cjlasky7: (Default)
[personal profile] cjlasky7
This is a long-winded response to a number of shadowkat67's recent posts that sort of revolve around the same topic. But I guess it starts off with Doctor Who, and a central question that has never received a formal answer: why does he travel all over the multiverse? What is he running from, anyway?

If you listen to the Doctor talk about his home world of Gallifrey, you wonder why anyone would ever leave. "The most civilized civilization in the universe," he called it, with traditions dating back over a billion years.

But the Doctor's relationship with Gallifrey and his fellow Time Lords has always been ambiguous, if not downright contentious. In fact, the very first action taken by the Time Lords in the series was to "execute" the Second Doctor for interfering with lesser races and exile the Third Doctor on Earth. From that alone, you can see why the Doctor is rarely homesick--but the discontent goes deeper. When the Fourth Doctor was summoned home in "The Deadly Assassin" (are there non-deadly assassins?), we finally saw Time Lord society up close: majestic, awe-inspiring--and deeply corrupt, stagnant, and a death trap for a free spirit like the Doctor (even when everybody on the planet wasn't trying to kill him).

It seems that the Doctor and his brethren have a fundamental difference in philosophy: the Time Lords are detached, remote, coolly observing the universe from their Panopticon, beyond caring about the minor squabbles of lesser species; meanwhile, the Doctor defends and protects life anywhere in the universe, believing that in an uncaring universe, acts of kindness are absolutely essential.

But it's not quite that simple. The Doctor may see himself as a rebel, but he still calls himself a Time Lord, and he draws power from his world's traditions and technology. He still has a touch of the arrogance and the superiority complex of his society, and many times during the series, the consequences of that arrogance have been catastrophic.

He may be a freethinking citizen of the universe, but there's still a whiff of Imperial Rome about the Doctor, a touch of the Great British Empire that he can't shake off. He's still the godlike being who descends from the Spheres to save the little people, a chosen role that (he knows) is both a mission statement and an ethical trap.

****************

There is always something reassuring about a mythical quest. The idea of being anointed by a higher power (whatever power you believe in) to set things right, with no doubts in your mind about the morality of your mission. But in the Modern Age, it's getting harder and harder to believe in the purity of the mythical quest; there are too many doubts about the source of the inspiration, too many questions about the consequences of the knight-errand's actions.

That's the problem a lot of people had with ANGEL. On the one hand, ANGEL was supposed to be a dark and gritty noir detective series set in a supernaturally-haunted L.A., where there was a thin line between the living and the dead, human and demon, good and evil. But on the other hand, Angel himself was supposedly the chosen paladin of the nebulous Powers That Be, a heaven-sent champion who had a big, fat reward coming if he did good.

The two aspects of the series actively contradicted each other for the first few seasons (to the point where "champion" became a curse word in certain fan circles); and even after David Greenwalt left, I don't think Joss Whedon and his crew completely got out from under the conceptual damage the PTB did to the series.

***************************

It would be easy to say that the Doctor has a Messiah Complex, but that's too simplistic. He never sticks around for the hero worship and the applause, and he's acutely aware of what happens when he lets power go to his head, however righteous the cause.

But not sticking around has a downside too. He never really becomes part of the lives of the people he saves and befriends, and that leads to the dangers of emotional detachment. It seems to be an endlessly repeating cycle, and it won't be broken until the Doctor either runs out of regenerations or finally decides to come home....

Date: 2017-07-12 01:14 am (UTC)
shadowkat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowkat
Hee, you did a good job of underlining my difficulties with Doctor Who. (Which to be fair is a bit like watching a superhero series and having difficulties with the whole concept of "superhero". I mean if you have issues with the central or core theme...)

The two aspects of the series actively contradicted each other for the first few seasons (to the point where "champion" became a curse word in certain fan circles); and even after David Greenwalt left, I don't think Joss Whedon and his crew completely got out from under the conceptual damage the PTB did to the series.

I don't know if you ever tried the Buffy comics written by Whedon, and plotted mainly by Brad Metzler. They address that whole issue, but in a twisted sort of way that really doesn't paint Angel or his series in a good light.

Angel basically becomes a sort of God and elevates Buffy to one as well, they have space sex, give birth to a creature that results in the destruction of magic. Angel gets his shanshu and destroys the world.

So, no, they didn't get out of from under that damage...I think Whedon tried to embrace it, but with weird results. I still don't know what to make of it.


Date: 2017-07-12 06:26 pm (UTC)
shadowkat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowkat

Exactly. I'll never be a diehard fan of the series, because the central conceit doesn't appeal to me enough for that to happen. (As I tried to explain to a diehard fan a few years back, DW is problematic for the following reasons, 1) it's a time-travel show, and that makes me twitchy, 2) it's horror which also makes me twitchy (more horror than sci-fi to be honest...in which she argued it wasn't horror it was fairy tales, which ...uhm...okay. Same thing. But okay.) and 3) what we discussed above -- the Time Lord traveling around with a student-like companion.

I hand-wave a lot of it. And enjoy bits and pieces a great deal here and there. Some episodes resonate with me. But in general...those three things keep me from falling in love with it. Which is okay. I mean, that's what the show is. It's not a critique of it. Just an explanation of why it doesn't quite work for me. 3)

Date: 2017-07-12 06:35 pm (UTC)
shadowkat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowkat

the Peltzer/Whedon solution to the whole "champion" problem sounds like... a bigger problem.

Hee. Meltzer. Although rather like Peltzer, oddly fitting. (Really not a fan of Meltzer.)

Yep, it was a much bigger problem. They basically destroyed the character of Angel in order to...I'm not sure what their aim was.

The plot made no sense. But I think Whedon had serious issues with Bangle and Angel the character at that point and felt the need to deconstruct it and poke fun at it. He doesn't admit it in interviews...but if you read the comics, it's obvious in places. And considering he completely screwed up the Angel comics arc, plot and the characters in that series trajectory, which he'd said had been canonical up to that point....it did not sit well with a lot of fans.

I lost a lot of respect for Whedon after that. And began to see the cracks in his writing afterwards.

Date: 2017-07-13 12:02 am (UTC)
shadowkat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowkat
Did you either see Brian Lynch's take on S6, with Whedon's assist? He sort of does the same thing, in a way. Although Lynch's Spike comics did it better. Also Juliet Landau co-wrote an extremely good Drusilla comic. (She's better at comic writing than the other Buffy alums, who attempted it.)

Then Whedon/Meltzer undid it all...and had Whistler or someone like Whistler show up to Angel and convince him to be the PTB conduit, etc...which basically retconned all of S5 and Brian Lynch/Whedon's Angel S6, along with erasing most of what came after.

Your S6 was better than the mess Buffy S8 became.

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