Social Responsibility in Doctor Who

capaldiA few months ago, I took a course entitled Social Responsibility in Business.  Sounds exciting?  Not so much, but it was interesting.  We had to look at the social responsibility of a tobacco company.  I’m very anti-cigarette, so I knew this would be interesting.  But then I started to learn about the role the tobacco companies play in their respective environments, how they took social responsibility seriously and gave back to the community.  What a wake-up call!  I learned a lot about what ITC, the Imperial Tobacco Company of India, does for their community.  Without re-writing my final paper here, suffice to say, I was truly surprised that even a company that creates such a heinous product as cigarettes, can contribute to the greater good of a community.  But it makes me wonder: if a company that can produce a cancer causing agent like cigarettes can be held to certain standards, why is the media free to say and do whatever it wants?  Look at it this way: a child cannot go to the store and buy cigarettes.  If the child is too young, he or she can’t even get to the store.  Older children would have their IDs checked nowadays.  But TV?  What goes on television is mostly inane claptrap and a rating doesn’t prevent a child from watching something.  How often do parents watch a show like The Simpsons, The Office, or Family Guy with the children in the same room, because it’s mild humor?  But it’s more than that!  Kids pick up things  especially when they think it’s funny and the parent laughing at the lewd comment in The Office just unwittingly told the child that it’s acceptable to say that because it will make people laugh.  I’d like to think Doctor Who is above these social blunders, but it has failed more often than it should have in recent years.  Shouldn’t social responsibility be even more regulated for media, when it is so readily accessible?

And how did I get on this when we’re here to talk Doctor Who?

Over the last week, we’ve been looking at the Master’s stories and one cannot help but refer back that old bitty, Mary Whitehouse.  While she seemed to totally lack any understanding of what science fiction TV was all about, there’s an underlying value she was complaining about that might rise her above what people tend to think of her.  At the time, she complained about a freeze-frame image of the Doctor being drowned at the end of an episode of Tom Baker’s 1976 story, The Deadly Assassin.  Her contention was that it was too traumatic for young viewers and they would worry for a week about the Doctor.  In this regard, I think she fails to recognize the intelligence of the children watching.  It was a freeze-frame and as Roger points out in his side of our The Deadly Assassin blog post, there were far more gruesome things to fuss about!  But if we go just beneath the surface, Mary was complaining about something that I feel has gotten far worse in recent years especially under Steven Moffat’s direction.  It’s a question of social responsibility.  You’ve got to know your audience and still know what’s right and wrong.  A bad thing being done by a bad guy is not the issue, unlike what it appeared Mary was complaining about.  What is bad is when the good guys do it!

Doctor Who had a social responsibility from day one when the show targeted a young audience: teach history and science in a fun way.  That meant if the writers were intentionally telling falsehoods, they were doing their audience a disservice.  Let’s face it, Doctor Who may get outdated when talking about bubble memory in Logopolis, but I still remember learning about the Magna Carta in The King’s Demons long before it was taught in school and I never forgot the date as a result.  On many occasions, Doctor Who piqued my interest in a subject that helped me learn about it before it was a requirement.  The show provided a service that benefited me in my schooling.  And I, like most children, understood that there was no robot impersonating King John at the time.  In that regard, Mary’s complaints seem to ignore the inherent intellect of a child.  While impressionable, they will usually know real from fiction, at least on a basic level.  What is not as basic is behavioral learning, like laughing at that lewd comment without understanding its meaning.  Psychologically, we pick up a lot from our heroes.  Whether dad or Doctor, we inherit some of their finer qualities, because we look up to them.  So it’s very important that our heroes remain heroic.

