Today the BBC is celebrating 50 years of Dr Who (no one is dwelling on the decade and half (ish) when they did not make the show for TV (aside from the under rated US pilot).

Why has the show endured for so long, especially during that TV show blank period (altho I understand the continuation books flew of the shelves during this era). There are countless audio books available and fan sites, blogs and the British tabloids go properly nuts for any snippet of Dr Who news.

But why is this the case?

Well, certainly domestically, the Doctor is very British. An eccentric, intelligent gentleman (so far – am personally very pro a female Doctor as that would be within the (modern) show’s ethos of refreshing itself). There is a bit of Sherlock Holmes in there and as quoted in the BBC dramatisation of the genesis of the Doctor a bit of HG Wells, CS Lewis and father Christmas. British quirkie-ness, British geekie-ness (before the term geek probably existed).

Outside of the UK, why has the Doctor endured? Well in the US he is so that lone hero character so popular in Westerns and beyond: think Clint Eastwood in the Dollars trilogy, Batman or Superman or the Lone Ranger. Even Buffy – which I remember reading somewhere the 2005 return was particularly influenced by, in terms of the companion element of the narrative. Buffy was that lone hero who had friends, but walked a path they could not ever fully understand. The Doctor walks a path like that too.

And what has contributed most to the longevity of the Doctor on TV? The genius idea of regeneration – or what to do with your TV show when the star wants out. This sci fi way of dealing with the problem is completely genius and works so well within the narrative universe of the Timelords. This also gives the producers a way of refreshing the show every so often and, in theory at least*, allowing it to go on and on. What is not to like: a little blue phone box; new Doctors every now and then; endless new companions; adventures across all of time and space.

 

* There is that lingering plot device about the Master being on his last regeneration (13th, if memory serves) but I am sure some genius already has that covered (spoilers alert) – I expect River Song gave him all of hers when she saved his life that time, or maybe he has all of the Timelords regenerations ever, assuming it was he who wiped them out during the Time War.

 

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Censorship or protection?

October 14, 2010

I am not good at accepting censorship. I wrote my university dissertation on American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis (researched while studying briefly at an American higher education establishment). The book uses murder and mutilation as a metaphor for the damage unchecked capitalism does to the poor. The main character is a Wall Street banker who by day manipulates money markets to his own advantage and by night stalks the streets of New York on a killing spree.

My book, The Joy of Ex, contains swear words (even the C word), sexual content, adult themes (altho their is an advisory warning printed on theĀ  back cover) – so I am ok with edgie and adult content.

Right now in the USA, where almost 20 years ago, American Psycho caused proper uproar, there is an ongoing debate about children’s access to books.

Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mocking Bird and the Twilight saga are all being battled over at schools in the land of the free.

(This is a serious issue, the other day an episode of Private Practice (spin off from Grey’s Anatomy showing what the character of Addison Montgomery did next) on Living had a storyline about a young girl who got Hep B (or something similar) from a boy who had bitten her neck and had done it to other girls, even though he said he only loved her… or some such – the upshot of which was don’t bite your friends just cos you like Twilight.)

The main message I took from Catcher in the Rye when I read it as a teenager nearly 20 years ago, was don’t be a faker. (definitely not kill a rock star). While from Mockingbird (again, about 20 years since I opened it up), which is about lots of things, I particularly got the message we should not judge people (which always makes me wonder if Harper Lee meant the irony of having a court room drama with that message).

As for Twilight, I am way out of the target demographic and havent read any of it, altho the movie trailers seem to be about love and relationships. Maybe when my son is old enough to read it, I’ll dip in so I can discuss with him, but I think my vampire / human love story of choice is still Buffy / Spike. (apologies to Sookie and Bill and probably Cordy and Angel too)

I am sure the parents who are raising these issues about what books their children have access to in school libraries have genuine concerns, but I am not sure censorship is ever the answer.

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