[Why is Dr. Who so worried we might hurt some fascists?]
When They Kick Out Your Front Door
How You Gonna Come
With your hands on your head
Or on the trigger of your gun?
ā The Clash, āGuns of Brixtonā
Last Saturday night, BBC America debuted its new Doctor Who series, and Dr. Who certainly got his door kicked out. Sad to say, he came out with his hands on his head.
I was a Doctor Who fan of the 1970s Jon Pertwee/Tom Baker era, and I like the new doctor (Matt Smith). On a no-babysitter Saturday night, I was curious to see what a post-Matrix, post-Iron Man, post-I-donāt-know ā¦ post-microwave oven Doctor Who might be like?
Having a kid has certainly put me back in touch with my nerd roots. Itās not easy getting a pre-K into Kevin Huizenga when Superman is around. One entertaining move of Doctor Who show runner Steven Moffat is to make the series premiere as much Clive Barkerish lizard horror as it is 1950s BBC sci-fi. They did a great job creeping me out with Prisoner Zero, a piranha-faced thing hiding out in (I think) multiple dimensions, one of which is in a little girlās house.
It was a fun episode ā¦ on the Doctorās return, a galactic police force surrounds Earth and will incinerate us in 20 minutes unless Prisoner Zero surrenders. This, as they say on MacGyver, is a tough spot. The Doctor jumps through incredible hoops to capture Prisoner Zero. But ā¦ the Doctor never once asks what Prisoner Zero did. Nope, the cops flash their big badges and he skips ropes for them. Literally, he doesnāt ask why, just how high.
What surprised me is what an Upper Class Tory twit the new Doctor is. The Doctor, of course, is a Time LORD. Not a Time Lad, a la Noel Gallagher or the average football YOB. He also talks up his doctorate quite a bit (āIām the Doctor!ā he likes to shout) ā I mean, heās not a medical doctor, but a sort of physicist who insists on using his title at all times ā so heās got some status issues. And he works out of a police call box. An aristocrat, a preening edu-snob, a fetishist for the law and order trappings of government power ā so of course he never thinks twice when the cops bark orders.Ā Heās got a lot invested in the status quo. Over here heād be an alien Wm F. Buckley or George Will. The new Doctor even wears an iconic 1980s conservative bow-tie, as Will still wears every Sunday morning talking politics.
As for that little girl in the house, the biggest problem in her life isn’t the alien down the hall ā it’s that the Doctor blew his time coordinates when she was 8 or so and left her waiting 12 years after he promised to come back in five minutes (with an alien down the hall from her, no less), putting her in years of therapy over the āimaginaryā time traveler who abandoned her. By the time he gets back, sheās a sex-worker (OK, a ākiss-a-gram girlā who dresses up as cop or nun for āpartiesā), a classic self-esteem case with abandonment issues.Ā Sad.Ā I mean, compare the emotional damage done to this poor girl (actress Karen Gillan, as the Doctorās new assistant, Amy Pond) by the Doctor with her boarder alien, who has the courtesy to block her mind from sensing him for 12 years ā the perfect roommate!Ā Thereās a total insensitivity on the Doctorās part to Time Commoners like ourselves.
Could be the alien got here via an Underground Railroad escaping a concentration camp for piranha-faced lizards ā but does the Doctor ask? Heās certainly been to enough horrible totalitarian planets. Instead of getting rid of the aliens planning to incinerate Earth in 20 minutes, he manipulates the Internet to track Prisoner Zero and turn him in ā a creature who hasnāt really done any harm here except live here among us ā just like the Doctor!
Maybe Iām too liberal for Dr. Who. Which is odd, since Moffat and many of the showās creators past and present are currently supporting Labour Party PM Gordon Brown.
[Gordon Brown campaign ad featuring Sean Pertwee, son of Jon, and David Tennantās voice-over]
Maybe they feel guilty in a Leni Riefenstahl way for foisting this Tory time traveler on us. Check out the trailer for Victory of the Daleks (above), when the Doctor travels to 1940s Britain and finds Sir Winston Churchill using Daleks as a secret weapon against the Nazis. This Doctor, of course, finds these heroes of the Left too vicious to use on the Third Reich (the first hero in history to pity the Nazis). Iāve only seen the trailer, but Iām worried the āvictoryā in the title may refer to Churchill listening to the Doctor and turning the Daleks on Ghandi to keep India in the Empire.
And yet, the Doctorās suck-uppery to intergalactic jack boots got me thinking.Ā If heās so right wing, perhaps the Daleks are not the horrid exterminators of All Life, but Socialist liberators the Doctor hates for trying to force him into an equitable healthcare system. Perhaps the dormant Silurian dinosaur men are natives simply tired of human imperialists.
And you know why the Doctor FINALLY gets mad at the alien cops? Because they finally push him around, like village constables stepping on his Lordship’s prized rose garden to catch a burglar. Once he turns Zero over, he wants them to kiss his butt for being a lord ā and there’s even a montage of all the past doctors (a nicely done nostalgia moment for older fans) to emphasize his aristocratic lineage. Like heās saying, look here officer, I’m the 11th Earl of Who, SO GET OFF MY LAWN.
I hope Doctor Tory has a great run, but the next one needs to be played by or Russell Brand or Lennox Lewis.
[Special thanks to Facebook Friend Jake Rosenschein for making the Gordon Brown ā Doctor Who connection for me.]