Steven Moffat began his writing on Doctor Who with one-off stories that were fantastic, but when he became show-runner, to quote the band Pulp, something changed.  We started to get things like “Rule one: The Doctor Lies”.  What message does this give to a child?  It’s OK to lie because my hero lies?  This isn’t a freeze frame image; it’s a way of life.  “I’ll smack you so hard you’ll regenerate” implies it’s alright to smack someone in the face.  We see plenty of smacks through Smith’s run and he seems to enjoy it from time to time.   And, even though I do adore Capaldi, his “shut up, shut up, shut up” is barely amusing, but when you’re child tells you to shut up, you suddenly see red.  When ones child breaks a toy they have the automatic assumption that it can be replaced; it shows a gross lack of concern for one’s own belongings and no understanding of the value of things.  Yet when Capaldi punches the TARDIS to the point of sending up a shower of sparks, does that suddenly make it OK?  Let’s not even touch upon the idea that the TARDIS is a sentient organism, because I’d hope that its non-anthropomorphic shape will make it less obvious for children.  Plus the alternative is that they remember and think it’s OK to hit one another when they’re upset because that’s what their hero does.  Punch it so hard, it regenerates…

This is what makes scenes like the Doctor snapping Scorby’s neck in The Seeds of Doom unfortunate.  He’s the one committing the violent act in that moment.  While Colin’s Doctor did not intend for people to fall into that vat of acid in Vengence on Varos, his snarky comments imply he doesn’t care, which isn’t good either.  He’s the Doctor; he should care!  Yet somehow Colin gets more of a negative reputation that Tom, when Tom actively committed a physically aggressive act.  The Third Doctor frequently incapacitates his opponents, but he does not kill (unless you’re an Ogron, then he doesn’t seem to care; it’s a bit racist, but they’re just Ogrons after all!  <– You see what I just did there?)  It’s why I had a problem with Tom Baker telling a Rutan “I don’t like your face” in Horror of Fang Rock.  It’s the Doctor’s job to rise above petty racism.  Just because a Rutan looks like a jellyfish, it’s still a living creature with self-awareness.  Shouldn’t the Doctor, of all people, be able to rise above that?  Let someone else say it; let the Doctor correct it.  Help drive home the point that looks don’t matter.  We will be coming to Hell Bent this week, an episode I consider the weakest Doctor Who episode of all and while there are a number of things wrong with it, the worst of all is the Doctor killing one of his own kind at gun point, because his victim would regenerate anyway.  Even if we ignore what David Tennant’s Doctor spent so much time talking about with Wilf, regarding how regeneration still feels like death, it still depicted the Doctor pulling the trigger and killing one of his own; one who stood by him earlier in that very episode!  To add to it, he calls it “man flu” as if that takes away from the act.  In an age of excessive gun violence, did this need to be shown?  Was it necessary to have the Doctor pull the trigger?

Media is frequently used as a palliative for children.  When they are bored, they watch TV.  Home sick from school; TV.  When their parents have it on, they hear it.  When they are fans of a show, the watch it.  Shouldn’t media be regulated to some extent like the Tobacco companies?  Is it simply because one can be measured with a physical effect while the other cannot?  Does that make it less regulated?  Even so, in the case of our show, Doctor Who, shouldn’t it hold itself above the others regardless because it is already infinitely more unique than any of them!  It can do more genre defying stories than any other show on television, and has more versatility that it can literally go on forever.  So: rise even higher and prove that it is the best show on television.  Keep it heroic.

Where is Moffat’s sense of social responsibility?  I truly don’t know.  I love Doctor Who as a TV show and think no other character compares to him in any genre, but he is far from flawless.  As a character, he makes mistakes, and as a work of fiction he’s subject to the mistakes of a writer.  Moffat did some good when he wrote The Day of the Doctor with his “never cruel or cowardly.  Never give up, never give in!”  But it was Capaldi that truly helped redeem both the show and the character with his perfect final speech which Capaldi helped write.  It explains who the Doctor is:

Never be cruel, never be cowardly. And never ever eat pears! Remember – hate is always foolish…and love, is always wise.

Always try, to be nice and never fail to be kind.

Oh, and….and you mustn’t tell anyone your name. No-one would understand it anyway. Except…. Except….children. Children can hear it. Sometimes – if their hearts are in the right place, and the stars are too. Children can hear your name.  But nobody else. Nobody else. Ever.

Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.

Doctor Who should be better than other shows.  It should pave the way for other children to follow those footsteps: to be full of fun and laughter, wonder and excitement and most of all, to always be kind.  When Doctor Who does that, it’s being socially responsible and helping to create a new era that can see in a bright, new future!  That’s being socially responsible.  A story doesn’t have to suffer to do it.  It just needs a writer who understands the value of keeping the Doctor, the hero.  ML

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17 Responses to Social Responsibility in Doctor Who

  1. Your sister says:

    When does one take responsibility for their actions without blaming a tv show or celebrity?
    When does a parents reaponsibility to be transparent with their child and talk about all things, even the uncomfortable things – openly?

    Social responsibility starts in the home. The Simpsons, The Office, Doctor Who, whatever it is- are shows for entertainment. No one forces anyone to watch. However if the choice to watch is made- it’s the responsibility of the adult to discuss it with their child. The responsibility of the watcher to still have decency and know reality from fiction.

    Ps- don’t talk bad about Tom Baker. Like, ever. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • DrAcrossthePond says:

      Sibling, I love that you wrote as much as you did.

      You’re absolutely right that parents have responsibility. It’s not blaming a TV show. But why are cigarette companies still in business since parents tell their kids (probably for the last 3-4 decades) that cigarette smoking is bad? Clearly it’s not the cigarette companies fault then, right? You don’t feel they should be held accountable at all? It’s the parents, because they obviously didn’t teach their kids well enough?

      It’s as much the parents responsibility to talk to their children as it is to know when to not have a given thing on. Remember a certain child talking about who we’d go to war with first; Korea or Russia? The news is informative, but some things are just inappropriate for a child to hear; they don’t need that stress in their lives. Not to mention that what a parent knows to talk about may only constitute a small percentage of what that child picks up.

      Also you say it’s the responsibility of the watcher to have decency and know reality from fiction, but a young child doesn’t know to have decency at a certain age. They don’t even know what it is to be decent. Watch a small child eating something they don’t like; they may just spit it out without even trying to catch it or use a napkin. Is that the kids fault? The parents? Or just human nature not understanding yet that decency prohibits some behavior?

      I’m not saying you’re wrong though. It IS the responsibility of the parent to discuss things, but when you put your child in front of a show that you have every reason to believe is wholesome, you shouldn’t have to sit over their shoulder to tell them “hey, this is bad”. I don’t think most parents preview what their kids watch. For movies, we may hit IMDB and go to the parents guide, but for TV shows, you can take is that a show on, say, Cartoon Network is probably OK (unless part of Adult Swim) or the range of after-school cartoons are probably child-friendly and that means you don’t have to watch Peppa Pig or Sponge Bob before your kids do because you can make a foregone conclusion that it’s safe. But that becomes the writers responsibility, just like Roseanne should have been responsible for her tweet which cost her a show; she should have known that you’re going to own those words. The same should hold true for a writer like Steven Moffat who is putting out a product that is supposed to be wholesome and accessible to children. Doctor Who’s sister show, Torchwood, is rated as mature (in every way possible). I don’t hold that to the same standards, because it’s marketed at a different audience. Doctor Who is marketed to a family audience and Missy saying “The bitch is back” is, in my mind, inexcusable. (Especially in an episode titled “The Witch’s Familiar” – she could have said “witch” to the same net result!)

      So, we can agree that parents have more than one responsibility: they should be talking to their kids and helping them understand decency, and right from wrong. And if they write for a TV show, as Moffat does, he should have the wherewithal to remember that a child will pick up on a lot more than they may realize and so, write accordingly.

      PS: Not only am I not speaking badly of Tom; I adore Baker and I love that episode! I’m
      merely using it to illustrate a point. The fact is, Roger and I have a pet project surrounding that very episode that will see the light of day eventually and you’ll know just how much I do love it!

