly save the day out from under threats.

She’s most fondly remembered from an incredible performance in “The Silver Pyramid,” where she took on Eric Kleig (Richard Attenborough) as he snidely accused her gender as incapable of logic while he sought to resurrect the Cybermen from their frozen tombs. The line, “Logic, Mr. Kleig, is just another kind of madness in the hands of a fool,” is widely considered one of the best lines ever spoken on the show.

Mayo left the show after three seasons to return to B-movies and other less strenuous work.

And I love this, regarding Fourth Doctor Florence Henderson (1974 – 1981):

She was the first Doctor to wear exclusively pants…

Most inspired choice?

Tenth Doctor: Tina Fey (2005 – 2010)

Fey was a passionate fan of Eve Arden’s original portrayal, and though she kept a modern touch in the dress she brought the show back to its roots in both comedy and style. The comedienne’s wit mixed with a foxy corporate look embodied the Doctor of old, and she is regarded as one of the greatest of all the Doctors.

Unlike previous incarnations, Fey welcomed the affections of Rose Tyler, and their parting at the end of Season 2 was heartbreaking. The rest of her tenure was full of more platonic relationships, but also an awful lot of running, cracking jokes, and taking Doctor Who to heights it had never experienced before. She was also capable of a cold and intense cruelty that was unsettling from such a joyful figure.

Go check out Jef’s whole piece. It’s brilliant… and it might make you reconsider — as it made me do — the idea that Doctor Who wouldn’t work as an American show. If only the execs in charge were as clever as Jef.

Thanks to Karl for the heads-up.

(If you stumble across a cool Doctor Who thing, feel free to email me with a link.)

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Jonathan Roth
Wed, May 29, 2013 6:11pm

Damn, I so want to slip Sandy Duncan in for Tuesday Weld, but the idea of a troubled former-child actress in Colin Baker’s role is pretty brilliant.

Thu, May 30, 2013 12:33am

I would replace Courtney Cox with Kate Mulgrew, and maybe stick Sally Field in there somewhere. And I’d definitely eliminate Florence Henderson. But definitely some great ideas here.

Rachel Rose Velez
Rachel Rose Velez
Sat, Mar 26, 2016 2:09am

And for a bit of an update, Gates McFadden as the Twelfth Doctor. I’d honestly replace Tina Fey with Idina Menzel (and have Kristen Chenoweth as the Mistress to compliment her. Or switch them around and have Chenoweth as the Doctor and Menzel as the Mistress, though I’d go with the original idea to avoid Wicked parallels.)