DOCTOR WHO: 50 YEARS OF INEFFECTUALLY QUESTIONING AUTHORITY
Is Doctor Who a Live Display of an Internal BBC Propaganda War that Those Interested in Justice are Losing?
Doctor Who is a unique show in the pantheon of television. It is difficult to pin down its ultimate philosophy and its ultimate effect on the world consciousness. This document will attempt to assess the phenomenon of Doctor Who and its importance in modern myth making. This writing will incorporate the latest researches of the historical revisionists of 2012, who claim that much of our history is a lie and therefore our science history actually supports bad science taught to hapless students in a variety of settings. This writing will also incorporate much of my personal opinion about what does or does not capture my imagination. Since little more can be said of such opinions but that they must be taken as the product of the shameless and seedy occupation known as media criticism, I hope that the reader will read this work in two ways: the first, as a historical document of a subjective perspective itself and secondly, as the author's subjective approach to that coveted and never achieved objective truth. All my errors are my own, all my assumptions I take responsibility for, and if I offend anyone it is purely accidental and unintentional.
Part 1. Propaganda: The Eternal Values of the Story
On its surface, Doctor Who is the very representation of the liberal Western mindset. The liberal Western mindset can be broken down into at least six key points that the central character pins its philosophy upon and represents in the show's construction.
One is the presumed moral good of human behavior. This involves specifically the modern human pursuit of knowledge in key areas of science and philosophy, which come with their own cultural assumptions. The presumed moral good of knowledge, and that knowledge results in a moral righteousness, is a key point of the show Doctor Who. In fact, the liberal mindset of Western civilization also assumes that one who achieves knowledge comes to a place of liberal thought because of the liberal and giving nature of the universe. Knowledge of scientific and philosophical truths actually improve the morality of human character, even if those truths do not hold up in our universe. The concept of truth being morally just and righteous is itself the question up for debate, and I would argue it is embodied in the vague titular question "Doctor Who?". Therefore, the invasion of the character of the Doctor into any situation brings with it the moral righteousness of his acting for liberal political interests in order to repeatedly, obsessively ask this question: the question, Am I good? Do I fully and completely represent an infinite moral goodness?
Knowledge is pursued for the sake of potentially disproving the question -- which, as the premise of the show would have it, is both completely impossible and paradoxically done every episode through some moral compromise the Doctor must make in order to continue asking the question. Therefore, the circular logic and self-perpetuation of the show is a behavioral loop for humanity to follow the liberal political pursuit of knowledge, application of that knowledge towards liberal values, and preemptive assumption that all knowledge will prove universally true and good, and so will acting on that knowledge -- no matter the consequences of those actions. In order for the suspense of the show to function, a fictional knowledge of fictional facts that may or may not be true in our world must constantly present themselves as the foil of humanity, and the Doctor must deliver the knowledge with a certainty that betrays the laws of our real, natural world but which uphold the stability of the fictional world of Doctor Who's multiverse. Often unknown to the audience, is the mysterious knowledge the Doctor claims to have, which justifies both its morality and the existence of the liberal political mindset. On the other hand, because the show constantly questions and attacks the knowledge and assumptions of our physical laws, it also represents the wise idea that humanity does not, in fact, know everything about anything at all -- and that, so far, is the philosophy in the 'Doctor Who' media which seems to hold up as universally true in our universe.
Two is the concept of all life being a single family. It isn't just that wildlife and the ecosystem share importance with humanity, but that other species from other planets, other universes, other dimensions or intertwined in our world incomprehensibly all exist and they all too belong to the universal family. This family must be protected as a human mother or father might protect their young, as long as the creatures most resembling humanity receive first preference. All lifeforms who do not act in accordance with the Doctor's values are corrected, modified or eradicated by the character of the Doctor or its actions. The Doctor uses the implied moral good of human behavior to defend certain nurturing and parenting qualities of humanity. Those include, anger, hate, resentment, violence, war, espionage, genocide, genetic modification and any and all technologies available to humanity that do not include the use of rape, sexuality, torture or prolonged death as forces, except in cases of sexual seduction, flattery, temporary manipulation or extremely desperate measures. That is to say, the Doctor prefers instant death of his enemies to prolonged death, and prefers slightly torturous situations to his enemies than to extremely extended extremely painful torture. He will do his best to avoid the former and only enact the latter if conversion to his philosophy and protection of his family cannot be achieved. Again, the priority of his praise and love go to those members of his family that are most human, most parental and nurturing to what the Doctor considers its family.
