Saturday, April 10, 2010

But in the Specials stories, the Doctor is without his usual companions, and that isolation from the human becomes their fabric. Despite Davies’ insistent atheism, his Who is replete with Biblical and especially Christian iconography and gestures (the Doctor ascending on the arms of angels, the Doctor revived by global chanting of his name, rising from near-death all aglow with his beneficient arms extended to save the world, etc. etc.)

This continues throughout the Specials. True, they include two Christmases, and so the Christian mythos comes naturally. But the final three episodes are pretty explicitly about the Doctor’s basic internal conflict: is he man or god?

He is ascendant (literally) in “The Next Doctor,” praised as “that Doctor on high” who has saved the Earth many times and never been thanked. This time he’s saved the Earth from a non-human evil power (and a brilliant oppressed woman breaking the glass ceiling of megalomania) from being born on Christmas day.

In “Planet of Death” he goes into the desert with his disciples (okay, that’s a bit silly, but it’s there!) and in “Waters of Mars” he defends an artificial Garden of Eden, and goes too far in presuming on his god-like powers. Which sets up the two-part finale, in which he struggles against his own mortality as well as the megalomaniacal Master and fellow Time Lords, and resolves it in Christ-like sacrifice.

The relationship to the metaphor is accented in numerous ways, from the tiny blue box in the stained glass window of a church, to Donna’s mother literally praying to the Doctor for deliverance; the Time Lords bringing “hell” to Earth, the Master naughtily announcing, “He is risen!”

1 comment:

liminalD said...

Great points! I also noticed the Christian references throughout the show's latter seasons, I've made the point elsewhere that looking back to season three, especially, it seems rather obvious that RTD had been leading up to his big finish all along.

Also I just wanted to say I LOVED Miss Hartigan in 'The Next Doctor,'and was really distressed that they didn't keep her for later episodes. I couldn't believe how much they got away with in her dialogue!