3 years, 10 months ago
There is, in some quarters, an assumption about alternatives. There is fannish continuity obsession on the one hand and, on the other hand, there is 'the real story' which tends to be to do with families and relationships. To an extent, this is a straw man... but it sometimes exists, implicitly, even where it is abjured. And it's a false dichotomy.
There is a Third Way: the investigation of the relationship between the political implications of monster wars and the lives of ordinary people.
This is a Third Way that the classic series hardly ever engaged with. In its own more ass-covery, fig-leafy way, this is something that the new series hardly ever engages with either.
Whereas the classic series concentrated on the monstrous, and then later upon the fan view of the monstrous, the new series tends to concentrate upon interpersonal relationships with monstrosity as a pretty backdrop.
The difference is that the classic series' logic was pragmatic (i.e. we are making a show about monsters) whereas the new series' logic is openly ideological (i.e. human family and romantic relationships are THE REAL STORY). If you doubt that this is ideological, look at how it has been iterated again and again. Look at 'The Empty Child', at 'Father's Day', at 'School Reunion', at 'Army of Ghosts / Doomsday', at 'Closing Time', at 'Night Terrors'.
Neither view is supportable but the former has at least the virtue of non-didacticism. It's a contrast to the aggressive apoliticism of so much of the new series, even when the new series dresses itself in the clothes of political engagement.
There is, fascinatingly, a similarity to the simplistic view of Blair as a villain. It is the difference between a wishy-washy reformist liberal/leftyishism ("Blair has betrayed Labour") and a faux-pragmatic panglossian acceptance ("he's achieved modest things that were, realistically, all he could do").
There is a Third Way that is invisible to those leftists who complain either that he did what he could or that he didn't do enough, precisely because it is based on the political relationship between personality and wider monstrosity.
That, weirdly, is why the more RTD moved into an engagement with the problems of New Labour, the more he moved into an acceptance of its premises. By the time of the uber-cynicism of 'The Sound of Drums' etc, he'd accepted that people are, essentially, horrible and Blair/Saxon is probably about what they deserve.
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