Rediscovering The Doctor

In The Impossible Planet, the Doctor and Rose find themselves trapped in a base sitting on a planet that is somehow, mysteriously, not falling into a black hole just light-minutes away. The crew then suddenly gets infected by some kind of mind-control emanating from a thing calling itself Abbadon. It’s one of my favorite episodes because the Doctor has to admit that he doesn’t know what kind of creature causes this energy surge, even after he confronts it face-to-face. At one point he says something like, “I thought nothing could come before the universe… but really that’s just my rule. And we hate anything violating our rules don’t we? Our beliefs?”

The idea of the monstrous, something that knows way more than it should, and that the idea can spread faster and more fatally than the beast, that’s interesting. The Doctor’s doubt is fascinating. And the idea of the impossible planet itself, that makes for great sci-fi.

I miss that Doctor Who.

I just saw the trailer for the Twelfth Doctor, and it seemed… interesting. Complex. Dark. Tantalizing. And Jenna Coleman seems like she actually gets a chance to, I don’t know, act.

The thing is, though, I haven’t been excited for anything to do with the Doctor for a while. The last few episodes were less than stellar. And I couldn’t even put my finger quite on it, because the elements could be exciting: the impossible girl, Clara, the Doctor growing old, the detectives of Victorian London. But it’s as though Moffat and company were less interested in the continuity and legacy of the Doctor, and more interested in rewriting history. How shiny could they make the doctor? How non-Weeping Angels could they make the Weeping Angels?

But the Doctor is less about the final mystery of his name or the fields of Pelennor. That’s not the point. At least, not to me. The point is his actual name. The question we should be asking is the one the Doctor asks in this show: “Am I a good man?”

There are a lot of questions sci-fi has the ability to ask, and one of the most important is “Should we do this just because we can?” The Doctor is a character with a lot of power, and he’s always struggled with the question of whether he should be using it.

Moffat and Co. could stand to ask themselves the same question every now and then.

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