Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas Message

This Christmas season people of good will both at home and throughout the commonwealth are all thinking about the same thing. They are seeking the answer to one basic question which has been at the heart of our national celebrations this year. That question is, of course: "Was David Tennant any good?"

The answer is "Yes, in a very real sense, David Tennant was quite mind-blowingly, astonishingly good; good in a way that blows our memories of Christopher Eccelston out of the window." When he grins and says "Fantastic" at the end of the episode, it seems positively anachronistic, as if, in the space of an hour, the guy in the leather jacket has become as remote as the the guy with the recorder. You had to look hard at Doctor Chris to find his Doctorness; some of us old-timers found ourselves saying "This is strange: unlike the Doctor, yet somehow, still like the Doctor." Doctor David is Doctorish from the moment he emerges from the TARDIS. Like Doctor Tom, he manages to shift in a second from being silly and childish to godlike and serious. Fans will be saying "This planet is defended" for years to come. R.T.D is a sly fox. It now looks very much as if he always intended Tennant to play the Doctor, but spotted that, by allowing Eccleston's off-the-wall re-invention to command the stage for one season, he would get to blow many of the cobwebs off the tired old format, and to relaunch the series twice in one year. I mean, honestly, when sitting down to watch "Rose", the TV event of the year, did anyone of us really think that nine months later, nine million of us would be watching an even bigger and more hyped re-relaunch?

Many of the 45 minute episodes have felt rushed: at 60 minutes, "The Christmas Invasion" felt developed and well-balanced. The story made a great deal of sense, although it suffered from a few examples of R.T.Ds trademarked lazy plotting -- there seemed to be no story-internal reason for the killer Santa's or killer Christmas tree -- they were in the story simply because they seemed like a good idea at the time. (The idea that the Doctor is literally revived by a cup of tea was amusing, but had no rational justification.) The papers, bless them, fixated on the idea that the story had a strong anti-war message, but compared with the in-your-face satire of "World War III" last year, it was almost imperceptible. The ground is laid, tantalisingly, for next years Torchwood spin-off without giving us any clues us to what it will be about, and we get to see UNIT without feeling that we are in the middle of a Continuity Reference For The Fans. (And no Brig. Shame.) R.T.D remains nervous about setting a story on what he calls "the planet Zog", but the alien space ship sequence was a as sci-fi as anything we've seen in the new series so far.

In retrospect, March - December now feels like a prolonged gestation period: with "The Christmas Invasion", the real Doctor is definitely back.



But why couldn't they have found some reason for him to say "Incidentally, a merry Christmas to all of you at home?"

47 comments:

Mike Taylor said...

Regarding the Doctor's being revived by a nice, hot cup of tea: R.T.D's letters (as edited by his grandson) indicate that the tea in this episode was a conscious symbol of the eucharistic wine. However, I felt that the production muffed this allusion by not having the Doctor belch after drinking it.

Gavin Burrows said...

[b] Aslan says:
The papers, bless them, fixated on the idea that the story had a strong anti-war message, but compared with the in-your-face satire of "World War III" last year, it was almost imperceptible.[/b]

My main fear was that it would just be a rehash of the Slithene episode, which had already been rehashed in the weak ‘Slithene in Swansea’ episode. But it was an original enough story, with the aliens (whatever they were called) distinct enough. I don’t normally like playing with the furniture like over the translation issue, you’re better off just accepting those conventions rather than coming up with wonky justifications for them, but I have to admit it actually worked well here. Having their alien rantings translated added to their menace, and suddenly breaking into English was a nice twist.

The Belgrano twist would have worked well if we hadn’t been so primed for it by the press. Ah well…

[b] Aslan says:

There seemed to be no story-internal reason for the killer Santa's or killer Christmas tree -- they were in the story simply because they seemed like a good idea at the time.[/b]


Well there’s something about them being scouts drawn to the energy the Doctor gives off through reincarnating. But as soon as the mothership arrives they forget all about him and just go into global domination mode. So it didn’t make much sense, really.

Oddly, the point I agree least is over the new Doctor, who didn’t seem all that distinct to me. Possibly I now see the whole thing as Russell T. Davis’ Dr. Who, so whoever actually wears the costume is secondary.

And this may age me… tho’ rarely these days under-age me, as it marks me as of the Tom Baker not a Jon Pertwee generation, but the Doctor wins through a swordfight? The fact that the Doctor’s a non-action hero seems rarer than ever these days, so all the more worth hanging onto.

Phil Masters said...

Doctor/Pertwee (I hate attempts at a numbering system - I lose track too easily, and am tempted to mutter "What number is Doctor/Cushing?") was an aikido expert - the stuntman responsible apparently reckoned that a passive, essentially defensive art was a good fit - but was highly averse to weapons. Even the aikido was indeed mostly dropped with other Doctors, though I recall Doctor/Tom-Baker for one both proving a crack shot with a crossbow and winning at least one fencing duel when pushed.

But I think that, at least from Doctor/Pertwee on, it's generally been accepted that the Doctor is omnicompetent, and that meant that he was a competent fighter when he wanted to be. The non-violent cool of the character was that he chose not to fight, not because he couldn't, but because it was a moral decision.

So I'd take it that the new incarnation accepting the need to fight when a whole planet was at stake - albeit without actually killing his opponent at first - is a sign that he's one of the more ruthless and active versions, but it doesn't compromise the essential ethos. (No more than Doctor/Ecclestone going after a dalek with a BFG, anyway.) If he makes more of a habit of it, there'll be more of an issue.

Charles Filson said...

I have only one thing to say:

Damn all you British and your Doctor hording ways!!!

;-)

Sylvia Drake said...

1) What Charles Filson said.

2) But can you ever quite trust this Doctor after seeing what he did to poor Barty Crouch Senior and the Longbottoms?

culfy said...

But why couldn't they have found some reason for him to say "Incidentally, a merry Christmas to all of you at home?"

Well, he did say merry christmas at the beginning, let's take what we can get.

In other news, the press are proudly publishing the story that the daleks are to return in the new season with the revelation that "this time they can climb stairs!"

Gavin Burrows said...

Phil Masters said:

The non-violent cool of the character was that he chose not to fight, not because he couldn't, but because it was a moral decision.


Agreed.

So I'd take it that the new incarnation accepting the need to fight when a whole planet was at stake - albeit without actually killing his opponent at first - is a sign that he's one of the more ruthless and active versions, but it doesn't compromise the essential ethos.