      ML

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mike Basil says:

        Thanks, Mike. Especially for your point on how much more attention we must pay toward our children for what they’re exposed to on TV, speaking for how I helped to keep my own nephew from misunderstanding the mechanisms of Dr. Who.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Your sister says:

        Free will. No, it’s not the cigarette company’s fault. It’s not anyone’s “fault.” YOU of all people should know that despite a parents telling a child not to do/to do something- the child/teen/adult has free will to make the decision for themselves. A parent can try to get through to their child and maybe that child will still make bad decisions. When does common sense take hold?

        The news is informative, but some things are inappropriate for a child to hear. Thing is- knowledge is power. Do you know how many times my boys “accidentally” hear something on the news that then sparks a conversation and a learning experience? Sometimes the kids do things that are wrong but we use the experience as a learning experience. Just the other day Nicky, Lukey, Avery, and Marin ran from a small dog and that dog chased them. We had a discussion with them about “what not to do” for the future.

        I think everyone is born with decency. Children don’t know what decency is maybe- but they are. I’m not talking about etiquette. That children must learn from parents and adults like teachers. Sometimes we as parents fail. THAT- yes, I agree is on the parents. That is yet another teachable moment.

        Liked by 1 person

    • ML says:

      Well right, everything should be a teachable moment, but I don’t think common sense does “take hold”. Common sense is largely uncommon unless taught. Really I think it comes down to a way of thinking that helps a person evaluate what makes the most sense. But my contention isn’t that we don’t have parental responsibility. My argument is actually to the contrary; we do. And those of us who write for a show should be socially responsible, as the networks and media should be regulated by those same principles.

      Steven Moffat was the writer for whom the phase “in Moffat we trust” came about, so strong were his early stories. Recognizing who his audience is, I think he should be held even more accountable than most, in the same way a teacher is going to be held more accountable than a babysitter if they do something wrong. A babysitter may not be of an age to make the best decisions and probably doesn’t get a salary when not working, while a teacher should be trained in how to guide a child. Why would a writer for TV not be held accountable to the same level?

      Your original question (“when does one take responsibility for ones actions without blaming a tv show”) forgets that children don’t take responsibility generally. They have to be taught that and a parent, by the very complexity of parenting, will not catch every possible situation and know to have that conversation. So you have to hope that, like the babysitter you’re leaving the kids with or even the teacher who is in class with your child, they are doing their level best to offer proper guidance. That’s where social responsibility comes in with these things. I stand behind it. I think ultimately we’re on the same page, but you’re putting it all on how to parent when it’s impossible to be ready for every situation.

      Do you recall when cousin Mikey was little and he started spitting at us on Thanksgiving – was there any reason to expect he would do that until he started to? Who knows where he got it. Maybe watching baseball players do it, maybe his friends, his dad, maybe just a kid learning he could do something he didn’t know he could do. Regardless of where he learned it I didn’t blame our adult cousins because there was no way they could have planned for it!

      Now, let me illustrate this another way: when Peter Capaldi took the role of the Doctor, he stopped smoking in public because he didn’t want children to see the Doctor smoking. That’s being socially responsible. Yes, the children’s parents could have told them smoking is bad, but he wanted to lead by example. That’s a leader worth following, and he’s exhibiting social consciousness. Agreed?

      ML

      Liked by 1 person

      • Your sister says:

        That’s super noble of him to stop smoking in public. I’m not saying shows should try “NOT” to be socially acceptable but a show is just that- a show. It’s entertainment. I don’t remember Mikey spitting to be honest. I don’t think that’s anyone’s “fault.” Not his parents or ballplayers on tv, or a show he saw. I think kids do weird things no matter what and each is a teachable moment. That’s all.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike Basil says:

