The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'doctor who'
As the plume of white smoke emerged from the chimneys of Broadcasting House, the BBC announced that the thirteenth Doctor Who will be played by a woman, namely Jodie Whittaker. (Tilda Swinton, presumably, already had her hands full being the new Bowie.)
That sound you hear in the distance is the sad puppies of the “Mens' Rights” movement whining about their childhoods being ruined, irrevocably contaminated with girl cooties. Pity them; first they lost Ghostbusters, and now this. “It's Doctor Who, not Nurse Who!”, they rant, and “nobody wants to see a TARDIS full of bras”, before adding that feminism is a cancer and the realism of a story about an alien who travels through time in a wooden phone booth and defeats alien villains with a screwdriver would be completely compromised by said alien being played by a woman rather than a man. In any case, it looks like the new Doctor already has an entire legion of Cybermen set against her.
If Whittaker's Doctor has a long run, and possibly is followed by another non-white-male Doctor (Richard Ayoade was mentioned as one candidate), I wonder whether this will create the myth that the old Doctor Who was more of an old-fashioned manly man than he actually was; that before the BBC bowed to Political Correctness and Cultural Marxism, the original, real Doctor Who was a manly man of the first water, a two-fisted, hairy-chested swashbuckler, going mano a mano with the scum of the universe, between swiving wenches (to which his assistants—whom, of course, he was shagging as well—didn't object, as they knew their place), drinking robustly and making off-colour remarks about minorities. Much in the way that William Shatner's Captain Kirk is (inaccurately) remembered as much more of a Don Draperesque lothario than was on the actual shows, Tom Baker's stripy-scarved Doctor may morph in the popular imagination into some kind of hybrid of James Bond, Gene Hunt and Duke Nukem, with a bit of Jeremy Clarkson.
Zimbabwean strongman Robert Mugabe's latest outrage against the former British Empire: holding hostage the lost episodes of Doctor Who. Perhaps.
Currently, 108 out of the show's initial 752 episodes are still missing, and according to British newspaper the Sun, some of them may be found in Zimbabwe. The reasoning behind this unexpected announcement comes from two disparate facts. Firstly, the country purchased the first season of Doctor Who for transmission in the mid-60s. Secondly, the BBC have never been able to visit the country to find out exactly what tapes the Zimbabwean broadcasters actually possess, thanks to President Robert Mugabe banning all BBC personnel from entering the country at the beginning of this century. According to British newspaper the Sun, a BBC source explained,Of course, that's assuming that the Zimbabwean state broadcaster didn't recycle the tapes in the way that the BBC did, or they weren't otherwise lost.
The Times has re-stoked Thatcher-era allegations about "Communists in the BBC", with claims that left-wing scriptwriters wrote anti-Thatcherite propaganda into Doctor Who episodes during the 1980s. (Of course, being a Murdoch paper, they say that like it's a terrible thing...)
“We were a group of politically motivated people and it seemed the right thing to do. At the time Doctor Who used satire to put political messages out there in the way they used to do in places like Czechoslovakia. Our feeling was that Margaret Thatcher was far more terrifying than any monster the Doctor had encountered. Those who wanted to see the messages saw them; others, including one producer, didn’t.”
Under Cartmel’s direction, Thatcher was caricatured as Helen A, the wide-eyed tyrannical ruler of a human colony on the planet Terra Alpha. The extra-terrestrial character, played by Sheila Hancock, outlawed unhappiness and remarked “I like your initiative, your enterprise” as her secret police rounded up dissidents.The leftist scriptwriters also included, in another episode, a speech against nuclear weapons heavily influenced by material from those known comsymps, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Unfortunately for them, Doctor Who failed to bring down Thatcher, the show being canned before she was ousted in 1990.
An American scifi fan writes an appreciation of Doctor Who, and its difference from American television/film scifi:
Before you brand me a Benedork Arnold, let me explain: There’s a fix I just don’t get from mainstream American science fiction, perhaps because of its grinding obsession with the imperialistic (and its depressive sibling, the dystopic), not to mention its wearisome push for ever-shinier effects. Like its not-so-distant cousin American religion, American sci-fi is fixated on final battles, ultimate judgment (particularly on questions of control and leadership), and an up-or-down vote on the whole good/evil issue. Even the most morally restless imaginings — the Losts and Battlestars — eventually prolapse into Bruckheimer-esque excerpts from the Book of Revelation. As an antidote, I turn to the Doctor — a fussy 900-year-old neurotic who’s part Ancient Mariner, part Oxford don, with a whimsical fashion sense, a close acquaintance with defeat and futility, and a tendency to rattle on. He subscribes to no Force-like creed. No enlightened military Federation stands behind him, photon torpedoes at the ready — indeed, his race, the Time Lords, is more or less extinct. His signature gizmo isn’t a blaster or a phaser but a souped-up screwdriver. His Millennium Falcon? The Tardis, which looks to the unschooled like an old telephone booth. It’s actually a police call box, a relic from the ’50s, and the ship’s most spectacular feature isn’t artillery; it’s feng shui: It’s bigger on the inside.The Doctor is courageous and heroic, sure, but in the Mèdecins Sans Frontiéres vein. Oh so Euro!The thesis that American scifi is, at worst, shaped by imperial bombast and triumphalism, and at best saddled with the weight of manifest destiny, whereas British scifi is shaped by the pathos of faded glory and the possibilities opened by not having a heroic destiny, and is so much richer for it, echoes a Charlie Stross piece on the state of sci-fi literature, from April 2005 (previously blogged here).
It looks like the new Doctor Who will be attired in a suit, a trenchcoat and sneakers, in what the BBC are calling a "geek chic" look; in other words, somewhere between John Constantine in the Hellblazer comics and Jarvis Cocker sans glasses.
For a while they had me worried that the BBC were trying to jump on the NME New Wave Glamorous Indie™ Art Rock™ Revival bandwagon and making the Doctor an emaciated androgyne in a tight-black-suit/black-shirt/anorexically-thin-red-tie combo.
Well, that was a cracker of a way to end a season of Doctor Who. Dalek cultists? Who would have thought. Even if it did seem like a bit of a deus ex machina.
Anyway, David Tennant will have a tough act to follow as the next Doctor, given how good Ecclestone's grinning-nutter-with-heart was.
I just watched the first of the new Doctor Who series. It was amusing enough, with plastic dummies controlled by an alien consciousness hiding under a London landmark trying to take over the world. (It is apparently a Welsh production, though the story was all centred in London.) They may have been a little too eager to please, peppering the script with one-liners and quips, sometimes at the expense of plausibility. Anyway, Christopher Eccleston, in his short-cropped, leather-jacketed Northern English geezer guise, made a decent enough Doctor, and Billie Piper is the First Chav Assistant. (Why did they name her Rose, when Tracey or Mandy or something similar would have been a more appropriate name?)
Interestingly enough, the BBC are milking this cow as far as they can; right after the show, the lottery announcement had one of the announcers hitching a ride in on the TARDIS.
Filming of the new Doctor Who series may be delayed by a shortage of midget actors, the result of an unusual number of midget-intensive films currently in production in the UK: (via bOING bOING)
Dr Who executive producer Russell T Davies said: "It's very difficult to employ persons of restricted growth when, as our producer Phil Collinson says, `Bloody Gringotts and the Chocolate Factory are filming at the same time'."