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Worst attempts at moralizing/virtue-signalling in Old or New Who

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Tanmann

Tanmann
Here's my pics.

Classic:

Frontier in Space. Not the story overall, but a specific bit in it where the Doctor and Jo are imprisoned by the Master, and whilst under camera surveillance the Doctor manages to sneak out whilst Jo bluffs that she's still having a conversation with him. During which she tells the Doctor she needs to be a bit kinder to the Master. Now sure in one sense it's probably a bluff with an air of flattery because the Master's watching, but it also feels like an improvised patronizing attitude filtering into the show itself, possibly from Manning if it was unscripted. Of saying 'oh the Master isn't that bad or scary, and the Doctor should play nice and get along with him'. It also feels wrong coming from Jo, when she would've had colleagues in UNIT she'd known and lost because of the Master's activities.

The Time Monster & The King's Demons. I still think it's pretty dumb for the Doctor to plead the Master be spared in either story, given that the universe would be a safer place without him. the King's Demons is probably the worse example because the Doctor should've surely wised up after Logopolis.

Warriors of the Deep (quelle suprese!). A story in which the Doctor decides to protest everything and nothing about war and the military, including the fact that humans understandably try to fight back and defend themselves when war is forced upon them, when seemingly he'd prefer them acting like the pacifist suicide cult he seems to demand here. So what is it's message? That victims of a genocidal militia's ethnic cleansing should feel proud they maintained some moral high ground by dying passively, and those that didn't and fought back got what they deserved?

Whatever it's message the story seems to have no choice but to ensure anyone sane enough to disagree with the Doctor is killed off slavishly taking a bullet for him just to prevent its bullshit being exposed. It ends with the Doctor learning nothing, still seemingly convinced his disastrous suicidal approach would've worked and the humans were all at fault for refusing to listen to 'reason'.

Like I said, this just seems to be the point where Doctor Who became a zombified version of itself continuing a zombified version of its ideology, under makers who clearly don't know what they're doing.

Battlefield. I still find the militant feminist politics of this leave a sour taste in my mouth. Not only is the Brigadier treated like an unforgivable sexist for offering Ace a blanket, but he's seemingly expected to respect Lavelle's female independence enough to leave her wounded and alone in a combat zone whereupon she ends up getting outnumbered and murdered by Morgaine.

Curse of Fenric. A minor bother but I really don't like its seeming critique of Britain's World War II actions whilst saying nothing about what the Soviets did. Particularly the rather indigestible idea of the Soviets having greater faith in the Motherland and revolution than the Christian Brits, given the totalitarian nightmare Stalin's Russia was, especially for the military. It was a fear-driven, not faith-driven culture.

New:

The Idiot's Lantern. The Doctor and Rose's lecturing and belittling of Mr. Connelly for being generally no worse than any other family patriarch of the time. Made worse by the fact they completely abuse his hospitality to do it, and succeed in only bear-baiting him. Oh guess who'll bear the brunt of that later when he decides to furiously reassert his manhood?

Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks. Only really the last confrontation scene with Dalek Caan. The scene wants to make out that the Doctor's power of mercy and forgiveness (which just seems stupidity at this point) is enough to subdue a Dalek that could kill him any moment, and worse, is enough to scare it into running away. Way to undermine the Daleks completely, Fathead.

The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords/End of Time. It seems Logopolis has been completely forgotten now, as the Doctor seems to be ridiculous about his ability to offer the Master untold levels of unconditional forgiveness, because he's the only other survivor of his world. This never made sense to me. To my mind if I was the Doctor and had lost all those loved ones, it would utterly make my blood boil that the Master of all people survived and yet the rest of them didn't.

What's frustrating is they could've easily explained it that the Doctor needs the Master alive because the human futurekind need Professor Yana restored to human form to help them survive. But no, because RTD always goes the overwrought emotional route, and would rather downplay the sci-fi arc element incase it scares the soap viewers away.

Let's Kill Hitler. Kind of connected to the above, but the last thing you should include in Doctor Who is a scene of the Doctor stressing that he never would've saved Hitler's life unless it was strictly an accident, particularly when Last of the Time Lords, Journey's End and End of Time are in recent memory where the Doctor did extend a saving hand to what are arguably meant to be worse mass-murderers than Hitler was.

