LilacFree (lilacfree) wrote,

Doctor Who Essays

I am including them here as the Teaspoon archive will be removing the Essay category. I'm not sure where else I'd put them! I am including the reviews as some people had interesting things to say, and also because I deeply appreciate reviews. The first essay is about sex in Doctor Who, and the second essay is about the Doctor Who fan fiction of T.S. Eliot. Yes, that T.S. Eliot.

Sex and the Single Time Lord
A Conspiracy of Low Minds

Scene: An executive conference room, windowless, ensconced deep in the bowels of the BBC. There is an empty trophy plaque on the wall: it is labeled ‘Reserved For JNT’. There are several people sitting around the table engaged in conversation. Most are speaking at the same time and the effect is incomprehensible babble. The décor is of the 70s but the attendees of the meeting are dressed in late 90’s styles. You can tell because one has a Millenium Wheel tshirt.

Exec 1: takes his shoe off and bangs it on the table. “I WILL BURY YOU!”

The others fall silent and exchange looks.

Writer 2: “From foot odor? In this case, yes.”

Exec 1: ignores this and continues in a normal tone. As he speaks, he tries to put his shoe back on without looking and keep fumbling and bumping his knee against the table. “Let’s get it through our heads. The new Who needs a modern style. And you know what that means. Sex.” Exec 1 gets his shoe back on and stamps his feet on the floor. “There has to be sex in the Tardis, or as much as you can get into a program aired before the watershed.”

Writer 1: “I’m all for sex. I think I can speak for all of us as this table when I say we are all for sex qua sex. However, there are fans who are very vocally against the Doctor possessing genitalia of any kind whatsoever.”

Exec 2: breaks in eagerly. “There’s always the companions. How about some hot companion on companion sex?”

Exec 3: snickers. “Hanky panky in the Tardis at last!”

Writer 2: coughs. “Steps have already been taken to begin including sexual material in the Doctor Who canon.”

Exec 1: stands up and leans forward with his fists on the table. “What steps? I’ve authorized no steps! When there are steps they will be made by my shoes with my feet in them! Was it--HIM?” He looks over his shoulder at the empty wall plaque.

Writer 2: “This has been in the new novels. Ever since Paul McGann played tonsil-hockey with Daphne Ashcroft, the writers have been including sexual situations of various degrees. Not only for his Doctor but for earlier Doctors.”

Exec 3: “You mean like Tom Baker’s Doctor?”

Writer 2: “It’s not a matter of focusing on the sexuality of the Doctor but rather simply making it obvious that sexuality is a part of the Whoniverse. After all, everyone is naked under their clothes.”

Exec 2: is near tears. “I protest! Jon Pertwee was NOT naked under his clothes! Or Patrick Troughton! Or.. or!! The clothes MAKE the Doctor! That’s why he always wears the same ones!!!”

Exec 3: turns on Exec 2. “I told you we should have exercised greater oversight of the new fiction!”

Exec 2: wails and buries his head in his arms. Writer 1 compassionately pats him on the back.

Exec 1: speaks pensively. “We can turn this to our advantage. Of course, there will always be fan holdouts who think that the Doctor is above sex. But nothing will convince that sort. We should work on the others by encouraging a modern attitude towards sex in other media as we develop the new series. That will lay fertile ground for a new conception.”

Exec 3: laughs loudly then stops as Exec 1 glares at him. “Sorry, thought you were making a pun.”

Exec 1: “This is no joke! The BBC has decided that there is potentially a goldmine in Who material. Even the American movie couldn’t kill the Doctor. As long as he has regenerations left, we’re going to make a few quid off his Gallifreyan arse, naked or clothed.” Exec 1 stands tall with a shaft of light illuminating this moment of great leadership.

Exec 2: whimpers, “Not JonDoc… nooooo…he only loves Bessie!”

Writer 2: laughs coarsely. “Come off it. We all know he was having a bit of that Jo Grant bird.”

Exec 2 launches across the table at Writer 2. Writer 1 and Exec 3 grab his legs as he flails at Writer 2.

Writer 1: has a wry tone. “I bet he hid behind the couch when the Daleks showed up.”

Exec 1 looks at Writer 1. “Russ, I’m counting on you to bring this off. If the Doctor is to make us money in the 21st century the stories must work for adults as well as children. The old fan base isn’t enough. We must have more viewers.”

Writer 1: smiles and folds his hands. “I have a few ideas. Trust me. If the Eighth Doctor has the Paul McGann Estrogen Brigade, the Ninth Doctor will have an ARMY.”

Exec 1, Writer 1, and Writer 2 laugh like Anthony Ainley while Exec 3 grapples Exec 2.

Exec 2: “It’s the end… the end of Innocence! May God deliver you from temptation, Doctor.”

