Discussion in 'Doctor Who' started by Pindar, Aug 29, 2012.
^ What story was that for?
I don't recall. Do a search for the thread when Anthony Ainley died - it might be mentioned in there.
Well, don't know if I can go through that, as the earliest threads here go up to 2008, so...
Anyway, there is something I wanted to note/ask/discuss about Planet of the Spiders and the Doctor's "greatest fear". I keep reading its that he fears spiders, but I don't think that's the Doctor's fear that the Great One means when she reads his mind. I genuinely think the Doctor's fear is what it retroactively is now, which is change. So when K'Enpo tells the Doctor he has to face the Great One, he's basically asking the Doctor to kindly sacrifice himself and consequently, regenerate. The Doctor knows this fully well when he tells him this.
I mean, it makes sense, doesn't it? If the Doctor hadn't in his "greed for knowledge" taken the crystal, the spiders wouldn't have come to Earth and caused the deaths of all those people (including the main antagonist's), the people of Metabillys 3 wouldn't have been continued being killed off either, cause at the end of the day, the Great One would still have the same fate: She'd die from over-exposure of the crystals. In other words, the same end she met with the Third Doctor, only in the latter case, the Doctor died as well, because it was punishment for meddling in affairs that resulted in the deaths of others.
So, I think that the Doctor sacrificed himself because, thanks to his mentore, he realized that most of this, if not all of it, would not have happened if he hadn't been reckless with his journeying. And the cost of that would be regeneration, the loss of his current self, again against his will, just like ,last time. But at least he faced it head-on this time, and bravely accepted his fate, gracefully dying in UNIT HQ.
At least, that's my view. What do you think?
I never took the Doctor's fear here to be intended as a generalized fear of spiders. As you say, his fear came from guilt, his fear of the harm he'd done by stealing the crystal, and of the sacrifice he'd have to make to atone for that mistake. This was a story with a strong philosophical underpinning to it, influenced by Barry Letts's Buddhism. I think that overcoming the fear of death and change was a major part of the ideas he wanted to explore. In Buddhism, suffering comes from attachment -- clinging to the sense of the self as a separate thing that needs to be guarded against change or dissolution, clinging to wrong or harmful views of reality. It's about letting go and accepting that one is part of a greater whole, that nothing can truly be lost and thus there's no need to cling to anything for fear of losing it. The idea of a Time Lord overcoming fear of regeneration fits rather neatly with that.
Its nice to see that I'm not the only one thinking this. From every review/blog entry I've read, it seems that the Doctor's fear of change/renewal/regeneration is largely skipped over, as if the regeneration aspect of it is only tangibly and hollowed-like attached to it via the Buddhist setting. But genuinely, its about the Doctor dying for what he did. In short... its sort-of like his first regeneration really, except this time, he did do harm and, more importantly, did make the decision to do so himself.
All of which says far more than Tom Baker's transition into Peter Davison, sadly.
Seriously, you're telling me there are a lot of people out there who think it's just about the Doctor being afraid of spiders? That's a startlingly superficial misreading. Serious comprehension failure. Even aside from it being obvious in the story that it's about the Doctor paying for his mistake in stealing the blue crystal, just in general the Doctor has always been accepting of wildly different alien beings, from the Menoptra to Alpha Centauri. The idea that he'd see spiders as anything to fear is preposterous.
Well, there is a serious lack of discussion on what the Doctor's fear in the story actually. I don't think I've read that its about his death. In fact, Terrance Dicks himself dismissed the idea that the Doctor should fear anything, because he's fearless. To which I disagree, of course, because there's no point to a perfect hero, otherwise you'd get a comedy show, not the kind of show Doctor should be.
There shouldn't need to be. Understanding a story isn't just about what the characters explicitly say, it's about recognizing what motivates it, considering the dialogue and actions in context with the events and the characterizations. In a well-told story, a character's actions and choices should reveal their motivations without anyone having to actually say the words "I am/he is motivated by this and that."
