Monday, June 02, 2008

Recyclingwatch in the Library

According to this week's Confidential, Doctor Who is all about reading, encouraging kids to read and emphasising the power of the written word. OK, but why is it that, aside from Shakespeare and Dickens (who are the only two "quality" writers your average chav can name, if only because they've seen the BBC TV adaption), the only writers that get namechecked are the likes of J.K. Rowling, Jeffrey Archer, Helen Fielding, Agatha Christie etc.? It's like the writers are on the one hand saying "reading is cool, kids! Don't listen to what the bullies say!" and, on the other, saying "oh, but don't actually read anything with words of more than two syllables in it, that does actually make you a nerd." Personally I suspect that Doctor Who is actually about little shops, particularly given the merchandising glut out there.

The End of the World: Announcement systems giving amusing/peculiar futuristic instructions. The idea of the future as having a massive nostalgia industry. Companion freaked out by practices which are normal in this future society.

The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances: Creepy undead thing repeating a fairly mundane catchphrase in a sinister way. Captain Jack's device for putting square holes in things makes a reappearance.

New Earth: Mysterious summons for the Doctor via psychic paper, and the presence or absence of little shops as an indicator of the health of an institution.

The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit: Multiethnic, wisecracking group of future adventurers, one of whom is suddenly possessed by something that one would generally assume is a myth or articulation of a primal fear.

Love and Monsters: Stones with talking human faces embedded in them.

Fear Her: Small girl who draws pictures which turn out to be real.

42: In media res with a futuristic group of multiethnic adventurers with their own in-jokes, who unleash an evil force which possesses one of them, and he goes after the others.

Blink: Abandoned buildings, with something fairly mundane hiding a creepy alien secret. "Stay out of the shadows" as this year's "don't blink."

Human Nature: A diary about the Doctor's adventures, only he doesn't know about them. A child with some kind of supernatural power or ability.

The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords: That security camera with the consciousness of a child looks suspiciously like a Toclafane.

Voyage of the Damned: An impression of someone's mind being left inside a piece of technology, resulting in a creepy ghost that doesn't know where it is.

Good gravy, now they're even recycling *within* the season: Last week's Agatha Christie title-referencing competition spills over into this week, when we learn that there is No Body in the Library. Oh, and how many future companions/ex-companions/potential companions are we going to have to endure this year?

Catchphrasewatch: It's like Moffat had a bet on with someone as to how many times he could get Tennant to say "I'm so sorry."

Old Skool Who: River Song is basically Bernice Summerfield with curly hair-- archaeologist and Doctor's companion, full of one-liners and quips about unusual dating habits. Big intergalactic libraries seem to have been a staple of the Virgin and Big Finish eras-- even Moffat himself apparently had an earlier go at one-- but I'm thinking particularly of Daniel O'Mahony's "Timeless Passages," a story featuring Bernice Summerfield in a library with a creepy girl. Plus the entire Faction Paradox series focuses around shadows and their presence/absence/difference in form from their ostensible owner. That aside: Battlefield (the Doctor coming across a piece of his own future history), The Keeper of Traken (hiding a secret to protect the family pride, even at the cost of others' lives), Remembrance of the Daleks (creepy possessed little girls). The Horns of Nimon (the companion has their own sonic screwdriver). The Tomb of the Cybermen (archaeological expedition on a hiding to disaster, and it looks like their financial backer, who is accompanying them, is up to no good).

Other Stuff: The Omega Factor, episode one (protagonist flees along a street as the streetlamps go out ominously behind him); Space 1999 has a similar sequence in which a possessed crewmember drains the power from everything he passes; The Matrix (what seems to be twenty-first-century Earth is in fact an illusion, and the information-based nightmare is real, according to a bald black man with spectacles; also check out the Matrix homage in the Library's data displays). Any and all SF stories with giant future libraries. The Box of Delights (more issues about the presence or absence of shadows).