Three is the inherent spirituality of life, the technical and spiritual difference between the superiority of life and the inferiority of the imitation of life created by humankind or species with the intelligence to create. Although the doctor does not view diseases, viruses, nanotechnology, robots, computers or androids as having inherently spiritual value, he/she/it does make an exception when said things closely resemble the qualities of its family: that is, if it first pursues knowledge and second belongs within the Doctor's chosen family members.
Fourth is the inherent goodness of power, the limit of power to those who are not good, and the Doctor's relentless pursuit of more power. The Doctor has guilt, regret, shame and buried self-loathing for all his/her/its failures to convert lifeforms to its family. Because the Doctor does not enjoy torturing or killing and/or actively works to dissuade itself from torturing and killing in apparently malicious or cruel ways, and hates all those who apparently enjoy torturing and killing, the Doctor carries with it a great deal of sadness and mourning for all the times it has been forced to use extreme measures to protect its family values, and the Doctor feels the constant burden of one doomed to continually improve its methods in order to reach greater and greater challenges to continually prove its methods. Nobody has yet presented the Doctor with a choice between the murder of one trillion creatures the Doctor values and the murder of one trillion and one creatures the Doctor values, but it seems nobody is capable of presenting this problem to the Doctor because power is directly associated with how much good one has done in the Doctor's multiverse. So all attempts to ask the Doctor questions that challenge its legitimacy have backfired on the questioner as if to de-legitimize their right to ask the question until they have done as much moral good as the Doctor has. In other words, the Doctor's three first values and unending string of successes to uphold those values give the Doctor a balanced set of problems that cannot be upset by a random challenge. All problems the Doctor encounters can be solved with the cultural habits of the liberal Western mindset, and the inefficiencies of the Doctor are filled in with good luck, chance, happenstance and good fortune - earned by the Doctor's inherently good mission.
Fifth is the resemblance of the modern dialogue to the dialogue of the show. In fact, liberal scientific thought that optimistically believes in modern myth as fact is the very world the hero of Doctor Who inhabits. Even as technologies are publicized in scientific journals or tabloids, so do they suddenly become fodder for Doctor Who as fact or fiction or both. The one type of fiction that exists in our world and which we acknowledge as fiction, but which rarely appears as such within the Doctor Who universe, is the Doctor Who fiction itself. While hints have been made that indicate a recursive 'Doctor Who' show is a phenomenon within the fictional universe of Doctor Who, all direct references are avoided for the sake of keeping the appearance of the show as deliberate fiction. That is, the absence of the lie's influence and existence from the lie itself helps to indicate that what is being told to us through television, movies and the other media of Doctor Who is a lie. On the other hand, the extraordinary coincidences behind the meta-fictional editions of Doctor Who within the show, such as 'Dr. Who' (starring Peter Cushing) and 'Professor Spacetime' in the episode "The End of Time", indicate that the show's premise could easily withstand a self-reference to the invented "facts" of Doctor Who's universe and still survive as a premise under the guise of "real knowledge" compared to the "fake knowledge" of Doctor Who's behind-the-scenes activities.
Sixth, the show uses the first five writing techniques to present itself as an authentic and relevant quest for truth that supersedes other philosophies and quests for truth in the real world. Since the show's initial broadcasts in 1963 through its run as a series of television shows, comic books, fantasy books, movies, audio recordings and the revival of its television show in 2005, to its present form in 2012. Not only has the Doctor character consistently attempted to maintain a dialogue about hidden knowledge through the borrowing of the latest science, pseudoscience and philosophical musings of the "present day", but references hidden and not-so-hidden have made their way into the show that indicate a real attempt to share factual secrets - or the subject of currently relevant questions. That is, the show's production teams have made a cultural habit of providing answers for difficult questions with jokes, return questions, nods to the wisdom of the question, reflection of the question or wise-ass remarks to indicate that the current questions of the day are heard, if they cannot be directly answered for the necessarily false and fictional qualities of the answers that would be given by a production team that doesn't actually know the answers. That is, those who write for the character of the Doctor not only present the Doctor's conundrum as real, but they take a firm 'unreliable narrator' position from the perspective of writing for 'Doctor Who', such that attempts to doubt the knowledge of the Doctor can be refuted with the sarcasm and mirrored questions written into the show. We are somewhat meant to question the writers more than we are meant to question the Doctor himself. The Doctor is a fictional, superior "superman" character who represents the ideals of intellectual righteous morality greater than the people who make the show. In that sense, Doctor Who is a kind of religion like Christianity, who also presents the story of a "superman" with superior moral virtue to those who profess "knowledge" of "him".
