In this, the fourth guest blog post, @BlueCollarDrWho shares his thoughts on the first season of Doctor Who, and on Chris Eccleston's portrayal of the titular Time Lord. The article presents an interesting perspective on the socio-political undertones of the first season, and of the Ninth Doctor. It is, as a reader, fascinating to see how Doctor Who impacts fans in different ways, and how we each apply a variety of interpretations to the stories, and so, without any further ado, I'm proud to present...
The Ninth Doctor Year
This blog post intends to review each episode of the Ninth Doctor year plus a summary of the Ninth Doctor himself, the companion Rose’s time with Ninth.
Christopher Eccleston’s time on Doctor Who was so short that he played the Doctor from 26 March 2005 – 18 June 2005, which is only 84 days! (Yes, I did the sums using my Mac Own Numbers software)
Rose not only shows a new companion for the Doctor but marks the return of a new TV series of Doctor Who since 1989. A passage of 16 years! What was clear in the first few minutes of Rose was that the companion would play a bigger role in Doctor Who by showing the life of Rose such as her mother and her boyfriend Mickey. Doctor Who returned by bringing back the Autons last seen in ‘Terror of the Autons’ back in 1971.
Rose also brought a new phrase in Doctor Who history “Every Planet has a North” & “Lots of Planets have a North” I always viewed the Ninth Doctor as being the first Doctor with a strong accent because although Sylvester McCoy has a Scottish accent it is very mild in comparison to Christopher Eccleston. Christopher Eccleston himself made it abundantly clear that he deliberately kept his Salford Accent in reaction against the Received Pronunciation accent common in BBC. Something I agree on with Christopher Eccleston.
Rose criticized the Doctor for not remembering the name of her boyfriend Mickey. I think the reason the Doctor may not have remembered Mickey’s name is because of what I see as the Ninth Doctor ethos. I think the Ninth Doctor ethics is based on utilitarianism which holds that all life is equally important and if he remembered Mickey’s name it would attach too much greater importance to one individual over another or everyone else which is contrary to the ideas of utilitarianism.
Rose ended up saving the day by using her gymnastic skills by swinging on a rope to knock over the Autons holding the Doctor which then caused the anti-plastic solution to tip into the Nestene Consciousness.
The End of the World
The End of the World highlights the concept of the Adherents of the Repeated Meme, an idea introduced by the scientist Richard Dawkins 1976 book The Selfish Gene. “A meme is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture" By this definition the Adherents of the Repeated Meme shared an idea, behavior and style repeatedly in person by offering a stainless-steel orbs as a, "gift of peace in all good faith" When the Doctor explains a repeated meme is just an idea the true nature of a repeated meme is implicated. The villain of the episode Cassandra used tiny robots to control space station which remind of ‘web crawlers’ which trawl the Internet to collect data and control different elements of the internet. Self-hate, denial and survivor guilt are themes touched in this episode by the Ninth Doctor expressed by anger at Rose when she asked the Doctor what species he belonged to. The Ending of End of the World always make me want to get chips from the chip shop when Rose says “I smell chips, do you want chips?”
The Unquiet Dead
The Unquiet Dead should be seen as a great historical drama as all the guest casts really get into the mannerisms of the 19th century characters they portray. The Unquiet Dead, I think, is open ended about religion, as Charles Dickens says to Ninth Doctor “There are more things in heaven and earth than be dreamed of, even for you Doctor”. I think this open minded and open ended approach at end of The Unquiet Dead is good, as although I am an atheist, not everyone is so open ended and open minded, in terms of philosophy of religion, which within Doctor Who is more inclusive.
Aliens of London
Aliens of London features the best farting joke ever; “Would you mind not farting, while I’m trying to save the world”! Out of all the actors who have played the Doctor, only Christopher Eccleston could deliver the line in the serious tone needed ironically to make the farting joke work. I like the farting joke as it flys in the face of po-facedness and snootiness which exists in the Doctor Who community. I remember feeling sad that the space pig was killed. I wish the space pig had lived.
World War Three
No.10 Downing Street got attacked by a missile from the Royal Navy! What is overlooked about the Slitheen is the fact that they have a plausible reason for so much farting. The compression suit which squeeze the Slitheen’s huge body into human skin create a lot of gas exchange. Aliens of London and World War Three reminded me very much like a base under siege like ‘The Wheel in Space’.
Angry Doctor. I believe the Ninth Doctor would have killed the Dalek on two separate occasions. First time when he attempted to electrocute the Dalek to death but was stopped by staff of Van Statten, and again by words of Rose at the end of the episode.
The Long Game
The Long Game was basically a critique of mainstream media, which is a theme that has become topical again in 2015. When the Doctor, at the end of the episode, confronts Adam over what he did, I thought the Ninth Doctor was going to punch him.
Father’s Day plot reminds me of the Stephen King short story the Langoliers in which creatures of time itself what is left of the past by eating it. The difference between the Langolier monsters and the Reapers in Doctor Who is that the Reapers only intervene if someone has been trying to change the past, whereas the Langoliers consume all of the past even if history has not been changed. The Ninth Doctor explains that all people are important when he speaks to a couple in the church this is a continuation of utilitarian ethics discussed in Rose.
The Empty Child
When the Doctor is talking to the homeless children during a bombing raid during the Blitz and discovers they steal food during a bombing raids the Ninth Doctor replies “not sure if that is Marxism in action, or a West End musical”, which I thought was a brilliant line.
The Doctor Dances
I think ‘The Doctor Dances’ and ‘The Empty Child’ are one of Steven Moffat’s best story ideas, as they are clever episodes with the idea of nanobots getting confused a plausible concept. ‘The Empty Child’ and ‘The Doctor Dances’ show a simple concept can be a clever.
