Sunday, January 06, 2008

Doctor Who: Revolutionary or Tool of the Man?

Doctor Who fans -- are there are others in biblioblogdom besides me, Mark Goodacre, Jim Davila, and Doug Chaplin? -- will find this analysis interesting: Doctor Who: Revolutionary or Tool of the Man?
"Most of the time, the Doctor only tries to preserve the status quo. But occasionally he visits a dystopia where he launches a revolution and smashes the system. Click through for our chart showing the Doctor's waxing and waning revolutionary tendencies over time."
As a fan of the Tom Baker era ('74-'81), and now the resurrected series under Eccleston/Tennant, I never thought of Doctor Who as a revolutionary. Politics are generally beneath him. He lets governments be as they are, even when they displease and disgust us. But as the graph shows, Tom Baker meddled occasionally in the second half of his era, as did his successor Davison, though neither nearly as much as Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy, when unemployment peaked under Thatcher.

But neither did I ever think of him as a "tool of the man". I might have if I grew up in the Pertwee era ('70-'74), when he was earth-stranded and served as scientific advisor to the British military. But no incarnation other than Pertwee (and sometimes Troughton before him) could be thought of as a human tool. When Pertwee regenerated into Baker, it didn't take long for him to tell the Brigadier and UNIT to stuff it. He was moving on, and on his own terms. And he's been an independent soul ever since.

The analysis shows what one would expect, that Doctor Who took on an increasingly revolutionary edge as real-world goverment got more conservative, and vice-versa. But despite the fluctuating patterns, I think the Time Lord's stance has remained consistent on average: he meddles in the affairs of government only when either the balance of time is threatened or something exceptionally bad is going on. The scriptwriters found more and more excuses for penning such scenarios under Thatcher.


Blogger Doug said...

Thanks - fun post. I guess also it depends how you classify things: you could say that right near the very beginning he helps the Thals overthrow the political order on Skaro.

Blogger mhelfield said...

I am also a huge Doctor Who fan. I grew up under Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. I am also a fan of Torchwood (and the many biblical references both shows make). I never looked at the series quite in that way (e.g. as revolutionary). Food for thought!



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