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Jack Graham

Jack Graham wrote about Doctor Who and Marxism, often at the same time. These days he co-hosts the I Don't Speak German podcast with Daniel Harper.Support Jack on Patreon.

4 Comments

  1. Richard Pilbeam
    October 28, 2011 @ 7:25 am

    That's what makes The Two Doctors such a frustrating story; for two episodes it seems to be deliberately highlighting how cynical and hypocritical everyone involved is: the Time Lords harp on about the laws of time while breaking them by sending the Doctor back into his own past; Dastari's racist view of Androgums prevents him from seeing that Chessene is plotting something; Shockeye's lines about "lesser races" mirror the way people see him; the Sontarans look down on everyone; the Doctor's infection from Androgum DNA makes him talk like a cook rather than a space monster; It's icky that Styke eats a rat, but butchering livestock is acceptable; Oscar sticks moths on pins and ends up getting stabbed himself… that aspect is actually very rich, and more more interesting than the non-plot about the fucking briode nebuliser.

    Pity they abandon this wholesale for the Godawful "the monsters are bad 'cause they're bad" ending.

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  2. Anonymous
    October 30, 2011 @ 6:21 pm

    Again excellent analysis Jack-particularly on Two Doctors.

    I remember reading an even worse line that was deleted (check the production subtitles on the DVD) where the Doctor tells Peri that the Androgums have been a slave race for thousands of years. When Peri says something like "How horrible" the Doctor says No, this has given them plenty of years to get used to it!

    Couldn't believe my eyes when I read it.

    Deeply problematic script-frustrating because Holmes' obvious skill.

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  3. Jack Graham
    October 31, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

    Richard – yes, I agree, '2 Docs' is a frustrating story exactly because there are so many potentially interesting noises in it.

    Sadly, it's a bit like Moffat's style nowadays. 'Tell' the audience one (noble) thing, 'show' them other values in operation. 'Tell' them "there are no unimportant people," sayeth the Doctor; 'show' them the Doctor prepared to play with people like a self-appointed god and let the irrelevant rabblement rot in the freezers. Which would be interesting ambiguity… if it weren't for the fact that the story evidently forgets about the double standard and doesn't expect the viewer to remember either. Moffat does this constantly now.

    'Two Doctors' does the same thing… though, interestingly, it kind of does it the other way round. The story 'tells' us that the Androgums are scum but 'shows' us that nobody else is much better… which would be interesting ambiguity, if it lasted. But the Androgums are ultimately supposed to be 'worse' in various ways. The Sontarans look better by comparison by virtue of their stupidity vs. the effective Androgum machiavellianism. Dastari has an abrupt change of heart and is instantly forgiven (for conspiracy in mass murder!) by our hero/es. And the Androgum villainy is linked to their unthinking baseness… it's instinctive. It's something they can't help. Other people might be bad, but the Androgums are animals.

    This is probably why – aside from the echoes of archaic anti-semitism – the story reminded me of Barabbas and Shylock. It's true, both these Jewish machiavels show up the hypocrisy of gentiles, but ultimately – in both plays – we're invited to consider the Jews as intrinsically worse.

    And then you have the fact that, as Anonymous said (thanks for dropping by Anonymous – I understand there's a film about you now?), they're a slave race who evidently are naturally fit for nothing better. I wouldn't mind the Doctor's line about them being "used to" slavery being reinstated, if it were contextualised later, if the Doctor were forced to reconsider, if the Androgums weren't finally shown to be just beasts. But nothing like that happens. It's very odd that, in a story that deliberately sets out to make the case against the exploitation of animals for meat, the writer creates a storyline whereby one set of sentient people are depicted as inferior, unthinking creatures who can and should be preyed upon because it's their "just desserts".

    The story fails to notice these double standards and evidently doesn't expect the audience to notice either.

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  4. Jack Graham
    March 5, 2013 @ 3:48 pm

    I'd write this somewhat differently now. I think the gist holds up, but I'd be less soft on some of the stories I mention. Especially 'Talons'. Especially with regards to the hedging around whether the writers/programme-makers were racists. If you say or write or do something racist, then you're a fucking racist, aren't you? Duh, Jack. Duh.

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