GUEST POST – Twelve Must Die (2/2): A Man Who Never Would

by Will Shaw

 

[Content Warning: discussion of sexual assualt after the “read more” tag]

[Part one here]

Not counting Colin Baker, there is only one other Doctor whose moral failing is so explicitly flagged in a way that suggests he has outlived his usefulness. That Doctor, of course, is the Tenth. Like Capaldi, he has a single, defining moment which demonstrates his moral bankruptcy, after which the audience, on some level, is rooting for him to die.

For Tennant, it comes in The End of Time: Part Two. In his conversation with the Doctor on the deck of a silent starship, Wilf asks a question, whose answer will determine the rest of the story: ‘If the Master dies, what happens to all the people?’ At first, the Doctor is evasive:

DOCTOR: I don’t know.
WILF: Doctor, what happens?

But finally, he answers:

DOCTOR: The template snaps.
WILF: What, they go back to being human? They’re alive, and human?

We learn the Doctor has the power to save everyone on Earth, if only he has the strength to kill a genocidal monster. And it’s not like killing is a fresh evil for this Doctor; he has already (torturously) told us that ‘I’ve taken lives. I got worse, I got clever. Manipulated people into taking their own.’ It is in the Tenth Doctor’s power to save the lives of everyone on Earth, and, presumably, his own. Wilf begs for the life of his species:

Don’t you dare, sir. Don’t you dare put him before them. Now you take this. That’s an order, Doctor. Take the gun. You take the gun and save your life. And please don’t die. You’re the most wonderful man and I don’t want you to die.”

And the Doctor’s answer?

Never.’

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GUEST POST – Twelve Must Die (1/2): The Doctor Fails

by Will Shaw

 

There is a leftist critique to be made of transhumanism: that its entire ideology/aesthetic boils down to a declaration that the operations of capitalism work so perfectly that they ought to be applied to the human body itself; that the human race’s perfect realisation is not as squishy bags of meat and hormones, but as machinery, with perhaps a few concessions to biochemistry – as capital itself.

The political implications of this reading are, to say the least, horrifying, not least because the idea of human beings as capital has some obvious parallels in the history of European and American race relations. The small but significant overlap between transhumanist thought and neoreactionism is chilling in its implications, to say nothing of reactionary internet subcultures’ love/hate relationship with the idea of female sex robots.

To put it bluntly, transhumanist visions of the future, or at least the most visible ones, are not built by or for people like Bill Potts. We’re already seeing the effects of this in the real world – concerns about algorithmically-generated redlining, facial recognition software that can’t handle black faces – systems built by and for the privileged, who are usually not actively malicious, but who create systems that crush people underfoot, almost incidentally.

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GUEST POST – “The Next Doctor”: a defence and analysis

by Z.P. Moo

 

As Christmas approaches and we await the coming of “Twice Upon A Time and all its various exciting milestones, it seems a good time to look back at one of the previous annual Doctor Who Christmas Specials to see what it has to offer.

I have no shortage of options for which one to go to. The 2017 one will be the thirteenth such special (How fitting!) and that’s before we start counting that one episode from 1965 and a few of the audios. But I thought that maybe I would go to the 2008 effort, titled “The Next Doctor and written by Russell T Davies.

It’s not a very popular episode but I think that’s unfair. I think it’s extremely prophetic of what RTD’s successor Steven Moffat would go on to, with a study of who and what the Doctor is, and it also deserves praise for exploring some very dark and complex themes that fit perfectly in the narrative that the story tells. Not to mention a generally excellent handling of the Cybermen.

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GUEST POST – “Gridlock”: Alone Together

by Ricky Starr

 

Gridlock“, Russell T Davies’ 2007 masterpiece, is nothing short of a masterclass in storytelling, and a powerful examination of humanity at its very core. The episode is often overlooked, but its contemplation of human inter-reliance, as well as the nature of hope and desolation, is deeply stirring and powerfully insightful. Indeed, it is absolutely bursting with ideas- it is arguably one of the most concept-heavy, concept-driven episodes in Doctor Who history, and yet every single idea within it carries resonance and manages to hold court at least briefly in a meaningful way.

The central concept, of course, is the idea of humanity being separated for eternity in cars, and it is the separation that emphasises the reliance of people on others. Within the episode, we see a variety of guest characters separated from others in the same situation, who are also isolated, and separated from society as a whole, which is represented by the over-city. What does this isolation do to a person? To what extent do people rely on contact and indeed order? It is this that RTD considers most blatantly throughout.