    One can easily be reminded at this point by Rosanne’s mistake and how that ruined her chance to proceed with the revival of a sitcom gem. The obvious difference between most celebrity problems and Dr. Who is that Dr. Who, as I’ve mentioned before, has a unique ability to appeal fans despite all its blatant flaws. But then the Doctor is a realistic hero for being openly flawed which, in regard to the 12th Doctor reminding Bill that her bacon sandwich came from a slaughter animal, without a hint of actually chastising her for it, made him warm up in his old way to his companions and made them feel okay with being equally flawed. As for the whole thing about “The Doctor lies”, I think it’s taken way out of context, no disrespect intended. But when we think the Oracle in The Matrix who guides others by telling them what she sees fit to tell them, like telling Neo that he’s not the One in contradiction to Morpheus’ vision, yet consequently propelling Neo to realize that he is the One, it’s imaginable at best for the Doctor to simply be guiding his loved ones to find their own independent paths. This is of course why Wilderness Years spinoffs like P.R.O.B.E. and Downtime worked best for the fan-based powers behind them (even with Doctor actors playing non-Doctor roles like Peter Davison most notably as Gavin Purcell).

    Dr. Who is a uniquely enigmatic SF franchise, which quite understandably made the violent scenes like in Terror Of The Autons, The Deadly Assassin, etc. big turnoffs for sensors. But as opposed to Star Trek (all those redshirt deaths), Dr. Who was more profoundly realistic on me with death when it came to doomed characters, starting in my case with Planet Of Evil. For example, De Haan was the most unforgettably doomed Morestran crewman because in Part 3 we got to know and like him better, which as I understood from Graham Weston (the actor who played in De Haan in the DVD’s retrospective interviews) was a last-minute decision to help mellow out the chain reaction of death for the audience. As a child fan of Dr. Who at the time, old enough to understand the harsh reality of death, it somehow made the Doctor’s alien wisdom (even in cold examples as with Pyramids Of Mars given the scope of Sutekh’s destructiveness) easier for me to take in. From what I’ve heard, mostly through YouTube clips, from Big Finish stories with C. Baker and McCoy, companions such as Evelyn and Ace were easily heartbroken by the Doctor’s apparent lack of empathy, particularly with the 7th Doctor’s manipulations, even more painfully than I remember from the classic Who or even the modern Who to some extent.

    Dr. Who is a dichotomy between how characters react to dramatic situations, as any drama on TV or in the cinema essentially is. With alien characters in Star Trek like Spock, Worf and Dr. Phlox, whose unwillingness to help save a race of people from an evolutionary phase sparked the point behind the Prime Directive, it was more mentally constricting for me and therefore made Dr. Who the more flexibly enjoyable show. Because the Doctor is spontaneous in his actions and this very easily relieved us from stagnating predictability. Flawed characters even with social responsibility issues are refreshingly flexible for giving us more to think and talk about, more specifically via our own perspectives. Star Trek on the other hand was somewhat more uniform with its attitudes for Star Fleet heroism, yet with rewarding episodes when exceptions had to be made, even out of a naturally selfish desire to save a valued Enterprise crewman from injustice, to the Prime Directive (even most questionable episodes like The Apple and Spock’s Brain), it made the Trek heroes all the more likable as real people. Speaking from my own reflection of how deception was the only way to save Boo Radley from an agreeably undeserving fate at the end of To Kill A Mockingbird, courage in either breaking cycles or not sticking to specific cycles at all is naturally appealing.

    This is why I enjoy Dr. Who as a go-with-the-flow SF franchise. In fact I think Babylon 5 worked similarly in certain ways. Dr. Who gives us the freedom that most other shows don’t which is to determine for ourselves, even with our genuinely established heroes and villains, what’s socially responsible and acceptable. The more controversial a favored SF franchise can be, the better in regards to reviews like us who are progressively unafraid to put in our own two cents worth.

    So thank you for this very thoughtful review and I hope I’ve helped my own feedback. Incidentally, I’ve also gone on record about how a little-boy Doctor might enhance some special sense of social responsibility for Dr. Who.

