Micky the Idiot, the World is in your hands

Slitheen

Doctor Who as political satire? Ouh! Suits you Sir!

Well, having watched ???World War Three???, I think we all know what Russell T. Davies thinks about how we ended up going to war with Saddam Huissen???s Iraq, and just to emphasise the point, let???s fly a cruise missile over London???s familiar skyline in a way that is reminiscent of the Gulf War? Then add the motivation for the Slitheen, who are cynically planning to make money by selling lumps of radioactive planet Earth as fuel for spacecraft! And finally, it???s a family affair and?? Well, all a bit of a no brainer really isn???t it?

Of course parodying of politics is a long and worthy tradition in science fiction. Perhaps the earliest and best-known example being Jonathan Swift???s Gulliver??? Travels in which both the politics and science of his day were mercilessly ridiculed.

But does it work for Doctor Who?

Actually it all seems too obvious and too ???here and now??? to deserve to be called satire. It???s more like saying, ???I want to make this statement, and here it is in a way that most of you soap junkies can take it on board???.

One example of political satire in the classic series that springs to mind is Vengeance on Varos (a two part story transmitted on 19/01/85 and 26/01/85) written by Philip Martin, and starring Colin Baker as The Doctor. This is a savage parody of reality TV and video nasties that, some critics felt, was in danger of becoming what it condemned. By then, the original producer of Doctor Who Verity Lambert maintains that the programme was turning into a parody of itself anyway.

I have to admit that, provided you could suspend disbelief and logic in huge quantities, this was an entertaining episode. And talking of suspending disbelief, the idea that nuclear powers have to obtain permission from the U. N. to use their nuclear weapons is?? Interesting. Under just what circumstances would the U. N. council be willing to give permission for any country to kill hundreds of thousands of people and release huge amounts of deadly radioactivity into the atmosphere? Ah! Hang on, yes when you want to fire it at some aliens (who aren???t actually people) orbiting outside the atmosphere. Okay, but under what other circumstances? Well none really, so why would any nuclear power hand over control of its nuclear weapons to the U. N. then? The fact is they wouldn???t, if they did we would be a very much better species than we are and probably not have any nuclear weapons anyway.

Micky (Noel Clarke), who saves the world, if you hadn???t guessed from the above title, develops as a character in this story. By the end of the episode he is no longer a whining and rather irritating git, but a very much more mature personality (who still whines a bit, but in a nice way). This, it seems, is the culmination of a year???s self-education. Micky has had to develop an interest in the world and to educate himself in order to make sense of Rose???s disappearance.

This story was, in part, a homage to the classic UNIT stories of the Jon Pertwee era. It seems that this will be a one-off (though nothing is certain) because the Doctor produces a disk containing a virus that is intended to erase all trace of him on the net. This suggests that Davies does not want the Doctor to be identified and forced to become a servant of the state again. Which is a relief.



5 comments


    Simon Bromley

    April 24, 2005

    Yes, I enjoyed this episode. Better than the first part, it did seem like ‘tradional’ Pertwee-era Who.
    I still don’t like Mickey though, and don’t believe the Doctor would invite him along…

    More from me later. Probably.

    Timothy Farr

    April 24, 2005

    This was a much better episode than the preceding week’s and shows that RTD can write Who properly after all. I agree, the political undertones are laid on with a trowel, but there again, so is politics in general, so it seems apt. I think the UN control of the nuclear arsenal is in keeping with the Who stance that globalisation is inevitable (q.v. The Enemy Of The World and Frontier In Space). I would imagine that signatorie countries are empowered to override that control, but the exercise of that veto is more complex than the timescale the Slitheen had available would afford. Really, of course, it’s a plot device to legitimise the need to televise the invasion. That idea of a mass market invasion designed specifically for television is this story’s greatest reflection of contemporary culture, not the political satire!

    Simon Bromley

    April 24, 2005

    So, the Daleks are back (or rather, A Dalek is back) in tomorrow night’s episode.
    But does anyone have any other reasons to recommend watching this episode…?

    Carnus

    April 24, 2005

    Yes, I do. It’s filmed in the bowels of the Millennium Stadium
    (big deal) and Peter Grehan is an extra in it; woohoo!

    Simon Bromley

    April 24, 2005

    Yes, I know. There was a hint of tongue in cheek-ness about my last post – I was trying to get Peter to proclaim his starring role. 🙂

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