GUEST POST – Whoniverse, Bring Out Your Dead: Death, Resurrection, and the Obligations of Doctor Who – Part One: On the nature and responsibilities of fiction

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. I’ve been following the controversy and find it interesting that the general anti-resurrection argument has shifted from “Moffat should not kill companions” to “If Moffat is going to kill a companion, they need to stay dead.” As one Redditor put it:

“People don’t care that he doesn’t want to kill his characters. People care that he keeps repeatedly killing them, and then bringing them back. Either kill them, or don’t, because what he’s doing right now is cheapening death entirely. It’s difficult to take any kind of death seriously when it’s so easily undone all the time.”

The Redditor also said that Moffat apparently doesn’t really understand these criticisms, and I’m quite sad about that because that means nobody has really mounted an effective counterargument to these (excellent and very valid) points. Not that that’s a problem, necessarily. Maybe this is all just gut feelings in the end, and I have a gut feeling that dead characters do not have to stay dead, but you have a gut feeling that dead characters have to stay dead, and we should all just take a deep breath and get off the Internet. Nonetheless, I’m going to be that person who insists there’s some deep reason behind everything. So let’s get to it.

I’ve noticed a lot of assumptions implicit in the anti-resurrection argument as represented here and elsewhere, so I’d like to dissect what I think are the five main ones. 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 first part asks whether death in fiction has to work like death in real life, and whether resurrection is technologically possible in the Whoniverse.

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ASSESSING STRESS #1: “The Pilot”

Welcome to DoWntime’s new, not-too-regular column, Assessing Stress. That’s where we assess … stress. Or more accurately, talk and debate about the newest episodes to hit the television screen, the new releases from Big Finish, and all these good things. Because writing an actual, full-on review is a very difficult, and possibly pointless exercise when you haven’t seen the whole series and are thus deprived of critical context – and also because it’s very fun to rant in community. We could have rented a bar or something and recorded our conversations while drinking some pina coladas, but thing is, nobody here lives in the same country, so it’s a delicate process. Also, not everyone drinks alcohol. Terrible difficulties, I tell you. But still – we pulled through, and here we are. Yay us.

For series 10, Scarves, Scribbles and Tibère will be joined each week by a different guest. Because variety of opinions is key, and because we would eat each other if left alone, a little bit like in that story with the sheep, the cabbage and the wolf. This week: Z. P. Moo, our first guest contributor for DoWntime, who also writes for Warped Factor, and is an adept of the mysterious science known as poetry (or physics?).

And now, time for “The Pilot” talk.

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