As such, from now on, and because the Doctor is most typically depicted as a human-like man (or man-like human), I will refer to the character with the pronouns he, him and his.
Part 2. On Real History and Fake History and Which of The Two the 'Doctor Who' Media Endorses
It seems that 'Doctor Who' has been written by a large spectrum of philosophers, from conservative to libertarian to socialist and liberal. As such, the collective knowledge the Doctor professes to know can be an endorsement or condemnation of any given political party. But it is almost always strictly separated from the time the show is written, such that both a character like Barack Obama can be President in one episode, and then a completely unheard of fictional character can be President in the next. Royalty can be abolished in one future, and in another future, it still exists and is taken into outer space. In one future the Earth is destroyed, and in another it is remade.
While the Doctor generally expresses distaste for human politics, he finds plenty to do in the middle of alien systems that - on the surface - resemble human politics transposed to vaguely described settings. The liberals are replaced with one type of alien costume and the conservatives are replaced with another type of alien costume (or both wear the same costume because of cheap production values) but the character dynamics remain unabashedly human.
In real history, the first episode of Doctor Who was aired on BBC on November 23rd, 1963, the day after American President Kennedy was allegedly murdered in broad daylight and this murder was allegedly captured on video and film. The story was part of a serial, and it was called 'An Unearthly Child'. The premise is that a star student, representing the knowledge of her teacher The Doctor, was becoming a nuisance in her British classroom because she would argue against the science as it was written in text books. Her two teachers Barbara and Ian decided to follow her one day and figure out more about her. It turns out she has somehow gamed the system and joined their school despite the fact that she had not been registered the previous year, and her teacher is an old man living in the junk yard that they followed her to. As it turns out, this man is known as 'The Doctor' or sometimes 'Doctor Who' or 'Doctor John Smith' and he claims to be from another world. Susan Foreman, the star student, is actually his granddaughter and she was permitted to explore Earthling knowledge through joining the school. The Doctor constantly repairs his old Police Box of the 1960's era in which he landed, and it turns out it is not a Police Box at all but a very large space ship which appears much smaller on the outside. (Or more famously, much "bigger on the inside".) It resembles a Police Box because of its ability to disguise itself as something that would belong in its immediate surroundings.
Barbara represents the wise motherly woman stereotype. But also knowledgeable and less petty than most people. Ian represents a standard 1960's adventure hero - dashing and quick to anger. Yet, reasonable and practical, and mostly angry with the Doctor's crabbiness.
As another interesting parallel to Kennedy, Ian actually resembles the style (though not the face) of the dashing President Kennedy in a "typical groomed 1960's man" sort of way. And Barbara partially resembles Jackie Kennedy in style and appearance (though not the face). The character of Ian's last name is Chesterton, which is funny because Kennedy was allegedly shot at least once in the chest. The character of Barbara Wright was played by a "Jacky" - Jacqueline Hill - and the characters both taught at the fictional Coal Hill School - all amusing because of the infamous hill near where Kennedy was removed from the world stage. (Not to mention 'Hill' being a common name in Psy-Ops perhaps because of its ubiquity)
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
With wife Jackie Kennedy
"Barbara Wright" (Jacqueline Hill)
If these are not coincidences (and it seems likely they are), it would indicate some kind of incredible foreknowledge, given the first episode aired merely 24 hours after the assassination. So we may presume for the sake of credibility that it is just some minor coincidences. Given the show's remarkable escapism from reality - going so far as to deny conventional science text books because of their lack of knowledge of the Doctor's magical science of "time and space" - it has the slight feeling to it of a mass distraction from the normal news, for those who cannot find truth and who cannot face the depressing fear-mongering fiction. In other words, a story of an escape from convention to serve as a metaphorical, mental escape (but which, unfortunately, too often places the viewer back in the same problem of not knowing any better once the episode is over - the very definition of 'limited hangout'?)