In this case, the Doctor does say that facing the Great Spider and bringing back the blue crystal is something he has to do, that there are things more important than going on living. If it were just about facing an icky spider, there'd be no reason he had to do that. That would be strictly optional. The fear he had to face was clearly an urgent one, one that he couldn't avoid, one that he was obligated to face -- such as the fear of sacrificing his life to end a danger that his mistake had helped to create. So just from a very simple, straightforward story logic standpoint, it makes no sense to think it was about anything as superficial and random as arachnophobia. That's failing the most basic understanding that stories have logic and structure.
I don't know about that. The Doctor is generally fearless, in the sense that he's extremely confident in himself to the point of arrogance. He trusts in his ability to win. So what he fears is having to face his own imperfection -- to admit that his mistake caused a problem, and to face the fact that he can't survive the act of fixing it.
Consider -- this was the first time the Doctor ever had to choose to take an action that he knew would end his current life. His first regeneration was basically just from old age, and his second was forced on him by the Time Lords. He'd risked his life before, but he'd always been able to think his way out and not have to pay the ultimate price. This time, there was no way out. He had to go into danger that he knew for a fact would be fatal -- and he couldn't be certain he'd be able to regenerate, given the severity of the damage he'd sustain (indeed, without Cho-Je's help, he wouldn't have regenerated). This was his Kobayashi Maru, the no-win scenario he'd never faced before. That was his greatest fear: having to accept that there was a problem he couldn't think his way out of, a situation he could not control.
Of course, it's worth noting that it wasn't the last time he chose to sacrifice himself. Once he'd faced his fear the first time, it made him able to do the same again -- first to sacrifice himself to save the universe in "Logopolis" (though he knew he'd live on that time, thanks to the Watcher), then to sacrifice himself just to save a single person in "The Caves of Androzani," a far greater act of selflessness. And every one of his regenerations from "The Parting of the Ways" onward has been a similar act of knowing self-sacrifice, although in "The Time of the Doctor" it was a sacrifice that took about 900 years to pay off.
The Enemy of the World - First time seeing this, and... lovely performances aside, this was a massive, massive disappointment. Basically, the entire plot is shit.
Possibly, the most overrated Patrick Troughton since Tomb of the Cybermen.
Well, I like it that "The Enemy of the World" tried to do something different than the alien invader/base under siege formula that most of the rest of the Troughton era followed. Doctor Who as political thriller was an interesting experiment.
Of course, we now have to assume that these events were erased in the Time War or something, since it takes place next year (2018) and the current Doctor Who seasons and Class don't depict anything like the global order that existed in "Enemy."
Oh, I love that it wasn't a monster-driven, base-under-siege story... and the basic story concept is solid. I just dislike the overall execution of it. The best example of its wasted potential is Milton Johns' character, who literally is forgotten about after killing Salamander's black secretary. He doesn't even have a function in the last couple of episodes.
And no, the dated-ness of it wasn't even an issue, since it could be explained away by the Time War or a variety of other factors (like the Time Lords' own CIA "rectifying" that timeline or something), like you said.
If Enemy is over-rated, that's just down to people being pleasantly surprised when it was recovered. Until 2013 it tended to get put 6th or 7th of that season.
Enemy of the World is overrated.. But it's been lost so people give it a bit of a pass.
Just finished the Key to Time series. I watched them all over the last several days. It's a masterpiece of story telling art. I loved all the episodes.
But as for Pertwee.. I enjoy that 1970s Action-man type fun, and almost any episode of Pertwee's are some of my most beloved and favorites.
I think Enemy of the World is great and one of the best of the 2nd Doctor era...a welcome change of pace from all the base under siege by monsters storylines. Plus, Troughton shines as both the Doctor and the villain.