Doesn’t the Earth tend to be in mortal peril every week on Doctor Who? I sense some version of Star Trek’s Prime Directive going on here. “I’m firmly opposed to the use of violence, but on the other hand there’s only ten minutes left to wrap up the episode. Better dig out the broadsword.”

And the sparing your opponent’s life only for them to end it through their own misdeeds is a cliché of massive proportions.

(No more than Doctor/Ecclestone going after a dalek with a BFG, anyway.)

Well the point of that was that it was a mistake, wasn’t it? As Rose asks him, “What are you turning into?”

I should emphasise I’m not a diehard pacifist or anything. I’ve just got jaded by the sheer prevalence of ‘might makes right’ storylines, especially in the current political context.

Phil Masters said...

Doesn’t the Earth tend to be in mortal peril every week on Doctor Who?

Well, yes - but often in ways that the Doctor can resolve fairly non-violently...

I sense some version of Star Trek’s Prime Directive going on here. “I’m firmly opposed to the use of violence, but on the other hand there’s only ten minutes left to wrap up the episode. Better dig out the broadsword.”

This could be one of the dangers of the one-episode-storyline policy, certainly...

And the sparing your opponent’s life only for them to end it through their own misdeeds is a cliché of massive proportions.

Allowing oneself to worry about the presence of occasional cliches on something like Dr Who? could be a mistake.

NickPheas said...

Damn all you British and your Doctor hording ways!!!

Is this really our fault? It's been offered for sale, and I understand to be airing in most of the former colonies.

NickPheas said...

Is anyone else intreged by the way Andrew can rush something off about this, but still hasn't commented on the Narnia movie?

Still, largely agree with most of what's here. Nice to see UNIT apparently effective, even if the Ainsley Harriot style Brigadeer wasn't long for the world. Having gone to the expense of etching that glass presumably they'll be using it again.

Bit of a shame that the Father Christmas monsters had nothing to do with the Buffy monsters.

Tennant himself seemed to have the right mix of compassion and ruthlessnes. Not too sure about the demob suit as a costume, but RTD obviously doesn't want the garish CB style pantomime costumes.

Very promising for season 28, 1.5 thumbs for the special.

Gavin Burrows said...

I preferred Phil’s use of italics to mine of bold which gave the impression we were having a VERY SHOUTY debate, and shall endeavour to use them from this point on…

Ironically, as always happens to me I found this article by Alex Wilcock, ‘How Doctor Who Made Me a Liberal’, on Outpost Gallifrey. While I’d have to agree to disagree about that capitalized ‘L’, he makes some good points. I always make a hash of this link coding business but here goes…
link here

First he points out that the post-war series often has explicitly anti-pacifist storylines, esp. The Dead Planet. (Actually if not literally the first episode.) Alex doesn’t say so, but it’s essentially a parable about post-war Germany. The bad Nazi Daleks vs. the nice blonde Thals, who have nevertheless got too nice, too demilitarised and need reminding of a few basic social realities. They’re more specifically pro-interventionist than anti-pacifist, but they’re more than blissed-out Ghandianism.

As he puts it:

The Doctor is not a pacifist, but while caught in violent situations, he's not a man of violence - he tries to find other ways to resolve them, and doesn't possess a gun. As Human Nature (now on the BBC website) puts it, "There are monsters out there, yes. Terrible things. But you don't have to become one in order to defeat them. You can be peaceful in the face of their cruelty. You can win by being cleverer than they are... It's about not being afraid."

Hitler once said the greatest thing that could happen for the Nazis wasn’t that they would defeat their enemies, but that their enemies would become like them in order to fight them. That seems a watchword worth remembering.

To me, the Doctor reaching straight for the sword is a step too far. There should be at the very least some reluctance, some sense of having resorted to it when other plans had failed, some regret. (The Belgrano twist is obviously there partly to stop him getting too associated with violence.) Though as said, I’d feel less strongly about this if any other programme at all ever saw violence as something that could in the slightest be seen as problematic.

Gavin Burrows said...

Posting skills… deserting me!

By ‘ironically’, I meant the article summarized a lot of what I wanted to say but ironically I found it straight after my original post.

And by “they’re more specifically pro-interventionist” I meant the storylines in general, not just the Thals!

And even the confounded link didn’t work! If you want to follow it click on Features on the top menu bar , then look down the left-hand column ‘Feature Articles’.

Apologies for my 20th Century-ness!

Andrew Rilstone said...

Is anyone else intreged by the way Andrew can rush something off about this, but still hasn't commented on the Narnia movie?

It was Christmas. I was drunk.

LD said...

As far as the Doctor "going for the sword" is concerned, let's remember a few things. The Sycorax leader skeletonizes two people on screen for no real reason other than because he could (i.e., the Mars mission scientist asking for compassion and the UNIT fellow who lost it after that for how the Sycorax treated their prisoners). The Doctor obviously knew who the Sycorax were and what they were like, being familiar enough with their culture and rites to know about the challenge and so forth. I think one can assume that the Doctor was then familiar with their reputation.

Given all that, the Doctor chose a solution that accomplished his goal - get the invading force off of Earth - with the least amount of violence given his resources at the time. Thus the duel between him and the Sycorax leader. Remember how upset he was when Harriet Jones blew the ship up? The threat was over, and he'd dealt with it in the most expedient manner possible with the fewest casualties possible. Unlike Jones's solution which was expedient (once the ship wasn't parked over London) but totally anhiliated the threat and probably thousands of lives.

I was a bit surprised he went the route he did, but I don't think it's necessarily a sign of Doctor that's more violent or prone to bloodlust.

Gavin Burrows said...

LD said...
As far as the Doctor "going for the sword" is concerned, let's remember a few things. The Sycorax leader skeletonizes two people on screen for no real reason other than because he could


‘Skeletonises’ = great word.

But the bad guys doing something solely to demonstrate that they’re bad guys is a staple not only of Doctor Who but adventure genre fiction in general. Even the Cybermen had their “look at me I’m being evil” moments and they were supposed to be emotionless! It scarcely qualifies as “special circumstances”.

Phil Masters said...

The Doctor actually spent a few minutes calling the baddies' bluff on the blood control thing, saying hello to people, and generally being Doctor-ish, before he reached for the sword - and presumably established to his own satisfaction that the baddies weren't going to respond to pleas for reasonableness in that time. He also came across as still being somewhat hyper from the after-effects of regeneration.

