Doctor Who – the model role tyrant

Role models are not things people aspire to; they are things that the hierarchy wants you to become. They are lessons in what you are allowed to be and an authoritarian instruction in how to behave. We all dally around the idea of being a role model at some point in our lives. If we are parents especially, then we might too have just such an authoritarian interest in moulding our children into functioning grown-ups. It’s difficult to disengage with a natural patrimony when you are a, well…parent. But the BBC and government are not my parents. We might tacitly … Continue reading

Doctor Who and the guardians of identity

Jodie Whittaker has become the 13th Doctor and among her very first comments is, “I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender”. The implication being that she had to tell them that in the first place. Because to criticise someone for having a particular gender would be sexist. In the world of ‘linguistic first strikes’ this is a wonderful shot. Sexists and trolls lurk in every corner just waiting to jump out and say something, well…sexist. No one is arguing for sexism. Sexism is a bad thing. A person born with a particular sex cannot … Continue reading

Taking the pain out of death

Christmas 2015, The Husbands of River Song and a diary of just the right length. All of these gave us a comedy episode with a sprinkling of serious. Steven Moffat had already acknowledged elsewhere that you can only do so much with Christmas and Doctor Who, so that component was kept to a minimum. It wasn’t about Christmas, but it was a light-hearted interlude after the bone-breaking epic that was Heaven Sent in particular and the second half of series nine in general. The series needed an interlude and this episode gave us it. Following twenty-two appearances in Who, River Song graced our … Continue reading

Hybrid hubris

At the end of everything, we should expect the company of immortals… In the end it came down to The Doctor, Ashildr and a chess set. Not to mention Clara, of course, but she was stuck in a TARDIS somewhat removed to a relative dimension. It is a very old trope, but that doesn’t make it any the less brilliant. I notice that Ashildr’s playing white; I wonder if it was the Queen’s Gambit, The Doctor standing away from the empty chair on the black side. I expect he’d play some variation on the Kings Indian, because that appears to cede … Continue reading

Hiding The Lady

Now that’s how to do epic. Heaven Sent, the second in a trilogy and penultimate episode in series 9 brought us home to Gallifrey and, just like the cogs and wheels of its clockwork castle, threatened to change the very rules for this show. Epic is a word bandied around all too easily these days, but this one truly was. It was right up there with the best and like some slowly danced ornate pavane it unwound its stately plot with perfect pitch right up to the final note. Many must have thought this was going to be a straightforward monster … Continue reading

ExAnima: Time, Dr Who, Sci-Fi and other Random Jottings


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