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What are your opinions on Doctor Who being political?

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So many SJWs like Richard H Cooper and Mr ReTardis go on about how Doctor Who has always been political so its perfectly okay for Jodie's series to be.

They have a tiny bit of a point that there have been political aspects to Doctor Who before but once again this is an example of their simplistic one size fits all way of thinking.



Last edited by burrunjor on Sat 25 May 2019, 10:48 pm; edited 1 time in total

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It's a strawman. There's a world of difference between telling a separate story that may have a metaphor to the world that many viewers may not even get - and bashing them over the head with modern day fascist identity politics horseshit.
But I suspect these people are well aware of that, and are just being disengenous cunts, like most supporters of this embarrassment.

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@iank wrote:It's a strawman. There's a world of difference between telling a separate story that may have a metaphor to the world that many viewers may not even get - and bashing them over the head with modern day fascist identity politics horseshit.

Exactly this.

@iank wrote:But I suspect these people are well aware of that, and are just being disengenous cunts, like most supporters of this embarrassment.

Exactly this.

Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks got it down to a fine art due to being professionals. One can only conclude the dismal failings of the female spinoff (and the final cancerous Moffatized Who) are due to a dropping of the standards in their "craft" and the general malaise of television.

Dicks: "don't sell your audience out for a pot of message."

God bless him he was really on to something.

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It's the lack of subtlty that really gets to me. Maybe if it preached political values that I hold, such as the evils of Americanisation and American culture,, I'd care less.

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One central thing that is entirely missing is the insouciant somewhat eccentric Britain-first lib dem craziness that ran through the show from 1968 to 2009. A world where Britain was a first world power with a space programme, but was also a lib dem ruled neutral country that hosted endless peace conferences. Smile

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@Genkimonk wrote:It's the lack of subtlty that really gets to me. Maybe if it preached political values that I hold, such as the evils of Americanisation and American culture,, I'd care less.

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Tanmann

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For me the politics in the Pertwee era worked because it actually felt like the consequences of a given politician's/corporation's hubris could genuinely be apocalyptic. Doctor Who took place in a universe in which the worst outcome was always possible.

Day of the Daleks worked because we could imagine a third world war kicking off and reducing the planet to hell. Frontier in Space worked more or less the same way. By episode 6 it really felt the Earth-Draconia hostilities could go either way.

The Green Death did somewhat fantastical things with the idea of pollution and mutations, but again it felt plausible an eventuality because the Doctor had just gotten back from a world the Daleks had devastated and poisoned. Also there wasn't the smug air of the show immediately taking sides and being right-on. Jo gets passionate about Cliff's cause, but the Doctor's barely listening to her, being more preoccupied with reaching Metebelis 3, and the Brigadier thinks they're just rabble-rousers.

I think it's in the JNT era that the political content just gets unpleasantly po-faced, moronic, heavy-handed and crass. Perhaps for most fans, Warriors of the Deep gets a pass for its politics because the threat of nuclear annihilation felt like proper dramatic stakes, but I've never understood fans being able to get past its cultish loony left crank excesses of the kind that Sarah Jane in Robot was rightly mocking in Robot when interviewing the Scientific Reform Society.

In the New Series the problem is the politics just feel either one of two things.

Either too cartoonish to be believable - Aliens of London/World War III's apocalyptic implications are only believable if you think the the powers that be are genuinely as pea-brained and moronic as RTD clearly thinks the public are.

Or it feels unnervingly cultish, as though the show's telling us how to think and feel in order to be the perfect Guardian-reading liberal. Last of the Time Lords certainly comes to mind.

As for Jodie's era, the problem for me is often the political content just feels utterly without stakes. Trump may be the dreaded figure for Chibnall and his friends, but having a Trump surrogate in Arachnids in the UK does not make the show's universe feel any more dangerous or its drama more precipitous.


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I prefer it to be done subtly if at all.

In a recent press release about the Whittaker series the BBC stated that Baker's Warrior' Gate was essentially about the inhumanity of the slave trade so could be viewed as a political story. Its a passing reference.

Well that may be so but its first and primary focus seemed to me to be a scifi story about being stuck in e-space and trying to escape. The story recognised shades of grey rather than pretending life is always black and white and the good guys always wear the white hats while the baduns dress in black: The Tharils were not all innocent and pure and had once run a cruel and barbaric empire while enslaving others themselves. There were also other themes to distract: K9 being blown up; Romana leaving; K9 being blown up; the way space was gradually contracting with the impicit threat of that to the safety of the Doctor and all the other characters in the story; K9 being blown up.

