Friday, November 23, 2007

Thought for the Day

Do I have the right? Simply touch one wire against the other and that's it - the Daleks cease to exist. Hundreds of millions of people, thousands of generations, can live without fear, in peace, and never even know the word Dalek. But if I kill, wipe out a whole intelligent life form, then I become like them. I'd be no better than the Daleks.


  1. Of course, then the Dalek comes along and runs over the two wires and the lab blows up anyway. So who knows what it all means. Perhaps that the Doctor has a liking for needless dramatics?

  2. Good god, sir, I do believe you are right. TV space operas sometimes present simplistic solutions to complex moral dilemmas. Why have I never spotted that before?

  3. Funny, I watched Genesis of the Daleks the other day.

    I shocked my housemate by saying I'd have just killed them. She thought I was such a nice pacifist lefty.

  4. Genesis Of The Daleks is pretty much like the Book of Job in that way - its great flaw is that it can't answer the argument it brings up, but its great strength is that it at least does bring it up at all...

  5. Yes, yes, all well and good, but this is still not resulting in your much overdue response to the third season of new Doctor Who making an appearance on this blog.

  6. Genesis Of The Daleks is pretty much like the Book of Job in that way - its great flaw is that it can't answer the argument it brings up, but its great strength is that it at least does bring it up at all..

    Good point well made, Mr Hickey. The story needs this moment or else it risks running close to Monty Python’s Art of Llap Goch – the one where you defeat your enemy before they’ve even thought of attacking you. But it’s ‘solution’ isn’t so far from those detective movies, where the hero says “no matter what you’ve done I’m taking you in for trial” only to have the villain slip off the rooftop.

    Oddly, I was parallel-blogging about Nation’s first ever Dalek story. (Click my name if you think you may be interested.) There he seems to take something on the chin he avoids in Genesis. The use of violence is presented paradoxically, a terrible curse but also sometimes your only option. To paraphrase Churchill, war is sometimes the worst option apart from all the others.

  7. Har har, Rilstone... though I admit I deserved it. The thing I find weird about Genesis, though, is that despite the lab blowing up it does not wipe the daleks from history.

    The whole circumventing a moral dilemma, though, is something that the new series does a little too much - and I probably like the new series more than you do given the opinions of it you've expressed in the past.

    'The Parting of the Ways' has the rather literal deus ex machina saving the universe from the Doctor's sudden pacifism, while much the same thing in 'Boomtown' stops the Doctor from realising that the moral dilemma is entirely of his own making - how are "turn serial killer loose" and "have serial killer tortured to death" the only two options available?

  8. But... it does answer the question it brings up: the Doctor decides that he was stupid and of course he should destroy the Daleks, and goes back to the incubator room to do just that.

    The Dalek that sets off the explosion then chases him away and (irony of ironies!) set off the explosion itself -- but the Doctor was going to do that anyway.

    So it's not an easy way of getting the Doctor out without him having to resolve the dilemma, because he's already resolved to destroy the Daleks.

    (Unless I'm misremembering, it's a long time since I watched my old VHS copy).

  9. Salisbury: Especially in light of the latest news, is there anything to add to what is still the most insightful analisys of new Doctor Who published anywhere?

  10. SK said...
    Unless I'm misremembering…

    In a choice between myself and anyone else misremembering, it will be me misremembering. Even if the debate is about my own name.

    Doesn’t the way this dilemma is presented put a bit of a spin on things? It’s really a dressing-up of the old saw ‘could you kill Hitler when he was just a
    baby’, isn’t it? That was probably originally intended as a way of asking whether it could be justified to kill someone who was then an innocent, if it prevented them committing future crimes. (The sort of thing Minority Report goes into.)

    But what a lot of people hear when it’s said is an ethics vs aesthetics debate. Could you do something distasteful if it ended up in a positive result? Even if it was something so distasteful as to kill a baby? In which case, making the ‘baby’ a green globby tentacled thing which grabs you round the face… that kind of weights things, doesn’t it?

    PS I do like this scene really, for all my attempts to pull it apart!

  11. sk:

    I think it's the essay you point to--and others--that leaves me hoping the season x3 one might someday appear.

  12. Am I the only person who never thought that scene was so amayzinly wunnerfull?

    I mean, fine, the Doctor is a highly ethical hero. Great. Admirable. But he's got this far, he's set the bomb, everyone's lives are on the line... And then he starts ethics-wanking about whether he's got the right to finish the job. That's some way past the point where "ethical hero" tips over the line into "pompous berk".

    It just looked like the writer feeling obliged to ramp up the tension in an artificial fashion by having the main character flaunt his well-established qualities at the wrong moment.

  13. My seven-year-old asked, rather crankily, "Hurry up and finish watching 'Genocide of the Daleks' so I can put a new episode in the DVD player." Out of the...


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