It seems clear that he isn't going to be an angst-ridden Peter Davidson model, but I don't think that we have to assume that the series is slipping into gun-bunny land just yet. And while Doctor Who? has generally been less in favour of violence than many TV programmes, well, it's always had UNIT and K-9's blaster and Leela and scads of exploding daleks.

Anyhow... I think I like the suit and tie. The Doctor as a mod, a mere forty years too late, seems quite apposite.

Martin Wykes said...

I think what worried me most about the new Doctor personality was all that stuff he was saying about finding out what he was like - as a sort of "Oh yes, all these actions are very indicative of my new personality". It felt like there was an attempt to put a unique stamp on the new doctor by declaring his difference from Ecclestone's. None of that would be a problem except that it was all done in the context of his most violent stuff. I fear that the US enthusiansm for TV violence might make it just too tempting to move the Doctor away from his semi-pacifism. Personally I used to love the use of the Brigadier's enthusiasm for bowing things up as a foil for Pertwee's weird peaceful solutions. This time I just found the Belgrano moment was compeletely undermined by the fact that the Doctor had just cold-bloodedly killed someone with a tangerine. How can a killer take the moral high ground on killing?

Louise H. said...

This time I just found the Belgrano moment was compeletely undermined by the fact that the Doctor had just cold-bloodedly killed someone with a tangerine. How can a killer take the moral high ground on killing?

I tended to think of it the other way round; if the Doctor was a semi-pacifist then of course he would object to the destruction of the ship, but that wouldn't tell us anything new. The fact that he was willing to kill when necessary highlighted the nature of his difference of opinion with Harriet about where the line is drawn; you kill as a last resort rather than as a first line of defence. And the tangerine, though quirky, was clearly intended as a last resort.

Andrew Rilstone said...

Re. Violence.

It was an arena duel. I can think of, let me see, Sea Devils, Curse of Peladon, Androids of Tara, at least three previous occassions when the Doctor has fought a duel.

And he was in his pyjamas.

Charles Filson said...

Damn all you British and your Doctor hording ways!!!

Is this really our fault? It's been offered for sale, and I understand to be airing in most of the former colonies.


Yes, but knowing that doesn't make it any less painful.

Personally, and not having seen any of the new episodes, I like a flexible main character. An out and out violent character that solves every problem with a gun or sword is just lazy writing and audiances not demanding enough. On the other hand, pacifism isn't always practicable, and a story that had every problem being solved by some highly contrived solution that allowed the main character to win every time without being violent would be detached from reality and silly.
A story that required the main character to loose from time to time to remain pacifist, or one that required the pacifistic protagonist to become violent in order to prevent greater evil is interesting too.
So if the Doctor gets violent once in a while, it seems like a very good development. Especially if he agonizes over the need, or regrets it afterward. That would at least be a believable character.

I'm sure I could say something less obvious and more germaine if we former colonists could actually take part in our parent culture. ;-)

Gavin Burrows said...

I have to be honest and say I find some of these arguments a bit fannish, reading stuff into events that obviously isn’t there. I think I partly object to the swordfight for the laziness of the writing.

“Okay, ten minutes to wind up the episode in a way that’ll look dramatic and climactic. Howsabout a big swordfight?”

The ending of Empty Child was rushed too (well they were all rushed) but ultimately more satisfying.

Louise H said:

…you kill as a last resort rather than as a first line of defence.


This seems like a reasonable summary of the Doctor. He was never a pacifist, in fact as said earlier the series was interventionist (that’s the thing that makes the Doctor a renegade Time Lord) in a way that was implicitly anti-pacifist.

But I’d add that even when you kill you express regret.

Andrew Rilstone said...

It was an arena duel. I can think of, let me see, Sea Devils, Curse of Peladon, Androids of Tara, at least three previous occassions when the Doctor has fought a duel.


Can’t think when Androids of Tara was, but the other two were Jon Pertwee whereas I was Tom Baker generation. Anyway, wasn’t Pertwee’s swashbuckling ways the exception to the rule? at least up till now.

Jim Allan said...

"Androids of Tara" was a Tom Baker story, a transparent spoof of Anthony Hope's famous swashbuckling novel The Prisoner of Zenda.

For being violent in general, usually Colin Baker is given the prize, somewhat unfairly. When the chips were down, all versions of the Doctors were willing to deal death. The Tom Baker Doctor destroyed an unaware Rutan mothership in "The Horror of Fang Rock". The Sylvestor McCoy Doctor tricked Davros into destroying the Dalek planet of Skaro in "Remembrance of the Daleks".

Gavin Burrows said...

I have this regrettable habit of posting about something, then thinking to look it up, which is probably the post-modern equivalent of opening mouth before engaging brain. This is exactly what I did over Androids of Tara, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it anyway. (Sounds like it was after I left home and didn’t have a TV, but I’d been going off the later Baker episodes anyway.)

I think I’d compare the use of violence in Dr. Who to the use of power in Lord of the Rings. It’s not so much against the concept so much as seeks to make it problematic. (Stuff you’re forced to use for its positive effect, but then has inevitable but unwanted corollary negative effects.) Charles Filson is probably right that this makes for better drama as well as giving a more realistic view of the world.

… a story that had every problem being solved by some highly contrived solution that allowed the main character to win every time without being violent would be detached from reality and silly.


Yes, Asimov’s Foundation novels particularly suffer from this.

… Andrew Rilstone said...
It was an arena duel.


Sorry, but I don’t really get the distinction. A ritualized fight is still a fight.

Martyn said...

I'd like to chip in and say that I recall Doctor Peter using his kung fu skillz and wielding a gun at least once.

Martin Wykes said...

Gavin Burrows said of the Doctor:-

He was never a pacifist, in fact as said earlier the series was interventionist (that’s the thing that makes the Doctor a renegade Time Lord) in a way that was implicitly anti-pacifist.

I’m not sure I think of interventionism as anti-pacifist. I tend to take the Ghandi model, where non-violent intervention is a form of pacifism.

Charles Filson said:-

A story that had every problem being solved by some highly contrived solution that allowed the main character to win every time without being violent would be detached from reality and silly.

Actually it would be in danger of becoming boring in the same way that a story where the hero always follows the might-is-right strategy of Hollywood action movies usually becomes boring. Certainly a protagonist who is troubled or has complex motives is more interesting than a two-dimensional one. We’re talking about fiction, not morality.

Louise H said of the Doctor:-

You kill as a last resort rather than as a first line of defence.

Clearly in an action show even a three-dimensional character needs some sort of rules to govern his behaviour, and “kill as a last resort” is a popular motivation. It’s more interesting than the American rule which says you can kill anyone in hot blood (such as in a fight) but not in cold blood (such as after a fight). To me it’s what made the Tangerine killing shocking. The fight had already been won.