    Liked by 1 person

    • DrAcrossthePond says:

      Mike, I’d say your point about the Oracle falls flat on its face for one major reason: it’s never explicitly stated about the Oracle or past Doctors. The Doctor has always kept things and often mislead the companions for various reasons. Holmes does it too in Sherlock Holmes stories. That’s fine: if it’s for the greater good, it’s implicitly understood. The problem is that it’s EXPLICITLY stated that the Doctor lies during Moffat’s era.
      Whenever you have children of your own, you may recognize the difference, but it’s a continent apart when you have kids.

      I know my sister will concur with this, but for an example: you’re out with the family and you say, “we’ll it’s 11:30 now, so let’s get lunch”. You kid will say “no, dad, it’s 11:27!” as if you never learned how to tell time and dribble on yourself when trying. Children don’t understand the subtle differences when a thing is implied. They see the explicit and take that as law. My younger kid is 14 and still does things like that! So by saying “the doctor lies” you’re condoning lying because he is the hero and lying is OK. And that should not be.
      By contrast, when the Doctor misleads a villain and wins the day, a child sees that as him just being brilliant and knowing things the enemy didn’t. And while I’m the first to give a child credit for knowing real from unreal, I’ve already explained that behavioral learning is a lot different.
      So as an adult, “the doctor lies” can be taken however you want, but to be honest, as a man who truly tries to base his life on not lying and building relationships based on honesty and trust, I still take offense that my television hero is alright with being deceptive regardless.

      Bonus fun: tell your kid you don’t want to spend money on that $50 game they want and watch them snottily tell you it’s only $49.99.

      ML

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mike Basil says:

        Very thoughtful points. I admit my analogy with the Oracle from The Matrix may not really be accurate. To be quite honest, seeing the Doctor more humbled, particularly during the 11th and 12th Doctors eras when we see the Doctor humbled by realizing that full impact of his actions thanks to his companions. I’m easily reminded of a quote by the 4th Doctor in Horror Of Fang Rock when Leela asks “Why did you not tell him the truth?” and he just says “Because I don’t know what the truth is…yet.”, which I interpreted as simply his own way of avoiding panics without all the valid information.

        Maybe a better analogy would be in Star Trek when the Enterprise crew, whenever they visit a primitive planet or go back in time, must resort to deception to avoid dangerously making waves. The Doctor may be particularly more experienced, which doesn’t make him always right. But to be fair enough, he has PTSD because of the Time War and it’s particularly understandable if his dark side is intended to keep him from getting too close to his companions, particularly after Cinder’s death for the War Doctor in Engines Of War (George Mann’s novel). He should be able to comprehend how alienating his deceptive, manipulative and full-of-himself attitude can quite easily be. So maybe he’s just trying to soften that blow by being quite openly flawed and prone to doing bad things. Because it agreeably enough beats the actually perfect hero who one consequently couldn’t find an identification with.

        I’m still hoping it will all be different with Jodie’s era and, logically enough, that’s probably the idea. The Doctor is a larger-than-life hero but simply making a positive difference for everyone. Remembering that positive Doctor trait may be enough for most fans. But the mellowing out of all the potentially arrogant bits will always help.

        Thanks, Mike.

        Liked by 1 person

    • DrAcrossthePond says:

      I have to jump in with one more point to contradict you since you used Star Trek as an analogy. What is it that we know of Spock? Vulcans do not lie. In fact, in Star Trek VI, whenever it’s believed he is lying, Valeris explicitly asks: “a lie?” to which Spock has an answer each time, “an exaggeration” or “an omission”. The point being that the hero DOESN’T lie. Sure, he uses the facts to his advantage, but Spock (one of the main heroes of Star Trek) does not lie. Simple as that.

      I don’t think you’re going to get me to bend that lying is acceptable for the hero…

      ML

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mike Basil says:

    I wouldn’t either. Maybe in this sense the Doctor works more as an anti-hero. It may have been most evident for me at the time when I finally got around to see Hartnell’s first story (Part 3) when he picks up a rock with the evident intention to murder a wounded caveman. But then again, my reference to the Doctor’s PTSD, quite bluntly saying that he’s mentally ill and that it had made an understandable mess out of his life, may have been what I was really getting at.

