Paul P. Mealing

Check out my book, ELVENE. Available as e-book and as paperback (print on demand, POD). 2 Reviews: here. Also this promotional Q&A on-line.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Dr Who 50th Anniversary Special

A bit late, I know, as it was 2 weeks ago, but worthy of a post. Despite my advanced years, I didn’t see Dr Who in my teenage years when it first came to air. I really only became a fan with the resurrection or second coming in 2005, when Russell T Davies rebooted it with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor. But, personally, I liked David Tennant and then Matt Smith’s renditions and it was a pleasure to see them together in the 50th Anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor, alongside John Hurt, who was an inspirational casting choice. One should also mention Steven Moffat, who, as chief writer, deserves credit for making the show a monumental success. Writers rarely get the credit they deserve.

I recently re-watched episodes involving David Tennant and Matt Smith, and I particularly liked the narrative involving Martha Jones, played by Freema Agyeman, who, as far as I know, is the first non-white ‘companion’. Arguably, as significant as Halle Berry’s appearance as a ‘Bond girl’. My favourite episode was the ‘Weeping Angels’ because it was so cleverly structured from a time-travel perspective.

I saw the 50th Anniversary Special in a cinema in 3D (good 3D as opposed to bad 3D) and I’ve since watched it again on ABC’s iview (expires today). It was also great to see Billie Piper recreate her role as Rose Tyler or Bad Wolf, albeit in a subtly different guise. It was one of many clever elements in this special. At its heart it contains a moral dilemma – a la John Stuart Mill – which was mirrored in one of the subplots. The interaction between John Hurt’s Doctor and Billie Piper’s sentient AI conscience is one of the highlights of the entire story, which was reinforced when I watched it for the second time. I know that some people had trouble following the time jumps and plot machinations, but that wasn’t an issue for me. To create a doomsday device to end all doomsday devices and give it a sentient conscience is a stroke of narrative genius. At 1hr 16 mins it’s not quite movie-length, yet it shows that length is not a criterion for quality. I found it witty, clever and highly entertaining, both in story context and execution; suitably engaging for a 50th Anniversary celebration.

Postscript: I should confess that the Daleks had an influence on ELVENE, which is readily spotted by any fan of popular Sci-Fi culture.