But were the doctor’s actions a last resort? It comes back to the fact that the audience know nothing about the aliens involved. If they’d been Daleks we’d have been happy with his actions because (i) we know they won’t compromise and (ii) they don’t look very human. Maybe the Sicorax were just as evil as Daleks. But on the other hand their big Blood Control weapon was a bluff so we’re left wondering just how dangerous they really are. Did the Doctor have to duel? Did he have to give his vanquished foe “No second chances”? Did he have to threaten the rest with being killed if they came back?

I’m not saying he should have made them all a cup of tea and had a nice little chat. The Doctor’s never been a Pacifist in any true sense. But he does have a more peaceful approach than your typical US TV hero. He’s always had a line to draw and his criticism of the PM was supposed to illustrate that. But without more information about the Sicorax to let us see his actions as a last resort he just comes across as a bit violent but not as violent as some people. Which is like justifying George Bush on the grounds that he’s not Hitler.

Gavin Burrows said...

Martin Wykes said:

I tend to take the Ghandi model, where non-violent intervention is a form of pacifism.


Ghandi’s ‘solution’ to the Nazis was for all the Jews to jump off the cliffs in order to make the Nazis feel gulity. (Not his exact words but the substance of what he said.)

So a Ghandian ending would involve 1/3 of the population waking up and then deciding to jump anyway, in case that proved some point to the Sycorax. Different, I’ll give you.

In itself I think the Belgrano thing worked OK. Hilary Jones (was that her name?) was established as such a good guy in her last appearance it makes for a nice twist, and a statement about the corruption of power. It’s the idea the Doctor’s behaviour can go unquestioned because she did something worse that I’m not so sure of.

Charles Filson said...

Which US TV heroes are you refering to, just for reference sake?

Would that be the Chance Harper variety from Strange Luck, the Gary Hobson variety from Early Edition, or Fox Mulder who rarely used his gun except as a last resort?

I think that you are painting with a very wide brush there, and you might be missing some of the finer details. There is one particular type of violent TV hero, but its certainly not the only version produced in America.

However, your overall point, that justifying by degrees is faulty, is well made. Galloway doesn't get a free pass just because he's not Chamberlain.

Andy said...

I just randomly came across your blog and LOVE it, I will be coming back to visit. Your plot synopsis of Die Walkure made me fall off my chair.

Gavin Burrows said...

Charles Filson said...

Would that be the Chance Harper variety from Strange Luck, the Gary Hobson variety from Early Edition, or Fox Mulder who rarely used his gun except as a last resort?

I think that you are painting with a very wide brush there, and you might be missing some of the finer details. There is one particular type of violent TV hero, but its certainly not the only version produced in America.


I was about to suggest that we were talking specifically about Hollywood, but then realized where there’s one point where Martin mentioned “the US enthusiansm for TV violence”. So for once I thought before posting! (And to think it started out as an ordinary day.)

Only ever heard of Fox Mulder from your examples above, and I agree he wasn’t a might-makes-right sort of character. (Tho’ I never enjoyed the X Files much, that was for other reasons.) I happened to see Sin City and the Dalek! episode within a short time of each other, and was struck by the difference between them. In Sin City it seemed the heroes could do the same things as the villains and it didn’t matter, because They Were The Heroes. In Dalek!, being the good guy isn’t seen as automatic or easy.

Nevertheless, while obviously I wouldn’t want to suggest that all American fiction follows model A and all British fiction follows model B, there’s a commonplace in American fiction where the hero’s use of violence establishes him as the hero. This is perhaps something of a generational thing as, along with so much else, British culture is becoming much more Americanised. (The new Doctor Who being a prime example.)

Accepted this is “painting with broad strokes” and there are probably many exceptions to the rule!

Martin Wykes said...

Gavin Burrows said:-

Ghandi’s ‘solution’ to the Nazis was for all the Jews to jump off the cliffs in order to make the Nazis feel gulity. (Not his exact words but the substance of what he said.) So a Ghandian ending would involve 1/3 of the population waking up and then deciding to jump anyway, in case that proved some point to the Sycorax. Different, I’ll give you.

Hey, I quite like the sound of this “Ghandi Saves the Galaxy” thing. Our bespectacled hero bravely lies down in front of the evil oncoming giant robot walkers and... oh dear, it’s getting rather Pythonesque now. Actually the Ghandi method is based on a couple of assumptions. It was honed on the British Empire and requires that (i) you’re a member or subject of the society you’re protesting against and (ii) that society is embarassable. It’s rather like the direct action non-violent protests that we undertake in our society today. Consequently it’s probably not the most effective method against Daleks, or come to that Nazis. I remember a Red Dwarf parody of this where the idea was floated of opposing a big slavering monster with a T-shirt campaign.

But in the Chrismas Doctor Who the Doctor (when he finally woke up) did start off in classic non-violent mode. He exposed the bluff of the Blood Control and then offered himself as sacrifice (albeit in a duel). But then to raise the tension he won the duel simply by being a better fighter, then killed his opponent, then threatened the rest with the same fate. There are better, more imaginative ways of raising the tension than this and Doctor Who usually uses them. It seemed a rather cheap way to achieve the dramatic effect.


Charles Filson Said:-

Which US TV heroes are you refering to, just for reference sake? Would that be the Chance Harper variety from Strange Luck, the Gary Hobson variety from Early Edition, or Fox Mulder who rarely used his gun except as a last resort?

Fox Mulder wasn't a violent protagonist because The X-Files was a horror show not an action show. Horror requires very powerful monsters and weak protagonists who cannot win through violence, instead having to survive on their wits. Nevertheless there have been many action shows from the US with violent protagonists, some of them pretending to be horror.

In Britain Channel 4 had to give up broadcasting Angel because they had to cut about ten minutes of violence from every episode and it became incomprehensible. Buffy the Vampire Slayer has never been shy of slaying Vampires (but that’s alright because they’re all evil). And US Space opera has produced lots of violent protagonists. Not so much Star Trek who are hide-bound by their rules. But Andromeda, Farscape, Stargate... They all take the rest of the galaxy to be the Wild West where gun law applies. Much as the Bush admimistration regards the rest of the world.

Charles Filson said...

I have this theory. I think that the 'culture' that everybody claims is American, and accuses us of exporting to the world, is simply 'modern culture' or 'post-cultural'. We are as much a victim of it as anybody else. America was just the first to be infected. (Well maybe Japan.)