Fade out

[Author’s Note: The above would be so much funnier if it were written by a Brit who could do Beeb speak. I haven’t a clue. For the record, I’m cool about sexual themes in Doctor Who. But it was still a shock to read Barry Lett’s ‘Island of Death’ with its perfect rendition of 3rd Doctor era characters and see Jon Pertwee’s Doctor depicted having sexual thoughts. Apparently he is naked under his clothes after all. Good for him. ETA: If you recall the shower scene in Pertwee's first story, 'Spearhead From Space', you'll KNOW he's naked under his clothes.]

ClocketPatch 2007.05.12 - 09:37PM
Jon Pertwee was NOT naked under his clothes!
But he was, especially in that shower scene I've tried so hard to forget. That said, I would like to get my hands on that book. And "Not JonDoc! He only loves Bessie!" was hilarious. As was this entire parody. On the floor and in tears. Though you might want to add Seven to that list of not neekid Doctors (gah, have you seen that picture of him in tighty-wighties that's been floating around? The stuff of nightmares).

Mickey_dear 2007.05.07 - 07:08PM
I have just found this and thank God I did. It was amazing, beep talk or not. Off the record I have no clue how to do it either. Cheers and good job.

Dr Miracle 2007.01.06 - 06:21PM
Hilarious! Great parody. Well done, cheers!

Poor Exec #2...

Grimley Fieendish 2006.05.13 - 02:02AM
Hmmm, you forgot that Worzel Gummage had interchangable heads, depending on the circumstances....
Mind you, in this case, is Big Finish being used as a "Stalking Horse" to "soften up" fan's...?

Membio 2006.04.24 - 08:37AM
I think one of the problems with Jon Pertwee being naked with or without his clothes is his other role as Worzel Gummidge - a scarecrow who comes to life~ For Americans its would be like getting hot and steamy with Captain Kangaroo or some other children’s character.

I think the door is much wider open for the Doctor to have romance in his life with Gallifrey and his entire race gone.

Sorry for the serious analysis of such a delightful funny parody! I love it!
One of my favoutie lines:

“…there are fans who are very vocally against the Doctor possessing genitalia of any kind whatsoever.”

Okami 2005.12.25 - 09:45PM
"I protest! Jon Pertwee was NOT naked under his clothes! Or Patrick Troughton!"

^^^The above is likely the funniest thing I've heard all day! Although personally the first one I'd put on that list is William Hartnell. Heh. But I don't mind the sexuality added to the long as the Doctor continues to look nothing like the three mentioned above.

And as for Superman....I lost every scrap of respect I ever had for him when I saw him turn back time by reversing the rotation of the earth. There are other planets that naturally go that way without affecting time! All that would do is make the sun go west to east and do horrible things to nature. Events wouldn't run backwards! When I saw that, I drew extensive diagrams about why that was stupid and showed them to anyone who would look.

Author's Response: The movie did give that impression but in the comics Superman did time-travel with FTL speed flying. In the classic Superboy comic he used to regularly visit the 30th century and hang out with the Legion of Superheroes. *coff* You know, comics fandom is very helpful to fanfic writing. Think of the brain workout of trying to keep X-Men continuity straight.

tezpin 2005.12.11 - 04:59AM
So funny! Though I could do without the mental images of some of the previous Doctors naked under their clothes. *grin*

Author's Response: Sometimes when I read 'ship fic with a cute Doctor I wonder what their sex partner would think of some of his less physically attractive incarnations. In a perfect world, it would be 'Love me, love my portly weirdly dressed #6'. But, heck, I think he's always kinda sexy in his hero-of-all-time-and-space way. Think of him like that and he makes Superman look lame. :)

TelegramSam 2005.12.09 - 07:41AM
You know, I'm not at all bothered by the writers acknowleging that the characters have a sexuality and likely not a bunch of silly desexed virgins, but some of the new series has just handled it in an extremely campy, annoying manner (i.e. Jack, who I find far more annoying a companion than even the perpetually whining Peri). That's my problem with it, and, I think, a lot of other people's problem with it. It's not the fact that there's sexual overtones, it's the fact that it's badly written and adds nothing to the story.

That said, your story is quite funny. I can totally imagine them having a meeting like this. XD

Thasc 2005.12.09 - 02:33AM
Very well written, very funny

Emery Board 2005.12.08 - 07:16PM
Very well written. Great job!

Author's Response: Thank you!

warinbabylon 2005.12.08 - 07:00PM 1: Chapter Only Signed
Hilarious! And as one that can tolerate sexual themes in DW, I would like to get that book...

Author's Response: It's not the focus of the book, only a couple of passing thoughts by the Doctor. What I really liked was how perfectly Letts, a former producer of the show, captured the relationships between the Doctor, the Brigadier, and Sarah Jane.

