Dr Who is such a tart!

by Suw on May 30, 2005

Just watched last night's Dr Who and I have to agree with Tom that not only is Dr Who is a bit of a tart, but he's also a bit free and easy with gender/species/group sex distinctions. Good for him, I say. Bit jealous really. I never get to dance, let alone set up an interesting threesome with aliens.
Last night I had a dream. Yes, another one. I was on a boat, with Christopher Ecclestone. We were on a river, which was all well and good, but it ran along the edge of a cliff… which was at least a mile high. The water slopped over the edge in a 'your boat would go straight over' manner which scared the crap out of me. But it was ok, because Christopher Ecclestone was there to keep me safe and sound.
But anyway, moving on. I was talking to my mate Ewan about this, and more now than ever I think his take is right. Dr Who is is the last survivor of the Time Wars. The Daleks are all dead. The Time Lords are all dead. Dr Who suffers horrendous survivor guilt and that colours everything he does.
This episode, more than any other, exemplifies survivor guilt. “Everybody lives, Rose. Just this once, everybody lives,” says the Doctor as the victims of the poorly adapted nanogenes are finally cured of their ills. The joy in his face is unparalleled by anything else we have seen in this series – he is for the first time truly delighted that he has been able to act as saviour, in however an indirect way.
Consider Father's Day, the episode in which Rose goes back in time to try to save her father's life. The Doctor knows exactly what she has done, he knows the disaster she has caused, and he knows what needs to be done to put it all right, but he can't bring himself to engineer Rose's father's death. He wants him to live, because he feels he can't be responsible for even one more life lost. He's willing to sacrifice the unknown masses in order to safe the known individual – a logic that previous Doctors would never have followed.
For ages with the new series of Dr Who I was really puzzled by the way that the Doctor seemed so passive – very much unlike past Doctors. In the episode The Long Game, with the astonishingly sexy Simon Pegg as The Editor, (why did no one tell me Simon was narrating the Dr Who Confidential series on BBC3? I would have watched them, dammit!), both the Doctor and Rose are helpless and at the mercy of the Editor and his Boss, and they rely upon a secondary character to free them.
This goes totally contrary to our expectations of the Doctor as the Mr Know It All who can fix anything. In fact, I can't think of a single episode in this series where Dr Who has actually taken charge and been directly responsible for the rescue of anyone. Dammit, even the Dalek he tries to rescue, (before he realises it's a Dalek) ends up committing suicide because Rose's DNA has infected it. Damn you, Russell T Davies. Damn your ability to make me cry over a Dalek!
But as soon as you look at this helplessness in terms of survivor guilt, it all makes sense. The Doctor is haunted by memories of the Time Wars. He can't understand why he is still live when everyone else is dead. He has no one left. Nothing left. Just him and his Tardis. Is he a traitor for not dying with the rest? Should he have done thing differently? Sacrificed his life? To what end? Time Lords were always survivors and to die a meaningless death would never have been acceptable.
So instead he is left alone, trying to make sense of what happened, and trying not to repeat what he sees as tragic mistakes. Just how responsible was the Doctor for the death of all those Time Lords, all those Daleks? We heard him crying “It's not my fault!” to the last remaining Dalek. Is that truth, or guilt? Was it his fault? How will Rose react when the truth comes out?
The Doctor is obviously in love with Rose, it's clear as day, and has been for episodes. Will he lose her when all this comes to a head*? It surely must – all the episodes are building up to a climax in which we find out what really happened in the Doctor's past. What were the Time Wars? What happened to the Daleks? The Time Lords? And where was The Master in all this? What part did he have to play? Davros? Is he still kicking about? (Or should that be 'levitating about'?)
I wasn't a Dr Who fan until this series. The old stuff I could take or leave and really not care about, but this series has been fantastic. Russell T Davies has put together a through line that has totally hooked me. He's done something truly different with the Doctor – he's made him human, fallible, vulnerable. For once, the Doctor is not there to save us poor apes, but is instead saved by us. We are going on his personal journey, instead of a journey through space and time that he happens to be taking us on.
As a scriptwriter, I find all this fascinating, and I have to admit to a bit of jealousy. What I wouldn't give to have the opportunity to take a character like the Doctor and turn him on his head, do something really cool and interesting with him. Dr Who is, without doubt, up there with Battlestar Galactica as my all-time favourite scifi.
Anyway, it's 1.20am now – how the hell did that happen? – and whilst I could easily wax lyrical for another hour or so, I shan't. Time for bed. Christopher, are you coming?
* OK, I know Ecclestone leaves at the end of this series, which means a regeneration, which means the relationship is doomed. I was just trying not to think about it, ok?

