Thursday, April 11, 2013

Doctor Who "The Rings of Akhatan"

The latest episode of the series inspires a lot of self-reflection and examination. Not due to the religious themes of the show (more on that in a bit) but due to the vacuous nature of the story offered by such a beloved show. Sometimes “Doctor Who” is simply a guilty pleasure and not a ground-breaking, thought provoking, science fiction giant.

Qualifiers abound. The show has been around forever, through good times and bad, and since it resumed transmission it has amongst the best stuff TV has to offer. In its older days it was always a show about ideas often too abstract or imaginative to accurately portray by the limitations of the time. Since its return the visuals and production have improved but with higher expectations of quality the ideas have come down to a level that is presentable. Thus the quality overall has at times been lower than it should.

This past episode was a particular low. Merely from a production value it is rather dazzling. There are more creatures and aliens than ever before. But when one looks past the effects and the make-up something is missing. Namely originality and, more importantly, a story.

It starts out with alright. Good even. But once we get into the adventure proper we begin to ask ourselves, “Where is the plot?” It is more of a series of disjointed moments. That and we get the sneaking suspicion we have seen most of this before. (Namely in the episode “The End of the World.”) By the time we get to the end of the episode we realize they have pulled a fast one on us. They completely fail to show us the end of the adventure! The fear dawning upon us for this half of the season is that it will all end up being an exercise in nothing. Moffat has unfortunately done this before on his run of the Doctor. He loves to present us with a myriad of mysteries. Some he resolves and others he forgets. Let’s hope that the resolution to the mystery of Clara Oswald doesn’t end up being a fizzle rather than a bang.

One final note on “The Rings of Akhaten.” It does lack a plot, but it is rich on undeveloped concepts. One of these is a very lazy retread of a Doctor Who’s Philosophy of Religion. It is the typical (although interesting and even compatible with a Christian worldview) Sci-Fi idea that some religions worship false gods that are nothing more than creatures dependant on or exploitative of their followers. Here the Doctor confronts another of these idols, indignant that anybody would exploit people that way. In doing so, the show goes further than it ever has in saying that the Doctor himself is some sort of deity. More so than any other god the show has even encountered. This is something the series has played with since its return. The Doctor is not a god, but he is godlike at times, and unlike the other false gods of the Doctor Who universe, he rejects any religious following in favor of personal relationships with people.

It is an imperfect picture, but a better approximation to the way the God of the Bible has presented Himself. 

1 comment:

  1. Great, and I do agree that episode was a low. I love where you went in the last paragraph, about relationships being most important. come visit my Doctor who blog, where we discuss similar things. Cheers, Ros, from


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