T.S. Eliot: Master Poet and Seminal Fan Fiction Author
Author's Notes:
In here are a lot of quoted bits which honest to Goshen were written by T. S. Eliot and not me. I can't help it if the man was a major fanboy.

Many people are not aware that T. S. Eliot was very fond of the classic British television series ‘Doctor Who’. Unfortunately, Eliot died in early 1965 and thus was able to see with his own eyes only a few of the first season William Hartnell episodes. However, ‘Doctor Who’ was a major influence in Eliot’s work, especially his great opus ‘Four Quartets’ which is not only one of the masterpieces of modern poetry but is the first ever piece of Doctor Who fan fiction, having been published in parts from 1936 to 1942. While ‘Four Quartets’ has received due attention for its literary merits, until now no critic has touched on its merits as a piece of fan fiction. How, one may ask, can a piece written in 1935 be influenced by a television show first aired in 1963? A close examination of ‘Four Quartets’ shows that Eliot's thinking was in line with modern concepts of physics as they relate to the fourth dimension. It is possible that his instinctive understanding of this subject allowed the poet’s vision to pierce the veil of time after the manner of his favorite Time Lord.

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.

In the opening lines of the first Quartet, ‘Burnt Norton’, Eliot makes it clear that this fic is meant to interlace plot threads from different eras, thus making him also the first author of a multi-era Doctor Who fic. The principal incarnation of the Doctor being featured in this fiction is not made expressly clear; however, it does resemble some of the Eight Doctor Adventure novels in its complexity and inclusion of esoteric physics.*

Verse II contains a description of the TARDIS.

Garlic and sapphires in the mud
Clot the bedded axle-tree.
The trilling wire in the blood
Sings below inveterate scars
Appeasing long forgotten wars.

This is obviously the TARDIS of one of the later Doctors as it has a more organic feel. It may even be the Ninth Doctor’s TARDIS. Later in the same verse he also elegantly describes the exterior of the TARDIS.

Yet the enchainment of past and future
Woven in the weakness of the changing body,
Protects mankind from heaven and damnation
Which flesh cannot endure.

This is quite clear: the ‘weakness of the changing body’ refers to the broken chameleon circuit; ‘Protects mankind from heaven and damnation’ refers to its function of making the mysterious and wonderful TARDIS blend unnoticed into its surroundings. Thrillingly, he hints at the idea that the exterior of the TARDIS is in essence an artifact of its ability to traverse the time vortex and if one truly saw the TARDIS as it is the viewer would not be able to endure the sight. This is consistent with canon, as in the episode ‘The Parting Of The Ways’ where looking into the vortex nearly kills Rose Tyler and does kill the Doctor himself.

At the very end of ‘Burnt Norton’, Eliot mischievously complains about the cliffhanger/reprise pattern of episodes. Possibly he found this way of teasing the viewer with an artificially tense ending then supplying expository material in the next episode to be a trite story-telling device.

Quick now, here, now, always–
Ridiculous the waste sad time
Stretching before and after.

It is all the more humorous for he is in fact ending the first Quartet with these lines! The light touch at this point is welcome, and Eliot proves he is a true fan by not scorning the humorous element of ‘Doctor Who’.

The first Quartet is largely concerned with establishing scenes in the TARDIS. In the second Quartet, Eliot introduces the historical plot thread. Instead of merely giving a year, he uses language to establish an archaic mood.

The association of man and woman
In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie–
A dignified and commodiois sacrament.

The plot in this era bears some resemblance to the Fifth Doctor episode ‘The Visitation’ as it concerns aliens landing in England’s past.

Thunder rolled by the rolling stars
Simulates triumphal cars
Deployed in constellated wars
Scorpion fights against the Sun
Until the Sun and Moon go down
Comets weep and Leonids fly
Hunt the heavens and the plains
Whirled in a vortex that shall bring
The world to that destructive fire
Which burns before the ice-cap reigns.

Clearly this is a job for the Doctor! He has to save the world while dealing with some legacy of Gallifrey. It is possible that this is an Alternate Universe fic (another first for Eliot!) and that this is a Ninth Doctor or later story where Gallifrey exists. The machinations of the High Council are referenced in such lines as the following:

Had they deceived us
Or deceived themselves, the quiet-voiced elders,
Bequeathing us merely a receipt for deceit?
The serenity only a deliberate hebetude,
The wisdom only the knowledge of dead secrets
Useless in the darkness into which they peered

This is a typical rant of the Doctor against his stodgy Gallifreyan peers and demonstrates Eliot’s mastery of characterization. The Time Lords seem to be requiring the Doctor to perform some delicate intervention of an unsavory nature. We feel the Doctor’s pain as his natural compassion is stymied by the necessity of protecting the integrity of the Timestream. Note the reference to his classic question mark symbol.

