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Doctor Who XXXI.13: The Big Bang

June 27th, 2010 (01:27 am)

There are doubtless many out there on the internet claiming that Matt Smith's Doctor is now the Troughton for our times. There are obvious parallels and echoes with the earliest version of Troughton's portrayal of the Doctor, but there's a younger man's vitality about Smith, and a reading which has forty years of intervening Doctor Who, wider changes in society, and a more complex appreciation of the programme's audience than the late 1960s series often had time for. Furthermore, I can't imagine any of the second Doctor's companions grabbing a Tam O'Shanter or the alleged 'stovepipe' hat (I remember reading that the hat worn in The Power of the Daleks, but which has disappeared by The Moonbase, isn't a stovepipe, but I can't remember what it is) and getting rid of it in a way as dramatic and final as Amy and River's incineration of the fez on the rooftop of the National Museum.

"How can he do that? Is he magic?" asks Amelia. There's a nice moment which underlines the Doctor's authority, as Amelia identifies the Doctor as the grown-up in loco parentis who will bring her a drink. Not long afterwards Rory challenges the Doctor's authority, but though he is (for now) the older man, it's the Doctor who sharply brings up his own superior experience and learning. It's the Doctor who has to fly the Pandorica into the exploding TARDIS to bring the universe into its restoration field. The Doctor turns himself into a story, and the power of that story brings him from one universe into another. If any series of Doctor Who has been an allegory about the loyalty of its fan audience, this has been it.

Possibly more later...


Posted by: Edmund Schluessel (st_lemur)
Posted at: June 27th, 2010 01:16 am (UTC)

Wait, so...when he was on the other side of the cracks, was he in the Land of Fiction then?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 28th, 2010 01:09 am (UTC)

That depends on what your interpretation of the Land of Fiction is, and whether it ever existed outside the Doctor's imagination. The white void of part one of The Mind Robber is presumably a similar area, though, to that found on the other side of the cracks.

Posted by: A Meticulous Catalogue of Wrongs To Be Avenged (splendorsine)
Posted at: June 27th, 2010 05:34 am (UTC)

I'm still not quite sure how I feel about this two-parter. On the one hand, it was supremely entertaining, and pushed all the right buttons to activate the pleasure centres of those of us who have lived, breathed and dreamed Doctor Who for well over three decades now. On the other: it wasn't so much a Doctor Who story as a story about Doctor Who, surely completely baffling and meaningless to anyone not invested in the rituals and conventions of Doctor Who stories?

Then again, maybe we're all Doctor Who fans these days, now that the show is on the front cover of the Radio Times more times per year than it was in the 70s and the 80s put together... And, although this year's resolution made just as little logical sense as any RTD finale, at least it made not sense in a way that was a hundred times more loveable.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 28th, 2010 01:12 am (UTC)

I think that it worked independently of the fan references, because it pulled off a series of dazzling set-pieces; and the basis of the mythology was at least stated in that scene in Amelia's bedroom.