Into the Dalek. There's something really smarmy and nasty about the way Clara needles the Doctor for his inflexible prejudice against Daleks (at least in Rose's case she saw the Dalek being a victim of torture, and saw that it was evolving human mercies, but Clara just seems to be acting like a vulture eager to criticize the Doctor on anything she can spot). But it gets worse when she smacks him because apparently she knows what he's thinking about feeling vindicated about there being no 'good' Dalek. And it makes no sense given that Clara herself has been a Dalek and knows how they think, and witnessed them nearly murder Gallifreyan children. But the story wants to push a message of the Doctor needing to overcome his prejudices and listen to women, so Clara decides to teach him with the back of her hand.

The Ghost Monument. That stupid scene where they're under fire from robots, and Ryan wants to shoot back but Jodie's Doctor won't let him because guns are bad. Yeah it's more important to endanger them all by stubbornly soap-boxing during a life or death situation, than that Ryan dare shoots a single robot that's not even alive.

Arachnids in the UK. How can I care about the threat of the spiders if the Doctor insists they're not an urgent enough threat to need shooting? Plus the final scene seems to have to give the Queen Spider a death scream, even though it's something spiders have never done, just to show how bad it is that Robertson shot it and ended its misery. That one sound effect has to bear the pressure of justifying a moral point being made by writers who clearly don't know what they're doing anymore.

Pepsi Maxil

Pepsi Maxil
Chief Caretaker
I agree about Battlefield. It's much worse in the DVD special edition. That is partly the reason why I rate Battlefield so low when it comes to McCoy stories.

Tanmann

Tanmann
Yeah, I think that was when BBC political correctness (if not wokeness) was really starting. Even some of the behind the scenes writings on Red Dwarf suggest there was a lot of careful awareness of what's politically correct enough or not to put in on the writers' part.

Bernard Marx


I agree completely concerning The Time Monster, The King’s Demons, Warriors of the Deep and Battlefield (though I personally still enjoy Battlefield as a story), and your New Who picks are spot on too.

To be honest, I could easily pick all of series 11 and be done with it, as the whole thing encompasses the worst aspects of New Who’s obsession with poorly thought through and saccharine moralisation, but I suppose that would be cheating. I suppose Death In Heaven is another good example, especially concerning the ending where the Doctor declares himself to be an ‘idiot’ with fuck all in terms of genuine payoff, undermining his very presence in order to endorse an embarrasingly twee and mawkish conclusion where no real payoff is provided to Missy’s previous acts of sadism and death, indicative that Missy’s downright immoral nature is secondary in comparison to the alleged idiocy of the Doctor in the eyes of Moffat (and the BBC executives who oversaw the programme).

SomeCallMeEnglishGiraffe

SomeCallMeEnglishGiraffe
In regards to the Doctor often sparing the Master's life, I wonder if these egregious moments would be less of an issue if they went through with the idea that the Master is the Doctor's brother, as was originally intended in Pertwee's final story (or Planet of Fire). I think because of that one line in the Sea Devils that suggested that the Doctor and Master were childhood friends, both Classic and NewWho take that line too much to heart, and use it as an excuse why the Doctor won't kill the Master. One positive that I will say about Death in Heaven is that 12 develops a backbone and finally decides to execute Missy for her crimes.
I believe in the case of Curse of Fenric is because media often talks about how one's country is better than their enemies. For example, Japanese media talking about the Hiroshima bomb and how America was horrendous for those effects, but don't really talk about how Japan was horrendous towards victims in WW2. I guess that Ian Briggs wanted to subvert that trope and talk about how we did some pretty terrible things as well.

TiberiusDidNothingWrong

TiberiusDidNothingWrong
Dick Tater
It did feel like they were leaning towards (poor) political commentary in the later stories, nothing too flagrant but I'm tempted to believe it may have gotten pretty bad if it was left to run much longer.

I remember Aaronovich on the Remembrance special features being especially proud of himself for the 'no coloureds' sign and the general, though thankfully quite abstract, race war theme of the story.

It wasn't bad in that story but I imagine it's the same sense of giddy self-satisfaction that got Moffat and Chibs hooked. We got Battlefield next and it would probably have gotten much worse in 27, 28 etc.

I don't mind the earlier stuff with the Master and even Warriors because I largely see it as an obligation to 'kiddie ethics' rather than part of anything thoughtful or prescriptive.

Tanmann

Tanmann
@SomeCallMeEnglishGiraffe wrote:In regards to the Doctor often sparing the Master's life, I wonder if these egregious moments would be less of an issue if they went through with the idea that the Master is the Doctor's brother, as was originally intended in Pertwee's final story (or Planet of Fire). I think because of that one line in the Sea Devils that suggested that the Doctor and Master were childhood friends, both Classic and NewWho take that line too much to heart, and use it as an excuse why the Doctor won't kill the Master.

