“I reached into the Dark and made new life. I am the God of all Daleks.” (The Emperor)
“Driven mad by your own flesh…You hate your own existence.” Doctor to Dalek Emperor.
By SHARON K. GILBERT
July 14, 2008
“YOU KNOW the Doctor, you understand him, you will predict his actions.” Thus said one of the Daleks in Parting of the Ways, the final episode of Doctor Who, Season One (originally broadcast in 2005). If you’re not familiar with the Doctor or the Time War or the Daleks, then I strongly recommend you plan a weekend’s viewing, beginning with Season One, starring Christopher Eccleston as the enigmatic Time Lord known cryptically as ‘The Doctor’.
I’ve been watching the Doctor – in his various forms – since the mid-seventies. Taking time now to explain who he is and why he intervenes with Earth would take far more space than one article can hold, but here are the salient points:
The Doctor is from the planet Gallifrey, where a pompous race of beings called ‘The Time Lords’ watch and judge interactions throughout space and time. This wonderfully cheesy little series began in 1963 and continued until 1989 with very little break, but BBC chose to revive it in 2005 with cutting edge CGI, bigger budgets, and a darker, more intense Time Lord, played by Eccleston. Throughout the four seasons so far, I can’t help noticing a continuing thread connecting The Doctor to religion, especially to the Bible. Though he refuses to give his true name (except for one occurrence in ‘Forest of the Dead’, Season 4), we learn in Season 4 that the name of this ‘lonely god’ is written in the stars.
Now, before I wander adrift, let me return to what caused me to begin this article in the first place. The episode, ‘Parting of the Ways’ is playing right now on SciFi, and a couple of items sent my radar into high gear. First, it’s revealed that the Daleks have spent centuries hiding in the Dark Place, watching the Earth, while playing ‘a long game’ that includes manipulating men’s minds through television. Secondly, the Doctor — who cancels out the Daleks’ transmission so that their ships can be revealed (a signal in the TV stream had masked their presence) — states that he sees TWO HUNDRED ships.
If you’re familiar with the pseudepigraphical book of Enoch, then you know this line: “And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon…” (Enoch 6:5b) Now, I’m not saying that the Watchers (Nephilim or Fallen Angels) of Enoch (and Genesis 6) looked like pepper pots (the Daleks are said to be based on the shape of an English ‘pepper pot’), but the Biblical implications of this episode can’t be ignored. The Dalek emperor, a mutant holdover from the Time War, believes that he has evolved into the true God, and that he is invincible. I don’t wish to spoil the episode for you, so I’ll leave it there.
The irony here is that the Daleks (presented either intentionally or not) as the ‘two hundred watchers’ play the role of bad guys, while the Doctor is the good guy. But is he? As much as I love this show, I’d argue that The Doctor is actually a type of AntiChrist, saving the Earth from dark enemies — maybe even from an alien invasion. But then, the Doctor is an alien.
I’ll stop here, for now, but look for more on Who — because this show is a major phenomenon in the UK, and it’s gaining ground here. In fact, Season 5 producer Steven Moffat has just signed to write the Tintin screenplays for Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. I’m betting we’ll see a Dr. Who film in the next few years (no, the 1996 Fox film doesn’t count).
I’m especially looking forward to a thorough analysis of Season 4 — a story arc that gives us a Trinity of Doctors (I can’t write more until this episode premieres in the US – sometime in August).
With the revival of Doctor Who a great deal of discussion has arisen regarding the many religious references used throughout the last four seasons (“series” in the UK).
The likening of the Doctor to Christ, or a Christ-like figure, is often discussed among the fans. With all that I have read among the fan communities and seen myself, I had not made the Enoch connection yet. I liked your concise description of the Doctor as well.
(Side note: You may find ‘The Second Coming’ of interest; another project Eccleston performed in, and which was produced/directed by Russell Davies who headed up the ‘new’ Doctor Who series.)
I’ve seen that series too Sharon and could not agree with you more. The behavioral patterns of the humans interacting with the Dr also raises questions.
The daleks use to make my brother run behind the couch when we were kids, they still have that eerie presence to this day, which makes it such a great series to continue watching.
Dr. Who has been a television mainstay in our house since the early 1980s. We certainly have had favorite (and not so favorite) Doctors throughout the years. Our teenage son wore a Tom Baker-ish style knitted scarf through two nasty northern winters. Our Saturday nights were topped off with popcorn and a trip through the galaxies. So, with the greatest respect – I wonder about the supposed link to the Anti-Christ. Excuse my lack of biblical acumen, but it seems to me that the Doctor has many times over put his own life on the line in order to save humanity from whatever situation had arisen. Would that be indicative behavior of the AntiChrist?
I am a lifelong fan of Doctor Who, though my favorite has (and always will be) the Tom Baker version. Even today I have a penchant for long coats, scarves and jellied candy.
Still the Enoch reference you make is an excellent one. Though I imagine that more and more of such comparisons will be turning up in fiction. Assorted “ascended masters” and other immortal teachers, corrupteds and seducers influencing mankind. And of course a very human superman that will save us all through the use of great (and morally vague) intellect.
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