There is a long and venerable tradition in Doctor Who of portraying revolutions sympathetically. It does this many times. It isn’t an unbroken run of support… but for every ‘Reign of Terror’, in which the French Revolution is given the full Baroness Orczy treatment, there is a ‘Sun Makers’, in which a full-scale workers’ revolt topples a corporate tyranny. For every ‘Monster of Peladon’, where reform is touted as a solution to chaos created by extremists on both sides (right-wingers in government and looney-left wingers amongst the miners), there is a ‘Happiness Patrol’ in which the Doctor and Ace encourage a united rebellion by factory workers, aboriginal aliens and dissidents. Fantastical, they may be… but these depictions are also surprisingly candid about the amount of mess, pain and trauma involved in popular uprisings, while retaining a forthright sympathy.
As far as I know, this track record is unique amongst television programmes.
In light of interesting and inspiring things going on in the world at the moment, I thought it might be fun to post some of my favourite televised revolutions….
The Ood kick some sorry corporate ass.
Street protests, in which dissidents defy the security forces and trap them in the knots of their own ideology, kicking off a process that will lead to the fall of a brutal, repressive government and the attempted flight of a dictator.
The Doctor confronts a neoliberal hobgoblin and, with the vital help of the “work units”… sorry, I mean “the people”, he foils a plan to put down a rebellion. He confuses his pin-striped capitalist foe into submission by means of a growth tax leading to “negative surplus” (i.e. no profit).
Sadly, the radical message of ‘The War Games’ sputters a little when the Doctor calls upon the Time Lords for help… but still, here we see “the Resistance” (a unified force of soldiers of all nationalities) storming the baddie’s control centre and putting an end to their cynical, fake wars.