Viewing posts tagged deadly assassin

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"Don't get any ambitious ideas," says Castellan Spandrell to his prisoner.

"I just wanted to check it was the same staser," says the Doctor, examing the weapon used to assassinate the President of the High Council of Time Lords. "You see that symbol at the end of the corridor?"

The Doctor indicates a huge Seal of Rassilon.

"What about it?" asks Spandrell.

"You try and hit it," says the Doctor, handing Spandrell the staser.

"That's the kind of vandalism we're always running the Shabogans in for," grumbles Spandrell.

Spandrell is, basically, the Chief of Police in the Time Lord Capitol.  As such, the Doctor is his prisoner, having been caught holding a rifle in a gallery near the spot where the President was gunned down.

We never see any Shabogans.   The reference is never explained.  It just seems to be part of a Gallifreyan policeman's job to arrest people called 'Shabogans' for vandalism.  But let's not pass over this too quickly.  There is regular crime here?  There are hooligans running around the corridors of the Capitol of the Time Lords of Gallifrey? 

Well, yes, of course.

The Time ...

Missing Codec

Old Who was not fundamentally about characters or characterisation.

At its best, it used characterisation as a way of expressing its actual concerns, which were narrative or semiotic or conceptual or thematic or mythic or political or satirical... or any combination thereof.

We know everything we need to know about who Kalik, Orum and Pletrac are, how they think, etc. for the pastiche/satire/parable/joke to work.

It simply isn't interested in how Kalik feels about his mother.

It certainly isn't interested in how the Doctor feels. Or hardly ever. Even when the Doctor goes home for the first time, we don't see him soulfully staring at his childhood haunts or standing in the rain over the grave of his deserted Mum. Instead, he gets caught up in a satirical political thriller that turns into a surreal duel and then an apocalyptic techno-melodrama.

Of course, there's plenty of characterisation in 'The Deadly Assassin'. Even minor characters have ways of thinking and speaking. Hildred is a brutal bungler. Borusa is principled in some ways, cynical in others, and has a sneaking admiration for his wayward ex-pupil, etc.

Worldbuilding, in the service of conceptual or historical or ...

The Lords Temporal

This is an edited and tweaked version of something I wrote for the old site.


If 'The Deadly Assassin' has a central thesis, it might be this: power is no guaranteur of responsibility. Or even sensibleness. This tale shows us beings like us. Godlike in their technology, they are also childlike in their small-mindedness.

In 'The Deadly Assassin', the Time Lords are senile gerontocrats living on ossified priviledge. They natter, bumble and scheme. The less shot-away amongst them spend their time snapping at each other with haughty contempt or scheming over appearances and expediency. Robert Holmes deliberately strips Power of its outward signs of dignity and virtue and superiority.

They are locked in a rigid class system. They fail to understand their own technology, their own power, their own myths. They "adjust the truth" to suit their agendas. Their outwardly civilised society begins to crumble into anarchy when two of their renegades return and start fighting out their neuroses. The sit on a massive computer lake of information in which nestles a surreal and nightmarish dreamscape filled with elemental terrors. Their Panopticon (literally: place where all can be seen) hides secrets. The biggest secret is a singularity, a piece of ...

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