Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Doctor Who-Ghost Light
               During the final two seasons of it's first run,Doctor Who began a process of re-imagining themes that had been at the core of many of it's different incarnations over the years. Perhaps because of the length of time he played the part,a lot of the Gothic horror aspects of the Tom Baker years of the show had been largely ignored. But during the seventh doctor era he was given a new companion in Ace,someone with origins and a past easily as cryptic and uncertain as the doctor,even to herself. Little by little bits of her story had filtered out in the story. But towards the end of the shows run more portions of it began to come out. And this story,while reviving one old theme of the classic series,actually opened the door to a huge degree of character development on the newest companion.

                  The TARDIS finds itself in the residence of Gabriel Chase,in the rural town of Perivale in 1883. The people populating this building are,at best,zombified eccentrics including a mentally ill explorer intent on keeping a mildly radioactive snuffbox. As it turned out the man behind all this is Josiah Samuel Smith,an extraterrestrial who keeps his spaceship in the upstairs of the building and his using the population and others out of Earth's past to forward self involved experiments in evolution,including the assassination of Queen Victoria and plans for world domination. In the meantime,Ace confronts the dark elements of her own past and future when she realizes that,in a centuries time she commits an act of arson on the building out of fear she sensed from it. That fear is soon personified by a humanoid version of light itself,desperately hoping along with Smith to stop evolution of life on Earth to ease it's own cataloging mission on the world. In a way even uncertain to Ace,the doctor manages to end this process. Even back handily congratulating Ace on what is her future choice in regard to destroying the building.

               This Doctor Who serial is one of the most complexly written serial of the classic series in terms of dialog,in some ways paving the way for the nature of the relaunched series a decade and a half later. The pace of the story is picked up to a maddening degree,with even the doctor musing in character at all the different plot points interconnecting. The central theme here,of all of them is that of evolution versus creationism. Darwinism is mentioned many times. And so each characters mission is about confronting their fears. There's Josiah's fear of his identity being discovered,Ace's fear of the undefined evil that overwhelms her from the surroundings and even the fear of the human personification of light itself at losing control of time and space somehow. A lot of the themes for this episode are very philosophical and may require many additional viewings to fully grasp. But the general concept,of evolution being the constant that brings death to what came before it,is the important and easily graspable story element.
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