I keep reading the "change of pace" comment, and its true, it is that... but at the same time, its incredibly rushed and the story seems severely undercooked. Its very flimsy in its plotting, so all-in-all, not that great.
Its well acted though, and I actually like the villain reveal at the end, unlike some. But for the most part, it should've been rewritten, IMO. The concept's good, but that's it.
I've just finished Enemy of the World. It's an odd one, the pacing seemed kinda sluggish at first, but then it raced to a conclusion. Were they still writing it as it went along or something?
On the up side as people have said it was something very different, Troughton was superb as both characters, and it is nice to see non white faces in Who, even back then, in fact several of the female characters (especially Astrid) had a lot of agency which is a pleasant surprise. I liked the villainous reveal, and the fact that the security chief who seemed to be a villain at the start was actually a good guy in the end.
It's just the pacing of it, I think the people in the bomb shelter should have been revealed at least an episode earlier. As it stands, it's kinda like The Invasion of Time as it feels like two different stories stuck together.
Well, these were made to be seen as serials made up of 25-minute weekly episodes. That's why some of them feel like a story about one thing transitioning into a story about another thing, or are a series of successive, loosely linked single-episode adventures like in "The Keys of Marinus" or "The Chase" or the like. They were designed to emphasize the experience of the parts rather than the whole.
I think that evolution of focus is what makes a really long serial like "The War Games" work so well. It keeps evolving to be about different things. First it looks like a historical story with something weird going on. Then we get into the mystery of the multiple time zones. Then we discover the War Lords and their experiment and the focus shifts to their base. Then we get into the intrigue between the War Chief and the Security Chief. Then it becomes about the mystery of how the War Chief and the Doctor know each other. Then the War Lord himself arrives and brings a whole new level of calm, underplayed menace. Then finally we end up with the story of the Doctor vs. the Time Lords. It helps keep a really long serial from feeling repetitive.
I don't know... I know I've seen War Games three times in its consecutive 10-episode run, so I don't agree that all of OldWho can't be watched consecutively and not be enjoyed that way.
That being said, I love that some serial were not a single story. Like The Seeds of Doom, which is a base-under-siege story in its first two episodes, and a race-against-time-with-a-supervillain in its latter four. Brilliant.
But that was NOT the problem with Enemy of the World for me. Its a rushed, barely thought-out storyline that is half-baked and directed well in some parts only. Now, I know the old argument (they weren't meant to be shown more than once), and I hate saying this for the late great Barry Letts, but he did the same mistake in The Android Invasion (where the story was even worse, I'll admit), in that it underestimates the intelligence of the audience. The fight scenes are dreadful, and awfully awkward.
And its a shame, because it is brilliant in spots. The chef who only appears in Episode 3 is brilliant, and maybe the single favorite guest in B&W Doctor Who, ever.
Look, I understand all the argument FOR the story. But I'm saying that, if we step away from the "oh my Giddy Aunt, look at this rediscovered episode!" phase, one could find the more obvious weaknesses wherein. Its OK, but not really Troughton's best (which I'd contend the Web of Fear is better a consideration for, really).
Then it's fortunate that I never actually said anything of the sort. I'm not telling anyone how they can or can't watch the show, merely analyzing why the creators of the show 50 years ago chose to structure the narrative the way they did, based on the way the show was watched back when it first came out. They didn't see it as writing a single cohesive story, they saw it as writing a series of individual but connected stories. And that's why the focus of a serial could wander a lot or change halfway through. Especially in the longer serials, it kept things from getting too repetitive and showing the same sets and the same people week after week.
Also, in a sense, the whole thing was one ongoing serial. In the early years, the end of one serial would lead directly into the start of the next. So since any two adjacent storylines were (loosely) connected anyway, it wasn't much different to treat a single storyline as two or three sub-stories. Sort of the Key to Time/Trial of a Time Lord approach, but within a single serial. The format of the show made the distinction between a single story and multiple stories flexible.
Oh yes he's brilliant!
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