My point is that Britain isn't becoming more American. It is becoming more post-cultural.

I don't think that traditional American Heroes are any more violent than any other. But the archetype of the violent hero who solves problems by just being that strac is the easiest bilge to turn out.

The traditional American hero is the regular guy who has something extraordinary happen to him. He is in way over his head, and gets out because of his morality or pluck.? The super-hero is the exception, and even most super-heroes are in over their heads with even bigger and nastier villains. They are only saved by their self-sacrifice and morality.
Think of Spider-man here. Think super-man. Think Indiana Jones. Indiana Jones uses violence from time to time, but it never really works out. He looses through his violence, he wins by respecting the culture of the creators of the artifacts.

Early Edition was about a guy who got the newspaper a day early. Then he'd go and try to stop all the bad stuff. He was generally in way over his head, scared, and the nicest guy you ever want to meet. He flat out refused to use the stock quotes or the sports results to make money, just because it was wrong. Great show. Absolutely non-violent. Similar story for strange luck. The protagonist had this amazing luck, but wouldn't play the lotto except to make enough money for breakfast. He instead used his luck to help people.

"With great power comes great responsibility"

These boyish nice-guys are closer to the thoughtful American ideal of a Hero than are the people in Sin-city. There are plenty of other examples, but those shows don't get exported because of a lack of an audience.

When Gaiman wrote Neverwhere he was drawing on this very American archetype for his Hero. The guy the BBC found to play the role even

We've certainly borrowed the Robin-hood style anti-hero from our Parent culture, and this is what you find an over-the-top version of in Sin city, (which I hated BTW, loathed, can't say enough against it.) but the classic American hero is a moral underdog.

Charles Filson said...

Martin,

I think that you have begun with what you want US Culture to be and then worked backward from there.

You site only a very specific type of show: the space opera. You exclude Star Trek, the most popular, exactly because it is nuanced and against your point. You include Farscape, which while written by an American was produced in New Zeland, and had mostly Australian or New Zeland writers, cast and crew. And you also quote only cable television shows that have less than a 15 share in any market, but are easily exportable becuase of demand for that type of show. The one exception is Buffy which I will certainly grant you along with every other bit of Joss television.

What I have listed are real network TV science fiction shows that were aired during prime time: Strange Luck, Early Edition, X-Files (Which was not horror), and I could add others, such as sliders and a Sci-Fi short story series that I wish somebody could remeber the name of but I can't.

There are obviously both types. But the issue is that this is not 'the evil US has this one unnuanced violent charater archetype, but good nuanced Britain has nice non-violent science fiction.

Gavin Burrows said...

Charles Filson said:
… the issue is that this is not 'the evil US has this one unnuanced violent charater archetype, but good nuanced Britain has nice non-violent science fiction.’

That much I agree with. I’m wondering if this debate has taken on that form where both sides adopt positions opposite to each other, which is great for perpetuating the debate but means it has less and less to do with reality. To suggest there’s one heroic character type in Britain would be simplistic, let alone a country as vast and multicultural as America.

Charles Filson said:

I have this theory. I think that the 'culture' that everybody claims is American, and accuses us of exporting to the world, is simply 'modern culture' or 'post-cultural'. We are as much a victim of it as anybody else. America was just the first to be infected. (Well maybe Japan.)

I don’t mean this as harshly as it may sound, but is ‘theory’ the right word for what you’re doing here? It sounds more like conjecture to me. What would be the cause or origin of ‘modern culture’ if not the main country it’s coming out of? Why would it be ‘post-cultural’? Perhaps it’s just that you’re not explaining or developing your theory enough, but I can’t currently find the substance in what you mean. A cyncial soul might even suggest it’s a device to eject all the aspects of American culture you don’t like, and make them the world’s problem.

Martin Wykes said:

Andromeda, Farscape, Stargate... They all take the rest of the galaxy to be the Wild West where gun law applies. Much as the Bush admimistration regards the rest of the world.

I realise it’s kind of fashionable in European thought to see the Bush regime as the ‘true’ face of America, the point where the mask slipped etc. However, I find it a little odd when often the same people make so much of Bush stealing the show in (at least) the first election. If he’s the true face of America, why did he (or more accurately Jeb) have to rig the count?

I’m influenced more by Speigelman’s In The Shadow of No Towers, with his vision of a ‘red’ and a ‘blue’ America at war with each other. I see the Bush regime as exposing the divisions between different Americas. If it’s exposing a true face it’s one that’s schizoid, cracked. I think we need a more sophisticated analysis of American popular culture than ‘the bully’, even if that’s what their current government’s stance is.

All this is getting a long way from Doctor Who…

Charles Filson said...

Gavin,

Yes, I am using short hand here when I talk about 'my theory', though conjecture may be a better word. But it's not an excuse to eject all that I don't like.

There are many things that I don't like that are definately part of American culture. Amoung them is a need to define ourselves as the underdog. This fits in nicely with the type of archetype that I spoke of before. This need to define ourselves as an underdog, makes us seek enemies who we have to struggle against. This is definately American and unhealthy. We always need a 'Red Menace' to be who we want to be.

What I am talking about is something different. My idea in a nutshell seeks to explain why this pervasive culture which nobody seems to like takes such deep roots wherever it goes. I can find fast-food, McDonalds, and strip malls (or something very close to it) in every corner of the world. Even in America this 'thing' chokes out the pre-existing culture. (See: _What's eating Gilbert Grape_)

My 'theory' is that this is what happens when many cultures try to mesh. I hypothesize that any time you get a few dozen cultures all interacting, you won't get a diverse mosaic, but instead you will get a grey mash of the easiest and simplest parts of each. Any nuance will be lost.

This is how it applies to the discussion above. You take one-part Robin Hood who reluctantly steals to right an injustice, add a blend of the Asian hero who has to be the supreme combatant before laying down his arms, mix in the brash American gunfighter who can take care of justice on his own, and you end up with the lazy Hero who can do whatever he wants for pretty much any reason. This isn't an American archetype. It's what sells movies to the demographic that has the most time on their hands to spend in movie theators.

Take the Lord of the Rings. Wonderful piece of art belonging to the British. When you export it in movie form into the US (granted with the aid of NZ, and Hollywood), it goes from poetic beauty to what will appeal to mass audiances. "I am no man." and Aragorn playing the role of Kevin Costner.

You get the LCD. You get the grey mash that everybody enjoys but is somehow lacking something.

