It’s a bold new season of Doctor Who. While I’m not excited, per se, I’m looking forward to #11’s adventures with the Ponds. I caught up with the new series over the summer and found myself in the great debate about which Doctor is the best. I heard all the usual stuff about Baker and Tennant, but for me it all came down to ego.
He sure isn’t encumbered by humility. You can find video after video of speeches about how unstoppably perfect he tells his enemies he is.
At some point I just got sick of #10 talking about how no one can beat him, and how he is so clever. The various Doctors play it differently, with #9 having the least ego, but it’s almost a universal constant that he does grandiose bravado. It’s so much the case that it got me thinking about why the Doctor has to be soooooo amazing. Why does a white guy in sensible dress, speaking the queens English, need to be better than everyone?
And then it occurred to me that maybe it has to do with the context of The Doctor. Is it possible that he’s some kind of avatar for the once mighty British Empire?
The Doctor Knows Better Than You
At the end of the 2005 series with Christopher Eccleston, The Doctor mentions that he experiences all points in time at once… or some junk. He knows everything. He’s better than all of us combined. HE BEAT SATAN! Donna Noble accidentally took his knowledge and it almost melted her brain!
He is the smartest thing to have ever lived by virtue of the fact that he always finds a clever solution to the problem while remaining (largely) moral and generally non-violent. He is the ultimate non-savage.
He is simply better than the rest of us. He rarely ever does anything wrong and when it is “wrong,” it’s to prevent a greater wrong. Granted, he may have committed genocide offscreen (though I have yet to see a season without a Dalek), but it was for the greater good.
In The Doctor’s wake lie a host of broken people that used to be companions. Remember the time he broke up Rose Tyler and her boyfriend and then accidentally locked her in an alternate dimension? Granted, she came back… and then he locked her back over there with a shitty version of himself, and that’s pretty much the happiest ending among companions.
Donna Noble got a lobotomy. Martha Jones gave up on waiting for him and married Roses’ ex… because the only two brown people in the show would marry. And let’s not forget the short run of Astrid Peth.
The companions find themselves unable to live in a mundane world after travelling with The Doctor… if they live at all.
And it’s not like he actually needs a companion. He goes out on his own all the time and wrecks strangers lives just fine. The last episode of season six was like 400 years of him running around without the Ponds. He picks these strangers because he gets lonely. If he was really a good guy, he would stop throwing people that are clearly dumber than him into danger to fill that void.
The Doctor Will Make You Do The Right Thing
The man that’s smarter than you and knows better than you has an obligation to make his inferiors do the right thing. At least that used to be the line of thinking for colonial powers. You could even characterize it as a kind of burden that has to be carried out.
At the end of every season the universe almost falls apart. Thankfully, The Doctor is there to restore order. EVERY FLIPPING SEASON! There was an episode where Donna Noble accidentally let him die in an alternate timeline and the Earth became a fascist wasteland like 20 minutes later. And then all the stars went out.
Because we can’t survive without him and his impeccable British wit.
Why is it we haven’t had a black Doctor yet? Or Hispanic? Or a woman? The only other Time Lords that actually do anything are also white males of, apparently, British stock. So why is The Doctor always a white Anglo? It’s because he wouldn’t be ideally British otherwise. He/She would no longer represent that British Mandate to tell other people they are doing it wrong and to teach them to be civil.
Is it so far fetched? Has The Doctor not been knighted by at least one queen of England? Did he not save the 2012 London Olympic games? Hasn’t he saved London over and over again? He’s pretty much British stoicism given human form.
This doesn’t ruin the show for me any more than the Avengers overabundance of white folks ruined Marvel for me, but it does make me remember that culture informs our entertainment.
Also, does anyone remember that time he had a daughter and then never looked for her or anything? WTF?