Anonymous May 30, 2005 at 10:20 am

He's willing to sacrifice the unknown masses in order to safe the known individual – a logic that previous Doctors would never have followed.
That's not entirely true. In Peter Davison's final story, The Caves Of Androzani, he spends most of the time ignoring the bigger conflict going on around him in order to find a cure for his poisoned assistant Peri. People drop dead all over the place but he is manically focussed on saving Peri even to the extent of denying himself the antidote so that she may live.
Damn you, Russell T Davies. Damn your ability to make me cry over a Dalek!
Russell T. Davies didn't write the Dalek episode: Rob Shearman did. Strangely, as much as I admire Davies as a writer and for what he has done with the series, my favourite episodes so far have all been written by others: Mark “League Of Gentlemen” Gatiss (“The Unquiet Dead”); Steven “Coupling” Moffat (“The Empty Child”; “The Doctor Dances”) and the aforementioned Shearman. Hmm, curious.
He's done something truly different with the Doctor – he's made him human, fallible, vulnerable.
I'd refute that, as would Russell, I suspect. The Doctor has always shown those characteristics. They are the very characteristics that drew Russell to the character in the first place. Yes, he has certainly concentrated on those elements more and the Doctor is clearly more traumatised in this latest incarnation than he has ever been but the Doctor has always been a human, sometimes fallible and vulnerable character.
I think that if you rewatched some of the older series now you would be surprised how many of the elements you praise Davies for bringing to Doctor Who were actually there all along.
OK, so I'm a feckin' geek.

Anonymous May 30, 2005 at 10:46 am

I bow to your superior wisdom, o Nichevo. :-p
But you know what I was driving at, even if my knowledge isn't as deep as yours. And it was 1.20am this morning, and I was a bit drunk when I posted and and and and…

Anonymous May 30, 2005 at 11:22 am

Pedantry is so sexy, isn't it? :)
I agree with the general thrust of what you are saying: this Doctor is clearly fucked up about what happened and I like your theory as to way he has been rather passive and a bit useless in this series.
One request, Mr. Davies: More Daleks but please no Davros.
And screw Battlestar Galactica: Blake's 7 rules! (Actually haven't seen the new Galactica but everyone tells me it is wonderful so I'll accept that).

Anonymous May 30, 2005 at 12:03 pm

Oh, I'm all about the pedantry, dear. That's what blogs are for. ;-)
You really must see Battlestar Galactica. It is truly fantastic. I can't wait for the next series.
Equally, I hope they don't make us wait too long for the next series of Dr Who. Having resurrected it so amazingly well, and got us hooked, I hope that they don't then say 'ok, now you have to wait til next year'. Cos that would suck.

Anonymous May 30, 2005 at 12:22 pm

Shooting on the new Dr. Who series starts this summer. There'll be a Christmas Special and Series 2 (or, to be pedantic, Season 28) will air this time next year. It took 'em eight months to shoot this series so you'll have to wait!

Anonymous May 30, 2005 at 12:35 pm

Nooooooo! Not fair!
*stamps foot and pouts*

Anonymous May 30, 2005 at 12:56 pm

Russell T in this month's issue of Doctor Who Magazine confirms that The Master doesn't return. The general feeling is that Davros won't be returning to TV either because he renders The Daleks as foot soldiers rather than the main threat (although he's still hanging about in the Big Finish audios). Actually there are a hundred questions thrown up by the Time War to do with what happened to all the Timelords, their place in history and the web of time. We should have a chat about this one day.

