This Nightmare Would Have Ended (Heaven Sent)

I got a rock.

It’s November 28th, 2015. Justin Bieber continues his assault on the top ten, holding number one with “Sorry” while “Love Yourself” and “What Do You Mean” are also in the top ten. One Direction and Nathan Sykes also chart. In news, a gunman attacks a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs and Turkey shoots down a Russian jet on the Syrian border, sparking a bit of an international incident.

On television, meanwhile, Moffat’s masterpiece. Which means that we should start by talking about Blink, the story to which any supposed Moffat masterpiece must be compared. It is not that Blink is straightforwardly and unquestionably the best Moffat story; picking The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang or Day of the Doctor is an eminently respectable choice. But a masterpiece is different from a mere best, implying not just raw quality but a sort of technical proficiency that shows off the writer’s skill. This is why Blink serves as the type specimen for Moffat—a story long on formal constraint and ostentatiously clever structure that plays elaborate games with time and causality. Its ostentatious grandeur hangs over the whole Moffat era, a high watermark whose reputation seems to ...

Fragile Talons, Part 2: Colonies in Space

"There has never been a document of culture, which is not simultaneously one of barbarism. Not even Doctor Who."

- Walter Benjamin,On the Concept of History’ (quoted from memory)

 

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Where was I?

Oh yeah, it’s unfair to pick on ‘Talons of Weng-Chiang’ for being racist because all Doctor Who is racist.

So what do I mean by that?

Well, I don’t just mean that there are lots of stories in Doctor Who that contain implicit or explicit racist ideas, representations, or implications … though it does, and it might be worth going through some of them.

There’s ‘An Unearthly Child’, for instance, which associates ‘tribal’ life with brutishness and savagery, and suggests that tribal people need to be taught concepts like friendship and cooperation by enlightened Western liberals from technologically advanced societies… as if, historically, enlightened Western liberals from technologically advanced societies haven’t been the ones slaughtering tribal peoples.  Native peoples, by the way, know what friendship and cooperation are. Sometimes better than us. And we are talking about native peoples in ‘Unearthly’. Because of Europeans’ historic encounters with native peoples as European imperialism and colonialism spread across the globe, we’ve come to associate the notion of ...

Series 11 Reviews and Podcasts

All right. Since we finally have an airdate announced, it's probably time to formalize Eruditorum Press's plans for Series 11. As usual, our hope is to do reviews and podcasts of all ten episodes and the Christmas special. And I mean, we really hope to do that. I'm dying to weigh in week by week on a new era of Doctor Who. It sounds amazing. But, of course, bills must be paid, and so there are some Patreon goals we have to meet first. At the time of writing, the Patreon is at $371 a week, just $4 shy of the $375 threshold at which I'll review every episode. So one $5 pledge is all it'll take to make sure that happens. And I've just made an AMA post for $5 patrons, so it's the perfect time to do that.

Podcasts are a little more ambitious, at $400. We might not make that; it'd be the highest the Patreon has ever gone, certainly. But I am an optimistic devil, and I think we can probably just squeak through at that level. So. If you want to hear me round up ten awesome ...

A Universe of Our Own Terrors (Face the Raven)

List of ways companions have died on Doctor Who: asphyxiated in space, instantaneously aged to death by the Time Destroyer, spaceship crashed into Earth, a bird flew into her tits

It’s November 21st, 2015. Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” has unseated “Hello” at number one, with both “Love Yourself” and “What Do You Mean” also in the charts. Jess Glynne and One Direction are also newly in the top ten. In news, Storm Barney strikes Britain, knocking out thousands of people’s power, and not a ton else happens unless you find Bobby Jindal withdrawing from the 2016 presidential election interesting, which you probably shouldn’t.

While on television, the Doctor Who debut of Sarah Dollard. “What’s the most impressive debut of a Doctor Who writer” is a fairly entertaining parlor game. Harness has obvious cred, as does Mathieson. There’s a host of obvious one hit wonders to consider: Peter Ling, Andrew Smith, or Barbara Clegg. There are big classics like Terry Nation, Malcolm Hulke, or even Steven Moffat himself. Or you could go with an impishly perverse choice like Stephen Wyatt. But for the most part the debate’s plausible margin of error evaporates here. Face the Raven may not be the best first story ...

