Monday, June 4, 2012

Who Pride
 The Saga Of Russell T Davies & John Nathan Turner
                     Since it's LGBTQ Pride month in the United States this year I wanted to take a little break from my Doctor Who serial reviews to discuss the programs involvement in this issue,both directly and indirectly. Over the years Doctor Who has done stories on many sociopolitical and cultural topics. As with most thoughtful science fiction,it's tended to hint rather broadly at these topics rather than make any direct commentary. The old "it's happening on another planet" adage adopted by Gene Roddenberry. In serials of the show such as The Happiness Patrol the topic of same sex domestic partnerships was only hinted at very broadly. But that goes into the subjects of this blog. It's the story of two men. One was John Nathan Turner,whose ten year stint as producer of the program had him involved with said serial and Russell T. Davies,who has been involved in the relaunched version of the show.

                     Since I am far more familiar at this point with the classic Doctor Who series I'll start out by talking about John-Nathan Turner a bit. Most criticism of him is based more on how he handled the show on the promotional level than anything else. But it can't be denied that there was a definite change in the shows overall image during his era. The theme was altered to showcase a very theatrical star burst sequence. Also the coloring of the costumes and the sets became more vibrant and less Gothic,culminating in the controversial wardrobe for Colin Baker's sixth doctor. Whether he knew it or not,there were strong elements of the 1980's androgynous fashion sense in Nathan-Turner's approach to at least the look of Doctor Who. But except for perhaps broad hints he kept his social politics largely to himself.

                     Seems history is is reading Russell T. Davies a bit differently. From his involvement in 'Queer As Folk' to his openly homosexual orientation Davies has been an important contributor to this modernized Doctor Who that I know very little about at the present time. Even still all one has to do is go Youtube to find out the sort of homophobic rantings that are lobbed at "RTD" as he's called. Luckily there's a bell shaped curve here,as there seems to be an anti group on this. While some may not be keen on Davies' sexual orientation there is little heavy criticism for the newly relaunched version of Doctor Who that he has spearheaded. Especially in the case of the spin off show 'Torchwood' where an openly bisexual character is discussed and showcased.

                     Despite only occasionally broadly hinting at the issue of sexual orientation,unless one counts the two lesbian lovers who were companions to the eighth doctor in the Doctor Who Magazine comic strips,I never got the impression the Doctor Who staff were given to many prejudices. There was always the idea of an open minded moral code in the program. But more importantly was the idea that humanities rather petty quarrels were actually unimportant when compared to the type of cultural holocaust that could be incurred by Daleks,Cybermen,The Master or even misunderstood lifeforms such as the Silurians. In it's references to Earth Doctor Who often speaks to humanities obsession with opposite types of legends.

                   These legends have affected the public perception of both Russell T. Davies and the late John Nathan-Turner,let me tell you. Both people are as linked with the world of Doctor Who as any Tom Baker or David Tennant or Elizabeth Sladen. On the other hand it's hard to get away from some hidden (and not so hidden) homophobia lurking behind some of the vitriol aimed at Davies and Nathan-Turner over the years. True-some of their physical contributions to the show were controversial and bare up to some scrutiny in that regard. But is it really fair,especially in the spirit of Doctor Who's moral code,to bring their personal lives into their involvement in the show? A question worth posing I think.
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