"The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction" said William Blake in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and on lots of European walls in the 60s, and under the cover of an Eighth Doctor Adventure by Kate Orman.
I disagree. I think you need the horses of instruction just as much as you need the tygers of wrath. The thing about the tygers is that they chase you. The thing about the horses is that you have to chase them. If you've got a horse ahead of you and a tyger behind... well, that's not comfortable, but it's the better way round. It gives you both a strong impetus and a goal.
Of course, horses can be wild and tygers can be calm.
I'll stop there. All analogies can be pushed to breaking point. Even the ones invented by geniuses.
This is a slightly-tweaked version of something originally published in the January 2011 edition of Panic Moon. Back issues of this excellent fanzine (now, sadly, on hiatus) are still available, here.
Plant monsters. That’s an old one. Where does it come from? Maybe it’s about the Venus Fly Trap, the cactus or the thorns on the stem of a rose. Maybe it’s about the faces that we see in the gnarled bark of trees; the faces that gave us generations of tales about tree folk. We see this in 'The Seeds of Doom', in the initial humanoid shape of the monster, in its booming threats, in its communion with Chase, in the way that the Doctor keeps calling it Keeler ironically, having chided Sarah for referring to the transformed Winlett by name.
Maybe it’s the sheer unnerving silence and mindlessness of things that nonetheless seem to have flesh and veins and skin, that nonetheless grow and move and breed. We see this in 'The Seeds of Doom', with all the emphasis on skin, blood and pain… and Chase’s obsessional desire to “see what happens when the Krynoid touches human flesh”. We see this in the way the Krynoid moves, unfettered ...
Erato the Tythonian in 'The Creature from the Pit' doesn't much resemble an octopus, but nevertheless he/it is a shapeless, amorphous creature that extends a probe which is (briefly) a bit tentacular... though this tends to be obscured by the fact that it also supposedly resembles a cock:
If this picture reminds you of your genitals, seek immediate medical advice.
Neither seems to have been the writer's intention. Indeed, in the novelisation, it is specifically stated that "you couldn't call it a tentacle". The probe is repeatedly described in terms of hands, fingers and fists. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Erato is meant to be a kind of giant, disembodied brain.
However, the probe is a long, flexible, green, non-humanoid limb... so let's not fear to call it a quasi-tentacle, whatever Fisher says.
In any case, the Tythonian is - at least until it starts talking - reminiscent of the Weird... if only via its unstable and amorphous blobbiness.
In this post, I suggested that 'Spearhead from Space' erupts into tentacles at the end partly as a way of obscuring something else that is going on in the story, namely a convergence of various ...
The tentacle was already well established as a staple of monsterology long before Doctor Who was even a glint in Sydney Newman's eye. When Who selected the tentacle as its semiotic method of evading/signifying capitalism - as I'm going to argue that it did in the 70s - it selected it from a pre-existing toolbox full of potential signifiers. But it didn't suddenly stumble upon the octopoidal. It had encountered tentacles before, albeit only occasionally.
On the whole, the show's early years are pretty thin on tentacles... but there are quasi-tentacular manifestations in 'The Keys of Marinus' (the Brains of Morphoton have stubby little almost-tentacles), 'The Dalek Invasion of Earth' (the Slyther) and 'The Web Planet' (the Animus). The only proper octopus monster in this era is the Mire Beast from 'The Chase'. It lives underground and exists solely to provide a way for our heroes to escape from the Aridians without deliberately sentencing them all to Dalek-death.
Oh look... bar the Animus, those were all written by Terry Nation. Hmmm...
By this point (the early 60s), the 'novum' of the tentacle had passed, but it had entrenched itself in the grammar of Western ...
A rejigg of something I wrote for the old site on the subject of 'Turn Left', the best episode of series 4.
The alternate world that Davies conjures up in ‘Turn Left’ is not so far removed from our own. We might not (yet) see British soldiers patrolling our streets and pointing automatic weapons at unarmed women (though the recent behaviour of the police towards student protestors has been pretty savage)... but that sight would not be so unfamiliar to the people of Baghdad. Or Belfast, for that matter.
The nightmarish, decaying, dystopian Britain in this episode reflects aspects of our current social predicament… indeed, as Simon Kinnear pointed out in DWM, the episode seems prescient of the years ahead of it, of (to put it my way) recession/cuts torn Britain.
While it doesn’t get specific, or touch economics much, ‘Turn Left’ seems like the closest thing to a direct political attack on crisis-wracked British society that any mainstream TV show could possibly get away with. Let’s just recap: in an episode of that highly commercial kid’s romp known as Doctor Who, Russell T. Davies suggested that, in a time of crisis, the British state might ...
"The alienation of the worker in his product means not only that his labor becomes an object, an external existence, but that it exists outside him, independently, as something alien to him, and that it becomes a power on its own confronting him. It means that the life which he has conferred on the object confronts him as something hostile and alien."