The American burger joint doesn't vaguely resemble McDo's, but McDonald's is what you get when you try to make a one size fits all for the Highway side, and the city center, and the suburb. It appeals in the home of Burger Joints along the highways of America, and in the Center of New York, and in Paris. (Sadly)

So anyway, that's not the whole of it, but should give you some idea of where my conjecture came from.

To relate it all back to Doctor Who, I really hope that the BBC doesn't try to make Doctor Who a project of mass appeal. If that means I have to wait 5 years to catch reruns on BBC America, then so be it. I would rather have Doctor Who be very much 'other' to me than to have him become the gray mash of the everyman.

Gavin Burrows said...

Charles Filson said...
My 'theory' is that this is what happens when many cultures try to mesh. I hypothesize that any time you get a few dozen cultures all interacting, you won't get a diverse mosaic, but instead you will get a grey mash of the easiest and simplest parts of each. Any nuance will be lost.


Thanks for the clarification, Charles. Now I think I get you! In a nutshell, when two or more cultures collide you get the lowest common denominator, yes? Not both but a sort of neither.

Maybe it’s because of the context we’re talking about this in, but it reminds me of the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel – with it’s moral that it’s an intrinsically bad idea for human cultures to try and unite or overlap, that we should accept our limitations and stay divided.

While I can see what you mean, I think I still take the opposite approach. I remember the early Patti Smith album where she talks about how the Tower of Babel story was the very thing that put her off the Bible, that she could never understand how God could want to set such limits on the people he created.

You could argue internet boards and journals such as these are a microcosm of cultural overlap. Certainly the general standard of debate in such places tends to be low (tho’ the air turning blue seems more common than all going grey), but I don’t think of that as something that inevitably happens – and I try to haunt the corners of the net where that happens least, where the mosaic is at it’s most diverse.

I know many people who are opposed… quite often actively opposed… to globalisation. While I can see their point, I can only reply that I’m in favour of globalisation. I’m against petty nationalism and xenophobia, I’m in favour of shared knowledge and open minds.

Charles Filson then went on to say...
The American burger joint doesn't vaguely resemble McDo's, but McDonald's is what you get when you try to make a one size fits all for the Highway side, and the city center, and the suburb. It appeals in the home of Burger Joints along the highways of America, and in the Center of New York, and in Paris. (Sadly)


This strikes the nail on the head for me. I think homogenisation is only what you get when the main globalising force is corporate capitalism, where everything has to be boiled down to something that can be standardised and then mass-produced. (Be it a McDonalds burger bar or a movie storyline.) But I’m optimistic enough to not see corporate capitalism as the only or the inevitable globalising force.

Finally, while we can talk of “cultures meshing” we should remember this isn’t happening on a level playing field. Narrow anti-Americanism is absurd and reductive of course, but America or Europe are going to have a bigger influence over the shade of grey in the resultant mush than, say, Africa.

Charles Filson said...

Gavin,

I think you understand my thoughts but misunderstand my intent.

I favor Globalization and believe that cultures should mesh and inevitably will mesh, or mash. The natural tendency of this is to reduce everything to the lowest common denominator.

My purpose for considering this is simply to wonder why what comes out of that meshing is distasteful to almost everybody.

Gavin Said:

I think homogenisation is only what you get when the main globalising force is corporate capitalism


I would disagree. Social Oligarchy tendy to squash culture. Social feudalism or Socially Democracies that seek to avoid all offense, squash culture into a grey mash. I recently ranted here that my children can no longer celebrate Halloween at school, becuase Halloween offends some people's culture. My city has stopped their Halloween parade after protests by some folks. This Mexican influenced celebration (our Halloween celebrations borrow heavily from El Dia de los Muertos) is not being replaced by one more representative of the current culture, instead it is being replaced by nothing. Gray Mash.

And incidentally, I have a slightly different understanding of the story of bable from the bible. I took it as first a legendary story of how people ended up speaking different languages, like the Native American tale of how the Loon got its necklas, and secondly as a moralistic tale, but one about the futility of trying to be a God. The people all got together and tried to do something monumentally stupid: build a zigarot all the way to heaven.

Martin Wykes said...

Charles Filson said...

I favor Globalization and believe that cultures should mesh and inevitably will mesh, or mash. The natural tendency of this is to reduce everything to the lowest common denominator. My purpose for considering this is simply to wonder why what comes out of that meshing is distasteful to almost everybody.

I remember starting all this off by talking about TV violence. It occurs to me that we seem implicitly to be talking about TV violence as a form of this lowest common denominator. Charles mentioned that the violent US TV shows I cited are "only cable television shows that have less than a 15% share in any market, but are easily exportable becuase of demand for that type of show". I was thinking also of the BBC's "Rome" made with extra violence so it can be sold to HBO. So Americans make violent shows primarily for export to Britain and the British make violent shows primarily for export to America. And I guess that from Asia we import Chop-Socky films and Samurai movies more readily than kitchen sink dramas.

Perhaps it's all a result of the fact that violence is more easily divorced from its language and cultural context than many other things can be. It's like the icons that have replaced labels on modern household electronics. Violence is the new Esperanto.

PS: I was interested that Charles doesn't think of "The X-Files" as horror. I'd like to ask Charles what his definition of horror is. I'd always thought of "The X-Files" as horror because:-

(i) It has monsters too strong to be killed by the weak protagonists.
(ii) It takes pains not to be explicitly unreal (eg: monster only seen by madman in shack - horror; monster seen on TV news - science fiction)
(iii) It scares me.

Charles Filson said...

Perhaps it's all a result of the fact that violence is more easily divorced from its language and cultural context than many other things can be. It's like the icons that have replaced labels on modern household electronics. Violence is the new Esperanto.

This is very insightful. Bravo you. I think you might have nailed it here. A Chinese hero who solves his problems by forcing his opponent to choose between issues of face would be incomprehesible to almost anybody else. Sex is mostly exportable.

X-Files: I suppose some episodes could be horror. I don't like horror. Horror to me requires a feeling of the inevitability of the victory of the monster, even though the monster won't win in the end. Mulder on the other hand was unflappable, and there were also many episodes where it turns out that the potential monsters weren't monsters at all. (Loved the cockroaches episode: "Bambi? Her name is Bambi?" - Scully) There were many episodes that were actually quite sweet; others that were pure science fiction. Some were comedy. Some were suspence. Some were conspiracy.
In the end, I think that the central theme of X-Files was Scientific speculation, making it science fiction.

Phil Masters said...