Oh and lets not forget that K9 left at the end of the story.

Chibnob's stories take such a simplictic view of politics and complex situations that they come across as straightforward indoctrination, utilising 2 dimensional characters in an effort to propogate a particular ideological viewpoint. Occasionally i thought this did happen in the classic series. I like Green Death but it did feel to me that it was overpushing the green, anti-pollution agenda at the time. However the saving grace in those days was that such stories were not the norm. With NobChibs it feels like every second story. It was also the case we had a generally likeable regular cast and characters back in 1973. Hardly the case now imho.

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Tanmann

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@stengos wrote:Chibnob's stories take such a simplictic view of politics and complex situations that they come across as straightforward indoctrination, utilising 2 dimensional characters in an effort to propogate a particular ideological viewpoint. Occasionally i thought this did happen in the classic series. I like Green Death but it did feel to me that it was overpushing the green, anti-pollution agenda at the time. However the saving grace in those days was that such stories were not the norm. With NobChibs it feels like every second story.

I think the problem is indeed that it's all done so simplistically. And that's the key I think. Classic Who used to be the kind of show that rejected a lot of the 'just world' fallacy of most family/kids' TV. The Doctor didn't always win, and usually when he did, it was at a significant cost. It was a show where often bad things would happen to good people (whether Gharman, Professor Scarman, Waterfield). And that generally made it a challenging cut above (although, yes some of the Pertwee stories could be a bit pat, and inevitably a more pantomime sensibility did creep in in the 80's with Saward's attempts to subvert it by injecting a simulacrum of old Who's 'unjust world', usually producing the worst of both worlds).

New Who seemed to start with the same kind of intended repudiation of the 'just world' fallacy. Father's Day and Voyage of the Damned particularly seem to make a virtue of that point. But then we had Rose reviving Captain Jack from death, Last of the Time Lords doing the same to everyone, and more and more the show seemed to not only succumb to the "just world" fallacy, but become positively unnerving in its cultish 'group hugs and crying makes everyone better people and the world a better place' utopianism.

It was clear from the start that was going to be even more the case with Moffat, but it's become so unchallenging as to be empty under Chibnall's Doctor Who.

The Doctor and companions are always insipidly agreeable do-gooders who are always vindicated. The political stance is always 'Orange Man bad', 'racists are bad'. There's never any real sense of being challenged. It's always a "just world" only let down by a few troublemakers, and with them removed, everything will be fine and everyone gets along, and there's always an easy way that Graham can vanquish his wife's killer without killing him, and claim a moral triumph.

I think that's why it has no staying power anymore. Doctor Who's universe was compelling, terrifying, dimensional. Series 11's universe is a "just world" and a just world is a boring one.


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Whoever brought up the stuff about metaphorical distance got it spot on.

The further away you can get from the actual subject, the more subtle and nuanced you can be as a writer (and also less confrontational and antagonistic). The latter point being of utmost importance in actually broadening minds, as drama can introduce criticisms, ideas and stories that the viewer wouldn't normally countenance.

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ClockworkOcean

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The heavy-handedness and lack of metaphorical distance are only part of the problem. A few excessively preachy episodes in service of fundamentally benign causes wouldn't come close to irreparably killing my enthusiasm for the show.

The biggest problem is that Chibnall's NuWho is a hateful, bigoted, anti-male show. He and the ideologues that surround him deliberately set out to marginalise and put down a huge section of the audience on the basis of their involuntary birth characteristics. It may lack the explicit anti-male snipes of Moffat's last few years, but the sheer pervasiveness of its subtext is arguably worse. Literally every single white male character to appear throughout Series 11 is either a villain, an idiot, cannon fodder, or something in between, the sole exception being Graham, whose entire arc is about how lost he is without his late wife, who was portrayed as a more courageous, open-minded, and all round better human being than him. The black and Asian men fare slightly better, but not by much. If I had a son, I wouldn't allow him to watch NuWho past Series 8.


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Arthur mentions Warriors Gate: what's particularly effective about it as a story because of/despite the weirdness is the strength of the theme. Slaving is punished in both cases - the Tharils get imprisoned but then so do the humans, effectively. The difference is their reactions to it which leads to one race surviving and one not, but it's never preachy, just inventive.


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