I don't know if it would make it less of an issue for me. I still don't think it'd be quite justification enough for the Doctor to put his one life over the lives of his many victims.

I think what could've vindicated it is if the Doctor had ultimately been shown to ultimately win against the Master through his own way. But instead the Master continued to remain an unvanquished pest for forty years, and so the Doctor remains unvindicated, and yet still bound by that rule that's worn so thin.

Which to me comes back to the fact that I just don't think the character was designed to survive the Pertwee era, or for that matter, the 1970's. And really it'd probably be better had The Deadly Assassin been the last we saw of the character.

After all, a big reason for the Master's free reign in Pertwee's time was the fact that the Doctor was grounded on Earth and wasn't capable of pursuing the Master to ensure his final defeat. I don't think it quite makes sense why the Doctor doesn't in eras after.

One positive that I will say about Death in Heaven is that 12 develops a backbone and finally decides to execute Missy for her crimes.

That's true enough, but I do think this is something that the Doctor was capable of demonstrating back in Mind of Evil, and the problem is so much distance had been allowed to take place by the many subsequent Master episodes. Otherwise I don't think it'd have to be reasserted.

I believe in the case of Curse of Fenric is because media often talks about how one's country is better than their enemies. For example, Japanese media talking about the Hiroshima bomb and how America was horrendous for those effects, but don't really talk about how Japan was horrendous towards victims in WW2. I guess that Ian Briggs wanted to subvert that trope and talk about how we did some pretty terrible things as well.

Well it's true we did, but I feel the story could've been about reckoning cathartically with that cultural guilt. That the Rev. Rainwright can't just submit to self-crucifixion over the war crimes we committed in a war that was ultimately forced upon us, and that part of that could've been by highlighting that the Soviets, like every side in war had their own guilt, and it shouldn't mean we stop fighting back and surrender altogether. But instead it almost seems to frame the Soviets as the morally superior side to us, who's shocking crimes go unmentioned, which leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

Tanmann

Tanmann
@TiberiusDidNothingWrong wrote:I don't mind the earlier stuff with the Master and even Warriors because I largely see it as an obligation to 'kiddie ethics' rather than part of anything thoughtful or prescriptive.

The problem is, by then the show had already demonstrated it and its hero was capable of being more sophisticated than kiddie ethics (Pyramids of Mars, Warrior's Gate, Earthshock), so I don't think there's an excuse for the intelligent Doctor regressing to that. Warriors for me makes the worst hash of it by trying to bring kiddie ethics to what's supposedly a serious adult story about the realities of war, and yet stubbornly refuses to relinquish its frankly insulting kiddie ethics in the face of harsh lived war realities. Which means it's not really excusable or workable as either kids' or adults' TV.

Also to my mind, it seems an obligation to those kind of kiddie ethics and the woke messaging of Series 11 are really just about as bad as each other, so I don't see why one should be forgiven when the other isn't.

TiberiusDidNothingWrong

TiberiusDidNothingWrong
Dick Tater
It's kind of unclear what I mean with 'kiddie ethics' but I essentially mean a constrait, real or percieved,  on'family' programmes to present superficial ethics in a way that children will understand, and which complies with the basic ethical rules they're supposed to understand.

Those rules rarely hold up when faced with complex problems, such as those that exist in the real world and in Doctor Who when you look at it through a mature lens.

I don't like it, but I understand it - considering the era, and that its a family programme with a whole country watching.

It isn't serious moral commentary.

Tanmann

Tanmann
@TiberiusDidNothingWrong wrote:It's kind of unclear what I mean with 'kiddie ethics' but I essentially mean a constrait, real or percieved,  on'family' programmes to present superficial ethics in a way that children will understand, and which complies with the basic ethical rules they're supposed to understand.

Those rules rarely hold up when faced with complex problems, such as those that exist in the real world and in Doctor Who when you look at it through a mature lens.

I don't like it, but I understand it - considering the era, and that its a family programme with a whole country watching.

It isn't serious moral commentary.

Okay I can kind of see what you mean.

I suppose I've always resented the kiddie ethics we were subject to at school (i.e. if you hit back at the bully it makes you just as bad and as deserving of punishment), which is why I always resented seeing them worm into the show. After all at best the Doctor was meant to be the best kind of teacher to the kids, so it's disheartening to see him written as just another of the worst.