‘The Doctor Dances’ introduce the memorable scene of “go go go with bananas, a good source of potassium. By chance, bananas played a crucial role in defeating the racist white man march in Liverpool when an anti-fascist threw them at the racists and they slipped on the bananas!
The moral theme explored in ‘Boom Town’ was if something is lawful, does it necessarily mean it is moral? The dialogue in the restaurant between the Ninth Doctor and Margaret Blaine had its witty moment when the Slitheen tried to poison the Doctor with a dart from her finger, and then with poisonous breath which The Doctor filled her mouth with mouthwash to neutralize the poison, the look on her face was priceless!
Badwolf has one of the best opening scene as the Doctor within a couple of minutes of the episode Ninth Doctor is inside the diary room of Big Brother sitting on a red chair being asked “not to swear” to which Ninth Doctor replies “you got to be kidding me,” then theme tune started, implying that between theme tune at start of episode and continuation of story the Ninth Doctor was actually swearing from Satellite 5 in front of billions of viewers.
I remember back in 2005 getting really excited by the ‘Big Brother’ reference as it was so funny seeing the Ninth Doctor being indifferent to people being excited over ‘Big Brother’.
Bad Wolf is filled with many pop culture references. The episode ‘Bad Wolf’ reminds me most of all of ‘The Happiness Patrol’ story in that both ‘Bad Wolf’ (until end of episode) and ‘The Happiness Patrol’ are both quirky.
The Parting of the Ways
‘The Parting of The Ways’ had the companion, just like in episode ‘Rose’, save the day when she absorbed the power of the time vortex. ‘The Parting of the Ways’ has one of ‘the best lines delivered ever in Doctor Who, by Rose Tyler "You don’t just give up you don’t just let things happen you make a stand ,you say no, you do what is right even when everyone has run away". Rose Tyler, acknowledging that there is nothing keeping her at Powell estate, is something I can relate to as anyone who is working class can, who are desperate to choose a role in their life of their creation but fail or struggle to do so because of economic barriers. The theme of self-hate felt by Daleks created by humans was also a feeling shared by the Ninth Doctor in ‘End of the World’ when Rose asked what species the Doctor belonged to he was very reluctant to tell her.
I often wonder if deep down the Ninth Doctor reflects the true origins of the Doctor on Gallifrey. While Time-Lords are seen as the race from Gallifrey, what if Time-Lords refer to an upper-class of Gallifreyans and what if the Doctor was trying to pass himself off as upper-class on Gallifrey when in truth he belonged to the working class of Gallifrey.
Maybe, if this is the case, this would explain why the Ninth Doctor connected to Rose as also being from a working class background, but from a different planet that of Gallifrey. I think the clothes the Ninth Doctor wears are closest to what most people wear every day.
What is the difference between Rose with Ninth Doctor and Rose with Tenth Doctor?
The sadness Rose feels at end of the second series from never seeing Tenth Doctor again is a romantic loss, whereas the anger Rose feels when she temporarily is sent back to Powell Estate by Ninth Doctor is anger and despair, not just at missing a friend, but at losing an opportunity to better herself and create her own meaning and values in life whatever that may be in the future, such as engineer or artist.
The Ninth Doctor is her means to escape poverty, as recent evidence shows social mobility for the working class rarely happens, and is a myth designed to control her. I think Rose saw past the myth of social mobility, although she did not articulate the actual words. The Ninth Doctor really was a means for Rose to better herself.
In summary, the fact I have chosen the Ninth Doctor as my favorite Doctor does not mean the other Doctors are rubbish. This is not a competition. My reasons for choosing the Ninth Doctor as my favorite Doctor is because I think I relate most to the Ninth Doctor as he is the Doctor who reflects a working class person suffering extreme emotional stress as most if not all working class people feel through poverty wage.
Finally, I would like to express why I felt it was a bad idea by both Russell T Davies and Steven Moffatt to bring back the Time-Lords and undo the actions of the Ninth Doctor during the Time War.
Consider the concept of Kantian Moral Law by Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Kant using the example of the concept of a promise, said if a promise was broken then the definition of the concept of promise is under minded as to make the concept of a promise meaningless. Therefore by undoing the actions of the Ninth Doctor during the Time War, the concept of regret and redemption of the Ninth Doctor is made meaningless. By having the Doctor undo the events he caused during the Time War, we give the Doctor a moral privilege denied to humans. The fact the Ninth Doctor, to the best of his knowledge, could not undo the events of the Time War, the Ninth Doctor felt and understood the concept of regret and redemption.
By undoing the events of the Time War, the concept of regret and redemption are concepts without meaning to the Doctor. Russell T Davies and Steven Moffatt both equally have undone the flawed Ninth Doctor who was the human, all too most human of the Doctors, which was a point many human beings could identify with. The Ninth Doctor was like a character made from the psychological novels from Russian Writer Fyodor Dostoevsky. We see a foggy shade of the Ninth Doctor through the brashness and rough mannerism of the Twelfth Doctor.
As an actor for the role of the Doctor, I really felt Christopher Eccleston was not acting, but genuinely feeling the emotions. So when the Doctor was angry at Adam I felt the anger touching from a distance as if telepathically; but as I know there is no telepathy, so I know it was me experiencing the extremely intense emotions Christopher Eccleston could bring right out into the open.
So ends this blog post, any more words would be just filler, and we all know fillers are just boring, just like in TV. I hope you enjoyed reading!
You can follow the author on Twitter @BlueCollarDrWho, and my thanks to him for taking the time and effort to contribute to my humble little corner of the blogosphere!