Anonymous May 30, 2005 at 1:50 pm

That is exactly why I don't want to see Davros return. His role in creating the Daleks and the way his own creations subsequently turned upon him, treating him in exactly the same way as he programmed them to treat other “lesser” species in “Genesis Of The Daleks” was fasciniating but should have been the beginning and the end of him.
It would be interesting to see the Master again although it would raise the question of exactly how many times can one person die, fer chrissakes?
Now, if you will excuse me, I must go and refill my thermos with lemon barley and replace the selotape that holds together my thick, plastic-rimmed spectacles.

Anonymous May 30, 2005 at 3:52 pm

I thought I'd left geekdom behind : here was I thinking I'll be alright now, I've replaced the parka with something more teutonic and trendy-looking, I've moved to a country where absolutely no-one knows what the hell Dr. Who is, I've learned to play the electric guitar and only occasionally give in to the dark side and pull out the box set of “The Prisoner” DVDs, but you, you rotten lot, you've started it all over again.
You do realise I've gone and found somewhere I can download the new Dr. Who, don't you? I've actually gone and done it? That I'm going to be sitting indoors developing my geek tan in front of the laptop, and it's all because of you lot going on about a dalek making them cry.
I'm going to the English shop to buy some pot noodles so I can sulk into them whilst watching the first episode and it's all your fault.

Anonymous May 31, 2005 at 7:42 am

One of us… one of us… one of us… one of us…
Mwahahahahahahahahaha!

Anonymous May 31, 2005 at 3:30 pm

I was right about the internet. Waaay back in 1995, I described it as “filled with more anoraks than the cloakroom at a Dr. Who convention”.
There's many a true word spoken in jest. ;->

Anonymous May 31, 2005 at 7:26 pm

Suw – I'm enjoying the series in Chicago with the help of Mr. Bittorrents (until the bad guys book him, at least). Since I have been predicting chip implants for some time, I had a good laugh when I saw it acted out. I'm ready for cranial downloads whenever they're ready. I'm 2 weeks behind in watching so don't give away too much of the plots. Should I also be downloading the Dr. W Confidential shows? What are they all about?
Hwyl fawr, Chris in Chicago

Anonymous May 31, 2005 at 8:11 pm

They are 'behind the scenes' shows – probably worth getting if you're a Dr Who nut. I shall try not to blog spoilers, although please forgive me if i get a bit carried away. ;-)

Anonymous June 6, 2005 at 1:56 pm

That's the best analysis of Doctor Who I've seen.
Btw, what do you make of the Bad Wolf thing?
– acb

Anonymous June 12, 2005 at 8:56 am

well in this most recent episode: bad wolf, it looks like davros is the “bad wolf” controling earth's destiny. it would seem he was the one who saved the dalek's from the time wars' but that is just my opinion, if youd like to chat about it mail me at emberingdeadNOSPAM.com@gmail (figure out that address ane mail me, anti-spam filter in use)

Anonymous June 16, 2005 at 11:43 am

If anyone's seen the online trailers every day this week, there's confirmation as far as I can see of something I've thought for a while, namely that Davros is back. I cannot think of any other character that would describe itself as 'the god of the Daleks'. Davros, the Emperor Dalek: no doubt looking (as well as sounding) a bit different to his last on-screen appearance which aped the TV comics from the 60s.
http://spicycauldron.blogspot.com

Anonymous June 20, 2005 at 1:49 am

Pfft, Russel T Davies has seriously killed Doctor Who.
He's not even the main character anymore, they may aswell rename it 'The Rose Tyler Show'

Anonymous July 20, 2005 at 2:02 pm

Dr Who a tart? Lucky Joanna Lumley didn't get the gig (again)….

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