Saturday, September 20, 2014

Doctor Who Weekend: Love's Labours Lost

Hi there! Dave-El here and can you believe it's Doctor Who Weekend again? Later this evening we have a new episode coming up (of which I will post on my blog tomorrow) but first let's talk about Doctor Who and the mysteries...of love.

Last week, I said I was going to look at the romantic relationships of the Doctor’s companions. But I’m going to start with the Doctor himself. Can a wandering Time Lord from Gallifrey find true love in this crazy universe? Should he? 
As we watch Clara Oswald and Danny Pink lurch in fits and starts towards something akin to a relationship, it got me thinking about the course of true love on Doctor Who.  In the classic series, the Doctor actually being someone capable of romantic love seemed anathema to the character.  A lot of effort was made to expunge any kind of romantic or sexual proclivities from the Doctor’s persona. There were even efforts to deny that Susan was the Doctor’s granddaughter because the implication was that if the Doctor was a grandfather, then he was also a father and that meant the Doctor had sex with somebody and no, absolutely not, no sir, no sex for the Doctor. Oh he can travel all over time and space and live for centuries but he’s not getting laid.
The first challenge to that assumption was the First Doctor finding himself getting engaged to an Aztec woman. As William Hartnell was playing the Doctor has an elder figure, the idea of him getting married seemed amusingly charming. 

After that, Whovians had to look in between the lines to get a hint of the Doctor actually being interested in a woman, er, “that way”. Jon Pertwee’s Doctor is almost flirtatious with Liz Shaw when they first meet; well, she seems to almost respond as if its flirting but the Doctor himself was probably oblivious to the implications. Tom Baker’s Doctor had a very relaxed couple-like camaraderie with Lalla Ward’s Romana

(Perhaps it was real life influencing the roles as Tom and Lalla were in an on again/off again romantic relationship.) And I’m the only one who thought Peter Davison’s Doctor had great chemistry with the female scientist Todd in Kinda?
It was not until the Doctor Who movie that we got a Doctor with full on romantic appeal. It was hard to miss with Paul McGann cutting a dashing figure in his classic attire and a hairdo straight off the cover of a romance novel. And he and the companion kiss! Heresy!

Heresy I tells ya!

But when the series was revived in 2005 and particularly with the advent of David Tennant as the Doctor, the idea of our favorite Time Lord as someone who can respond to love just like the rest of us is first fully embraced.  Tennant and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler make a fun couple and one can see how Rose anyway would think their relationship was or could be something…more. But the concept of the Doctor as a romantic figure was met fully head on in The Girl In the Fireplace where we see the Doctor become totally smitten with Madame De Pompadour and we see his hearts broken when time snatches her out of his grasp.  And then his reaction to the loss of Rose at the end of Doomsday and that farewell scene on the beach where all the romantics just KNOW the Doctor is going to tell Rose he loves her. 


The 11th Doctor may have been socially clueless but Matt Smith’s Doctor  got a LOT of play: the quickie marriage to Marilyn Monroe, the outright being naked underneath a 17th century Frenchwoman’s skirt, being the object of desire of Queen Nefrititi, caught in some major sexual tension with Tasha Lem. Heck, the Doctor even gets to make time with a female incarnation of his TARDIS. (Amy Pond: “Did you wish really, really hard?”) The big relationship was with River Song that sees the Doctor actually taking her out on dates and getting married to her.  

And then there was Clara. Ostensibly, the Doctor’s fascination with Clara Oswald is one of curiosity; he is intrigued by the mystery of the Impossible Girl. But the subtext of attraction to Clara is often not so “sub” as “text”. And if there is any doubt about that, the 12th Doctor sets the record straight at the end of Deep Breath.
The Doctor: Clara, I’m not your boyfriend.
Clara: I never said you were.
The Doctor: I never said the mistake was yours.
While Peter Capaldi can cut quite a dashing figure, particularly when fighting Robin Hood with a spoon, we’re obviously out of the realm of the Doctor as a romantic, at least in the cause of love.  I think this course correction is necessary. The Doctor has a connection to humanity, a fondness even if you will for humans. But the Doctor himself is an alien. He is not human and applying the tropes of human love and desire to the Doctor just doesn’t seem right. Still, if the pendulum swung too far towards romance, I hope it doesn’t swing too far in the other direction.  I like seeing the Doctor in the occasional situation where we realize that even though he has lived for centuries and has vast stores of knowledge, he still can’t figure out women.


Next Saturday:  More of The Love TARDIS as I look at the romantic adventures of the Doctor’s companions

But tomorrow, an installment of Doctor Who is NEW as I review Time Heist.  

Until then, if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with.

Oh, and be good to one another.    

Counting Down To Infinity