Fragile Talons, Part 1: Of Its Time

Thanks to the various people who looked over this and made suggestions, especially Holly.  The mistakes are, of course, mine alone.

This post was originally going to have the alternative title ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to Doctor Who Fans About Race’ but Andrew Rilstone got there before me, damn his eyes.  Seriously, go read Andrew’s post because it’s excellent.  Amongst other things, he looks directly at the arguments put forward in Marcus Hearn’s Doctor Who Magazine editorial.  Which is, of course, what started this.

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We live in a strange world.  I’m being told, on the one hand, that Jeremy Corbyn, the most consistently and committedly anti-racist MP in the Commons, is an antisemite, and, on the other, that ‘Talons of Weng-Chiang’, a story in which a Fu Manchu style villain - played by a white actor in rubber ‘yellowface’ - abducts white women with the help of a Tong of “opium sodden” Chinese cultists working out of Limehouse, isn’t racist.  You just know, don’t you, that some professional Doctor Who hacks are convinced that Corbyn, if elected, would institute Britain’s very own reenactment of the Final Solution, but will also quibble with you over whether or not Julius Silverstein ...

In My Dream I Quite Clearly Saw (Sleep No More)

Jeez man most people just use a sleep blindfold

It’s November 14th, 2015. Adele is at number one with “Hello.” Fleur East, Wstrn, and Justin Bieber also chart, the latter with both “Sorry” and “What Do You Mean.” In news, a series of terrorist attacks take place in Paris including a mass shooting at the Bataclan theatre during an Eagles of Death Metal concert and a series of suicide bombings around the Stade de France during a match between France and Germany. The first storm named by the Met Office, the extratropical cyclone Abigail, hits Scotland, while a series of protests at the University of Missouri lead to the resignation of the president of the system.

On television, meanwhile, a distinctly unusual episode of Doctor Who. Sleep No More is not, by general acclamation, a classic. Even those inclined towards sympathy for Gatiss tend to focus their redemptive efforts elsewhere. And it’s easy enough to see why this might be. It’s a decidedly lumpy story with idiosyncratic pacing that never quite sells its stakes or offers a coherent account of its concept.  Character remains something of an afterthought for Gatiss, which is frustrating for Clara’s last ...

"One Of Us Is Yellow": Doctor Fu Manchu and The Talons of Weng Chiang (Guest Post by Kate Orman)

In light of recent controversies in and around Doctor Who Magazine about The Talons of Weng-Chiang, it is our pleasure to reprint Kate Orman's essay from Lindy Orthia's collection  Doctor Who and Race, which is, for my money, the best and most comprehensive take on the story's racism out there, and something that absolutely needs to be seen by a wider audience. Massive thanks to both Kate and Lindy for agreeing to our republishing it.

“Maybe we wouldn’t get away with it these days.”

 – Philip Hinchcliffe[1]

Introduction

As a Chinese doctor who fan, I just want to say Talons of Weng Chiang was so horrible for me that I didn’t manage to finish watching it... Why did I even try to watch it, knowing there’re evil Chinese stereotypes? I should have known better. I love my show and it’s painful to watch.[2]

The Talons of Weng-Chiang (1977), a long-standing favourite, has only two real flaws in the eyes of Doctor Who fans: the casting of white actor John Bennett as Chinese villain Li H’Sen Chang, and an unconvincing giant rat. While the rat can be smiled at, the story’s use of ‘yellowface’ has to ...

Guest Post: Introduction - A History of Video Game History

I am on extended hiatus from posting on Eruditorum Press, but I wanted to use my platform here to share this wonderful and exciting new project from my good friend Ben Knaak. Ben's been a guest on Pex Lives and he and I have done a few audio recordings of our own together that some readers might remember. Anyone who's interested in video game criticism and/or Marxist history and philosophy, which is to say statistically all of you, should really enjoy this new series.

I'll be crossposting content here as it becomes available to me, but please do consider following Ben's new blog and YouTube channel. That should be all from me.

 

The Grande Armée presents the tattered Prussian colors to Napoleon.

 

Not a Country with an Army but an Army with a Country

 

The story of Video Game History™ (as distinct from the history of video games, which is of course a different subject) does not, in fact, begin with Sid Meier. Nor even with Francis Tresham, designer of the original Civilization board game that introduced the infamous “tech tree” to the world. No, the long, slow gestation of Video Game History™ predates not only the existence of video games, but ...

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