In the end, I think that the central theme of X-Files was Scientific speculation, making it science fiction.

I'm going to query this, mostly because I have a significant allergy to The X-Files...

I suppose that it was science fiction of a sort, quite a lot of the time - but the speculative element was, well, skimpy. The best one might say is that it had a certain Fortean sense that the world was not only stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we can imagine, and that the only defensible approach to reality was a completely open mind (as in "so completely open that the contents keep falling out, and anything can get in"). The worst is that it was a bunch of paranoid ramblings based on the theory that They are out to get us, rationalism is stupid, and tinfoil hats are probably a good idea. Certainly, Scully, the protagonist who was a rationalist sceptical scientist, was depicted as deeply stupid, persistently failing to accept her partner's uncanny ability to locate and analyse authentic and demonstrable weird stuff.

It was also deeply, though only intermittently, superstitionist. Mostly, Mulder was the believer, Scully the sceptic - but the moment that the mystery of the week turned out to involve something actually supernatural, as in "angels and demons and the power of God", Mulder would turn hardcore sceptic, and Scully would frown and accept and recover her cradle Catholicism and trot off to confession. In other words, religion (of a horror-movie sort) was the one bit of irrationalism that a "smart" rationalist could instantly accept, while Mulder, for all his insight, was lost without help until, somewhere in the last episode, he began to buy the line that our only line of defence against the Greys and the evil men from the government was the Big Beard In The Sky.

In other words, in the end, I think that it was actually antiscience fiction.

Gavin Burrows said...

Charles Filson said:
I favor Globalization and believe that cultures should mesh and inevitably will mesh, or mash. The natural tendency of this is to reduce everything to the lowest common denominator.

My purpose for considering this is simply to wonder why what comes out of that meshing is distasteful to almost everybody.


Nope, sorry, you have lost me! You mean it should in theory be good but is working out bad in practise? It’s bad but inevitable?

Also a bit confused by the “almost everybody”. Almost everybody I see is queueing in McDonalds or Starbucks in their Gap clothing. Of course you could argue such branding creates needs without ever satisfying them, but I don’t see the majority of people finding it “distasteful”.

Martin Wykes said:
It's like the icons that have replaced labels on modern household electronics. Violence is the new Esperanto.


Of course both Esperanto and the origins of those iconic labels were seen by the ‘left’ as positive, unifying forces. (The Neuwirths who devised them were deemed subversives by the Nazis, had to flee the occupied territories and were then interned here in Britain!)

It always feels weird to me such things are now seen as part of some homogenising conspiracy.

Martin Wykes said:
Perhaps it's all a result of the fact that violence is more easily divorced from its language and cultural context than many other things can be.

Charles Filson then added:

Sex is mostly exportable.


All this is true up to a point. But (with my Fouceaulian hat on) I don’t really see sexuality as universal. While I tend to suspect that everybody everywhere does it, it takes different forms. To take an obvious example, the Indian idea of a sexy girl is a slightly tubby one wheras we have Posh Spice and Kate Moss. Or in King Kong we’re not supposed to question why a great ape would have a thing for blondes. (A feature that’s even emphasised in the remake!)

It’s double-edged. Sex is used as a lowest common denominator to sell. But there’s a myriad forms of sexuality out there that get trampled on to make that denominator. It’s constructed, not found.

Similarly with violence, a simple movie fight probaby has a myriad of ‘meanings’ encoded in it.

The X Files? Never could stand it. Nothing ever bloody happened, did it?

Charles Filson said...

Nope, sorry, you have lost me! You mean it should in theory be good but is working out bad in practise? It’s bad but inevitable?


I'm not suggesting a course of action. I think it's an inevitable bad thing. The alternative is worse. Trying to stop it would cause 'bad things' to happen.

X-Files: I liked the exfiles best when it was poking fun at itself. The Origin's episode where Mulder is doused with a chemical that causes people to have long term paranoid delusions. That episode turned the whole series into a sort of lovecraftian story; you never know whether the story teller is telling of events that actually happened or is going mad, or both.

While I tend to suspect that everybody everywhere does it, it takes different forms. To take an obvious example, the Indian idea of a sexy girl is a slightly tubby one wheras we have Posh Spice and Kate Moss.

Tubby like Aishwarya Rai or
Katrina Kaif or Neha Dhupia or Lara Dutta or Ashanti?

I'm not totally disagreeing, but elements of sexuality are exportable. Maybe violence is more so.

It’s double-edged. Sex is used as a lowest common denominator to sell. But there’s a myriad forms of sexuality out there that get trampled on to make that denominator. It’s constructed, not found.

And this is exactly my original point. The sloppy violent solution is the only solution movie Hero is not American. It's a perversion or a boiling down of the American archetypes into what is easily exportable. It perverts and delutes both the American archetypes and the archetypes it encounterss. It isn't 'American' it's 'post-cultural'.

Phil Masters said...

Tubby like Aishwarya Rai or
Katrina Kaif or Neha Dhupia or Lara Dutta or Ashanti?


...Does quick Google Image search...
...Gets mildly distracted for five minutes...

I think that the mildly interesting thing here is that the Indian media industry has realised that, funnily enough, there's a profitable international market in female attractiveness - and is exploiting it fairly deftly. From what I've read, there's a small-scale industry over there efficiently cranking out Miss World winners.

The Indian women who get into the international modelling/movie business may or may not be exactly the same as the ones who'd have made it big in a purely domestic Indian media system. I dunno. But it's conceivable that Indian standards of attractiveness are shifting towards an international standard, away from a local pattern.

Speaking as a heterosexual Western male, of course, I'm not sure how much enthusiasm I can muster to complain. (And actually, that lot of movie stars still seem to be appealingly shapely, rather than worryingly anorexic like the misses Beckham and Moss.)

Gavin Burrows said...

Charles Filson said...
I'm not suggesting a course of action. I think it's an inevitable bad thing. The alternative is worse. Trying to stop it would cause 'bad things' to happen.


Not quite sure what the Lovecraftianly nameless ‘bad things’ you mention are, but this seems to be the nub of our disagreement. Normally in history, even in cases of straighforward conquest, two cultures have gone into some sort of synergy and produced something new and unexpected. Indian influence on Britain. The way America isn’t just European culture transplanted etc.

I see the problem as being much more down to the capitalist form of mass-production that requires standardisation. And even that has counter-tendencies. Micro-production or production on demand are now much more feasible. Also, I’m suspicious of the simplistic ‘global village’ view of the internet, but I don’t think it’s merely reinforcing standardisation either.

