Viewing posts tagged genetic determinism

Out of Eden

From the October 2011 issue of Panic Moon.  As ever, lightly edited and titivated... 'cos I just can't help tinkering.


When Doctor Who talks about evolution, it doesn’t usually bother getting the facts right.  'Evolution of the Daleks', for instance, seems to think species change when genes mutate morally because of lightning bolts.  Such ideas go right back to 'The Daleks', in which the two races on Skaro have changed totally in mere “hundreds of years” of mutation, with the warrior Thals becoming natural pacifists in the process.  (Incidentally, it’s ironic that this supposedly anti-Nazi parable speaks of blonde, blue-eyed, athletic specimens as “refined” and “perfect”.)

Real evolution does involve mutations, but they’re not sudden and drastic as depicted in, to pick another example, 'The Mutants'.  Instead we’re talking about tiny replication errors in genetic code which are preserved or rejected by natural selection, leading to big changes over very long periods.  This creates staggering variety on our planet alone.  However, most aliens in the Doctor Who universe look like British actors, which (accidentally) implies that the humanoid shape is a universal pinnacle or goal of evolution.  ...

Prometheus Underground

Warning: Triggers and Spoilers.  And waffle.


Sex & Monsters

In Prometheus, the Engineers are ancient Titans who created humanity... and, it is implied, seeded the galaxy with their DNA. There is something very noticeable about them: they are all men. Meanwhile, there is a definite vaginal look to a great many of the alien bio-weapons they created and which then subsumed them. However, I don't think its really possible to read the battle between Engineers and their bio-weapons as a battle of the sexes. The weapon creatures are also phallic and penetrative, as in previous iterations of the Alien universe. All the same, it's true that presenting the creators of life (in their own image) as exclusively dudes does imply that generative power resides in the male alone. It is enough for one Engineer to dissolve his DNA into the waters of a planet to kickstart the process that will lead to animal life (if that's how the opening scene is meant to be read). The Engineers are male but apparently sexless, capable of asexual reproduction. The deadly runaway bio-weapons, which seem hermaphroditic, look like the intrusion of sex into a male but sexless world. Sex is ...

Veto Axons

This is a round-up of my Timelash II stuff on Series 3... well, those bits of it that I haven't already posted elsewhere.  The 'Smith and Jones' bit is a tweaked version of something from the old site.  There's nothing about Axons in here, I just found myself amused by the anagram.


The Runaway Bride

The Doctor cold-bloodedly kills the Racnoss children... and the episode tries to have its cake and eat it by both giving the Doctor 'no choice' and implying that he 'went too far'. The probably unintentional implication is that neocon logic is unpalatable but inescapable, that we need people who will ruthlessly kill on a massive scale in order to protect us from the forces of unreasoning hostility.

We're a long way from "massive weapons of destruction" being a lie from a politician with an evil, greedy alien baby inside him. 



Smith and Jones

Russell reuses many of the ideas and techniques that made ‘Rose’ work as an introductory tale. There is a frenetic opening scene which introduces Martha, her family situation and her workplace. As in ‘Rose’, the new companion meets the Doctor at work and, as in ‘Rose ...

Flat Earth Society

The greatness and uniqueness of 'Image of the Fendahl' is shown in the scene where the Doctor "explains" what's going on to Adam Colby. Of course, he doesn't actually do any such thing. He suggests two possible explanations. He favours the first but his listener is sceptical so the Doctor offers an alternative which his listener finds more plausible. The Doctor also says that it might all be a coincidence. His tone is flippant but there is no real reason to suppose that he isn't being serious. It is clear that the Doctor is theorising and that he doesn't have the final answer.

This is fascinating and, as far as I can recall, unique in classic Doctor Who.

The Doctor has often been seen to behave superficially like a scientist (mucking about with test tubes, talking about oscillators, etc.) but this is the first and only real occasion when he really acts like one (like an idealised, Baconian one, that is). The Doctor is admitting that he doesn’t know and doing his best to come up with workable explanations which fit the facts. Moreover, the person the Doctor is speaking to is a scientist who ...

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