|Williams: The Bicentennial Man|
Another buzz-worthy event during August 2014 has been the continuation of the Doctor Who television show, with yet another new incarnation of the Doctor. I've previously discussed the role of Sydney Newman as a creator of the show and the idea that science fiction stories written by Asimov might have influenced the creators of Doctor Who.
Doctor Who was among the first science fiction television shows that I ever saw, probably starting in 1972 along with Star Trek (WKGB, Boston). That was about the same time that I was discovering published science fiction that had been written by masters of the genre such as Asimov. Doctor Who was originally conceived as a children's program that would use a time travel gimmick for exploration of educational history topics. However, a funny thing happened after the first 4-episode serial of the television program was "in the can".
|Kirk buried in Tribbles|
I can appreciate humor in a SciFi story, but what happens when a science fiction writer is mocking SciFi tropes and themes? (A slightly different question can also be asked about The Avengers.)
|My views on SciFi horror.|
|MIB alien ambassador|
|Martian: War of the Worlds|
But why create anything new and interesting for a T.V. audience that does not read and does not care? On a low budget it is far easier to spoof and derivatize the work of others.
|War of the Worlds|
What evil alien of Cold War television could be complete without the involvement of radiation? In the beginning of the series, we were told that the insanely xenophobic Daleks arose by mutation from a species called the Dals, aliens who were originally peaceful and scientifically advanced, but their nature completely changed in the aftermath of a nuclear war. This type of biologically-implausible mega "mutation" is common in the fantasy worlds of comics and Hollywood.
|terror on nylon castors|
Fandom or Commercialism?
After my search through the interwebs, I suspect that most true fan loyalty to the Daleks exists only since about 1975 and the "Genesis of the Daleks" which provided a re-imagining (or, at least, a fleshing out of their backstory) of the alien Daleks and, perhaps most importantly, a spokesman for the Daleks who could move Doctor Who scripts past their annoyingly limited verbal repertoire. For the 1975 version of the "history of the Daleks", they were depicted as arising through the efforts of an evil scientist (Davros). By the 1970s, a new generation was coming of age, young adults who had grown up with the annoying and frightening (really?) Daleks and who had the shared experience of watching Doctor Who from "behind the sofa".
An essay called "The Impact of Genesis of the Daleks", purportedly by a "long-time fan of the Daleks" praises the "Genesis of the Daleks" serial for its "fantastic plot, great performances, brilliant intelligent subject matter and the range of dialogue". The author of the essay says, "...the story is less about the Daleks and more about the affairs and characters on Skaro. However, this works to their benefit, as the Daleks are used sparingly."
|Dalek fan club poster|
Peter Sellers was able to insert a comic tone into the Strangelove film, but Davros is just a relentlessly fanatical murderer bent on genocide, all apparently in an attempt to make Doctor Who darker and "more adult". Really, the only thing more absurd than the idea of educational television is television that does not attract the highest $pending demographic groups. The Daleks became a merchandizable ca$h cow, to be milked for all they were worth.
|Nicola Bryant and her 3 companions.|
3 cheers for
|Quark in drag|
|Leela the |
|Cover art by Milton Rosenblatt|
|I not only blinked, I long |
ago stopped watching
The dismayed Glinnes Hulden laments: "The situation is absurd".
Tired reply from a jaded official: "....we deal with many absurdities, this is no more than an ordinary example".
|Just say, "No Daleks!"|
A female Time Lord lead character? That should have happened decades ago. Is there anything that could get me to watch Doctor Who? They might bring in some interesting (maybe biologically plausible hermaphrodites?) aliens, but would it ever be possible wash away the horrors of the past?
I won't be watching Doctor Who "Series 8".....
Deep Breath - Robotic bad guys collecting body parts. Ug. Need I say more? OK: "Man falls from the balloon and is impaled on the spire of Big Ben". Ick.
Into the Dalek - Let's smear the plot of Fantastic Voyage all over the miserable Daleks? No.
Robot of Sherwood - "I am not a Merry Man." For American audiences, any SciFi television show about Robin Hood will have to compete with memories of Star Trek.
Of course, what could have been a fun episode must become dark and stupid in the Who-verse. First: use one of the all time idiotic SciFi tropes (aliens need gold from Earth). Second: use the evil robot trope. Third: throw in a decapitation scene.
The only good thing is that the decapitation had to be edited out, prompting at least one reviewer to complain that the episode was to "too funny"....the Who-verse and Who-fans in a nutshell.
|More book and magazine covers|