The Shakespeare Code



The Shakespeare code was, quite frankly, a big disappointment. When I heard that an episode of Doctor Who was going to be set in Elizabethan England and would feature William Shakespeare I had high hopes. What we finally ended up with was an episode that couldn’t seem to make up its mind what it wanted to be. The story seemed to flit between being a comedy, fairy story, and even an episode from Harry Potter, and was then given a science fiction rationalisation of magical events that might have come directly from Le_Guin”>Ursula K. Le Guin’s H_P_Lovecraft Cthulhu Mythos. This seemed to be shoe horned into the episode as if to excuse the indulgenses of the writer’s flight of fancy and make the episode fit into Doctor Who. The aliens we see in the episode have only a slight resemblance to the three witches, the appearance of whom is classical fairy tale and, I am sure, insulting to any practitionar of the Wicca faith.

Early ‘Classical’ episodes of Doctor Who mixed historical stories with those set in science fiction futures and demonstrated that human history produced drama and threat enough without the introduction of alien mumbo jumbo. The historical Marco Polo is a lost classic, while The Aztecs actual explores the anthropological question of judging other cultures by our own standards, and the problems that can ensue when we do so.

Like the other recent BBC disaster of historical drama, %28BBC%29”>Robin Hood, the period dialogue in the Shakespeare Code was totally unconvincing, at times to the point of irritation. The title itself seems to reflect an obsession with jumping on fashionable bandwagons by seeming to refer to David Tennant couldn’t save this turkey. Let’s hope it doesn’t get any worse!


    Ian McNicholas

    April 8, 2007

    I think Pete is starting to take Dr. Who far too seriously – He’ll be trying to find meaning in Tony Blair’s speeches next! I thoroughly enjoyed the episode, which suggests, from the plot, that Russel t. Davies has not only met my ex-girlfriend and her sisters but managed to write a plot about them, while a very good practicing wiccan friend of mine was actually reduced to tears of hysterical laughter at the plot, and also thoroughly enjoyed the Shakespearean cliches. Looking forward to the next episode with bated breath and blank dvd.

    p.s. I’m one of Kath’s astronomical outreach program ex-students, in case you are wondering how I know your site.


    April 8, 2007

    Thats harsh! Peter’s a very good friend of mine and I refuse to believe he’ll try to find meaning in a Tony Blair speech. Though words do have power as this episode tortoise.
    I thought it was ok, it reminded me more of Terry Pratchett than Dr. Who. I kept waiting for the ‘when shall we three meet again’ gag.
    I look forward to the next one!

    Frank Sable

    April 8, 2007

    So Pete takes Doctor Who too seriously does he? Hmmm?????? That??????s a bit like telling a football fan he takes the team he supports too seriously isn??????t it?

    Irregular Shed

    April 8, 2007

    Oh, get over yourself. Last time I looked, the Open University wasn’t funding Doctor Who. It’s fun – it’s one of three reasons to bother paying a licence fee (the others being the BBC News website and the awesome, sadly finished, Life on Mars).

    Or perhaps you’d rather Doctor Who had never come back, and they’d poured the money into a revival of (*shudder*) Bugs.

    Just calm down, take a step back, breathe into a paper bag for a moment… then watch this:

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