In the first story, the teachers go with the Doctor and Susan into the Police Box space ship. The Doctor has finished repairing the ship after an unknown problem, and they begin to "take off" which is indicated by shaky camera movements and the characters flailing about melodramatically. Very cheap and ineffectual special effects do not compare well to the expert effects employed by propaganda technicians at NASA or other government offices of this time. Thus the series is born, and the Doctor proceeds to change everything they know about history and the universe by taking them to different alien planets, different periods in the Earth's past and future, and basically anywhere "in time or space" imaginable - as long as it does not remotely resemble the depressing world we know. The name of his ship was called TARDIS, which stood for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. The acronym may as well have been BRAINS: Blatantly Representing Any Imagined New Science. Indeed, the space ship constantly representing a Police Box with a glowing pyramid top (Hamarabi's fictional all-seeing eye invented in Mesopotamia to scare people into obedience?) is a symbol of the trickster nature of the character - is it authority, or is it merely disguised as authority? Is it authority disguised as non-authority disguised as authority? Or populism disguised as such? (And so forth).
Over the course of the first few seasons of the show, the Doctor brings his various (multiple, changing) companions to various officially possible times in our own history or future. These include several thousand years "before modern man appeared", to the journey of Marco Polo, to the pre-Spanish Aztec empire and to several hundred years into a future NASA-like space program that develops safe interplanetary travel via rocket ship. Naturally, much of the show's charm comes from both its simple acceptance and simple overturning of natural premises of our recorded history. That is, some questionable events - such as the origin of mankind - or the highly suspicious NASA program and its science are taken as scientific fact, and demonstrated as such by humans traveling in time to those periods or using NASA's "science" to travel safely in space. Yet, at every moment the Doctor scoffs at humanity's naivete, ignorance and primitiveness. And the results of his explorations of time tend to reveal a good variety of human (or human-like) characters that regularly question their governments and their surroundings and cause revolutions, which the Doctor frequently celebrates. So on the one hand, it accepts all stories as fact, and with the other hand declares it merely a factor of a much larger unknown.
As the seasons progress through the 1960's, however, and the actor who plays the Doctor changes, the character and his companions become more and more embroiled in facing the science written by his creators, and he stands out as explicitly failing to incorporate the astonishing claims of "non-fiction" 1960's television. As such, by 1971, the show comes to face the alleged science of NASA or the Russian space program without blinking an eye. The third actor who played the Doctor was John Pertwee, and he was the first actor to be in a full color version of the Doctor Who television show. In his opening season, his character encounters nuclear power facilities, incredible human-made satellites, discussion of nuclear weapons and other suspicious science promoted by official government propaganda - and he never questions any of it. He even forgoes his magical time-space ship to take a ride in a conventional rocket to meet astronauts held captive by an alien race in orbit around the Earth.
Yet the Doctor is not unredeemable for this failure. Let me go over some ways in which the Doctor actually remains a modern day champion for truth, even as his writers continue to show their failings at the same.
For one, this magical figure is the very same character who has repeatedly told his companions that he does not give them certain life-altering information that would change their lives, depress them or make them change history too much. It is a truth of historical research that any change in understanding of history changes history itself - for history is nothing but a current perception of the past (and present). In fact, while the Doctor uses and doesn't criticize the laughably implausible science of rocketry, he still maintains a shrewd interest in whatever perceived problem exists in the human drama of the situation. So instead of overturning everything with the TARDIS's incredible powers - which he has more than once demonstrated can do so - he carefully sabotages, nudges and carefully renders the situation to his liking with widely varying uses of overt power. In the same way that 'Star Trek' and other space travel shows both acknowledge and dance around the inevitable failings of scientists by replacing them with their own fictional ones, so 'Doctor Who' acknowledges and dances around the Doctor's immeasurable powers to alter our world. One could probably go into lengthy explanations and excuses of why this might be the case for this character (and it's likely that too many have so I probably never will), besides his frequently simple errors in judgment, but suffice to say: Just as his failure to provide the world with a true account of history is part of his attempt to maintain a captive audience of his companions, so the writers that work for BBC attempt to maintain relevance to their superiors and to their audience.
