I feel like I should say something, as the site’s resident “Doctor Who” fan, about the casting of Pearl Mackie. The problem is that I will then have to expand out, “Um…good, I guess?” into a full blog post. But with that said, here goes.
I have no feelings on Pearl Mackie as an actress. Looking over her brief IMDB entry, she has done nothing that I’m personally familiar with on film or television. It sounds like she’s done some stage work, which I’m unlikely to have seen from Minnesota, and some radio work as well, but the name definitely does not ring a bell. This isn’t anything unusual, though, as I hadn’t heard of Matt Smith either prior to his casting and Jenna Coleman was just a name too, as was Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill and really most of the names on the show except for Eccleston. That’s because I’m not a casting director and I don’t get to root through stacks of glossies and CVs and then do auditions and find awesome people that nobody’s ever heard of. So I’m going to assume a good job was done from the brief clip shown, and make up my mind further when I see her first episode.
That said, I have a theory based on the clip that I’m really hopeful about–I don’t think she’s from the present-day. Her outfit is very 80s, right down to the Nagel print t-shirt, and the Doctor says that they need to go back to the future because 2017 needs them. Assuming this is filmed for a 2017 debut, the Doctor may well be using her frame of reference in describing 2017 as the future.
That excites me. I’ve felt for a while now that the one thing the new series needs to do so very badly is to get out of its comfort zone when it comes to companions; with the exception of Donna, who was very well-received for that reason, the predominant model for companion has been “young, gorgeous woman from an era contemporary to broadcast”, with their family members and significant others appearing as a sort of tertiary supporting cast. It’s been sort of a case of “roll off the old girl, roll on the new girl,” and I think that was something you could rarely accuse the classic series of. I’m hoping that we’re going to see someone from a different time period.
And not just a different time period–I have a strong hope that Bill’s name and the choice to cast a biracial actress (and not to de-emphasize her race–she’s not being asked to straighten her hair or anything dreadful like that) will signal that she’s going to break that mold a bit, even if the opening shot is of her running hand-in-hand with the Doctor in a slightly cringe-inducing way. I’m not saying that she’s going to be gay or bi just because she’s not dressing frilly and she’s got a masculine nickname, but if she was, that would be by no means a bad thing for the show.
Basically, I think I’m saying, “Could we please get Season Ten so I can get to know the new companion, please? Because I’m cautiously optimistic about this one, and I’d like to find out how awesome she is now.” Which is a bit more enthusiastic than “Good, I guess?”, so maybe writing out my thoughts in a whole blog post was a good idea here.