To celebrate the DVD release of ‘Kinda’ (alongside its sequel ‘Snakedance’) here is a guest post by Rob, also known at Gallifrey Base as vgrattidge-1.
ADDITIONAL: The text below is different from that originally posted, having been revised and expanded by the author. 25/4/11.
‘Kinda’ raises a lot of questions and embraces an unusually (for Doctor Who) complex approach to its subject matter. It’s a rich script by Christopher Bailey – one that looks at invidualism vs collectivism in two (very different) societies; colonialism; propaganda; History; male aggression, and madness, while drawing on Freudian theory, Christian imagery and Buddhist concepts in order to explore these ideas in multiple ways. A stylized theatrical piece, if one inflatable snake and a pot plant jungle gets in the way of some of the most interesting writing (not to mention performance, music and direction) of the classic series, then that’s to lose sight of one of its greatest, most thoughtful and arresting serials ever.
‘Kinda’ is about many things. It’s about the power of the community over individuals (in this case men, reversing a convention but avoiding the ‘Planet of Women’ trope), so as to prevent aggressive, warlike behaviour. This is couched in the idea of an alien tribe who, if they don’t share everything (especially their dreams), are prey to monsters who will use them as mediums to pass into the real world from the darkest corners of their Id.
The Mara (the Buddhist word for temptation) is certainly a “real” creature here, but is the evil it revels in to be found within us or beyond us? Is it a demon of our minds, or something that uses our minds as a way of gaining access to the material world?
Bailey bats around psychosis, the Oedipus complex and paranoia both within the parameters of Freudianism (the scenes with Hindle in the base) and via several Buddhist concepts (the scenes in Tegan’s dream and with Panna, the wise woman of the Kinda tribe) in order to explore this dichotomy. Brilliantly, he sticks to posing questions without offering pat answers.
Initially, this seems like a reactionary message about war-like men needing to be contained and about a pre-agrarian community being superior to a high-technological society; essentially, the message of the egregious Avatar with its noble savages and BIG BAD COLONISTS. But while the Kinda are indeed a bunch of “serene dream catchers” (winks at Jack Graham) with odd bits of knowledge (they are aware of DNA – perhaps a leftover from a time before the Mara was first unleashed), they also have to halt progress and exist in a state of enforced servility in order to survive. The ‘ideal’ they most certainly are not! Dr Todd may see innocent children in a Garden of Eden but this is a romanticized view of a society forcibly held in stasis in case the wheel of History starts up and brings the conflict that Panna fears will change things irrevocably on Deva Loka; we should note how her vision of the Mara’s return is brimming with nuclear-era countdowns to apocalyptic destruction (‘Kinda’ being a near-contemporary of Threads and Z For Zacharia).…