Secondly, the 'Doctor Who' media has contradicted itself and back-tracked on a number of facts taken for granted in one show or vehemently denied in another. In the early season of 1970-1971, the actor John Pertwee portrays the hero as a loud-mouthed irritable braggart of science, but one who subtly changes his mind to suit his needs and immediate interactions with others. He goes to a nuclear mining facility and suspects the mine is unearthing something awful and insane, but at the same time he doesn't inform everyone in the mine that they are operating everything on the questionable theory of relativity that may not sustain a physical enterprise like the very mine they are allegedly operating. On the other hand, the same character claims in at least two separate incarnations to have been at 'the grassy knoll' during JFK's departure from the world scene. He has also made off hand comments denying the reliability of historic information - usually not clarifying matters but rather muddying them and claiming he was somehow involved. One of his famous catch-phrases is the bit of technojargon "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" which became regularly used in the series for its 50 year history. In one instance, he even claims the phrase (after being used for several seasons) is meaningless.
So while the Doctor claims in many instances that the TARDIS is incapable of inter-multiverse travel without considerable strain or even destruction, he doesn't show conscious awareness (or his writers have not made him show it) of the possibility that everything is constantly in flux everywhere, as "facts" in *our* present day are discovered, maintained, invented or discarded to create the Doctor's "true hidden knowledge" of real events. As such, the Doctor may always represent some the most deluded and strange common beliefs of the masses while simultaneously denying others of the same variety. He also claims some fictional books are real in some way, and some non-fiction books may be fiction. Thus, the Doctor escapes the trap of being responsible with true knowledge of reality. He is excused, once again, through his overarching philosophy of the goodness of his present understanding and his acting on it - even callously - as long as he does so within the limits of his power. Genocide allowed occasionally.
Unfortunately, he doesn't preach to the audience about what real injustice needs to be overthrown, but on the other hand, thank goodness he doesn't or the BBC would paint Palestine, Iran and North Korea as even more cartoonishly villainous inhuman monsters than they already do. Perhaps 'Doctor Who' demonstrates their ability to hold their accusations and self-righteousness in neutral gear.
Part 3. Do Some Of The BBC Writers Parallel the Doctor's Mission To Embarrass Would-be Deceivers and Tyrants?
Some of the stories run precariously close to making fun of the major hoaxes of our time. Being the Trickster character the Doctor is, it could be propaganda or the key to millions of viewers changing their minds and wondering about the questions brought up by the show. In one episode, a spacecraft crashes in the Thames live on television, but the doctor dismisses it as being "too convenient." In a book written in 2010 called Apollo 23, astronauts are transposed from the moon to Texas, completely in their astronaut gear. In the highly billed (heavily advertised) two-part episode of the 2011 season opener, "The Impossible Astronaut / Day Of The Moon", an astronaut in full outer space gear emerges from a lake in Utah with the intent of destroying the Doctor. The title of the story is never explained, and given the extraordinarily time-bending plot line, there was ample room to do so. Instead, the question is left hanging in the viewer's mind: "Impossible Astronaut? Why is the astronaut in somewhat of a desert in Utah?" It could be, without blatantly being so, that the writers are aware of the power of television to craft symbols and by establishing the symbol of the impossibility of "an astronaut", they are consciously creating a memory imprint on millions of viewers that questions the word "astronaut."
On the other hand, if these writers are being sly and they are questioned by BBC authorities, they can always excuse the matter as being perfectly in line with the BBC's role of mind-control. After all, the title "impossible astronaut" (despite the captivating imagery) also implies the impossibility of an astronaut being anywhere but outer space, thereby subliminally enforcing the doctrine of faked Apollo Mission history. And indeed a fictional "Area 51" (fitting the real life theme of many areas of the Nevada-New Mexico-Arizona desert that Bill Kaysing alleges may be staging grounds for multiple "moon walks" faked Hollywood-style) is also featured in the episode as a cover-up for the real Area 51 - which of course few people have actually seen. One of the clumsy companions of the Doctor, when encountering stone-faced agents of the United States government, picks up a slight model shuttle from an office desk and breaks it apparently on accident. He then grins innocently and exits quickly. Is this an indication that the writers are playfully admitting that they are undermining the United States' moon hoax while casually demonstrating that the hoax is difficult not to destroy whenever one touches it or goes near it? The fragile castle of sand that the moon landings are can be easily disrupted by the power of these questions, and 'Doctor Who' has a simply enormous fan base to justify its perpetual existence on BBC. Are the writers enforcing answers to the big questions, or creating them? The vagueness is important.