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer's art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

In the Third Quartet, the intensity of the plot increases along with the danger of the Doctor’s situation. The cloister bell rings as only happens in the most dire circumstances.

And under the oppression of the silent fog
The tolling bell
Measures time not our time, rung by the unhurried
Ground swell, a time
Older than the time of chronometers

The end of the third Quartet contains a splendid scene of defiance by the Doctor who is faced with seemingly impossible odds.

Here the past and future
Are conquered, and reconciled,
Where action were otherwise movement
Of that which is only moved
And has in it no source of movement–
Driven by daemonic, chthonic
Powers. And right action is freedom
From past and future also.
For most of us, this is the aim
Never here to be realised;
Who are only undefeated
Because we have gone on trying

Note that explicitly in these lines, and implicitly in others, Eliot raises the possibility that the antagonists of his story are Lovecraftian style alien entities. While Eliot lived contemporaneously with H. P. Lovecraft, the subject of Lovecraft’s influence on Eliot’s fan fiction is rightly reserved for separate study.

In the climactic sequence in the fourth Quartet, the Doctor encounters another Time Lord who may be one of his other incarnations, the Master, or perhaps even the Valeyard.

I caught the sudden look of some dead master
Whom I had known, forgotten, half recalled
Both one and many; in the brown baked features
The eyes of a familiar compound ghost
Both intimate and unidentifiable.
So I assumed a double part, and cried
And heard another's voice cry: 'What! are you here?'

Analysis of these lines hints that one of the characters involved here is the Fourth Doctor. Note the punning reference ‘brown baked’. The intonation of the quoted dialogue ‘What! Are you here?’ sounds closest to the style of Tom Baker’s Doctor.

The other character departs in a TARDIS, thus clenching the identification as a Time Lord.

The day was breaking. In the disfigured street
He left me, with a kind of valediction,
And faded on the blowing of the horn.

Finally, some may wish to read the last verse of the fourth Quartet as a retelling of the climax of ‘The Parting Of The Ways’.

And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

Indeed, the entire work of fan fiction is deliberately rich in language and concept so that it may almost be read as a ‘Choose Your Own Doctor Who Adventure’ story. ‘Shippers may not feel particularly catered to as Eliot only uses a romantic theme in the second Quartet. However, those who love ‘Doctor Who’ are sure to find in this great poem many entertaining insights into the character of the Doctor and the fictional world he inhabits.

Unless Eliot was a Time Lord. Or even the Doctor. But that’s an AU essay.

*Interested readers may wish to refer to Gray Woodland’s story ‘Nyssa’s End’ as an online example of a piece which shares these attributes. One may also detect some resemblance in the plot line, which I ascribe to the genius of both authors.

Melengro 2007.10.04 - 11:38PM 1: Chapter Only Signed
Not only that, but he must have spent a lot of time on this site! He mentions 'measur[ing] out my life in coffee spoons'--a garbled, slightly off-kilter reference to a TAOM addiction?

Eliot is my favourite poet, and Four Quartets my favourite poem.

Elliptic Eye 2007.08.23 - 08:08PM 1: Chapter Only Signed
A++++. I demand to see this thesis developed and in publication.

a little more sonic 2007.03.04 - 04:07PM 1: Chapter Only Signed
This is awesome! I love T. S. Eliot in his own right, but now this makes me love him even more. Fanfic authors, rock on!

Before I read this, I'd already had plans to write a fanfic based on one of his poems. Now I totally shall. ;D

amberite 2006.08.20 - 12:32AM 1: Chapter Only Signed
Owch. That was bloody beautiful, I tell ya' -- beautiful in the way only meta-academia can be beautiful. I regularly make idle speculations like this. Like, cross-referencing the eighties nuclear apocalypse film "Miracle Mile" with Milton's Paradise Lost.

I love Eliot especially as he's so easy to project onto almost anything. I did a 14-panel wall hanging of The Waste Land with illustrations referencing nuclear weapons ("I will show you fear in a handful of dust") and the Martian landscape ("Here is no water but only rock") among other things.

mimarie 2006.03.25 - 05:05AM 1: Chapter Only Signed
Anything that gives me a new way to re-read my favourite poet/poem has to be a good thing but this is just wonderful.

Nebula 2006.01.25 - 10:39AM 1: Chapter Only Signed
That's really Weird!!! Especially the "Parting of the Ways" bit, about the rose and the fire being one... Well done!

Author's Response: It's sorta like Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon' synching with 'Wizard of Oz'.

uktechgirl 2006.01.25 - 07:01AM 1: Chapter Only Signed
GENIUS! The truth of it is undeniable. I hereby demand we change the name of this archive to 'A Coffespoon and an Open Mind'. :D
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