On a wider level, if this is something inevitable why focus on the empty and not the full half of the glass of water?

Phil Masters said...
...Does quick Google Image search...
...Gets mildly distracted for five minutes...


You and me both.

The Indian women who get into the international modelling/movie business may or may not be exactly the same as the ones who'd have made it big in a purely domestic Indian media system. I dunno. But it's conceivable that Indian standards of attractiveness are shifting towards an international standard, away from a local pattern.

I don’t know that Charles is arguing against himself here, really. Of course there are probably the domestic reasons for the Indian model of attractiveness there’d be anywhere - a growing middle class, abundance of food on demand etc – that turns the picture of health and beauty from well-fed to nice and slim. But I’m betting that the dominant force here has been the bombardment of images of Western skinny girls, which have the associations of ‘coolness’.

I suspect, though, that instead of disagreeing we’re painting different halves of the same picture. Unless Charles is arguing there’s no influence from Western culture onto the new emerging ‘global culture’ (which would be a fairly absolutist position), the only thing left is to argue about the relative proportions.

And actually, that lot of movie stars still seem to be appealingly shapely, rather than worryingly anorexic like the misses Beckham and Moss.

Well the ‘old’ curvier Kate Winslett looked better to me for boyish voyeuristic reasons alone. But dragging the tone of debate down and back to Dr. Who simultaneously, give me Beckham, Moss or Tara Parker Tompkinson over that old tubby Billie Piper any day of the week. (But then I was of the Leela generation.)

Charles Filson said...

I don't think that I could still be considered sane and argue that there is no western influence in a former british colony. :-\

There is also a huge amount of influence by a culture that has taken root in America on Indian culture.

But what I am suggesting is that these changes are not neccessarily due to contact with the West, but instead the natural outcome of adopting the socio-economic conditions that come with being a part of the developed world.

Thin women might be the result of the plentiful food, as Gavin(?) said, that result from a capital driven economy.

Lovecraftian: This was in reference to the X-Files.

'Bad Things': Ahhh...thinking...economic collapse, Starvation, The start of scary revolutionary groups that do a lot of harm while fighting against globalization, cultural balkanization leading to immoral descrimination and persecution. Stuff like that. Better perhaps to accept the gray mash and the dilution of culture that comes with it. Better to accept that Japanese film and french film, and Indian film is all starting to look an aweful lot like Hollywood.

Gavin Burrows said...

Charles Filson said...
But what I am suggesting is that these changes are not neccessarily due to contact with the West, but instead the natural outcome of adopting the socio-economic conditions that come with being a part of the developed world.


I think we’re back to the which-way-is-up argument but… It’s a huge thing for people in 3rd world countries (or ‘emerging economies’) to want to be Western – to be slim, sing rap songs, wear baseball caps backwards and all the rest. (By a nice irony the main direct contact these kids have with the West is probably hippy backpackers trying to escape all that!)

Charles Filson said...
'Bad Things': Ahhh...thinking...economic collapse, Starvation, The start of scary revolutionary groups that do a lot of harm while fighting against globalization, cultural balkanization leading to immoral descrimination and persecution. Stuff like that. Better perhaps to accept the gray mash and the dilution of culture that comes with it.


Sometimes I impose a crude but kind of handy trilateral model on the modern world. There’s corporate homogenous globalisation vs. the various kinds of fundamentalism (Bush’s, Bin Laden’s, ‘secular’ fundamentalisms like anti-asylum seekers and other xenophobic scares) vs. kaleidescopic polymorphous globalisation. French rap is rap, but stills sounds completely and utterly French. Seattle-style anti ‘globalisation’ protests are often remarked on as examples of globalisation, usually as a criticism but I would see that positively.

If you say there seems to be less of this than the first two I’d agree, but it seems to me to be only positive option.

X-Files ref, maybe the Greys stand for the ‘grey mash’… umm, maybe not.

Alex Wilcock said...

I've just found this, long after everyone else stopped looking, of course, but I've only just started blogging and catching up on some of the more interesting ones out here, so I enjoyed finding this one and its moral discussions.

I'm still torn between finding the Doctor's duel exciting and too-easy, but Mr Tennant was still, for me, fantastic in the way he stole the whole show (back) from the moment he finally woke up. And I don't believe a rational explanation for tea was entirely necessary...

Incidentally, while the press and fan opinion alike have argued over the morality of Harriet blowing up the retreating ship as a 'Belgrano moment', two other parallels struck me.

First, it's another of Russell's charming homages to Doctor Who's Season 12. Season 2005 featured a day-after-tomorrow story with lots of military running about and a lone indestructible robot thing with emotional issues who fixes on the plucky but compassionate companion, then went off into the far future with a new male companion who the Doctor rapidly gets annoyed with. Emerging from the TARDIS, the Doctor identifies all the technology, pointing out it’s a human space station and facts about the time period, while the established companion notices the key environmental factor and gets ignored. Then the sets all get redressed and reused when a Doctor, girl and boy companion team returns to the station in a different time period for the season’s closing battle against famous returning monsters who everyone had thought extinct.

The Christmas Invasion suggests Russell may have the same problem with the end of The Ark in Space that I do, despite his obvious love of the story – doesn’t Harriet Jones, High Minister, get slapped down for doing pretty much exactly what Noah does at the end and blow up the ‘alien threat’ as they’re running away? I always found that an unpleasant and un-Who-ish ending, though admittedly the ‘self-sacrifice’ element made the 1975 version much less clear-cut.

Anyway, that went on rather too much, didn't it, so I'll say very quickly that the more modern parallel that Harriet’s action is a Tony Martin-a-like ‘shoot them in the back when they’re running away’ piece of unnecessary and cowardly revenge.

I don't know which of the three parallels was the 'most' intended, but I wouldn't be surprised if all three were at least in Russell's mind.

Oh, and thanks to Gavin Burrows for the namecheck on my ‘How Doctor Who Made Me a Liberal’ article, though I think it was perfectly reasonable to capitalise the 'L'; evidently, it describes me, not the Doctor, and I'm a big one ;-)

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little said...

Gahhhh!!!!!

I am in the US. I only Just Now got to see "The Parting Of The Ways".

And I hear that there is STILL no word on when Season 2 is coming to the SciFi Channel.

I repeate: Gahhhhh!!!

I am being very, very good and not reading this blog entry or your eps 1-3 review.

But. But butbutbutbut but.

GAHHHHH!!!

...Isn't anyone bootlegging this stuff?