Steven Moffat is the present executive producer and one of the lead writers of Doctor Who. He is behind the creation and direction of the latest season. His writing has been both heralded and hated by the show's long time fan base for a variety of reasons that need not be explored in this essay. But it is worth noting that he was the writer of a 'Doctor Who' parody that was aired during the show's hiatus in the 1990's, in which most every trope and hang-up of the show was mocked and hung out to dry by a relentless farce of its concepts. Time travel and its (im)possibilities were mocked, sex jokes (normally taboo for the Doctor) were rife and the Doctor's nemesis was wagged at the end as a potential sadomasochistic sex partner. If anyone should be writing the show, it's someone who is capable of indicating directly what its faults are and writing to them or around them in a wily way. As such, it is doubtful that Moffat is very unaware of Doctor Who's place in culture, and its relevance and power in questioning established authority. It is a power he is familiar with himself. So it's interesting to note that he was also the writer of a recent episode (called 'Asylum of the Daleks') in which the relentless fascist cyborg enemy known as "the Daleks" have kidnapped and converted a human named Oswin Oswald into a Dalek.
Much has been made of the official use of symbols, signs and indexes to reinforce belief systems and trigger programmed stories, via the television. Countless such symbols undoubtedly appear across the 50 year spectrum of Doctor Who media, but one such famous audio symbol, "Oz"/"As"/"Aus" depending on its context, is also famous for being in the Kennedy drama as one official patsy Lee Harvey Oswald. The character name in the 2012 Doctor Who episode could be a reference to this, or it could be a riff on the famous musician Ozzy Osbourne. Or, amusingly, a curiously close rendition of the pretend-insane "no-planer" Ozzy bin Oswald. In any case, the name is rife with conventional symbolism but what it is actually meant to signify is unclear. Does it mean something to London's masonic police force? Could it be an unconscious regurgitation or musing on the official propaganda that the show's production team is undoubtedly surrounded (and overseen) by? In the story, Oswin Oswald (a girl) represents a human captured by evil, but who refuses to submit to evil influence, and sacrifices themselves to help the hero (the Doctor). Can this be said to be the story of any of the aforementioned notorious characters? Not really. But it does most famously strike one as a timely reminder of the 'Doctor Who' show's coming 50-year anniversary (in 2013) on the day after the JFK "death". And once again, it subtly calls into question the big symbols of our modern fables: could there be a "good" Oswald rather than an "evil" Oswald? Was Oswald "framed" as evil while inside being a good person and not a monster? Subliminal, but present.
The show has a long history of the Doctor being a kind of wild card "cowboy" trickster, entering a situation, upturning all the norms and righting wrongs, then leaving never (or extremely rarely) to return for thanks or adulations. He is the Western Liberal Mindset as peaceful revolutionary, whose friends include all the highest military commanders whom he chastises if they even think of using force before he decides it's necessary. It sounds like the arrogant attitude of a London authority figure, or the Robin Hood that is their bane. This wavering between convention and unconvention is what gives the 'Doctor Who' media its unique bizarreness. The writers themselves may have had a history of trickster-like pranks that were handled more clumsily than the Doctor himself might have done it, and it may have ultimately gotten the show canceled in the late 1980's.
According to a report on Sylvester McCoy, the reclusive actor who played the seventh and final 'Doctor' before it was canceled and revived in 2005, the BBC writers of 'Doctor Who' hated Margaret Thatcher and said she "was far more terrifying than any monster the Doctor had encountered. Those who wanted to see the messages saw them; others, including one producer, didn't." The show's script editor (reported by conservative paper Sunday Times) said, "My exact words were: 'I'd like to overthrow the government.' I was a young firebrand and I wanted to answer honestly. I was very angry about the social injustice in Britain under Thatcher and I'm delighted that came into the show." On the other hand, the "angry young writers" too often took the bait left for them by divide-and-conquer groups. According to this same article, "Cartmel [the script editor] wrote an emotive speech for the Doctor about the evils of nuclear weapons. It borrowed heavily from material obtained from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which was a persistent thorn in the side of the government."
