Boys in Their Dresses will be around later this week. For now… something new. You may find yourself wanting a link to my Patreon for this…
A critic once, in a moment of naiveté that hovers between sweet and pathetic, once asserted that “as long as there are stories, there are Doctor Who stories. When the stars go out and the universe freezes, around the last fire on the last world, there will still be Doctor Who stories to tell. And when we are done telling them, at long and final last, in the distance will be a strange wheezing, groaning sound. And out will step an impossible man, and he will save the day.” Perhaps it’s true that Doctor Who will last until the end of stories, but the reality is that this threshold is very likely a couple of decades away, and will happen right here on this planet as manmade climate change triggers a civilizational apocalypse. In which case there’s really not a lot that an imperial adventure hero with a busted-up time machine is going to do for us.
Nevertheless, Doctor Who provides a fascinating record of the fall. The 20th century, particularly the global industrialization of its latter half, is where humanity’s missteps sealed its fate. Doctor Who is a snapshot of British anxieities during that time. And as a fading colonial power that, at its hubristic height, had played the leading role in establishing the ideological preconditions for armageddon as global hegemony, Britain had a lot of anxieties during that time. Where an American franchise like Star Trek would offer a series of delusional fancies about the bright future of liberal capitalism, Doctor Who offers something altogether more interesting—a culture that is half-aware of its self-destruction, murmuring cryptic hyperstitions of its demise into the ears of its children as a means of entertaining and pacifying them.
Dalek Eruditorum is the story of this. Snapshots of a culture as it teeters on the brink, then off it—a record of the things it knows without knowing that it knows. Visions of the end with a thin veneer of “but our heroes will save the day” plastered implausibly on top of it. A fifty-six year chain of contradictory and jumbled prophecies from a mad seer in a strange and magical island at the center of a dying world. It’s a tale of post-apocalyptic hellscapes and the monsters that breed within, of eco-gothic terrors oozing up from the earth, of machines gone so insane they do what they were always meant to, and of hopeless fantasies of rebuilt civilization.
More practically, Dalek Eruditorum is a proposed blog project. If the Patreon hits $650 before December 15th (which right now it already has!), it will begin in January as a thirteen-post run, covering one story from every Doctor. Each story will get a twisted mirror of a TARDIS Eruditorum entry, looking at it with much the same critical approach, but a very different understanding of what sort of world it exists in. If the Patreon hits $700 by that time, meanwhile, it will get another thirteen stories, and at $750 it’ll get thirty-nine stories—one from every televised season, plus two from the Eighth Doctor era.
Those will break down like so:
$650: The Daleks, The Invasion, Terror of the Autons, The Pirate Planet, Frontios, Revelation of the Daleks, The Curse of Fenric, Alien Bodies, The Long Game, Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords, Victory of the Daleks, Kill the Moon, Demons of the Punjab
$700: The War Machines, Enemy of the World, Inferno, The Sea Devils, The Ark in Space, Horror of Fang Rock, The Horns of Nimon, Enlightenment, Terror of the Vervoids, Paradise Towers, Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel, The Bells of Saint John, World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls
$750:The Crusade, Evil of the Daleks, The Green Death, Invasion of the Dinosaurs, Seeds of Doom, Deadly Assassin, State of Decay, Kinda, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, the TV Movie, Planet of the Ood, Closing Time, The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar, and something from Series 12.
You may be asking yourself about reviews of Series 12 when it starts up sometime, presumably around January. Well… those are at $800. Yes, that’s a lot. But frankly, so is the effort of finding something to say about Chibnall-era Doctor Who that isn’t just incoherent screaming in frustration, so, you know. Maybe they won’t happen this year. I’m frankly OK with that.
And to answer the obvious question, yes, Boys in Their Dresses will go on hiatus for this. It may come back, I may have other things I want to do by late September 2020, which is when this could find itself wrappng up. We’ll see.
In any case, if any of this interests you, here’s my Patreon. Thanks for your support.