Tuesday, 15 February 2005

Dr Who

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‘Why the hell do you love this shitty program so much?’, I recall one of my friends saying as I stuck on my video of ‘Day of the Daleks’ for about the sixth time in as many weeks. I didn’t bother replying, the scenes of robotic monsters destroying Audley End house with ray guns spoke for themselves, and for a hyperactive twelve year old the format was perfect. Star Trek was distinctly sub-standard. The whole show was essentially an allegory for the Cold War, with the U.SS Enterprise cruising the galaxy in search of planets to purge with American values and show them ‘the Earth thing called kissing’. The Klingons represented the U.S.S.R, humourless aliens with Cornish pasties on their heads that one could respect but find it incredibly hard to co-exist with because of their warlike culture. The appearance of one on the bridge of the Enterprise in ‘The Next Generation’, reflected the new atmosphere of perestroika and glasnost (see also the speech at the end of ‘Rocky IV’, and ‘Red Heat’). The Vulcans seemed to represent the Europeans, beings full of wisdom and logic, but whom nobody ever listened to. The Romulans were the nations of Asia, whom no-one from the western world can ever really understand if Manga is anything to go by. The last time I watched one of those infernal cartoons, it featured a ‘penis monster’ with phallic tentacles, spaying semen everywhere and impaling innocent bystanders. I think that particular piece of ‘light entertainment’ proves once and for all that there is such a thing as an over-active imagination.

Doctor Who more reflected the British ‘Island’ mentality and the fear of invasion that belies our national xenophobia. The universe was full of menace, from alien races bent on destruction, giant maggots in coalmines, and the threat of nuclear annihilation from the squabbling superpowers. The shows premise was simple but effective, take a machine that can travel anywhere, one eccentric hero and a couple of gormless companions, and stick them in a claustrophobic environment with a monster. In black and white, the creaky sets and the piss-poor special effects were masked by the monochrome, and the episodes were able to convey the same sense of horror as serials like ‘Quatermass and the Pit’. With the transition into colour, the cracks were there for all to see, but somehow it didn’t matter a jot, watching aliens smash up seventies Britain was just too much fun.

And now to the new series. I didn’t get around to watching it for ages because Saturday night is normally reserved for cheap Stella and traipsing round the streets of Nottingham in search of a pub that stays open till one. When I finally did watch it, I had this to say

‘I don’t want to seem like a ‘fanboy’, that slightly sad being that rants on endlessly about ‘the inner meaning behind Star Trek episodes’ and who studiously memorises the script of each and every episode of their chosen T.V series. The fact is that I am like that, my brain is full of worthless information about the Tom Baker era and I wasted vast amounts of my teenage years reading the plots of every single episode. I’m not proud about it but I did. And now I feel incensed about an issue that I strongly doubt anyone else will care about: upon returning from lectures and settling down with the News of the World, I read the following and nearly spilt my coffee

“They’re the hardest baddies of all time of all time, but today we reveal just what’s inside the Daleks’ tough outer shell – a gooey, one eyed blob!. (big deal, that was revealed back in ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ in the seventies). Things look bleak for the world in 2012 when the last surviving Dalek breaks loose from captivity, drains all power from the state of Utah and becomes a genius by memorising the Internet(!). As it goes on a killing rampage the doc and assistant Rose played by Billie Piper (worst piece of casting since Bonnie Langford) arrive by Tardis to do battle. But when Rose touches the Alien it soaks up her DNA and DEVELOPS FEELINGS(!!!!). An insider told us “It can’t last, but incredibly the Dalek stops exterminating and just sort of opens up to Rose”.

Dalek

When the F**k did Dr Who start turning into Dawson’s Creek. The Dalek is a British institution, it supposed to be the most evil being in the galaxy and convey a sense of menace in the way only a Neo-Nazi dustbin armed with a sink-plunger can. What next, cuddly Cybermen?, Sea Devils go through the menopause?, Davros has a mid-life crisis?. And how the hell can anything turn into a genius after memorising the internet. The net mostly consists of Porn, miss-information and turgid blogs where people post pretentious song lyrics and witter on about how ‘creative’, ‘artistic’ and ‘misunderstood’ they are (for a prime example of this, go here ). This is a situation that’s only going to get worse by 2012. Last week I had to put up with farting aliens with a vinegar allergy and the most improbable piece of hacking since ‘Independence Day’, and now pacifist Daleks. Much more of this and I’m going to smash up my T.V.’

Certain things should not be tampered with, Nelson’s Column, the lyrics of ‘Jerusalem’, the Queen’s minge, the tax dodging status of elitist public schools– if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

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