And similarly, the BBC denies to this day any awareness or oversight of these apparently revolutionary actions, with this quote from the end of the article: "We're baffled by these claims. The BBC's impartiality rules applied just as strongly then as they do to programmes now."
Like the trickster character, Doctor Who and its habit of questioning the slightest show of authority (however official and nonplussing that authority may actually be) has proven difficult to erase. Perhaps the audience of the 1980's had wizened up and was no longer interested in subtle parody of such an evil government. Perhaps they were even captivated by that government and turned the channel to more steady propaganda. Perhaps, we can hope, many people just turned the television off altogether. In any case, the show "ran into budget concerns" and was stifled.
Yet, Doctor Who is always a compelling money-maker for the BBC in that it constantly succeeds in selling plastic knick-knacks, books, videos and Doctor Who-themed snacks and toys. So it's no surprise the end of televised 'Doctor Who' didn't kill the trickster but made him stronger in a less overt fashion: a series of new novels continuing Sylvester McCoy's characterization of the Doctor were regularly released, even until 1996, when an official 'Doctor Who' movie was finally created, featuring actor Paul McGann as the Doctor. This movie was allowed by the BBC as a kind of attempt at porting the show to an American audience. It was presented by Fox Television, and it featured the Doctor facing a threat associated with the coming "Millennium" (i.e.; the Y2K fear-mongering) as it would arrive when another technologically magical clock struck midnight. It was set in the year 2000, and is notable for being a departure from the typical show - with modifications from plot elements that the writer hoped would keep it going as a franchise.
The movie failed, and 'Doctor Who' resorted back to its standby of more books, comics, toys and audio-plays. In 2005, the show was revived by an ambitious fan who was established in show business (Russel Davies) and moved it into a modern incarnation with somewhat modern (if still obviously fake) special effects, with three more actors (two of them big names Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant) playing the titular hero. Now, with Moffat at the helm, the show can (once again) barely keep a regular season. It produces a handful of episodes at a time, releases them sporadically, and always concludes/begins a season with a single Christmas Special to break the silence. This Christmas Special is associated with the 'Children in Need' group of the BBC - an arguably liberal but arguably depressing call for the average person to pay for the sorry state of health of the UK's children. I can only guess what kind of corruption may exist in any large enterprise like it. But that is mere cynicism. I have no idea what it is.
Similarly, I don't know what Doctor Who actually is. Is it just gobbledygook made by well-intentioned writers failing to hint strong enough about important messages? Is it pure BBC propaganda, complete with excuses for genocide that the hero frequently commits or enables, while occasionally making an impassioned speech about peace? Is it just a money-making bonanza? Or something between all of those? All I know is the new series, which struggles so hard to continue and yet undermine the old series, is definitely not as refreshing as the good old feeling of turning off the television, kicking back with some friends and telling each other tales that really happened. Tales of our true encounters with the real systems of oppression that we are all working hard to dismantle. And with nary an evil monster to knock on the head or explode in gruesome or comical fashion, it's looking much more promising to be a human being on Earth than to be a 'trickster god' defeating non-threats on a channel that propagandizes its audience faster than it gives them truth or justice. On the other hand, it's amusing to know that there is a show out there that questions every injustice it can; if it can't question real injustices because it's caught up in the fake ones, and conceptually the pacifist hero would be with us if they weren't being used as a tool of sheer propaganda to uphold the systems it claims to be against.
If there really is an attempt to expose the self-proclaimed elite's symbols of oppression through the use of remixed/remastered symbols presented on the show, we can hope that it remains as ineffectual as it appears. For under its present guise, it may be no threat at all to our runaway governments. And thus it will be perpetuated as a constant question mark - never meant to be answered or even very consciously heard. But some admittance on the part of the BBC that some of the human systems that they are maintaining may not be all they are cracked up to be.
Happy holidays, y'all.