An exciting batch of ten essays published by the Science Fiction Foundation explore how a 50-year-old show can be a contemporary hit…..
In 2005, head writer and executive producer Russell T. Davies brought Doctor Who back. Then in 2011 The Unsilent Library: Essays on the Russell T. Davies Era of the new Doctor Who was published, mindfully exploring the updated aspects of the show. Ultimately, the collection unpacks how to construct a timeless universe that is never wholly apart from planet Earth.
The first chapter to note is Graham Sleight’s ‘The Big Picture Show: Russell T. Davies’s writing for Doctor Who’. Sleight breaks down Davies’ writing of the series to four key elements. These are depth, pace, scale and Davies’ aptitude for science fiction. According to Sleight, all four of these elements function together immediately in 2005’s ‘Rose’ for a defining mislead a shot of the vastness of space, only for the view to be turned to Earth and then centred on the Tylers’ morose council flat. Sleight digs for the real world within the fictional world, delivering nuanced analysis that somehow explains the frequently impossible universe of new Who. Every fiction is pin pointed to something real. There is also a stellar comparison between the writing of Davies and current Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat. Although, this comparison could cause a whole new Time War between fans of the program.
Furthermore, the third essay comes from Una McCormack. Her contribution is titled ‘He’s Not the Messiah: undermining political and religious authority in New Doctor Who‘. McCormack’s central thesis is that, “Russell T. Davies […] demonstrates deep skepticism towards Utopian projects aimed at human perfectibility, whether eternal life […] or citizenship of the (purportedly) rationally governed state”. The pitch is a solid foundation to a thought-provoking essay, exploring the natural limitations of the human race and its constructs. After all, The Doctor is often found fighting administration and bids for immortality, such as in 2007’s ‘Gridlock’ and ‘The Lazarus Experiment’. McCormack also applies a Foucauldian reading to Davies’ Doctor Who, charting an analytical course that adds a whole new dimension to the program. Consequently, Chapter 3 offers some really vivid ideas to explore that live and breathe on their own and adamantly apply to today’s world.
Additionally, Catherine Coker’s chapter 6 titled ‘Does The Doctor Dance? Heterosexuality, Omnisexuality, and Spontaneous Generation in the Whoniverse’ is a vital addition to the collection. Coker contends that 2005’s ‘The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances’ are the first real doses of omnisexuality within the Whoniverse. Moreover, the essay highlights science fiction handling sexuality as an “awkward ‘issue of the week’” rather than a normality of society. Instead, Davies rejects this model and “instead chooses to address the group as part of the regular viewership of the show by allowing the LGBT population in his universe to exist and thrive”. The essay also considers Captain Jack as an ‘Omnisexual Superhero’ and explores The Doctor’s lack of sexuality. The Doctor and Rose shippers have a lot of good material to gauge on here…
The full contents of the riveting collection, as well as how to purchase, are listed below:
- Foreword by Robert Shearman
- Introduction by the editors (online preview)
- Graham Sleight ‘The Big Picture Show: Russell T. Davies’s writing for Doctor Who’ (online preview)
- Paul Hawkins ‘The reasons and functions behind the use of deus ex machina in Season One of the New Who’
- Una McCormack ‘He’s Not the Messiah: undermining political and religious authority in New Doctor Who’
- Antony Keen ‘Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?’ (online preview)
- Sydney Duncan and Andy Duncan ‘How Donna Noble Saved the Multiverse (and Had To Pay for It)’
- Catherine Coker ‘Does the Doctor Dance? Heterosexuality, Omnisexuality, and Spontaneous Generation in the Whoverse’
- James Rose ‘Conflict, Hybridity and Forgiveness’
- Leslie McMurtry ‘The Importance of Language Converted to Knowledge in the Arsenal of the Tenth Doctor’
- Richard Burley ‘Philosophies of Time Travel in the New Doctor Who’
- Clare Parody ‘Approaching Character in the New Doctor Who’
- Appendix: Details of Episodes (online preview)
- Notes on Contributors (online preview)
- Index (online preview)