I’m sometimes rather startled to realise just how much Doctor Who I’ve missed.
I mean, chronologially, the last actual TV episode I saw was ‘Night Terrors’. I watched that ages after transmission, as part of a foolhardy attempt to catch up with the series (which I finally gave up watching upon transmission roundabout the time of ‘A Christmas Carol’, which I liked about as much as I like Ian Duncan Smith). I was hoping that I’d either get my mind changed by the catch-up session – i.e. become persuaded that Who under Moffat isn’t just empty, bombastic, cynical, reactionary, sexist, culty drivel – or, alternatively, that my justified hatred of what I was seeing would give me something to furiously blog about.
As it turns out, my undignified little scrape with ‘Night Terrors’ (see here) put me off the project again. Initially inclined to be soft on it, despite some nitpicks, I was soon convinced by commenters that it’s actually the story where the Doctor becomes David Cameron, lecturing the clueless working schlubs on how to solve their problems by being better parents. Dispirited, I quit again. So, I’ve not seen anything after ‘Night Terrors’. And I feel just peachy about this, to be honest with you.
Besides having been driven away from the TV show, I was surprised to realise, as I was following Sandifer’s analysis of the Virgin New Adventures at his blog, how many of those I’d missed back in the day. I always thought of myself as a follower of the line, but it seems I neglected to read a fair few of them. Still, I was going through college and university at the time. I had other things to read. The menus of pizza restaurants, for example, and loan forms, and letters about my overdraft.
It’s the same with Big Finish. I’ve heard, I suppose, about a fifth of their Who output – at most. I guess I just haven’t tried hard enough.
And as for the late-90s BBC novels line… well, I think I’ve read all the Lawrence Miles ones and all the Chris Boucher ones, but beyond that… I think I tried reading one by Justin Richards once. It was called ‘The Burning’, as I recall. It’s possible that my copy (with the first 12 pages lightly thumbed) may still be being used as a wedge under a table leg in a rather seedy set of student digs on the South coast. I wouldn’t be surprised.
I actually suspect there are a lot of fans like me. In this respect, anyway. But the point I’m limping towards is this: there are lots of things that a sizeable number of Who fans know about that I simply don’t. I don’t know what’s so bad about those John Peel Dalek novels, for instance. Never read ’em. Never will. I also don’t know (not from personal experience anyway) what’s so bad about ‘The Eight Doctors’ by Terrance Dicks, though I know that it is generally considered to be absolutely awful.
So I was fascinated to learn at Philip Sandifer’s TARDIS Eruditorum that this book sees Dicks
managing to be more prone to waxing poetic about the need for great and noble leaders to rule over the common rabble than ever. The stuff with the Shobogans in the Sixth Doctor segments is absolutely vomit-inducing, with Dicks establishing them as the Gallifreyan working class/criminal underworld (these seem to be the same thing in his mind) who the Doctor enjoys getting drunk with and dispensing favor to. With astonishing creepiness, Dicks ends their plot by saying “even the Shobogans were content with their lot” and leaving it at that, a line that comes horrifyingly close to just saying that the working class are just meant to be poorer than the nobles.
This interests me for obvious reasons. I have, for one thing, made the Shabogans into the… emblems? motifs? mascots? heroes? …of this blog. Also, of course, there are the implications of someone with attitudes like those described above being so central to creating Who over the years. Of course, it’s not news exactly… but it is interesting.
And, as I say, it worries me slightly because I suddenly feel a little self-conscious to realise that I’ve got a blog called ‘Shabogan Graffiti’, and yet a fair few of the people reading it are likely to be more familiar with how the Shabogans have been characterised than I am. Still, it’s not as though I’m unused to being surrounded by people who know more than me.
However, I do want to make a few things clear. It’s Shabogans, not Shobogans. I’ve checked it on the BBC website. So there.
And it’s pronounced “Shaboogans”, just in case anyone was wondering. George Pravda knew best and must be obeyed in this. I mean c’mon… his very name means ‘truth’.
Oh, and one other thing… they are quite definitely not content with their lot.