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GUEST POST – “We’re all stories in the end”: a series 5 retrospective (3/3)

by Ed Goundrey-Smith

 

Series 5 of Doctor Who holds a special place in my heart.

Not least does it pack the full punch of nostalgia, which yes, does admittedly make it very appealing. But for me, it has proved timeless – as I will discuss, the way that the 2010 run has managed to be what I needed at so many different points in my life, is quite miraculous. Yes – not least do I bask in its fairytale magic, but I always get something new when watching Series 5.

So, with the end of Steven Moffat’s era looming, I decided to look at his first run in an analytical way. To see why they have affected me so personally, and why they continue to resonate with me seven years later.

I decided to go back to where it all began, to the little girl who waited.

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GUEST POST – “We’re all stories in the end”: a series 5 retrospective (2/3)

by Ed Goundrey-Smith

 

(Previous entry)

Series 5 of Doctor Who holds a special place in my heart.

Not least does it pack the full punch of nostalgia, which yes, does admittedly make it very appealing. But for me, it has proved timeless – as I will discuss, the way that the 2010 run has managed to be what I needed at so many different points in my life, is quite miraculous. Yes – not least do I bask in its fairytale magic, but I always get something new when watching Series 5.

So, with the end of Steven Moffat’s era looming, I decided to look at his first run in an analytical way. To see why they have affected me so personally, and why they continue to resonate with me seven years later.

I decided to go back to where it all began, to the little girl who waited.

Continue reading

GUEST POST – “We’re all stories in the end”: a series 5 retrospective (1/3)

by Ed Goundrey-Smith

 

Series 5 of Doctor Who holds a special place in my heart.

Not least does it pack the full punch of nostalgia, which yes, does admittedly make it very appealing. But for me, it has proved timeless – as I will discuss, the way that the 2010 run has managed to be what I needed at so many different points in my life, is quite miraculous. Yes – not least do I bask in its fairytale magic, but I always get something new when watching Series 5.

So, with the end of Steven Moffat’s era looming, I decided to look at his first run in an analytical way. To see why they have affected me so personally, and why they continue to resonate with me seven years later.

I decided to go back to where it all began, to the little girl who waited.

Continue reading

GUEST POST – Whoniverse, Bring Out Your Dead: Death, resurrection, and the obligations of Doctor Who – Part 4: On the obligations of Who as a family show

by A.L. Belmont

 

With the last two companion departures, a great deal of discussion has sprung up about whether Steven Moffat is justified in apparently killing off companions and resurrecting them within a short time frame. There are a lot of assumptions implicit in the argument against resurrection, so in this article series, I’ll analyze what I think are the five key assumptions.

Parts 1 and 2 of this series treat the death-resurrection combination in the abstract. Part 3 examines the specific cases of Clara and Bill, and part 4 looks at death and resurrection in the context of the show’s ethos. This fourth part evaluates the death-resurrection sequence in the context of Doctor Who as a family show that seeks to impart edifying lessons.

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ASSESSING STRESS – THE BOOK CLUB: “Now We Are Six Hundred” – a guest review of a Who poetry book

by Will Shaw

 

It’s a fair question why this book exists. With Doctor Who off the air until Christmas and Jodie Whittaker on the horizon, the decision to release a poetry collection, of all things, is  inscrutable. Its author, James Goss, has been writing Doctor Who spinoff material for more than a decade, and its illustrator is Russell T Davies, who famously revived the series in 2005. The result is a book that feels stuck in the past, and its overall tone is wildly confused. It’s hard not to be disappointed, as a fan of both Doctor Who and poetry in general. Now We Are Six Hundred is a wasted opportunity, a funny little footnote on the way to better things.

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GUEST POST – Whoniverse, Bring Out Your Dead: Death, Resurrection, and the Obligations of Doctor Who – Part 3: On Clara and Bill’s resurrections

by  A. L. Belmont

 

With the last two companion departures, a great deal of discussion has sprung up about whether Steven Moffat is justified in apparently killing off companions and resurrecting them within a short time frame. There are a lot of assumptions implicit in the argument against resurrection, so in this article series, I’ll analyze what I think are the five key assumptions.

It turns out that a big part of the “should dead characters stay dead” controversy stems from Moffat’s “disquieting tendency” to revive dead characters (because apparently, though I learned in statistics class that two points make a line and three make a trend, in the Who fandom, two points make not only a trend but an extremely distressing one on par with rising global temperatures and political polarization). So this third part examines the roles of death and resurrection in Clara and Bill’s arcs and asks whether either was necessary.

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