    My analogies to other SF classics like Star Trek and The Matrix may not be helping much. Maybe I’m just trying to be optimistic that there can be some sense in the Doctor’s methods. Because of my own understanding of PTSD and how it can corrupt even a good person’s threshold on what’s right or wrong, I think it’s reasonable enough to sympathize with why the Doctor’s deceptions. At least it was explicit enough when the 10th Doctor explains to Martha (at the end of Gridlock) why he concealed facts from her because it was compensatively an escapism from all the hauntings of the Time War. Then he sits down with her and tells her the whole true story. So maybe to be fair enough, the Doctor wants to be completely honest but is still pained or afraid to because of how it turned out so tragically with the loss of Gallifrey.

    To be fair enough, anyone can wonder what they’d become like had they ever gone through such an aftermath of war and carnage. Hence George Mann’s point in his Engines Of War novel: War changes everyone, even the Doctor. For a non-SF analogy, we have soap opera villains who do plenty of bad things, deception mostly included, yet they can still have enjoyable love stories and family dramas. You don’t have to like them but can still care enough what happens to them. But quite agreeably it’s not an excuse for their badness. It just enables you to see them as people in their own rights. The Doctor, for a hero or anti-hero, has done very bad things and he’s made no secret of that, even to the point of breaking a companion’s heart (The Curse Of Fenric) because it’s circumstantially the only way to save her from an evil curse. Sylvester McCoy made it work in the sense of the 7th Doctor showing well-enough at the point that even he doesn’t approve of his own methods, despite whatever centuries-long experience he may have. I definitely want to see it get toned down. Hence Capaldi’s regeneration finale speech-opener: “Time to leave the battlefield.”

    As I’ve commented many times before, the Doctor’s imperfections, even to the point of his morally questionable charisma, makes him a real person which is heroic in the sense that it never actually stops him from doing heroic things. It may either be desperately comedic with quotes like “There’s a sort of blue box down the hall. You can imprison us both in that.” or the need to urge someone forward like the 4th Doctor helping Sarah through a claustrophobic conduit in The Ark In Space. It may simply help to not see the Doctor as particularly good or bad as Capaldi’s grand speech from Death In Heaven signified. I quite openly don’t always agree with his methods myself. I can just see passed them enough to understand that his negative points are educational enough for fans to intuitively and discerningly trust their own conclusions. Including that lying, even if it’s meant to be for the sake of defeating enemies, should never have to be the ultimate option.

    Liked by 1 person

    • DrAcrossthePond says:

      When the Doctor explains to Martha why he lied, it makes complete sense. But that was RTDs writing and you can see the difference. Moffat ignores the reason and created “rule 1: the Doctor lies”. No matter how many paragraphs you write to give explanations, every other one you’re providing is justified by the writer in the context of the story. Only Moffat ignores it and created something irresponsible!
      ML

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mike Basil says:

    Very good point, speaking as someone who’s quite uncomfortable with disturbances thrown into a story just for the sake of it. It’s always been a major agitation for me, even if I often have my own opinions as to what qualifies, especially in Dr. Who and Star Trek. I compensate by imagining the alternatives I would write into the story, which quite agreeably would include expunging Rule One: The Doctor Lies. At least it gave us all this important feedback to be shared on a site which feels safe enough to address both likes and dislikes about our favorite SF shows. Thanks again, Mike.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. cricketmuse says:

    The change in the episodes reflect how difficult it is to choose right in a world of so much wrong. The Doctor is alien with human tendencies. His, and soon to be her, choices provide a platform for discussion. The Doctor’s character grew, became more complicated. Peter was a brilliant Doctor. He even asked Clara “Am I a good man?” That is what the show is truly all about: making good in a world going bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • DrAcrossthePond says:

      Well said. I agree.
      That said, the writers have a responsibility to depict the character as morally just. Complicated is fine. Conflict is fine. Moral core… has to be steady! That’s what I took such issue with in Hell Bent!

      Liked by 2 people

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