Viewing posts tagged the prisoner

This Irregularity Has Been Recorded

Doctor Who frequently did stories which critiqued capitalism to one degree or another.  But there's an interesting dialectical twist to this, which is that it usually cloaked such critiques in the aesthetics of (for want of a better term) 'totalitarianism'.

It begins, arguably, with 'The Macra Terror'... though so much of what that story does 'first' is actually just being done openly and consciously for the first time.  Other examples include (most graphically) 'The Sun Makers', 'Vengeance on Varos', and 'The Happiness Patrol'.  I'd argue for a few others to go on the list, but these are the most obvious examples.  'The Beast Below' carried on the tradition, as did 'Gridlock' before it (albeit mutedly).  Yet many of these stories have been subject to readings which interpret them as right-wing and/or libertarian attacks on aspects of socialism and/or statism (often assumed to be synonymous).  I might even (overall) support such a reading in some cases.  'The Beast Below', for example, is a story which critiques aspects of the capitalist world, but which (to my mind) ends up supplying more alibis than indictments - partially through its use of totalitarian/statist ...

Sensor Scan: The Prisoner


Let's get this straight right from the start: Entire analytical projects can, have been, and should be written about Patrick McGoohan and George Markstein's The Prisoner. It's rightly regarded as one of the single greatest and most influential, and most oversignified, television series of all time. Given I don't even regard the entirety of Vaka Rangi, which tackles just about every filmed moment of Star Trek and then some, as a definitive authoritative reading of the Star Trek franchise, there is absolutely no way I can be expected to come up with some comprehensive interpretation of something like The Prisoner in one blog post. That said, this is still one of the most iconic parts of the televisual landscape of 1967-8 (not to mention a show that was a massive source of inspiration for at least one future creative figure) so there's no getting away from me saying something about it.

Some assorted thoughts then. First, for those who might not be intimately familiar with The Prisoner, it's a seventeen episode (though apparently only seven were actually intended and are considered by the creators to be part of the overall story arc) miniseries aired ...

Skulltopus 6: Macra Revisited

According to China Miéville, the classic, early 20th century haute Weird of Lovecraft and Hodgson is the nebulous, meaningless, reactionary scream of incomprehension that greets the onrushing horror of modernity.

I think that, for 70s Doctor Who, a resurrected and processed form of the Weird is what the show draws upon when it finds itself haunted by repressed knowledge that it cannot face: the knowledge that the modern nightmares upon which it dwells are generated by capitalism.  When the themes of a 70s Doctor Who story suggest the possibility that capitalism could be noticed and indicted in systemic terms - particularly in terms of the exploitation of the worker, race and/or imperialism - the show tries to jettison the hauntological (realising that it is itself being haunted... nay, stalked) in favour of the Weird.

I intend to justify these outrageous claims in a forthcoming post.

In my last post - here - I casually asserted that the Weirdish ab-crabs in 'The Macra Terror' are a "prelude" to the connection the show will make in the 70s between the tentacle and capitalism.  It occurs to me that I need to expand a bit on my Skulltopus post about the Macra - here - in order ...

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