The thing is, I think if it's to work as not so serious commentary, the show at best should do it in a way that draws as little attention to it and its constraints and its real-world impracticalities as possible, so that it's barely a side issue, and is just a particular superficial tick, if that.

The problem I think with the 80's examples is that the show becomes a lot more po-faced and serious about itself, so when it does such kindergarten moralizing in the face of a Sawardian universe, it feels like it really means it, and because of the continuity fixation, it seems to no longer be doing self-contained standalones where those issues get conveniently resolved and forgotten anymore.

So by drawing the Master and Silurians and Sea Devils out past their original lifespan, that kiddie ethics morality backdrop becomes fallen back on as far more of a dependence and focus and justification for the exercise than it should be, and made worse by Eric Saward making a more nihilistic hash of it, and Ian Levine making his own demands and dictates of what the fans want the story's message to comply with, pushing it to the extremity of that kindergarten morality.

It's strange, because I'm sure I've read somewhere that JNT even apparently was told by the BBC he shouldn't have had the show's characters eating on camera as they did in Black Orchid and The Five Doctors, because apparently that implies bodily digestive functions and that the characters are going to need the bathroom later. So maybe it was simply that the show was under a lot of moral constraints to either preach nonsense or ignore human reality at the time.

burrunjor

burrunjor
@SomeCallMeEnglishGiraffe wrote:In regards to the Doctor often sparing the Master's life, I wonder if these egregious moments would be less of an issue if they went through with the idea that the Master is the Doctor's brother, as was originally intended in Pertwee's final story (or Planet of Fire). I think because of that one line in the Sea Devils that suggested that the Doctor and Master were childhood friends, both Classic and NewWho take that line too much to heart, and use it as an excuse why the Doctor won't kill the Master. One positive that I will say about Death in Heaven is that 12 develops a backbone and finally decides to execute Missy for her crimes.
I believe in the case of Curse of Fenric is because media often talks about how one's country is better than their enemies. For example, Japanese media talking about the Hiroshima bomb and how America was horrendous for those effects, but don't really talk about how Japan was horrendous towards victims in WW2. I guess that Ian Briggs wanted to subvert that trope and talk about how we did some pretty terrible things as well.

I don't think the Doctor ever spared the Master out of affection in Classic Who.

The Doctors moral code always remained the same across incarnations. Basically he will kill, but only in self defence. It makes sense in a way as the Doctor isn't a warrior, or on a mission to rid the universe of evil. He is just a scientist and an explorer with a strong sense of morals. He's practical enough to know that sometimes he needs to use violence if need be, but he doesn't kill for the sake of it.

In Resurrection he can't kill Davros, because there it wouldn't have been in self defence. Davros was unarmed, and it would have been premeditated murder. Its the same with the Daleks in Genesis. He would be slaughtering them when they are helpless and thus finds it difficult. (Though there is also the issue of changing history too.)

Of course there are a few times where the Doctor will murder an enemy simply because they are too much of a danger to the rest of the universe, but in all instances its acknowledged and we see him wrestle with the decision (like with the cafe scene in Remembrance, where he now thinks he has to eliminate the Daleks and much like Tom comes at it from all angles, he just makes the opposite decision as he is older and wiser now.)

There are a few times where the Doctor won't kill the Master in Classic Who, because he is defenceless like in Frontier in Space, but even then the Doctor arguably breaks his moral code ironically the most for the Master.

Terror of the Autons, the Doctor is happy for UNIT to shoot the Master.

The Mind of Evil, the Doctor actually does break his moral code, and tries to murder the Master by luring him into an area that is about to be blown up. That isn't just shooting him in self defence. That's premeditated murder.

In Claws of Axos he tries to trap him in a time loop forever.

In the Daemons he says that he might just kill the Master out of anger as he has nothing to lose.

In The Deadly Assassin he boots the Master into the core of Gallifrey and says that he hopes he is dead. (He says he is the one person he'd wish that on.)

In Keeper of Traken he has his companions blow up the Masters TARDIS and believes he has killed him and has no regrets.

In Castrovalva he leaves the Master to be torn apart by his own creations and says he hopes he's gone.

In The Five Doctors both Pertwee and Davison leave the Master to a certain death.

In Planet of Fire he burns the Master to death.

In The Two Doctors he traps the Master in a room with a giant Dinosaur.

