Saturday, 1 September 2012

The Doctor Who agenda

Doctor Who - possibly some of the best television ever.

The wide arcing storylines of the modern series have been awesome in their conception and vision.

The companions to the Doctor have been inspired:
Rose Tyler - The darkness is coming... Bad Wolf incarnate!
Martha Jones - a doctor sent to heal the Doctor... Turns warrior
Donna Noble - humble secretary... her mind sacrificed
Amelia Pond and Rory and of course Melody Pond - Wow!

However, over the last few seasons I've become ambivalent about Doctor Who. It used to be the best thing on T.V. but the writers have an agenda, or several, and I've found it detracting from the story. 

Dr Matt Ashton dismisses allegations of any subversive agenda in his first paragraphs of his comment yesterday and to an extent he is correct. Doctor Who is a masterpiece of contradiction. The Doctor lies yet values honesty, is anti-authority and yet sets himself up as the ultimate authority, is anti-fundamentalism and yet is as rabid a fundamentalist as any you are likely to meet.

The Doctor murders, tortures, commits genocide and yet is still seen as good wholesome family viewing...

In a universe where there is no higher being setting a moral standard - who has the right to decide what is right and wrong? The Doctor freely admits in several episodes that he hasn't the faintest idea what he is doing; that he is only out for an adventure, a good time. Is this the moral compass we want deciding the fate of entire species?

The Doctor: a genocidal murderer (I've lost count of the species he has wiped out of existence - though they often refuse to stay dead...)
The Doctor: a megalomaniac (Calling himself the Lord of Time)
The Doctor: a puppet (The Doctor's Wife is really calling the shots!)

The Doctor is quite willing to take his revenge, often does not know when to stop. The real heroes of the show are often the companions - ordinary Jane Does who provide a moral compass the Doctor seems to lack.

Yet the cosmic joker is able to recognise his own failings, to even repent, to turn back from the evil he set his hearts on and choose a better path. In seeing this drama play out, episode after episode, the Doctor shows himself to be just like... you and me. In the end, essentially human. Fallen. Base. Yet with the possibility of so much more.

It is these contradictions and more that give me reason to keep watching. One of the main reasons I still get a kick out of the story lines. The Doctor gets it wrong so, so many times. Messes up on a universal scale and yet in this shows himself to be oh so human. He might have two hearts beating inside that lanky chest (Matt Smith incarnation) but that only means he is twice as emotional, twice as frail, twice as vulnerable, twice as desperate for other human contact.

Dr Matt Ashton dismisses as nonsense allegations of Doctor Who inducing terror in children or having aggressive gay or political agendas.

Doctor Who terrified me as a child! I hid behind the sofa but still saw enough to give me nightmares. I still wonder if Doctor Who: Planet of the Spiders was partially responsible for my childhood arachnophobia...

The script writers/producers clearly have agendas, if one is willing to keep an open mind. They are often subtle though sometimes not so as in the case of the "Thin Fat Gay Married Anglican Marines."

The really disappointing aspect around this is simply the lack of imagination.Any real fan of Science Fiction - well, anyone who bothers to think will realise that in a universe populated by infinite alien species, sex is likely to become a whole lot more complicated than simply straight or gay.

Doctor Who has improved vastly as a series from the shows I watched in the Seventies and Eighties. Episodes like Blink still captivate me. Awesomely constructed and delivered story! But occasionally it still dons rubber suits.

I'll be watching tonight, with my kids. Aware that every writer has an agenda that may not agree with my own but also aware that neither I nor my kids have to be influenced if we choose to think about what we are watching.

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