Last Sunday morning I woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, on account of not staying up all night clubbing.
We were off to the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff. The highlight of my weekend – aside from celebrating my friend’s impending nuptials of course!
It turns out one of of the other revellers is as big a Whovian as me, so we went round the costumes and artefacts together getting our Nerd on, and effortlessly outclassing the rest of the visitors with our extensive who-trivia. (Which earned us some rather dirty looks from a few of the older gentleman, who obviously felt young ladies should not be bigger fans than they were!)
And then, as is the custom whenever two Doctor Who aficionados get together, the conversation turns more serious. Solemnly she asked me if I, as the Doctor, would have destroyed the Daleks on Skaro in the Classic Tom Baker story “Genesis of the Daleks.”
Obviously this isn’t a question one takes lightly. I need to give this some thought. After a minute I realise that to answer this question I need more information.
“Which Doctor am I?”
Of the 11 incarnations that have so far graced our screens (Red Nose day specials and the abysmal Peter Cushing film notwithstanding) I feel that each Doctor would have responded to this moral quandry quite differently. Troughton and Davison wouldn’t have done it – they were too nice. Whereas Colin Baker was always a bit of a bastard, by which I mean that he was (for my money) one of the least ‘human’ doctors. Not for him the constraints of homo sapien morality. Similarly Christopher Eccleston would totally have connected the wires. His backstory makes it clear that he (attempted) to destroy the entire Dalek race previously, and the experience has left him with what is essentially PTSD.
That was 5 days ago and apparently it’s been preying on my mind. Earlier today the following occurred to me: towards the end of The Parting of the Ways, Jack gets killed by the Daleks. Rose then brings him back to life as an Immortal. At which point he becomes a fact – a fixed point in time to which the Tardis then strenuously objects. (Sidebar – might this offer a clue as to why the Tardis now appears to hate Clara?!) But if Jack is now a fixed point in time, then the survival of the Daleks up to the point that they kill Jack must have been inevitable! Tom Baker’s doctor had no choice.
All of which demonstrates why Doctor Who is the perfect philosophical programme. There’s all the wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey stuff which covers your basic metaphysics. There are ethical conundrums aplenty. Some great food for thought on aesthetics; in a vast universe populated with aliens, who’s to say what is beautiful and what is ugly. And if that wasn’t enough you also get to play with propositional logic. In an ever-expanding canon of material, which apparent logical inconsistencies can be explained away and which can’t. Tracing the logical validity of a complex argument is not the easiest thing to do, and Dr Who is a brilliant mental scratching post upon which to sharpen the critical faculties.