In Trial of a Time Lord he tells the Time Lords (who he knows have a death penalty) to do what they want with the Master.

In Survival he tries to bash his head in, and only relents because the power of the Cheetah virus will consume him.

Its a total myth that the Doctor and the Master were friends in Classic Who. Their frienship is mentioned ONCE in The Sea Devils. Even then its merely said that they were friends, and that the Doctor regrets how far his friend has fallen.

The friendship isn't that big a deal for either of them. In the Five Doctors the First Doctor doesn't recognise the Master even with a little prompting, and the Master merely says they were at the academy together (not we were friends, never mind soul mates LOL.)

Time Lord's always recognise each other, Tom recognised Runcible, who recognised him, and Pertwee recognised Ainley right away.

Basically because of one line in The Sea Devils the New Who fans try and make out that they were always friends. They'll often take other things out of context, like the Masters offer in Colony in Space, but again that's not out of affection for the Doctor.

The Master does genuinely believe that when he rules the universe he will be a benevolent ruler, and so in his mind the Doctor should want to help him. Its similar to Cleeg in Tomb who says its a pity he and the Doctor couldn't work together, (which the Doctor plays on when he trolls him.)

As for Jo's bit Tanman I really don't think Jo was saying that the Doctor should be nice to the Master. She was playing on his ego in trying to dupe him, by making out that he is right to rule the universe. Jo never shows affection for the Master. Later in that story she gloats about his possible execution.

"If they do believe the Doctor you've had it!"

In the Classic era, the Doctor and the Master had the perfect villain hero relationship. Both genuinely tried to kill each other, but neither could triumph over the other and both suffered terrible loses because they were so evenly matched.

Also finally about Death in Heaven, 12 wasn't willing to kill Missy. We find out in the next excreable two parter he knew Pissy Missy survived and lied to Clara and UNIT about it, putting their lives in danger.

Sorry for the long post. I hope I didn't come over as Jon Blum style condescending cunt LOL, but I just really dislike the Master/Doctor friendship angle. IMO its the worst aspect of New Who.

burrunjor

burrunjor
Good choices but I'd say the worst is the Generals regenderation and the Doctor comparing Osgood's murder and the destruction of Traken to Bill eating a bacon sandwhich.

Its one thing to write a cringey, first year political student style rant about an obvious target like Trump, its another to compromise the heroes morality for a stupid bit of virtue signalling which both scenes do.

One sees the Doctor shoot an unarmed man, one who helped him against Rassilon (and who is right. The Doctor is risking destroying the entire universe to save someone who is already dead.) All so we can have a gender bending regeneration.

The other sees the Doctor adopt a philosophy not far removed from the fucking Daleks, where its apparently okay for the Master to slaughter innocent humans, and trakenites and countless other life forms, because Time Lords are more advanced.

Tanmann

Tanmann
@burrunjor wrote:Its a total myth that the Doctor and the Master were friends in Classic Who. Their frienship is mentioned ONCE in The Sea Devils. Even then its merely said that they were friends, and that the Doctor regrets how far his friend has fallen.

I think the fan perception of the importance of their friendship more stems from Malcolm Hulke's *novelization* of The Sea Devils, in which in flashbacks, the Doctor is described as actually being instrumental in pleading the case during the trial to spare the Master being executed, by talking about his redeeming qualities and intellect deserving to be preserved.

Whereas in the TV story, it's possible to infer it happened that way (and many fans do), but nothing's confirmed and instead it just comes across that the Doctor might as well have been completely impartial to the decision (infact the tone in Pertwee's delivery suggests he could well understand the humans wanting their revenge on him).

I think that was a bit of a liberal overreach by Hulke, and one that a lot of the fanbase canonized.

As for Jo's bit Tanman I really don't think Jo was saying that the Doctor should be nice to the Master. She was playing on his ego in trying to dupe him, by making out that he is right to rule the universe. Jo never shows affection for the Master. Later in that story she gloats about his possible execution.

"If they do believe the Doctor you've had it!"

I can somewhat go with that being the intent, but it feels like a bit of an overreach on the makers' part. And there's still a nagging feeling for me of it being a slightly patronising authorial insert (or actress insert). That in a sense it's not really Jo talking in that scene about how she really feels about the despicable Master, but someone behind the scenes who thinks they're either being clever in poking light fun at the rivalry, or reassuring the kiddies with a bit of cozy pantomime morality about two wrongs not making a right, using her as their mouthpiece.

I dunno, it just doesn't quite sit right with me.

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