Saturday, October 07, 2006

Doctor Who and the Gospel in "New Earth"

Carmen of the profound and very fun blog, In the Open, posted recently on an episode of the new Sci-Fi Channel season of Dr. Who. (New to us. Not new to Brits.)

If you think, fuhgeddaboutit, Dr. Who is just too campy! Well, read on. I'm gonna cut-n-paste from Carmen's entry (cause I'm too lazy to make up my own recapitulation of the show). This way, you can get a glimpse of a really lovely moment of SF programming.

Set up: This is way, way in the future, a time past when the Earth is gone. Humans have established a new planet to call home. The doctor visits a facility there in New New York, where amazing cures for all diseases are accomplished by a race of cat-nun-researchers-nurses.

Grimly, horribly, it turns out that the cures come via experimentation on beings cloned from human flesh, and each of these beings has been infected with every single known human disease. They are warehoused, isolated, simply there to produce the cures.

However, the Doc discovers they are sentient, real humans, and they are suffering horribly of loneliness and from their multitude of ailments. (It breaks your heart, even if it's over the top). The news that they are alive and feel and think and comprehend is uncomfortable to the cat-nun-medical-experimenting-nurses, who assumed they were just... tissue. (Although they admit that when they appear to begin to show feelings, they are destroyed as a merciful act.)

A pragmatic means to a good-deed end, that's all. Right?

When these contagious humans are loosed, their touch immediately kills, so the Doc and the hospital peops end up trapped under quarantine and at risk of contamination.

The Doc, being the smart chap he is, finds a way to douse himself with the curative agents. Then, he touches these PERSONS who have never been touched before, because they have lived all their lives in individual containment units, each alone. The Doctor's touch proves immediately restorative.


“Pass it on! Pass it on!” screams a joyous Doctor, as he urges the now healthy humans to touch their fellow sufferers. They gently embrace and touch each others’ faces and hands, spreading the cure and experiencing the joy of contact.

“What did they pass on?” asks one of the characters, who couldn’t see what was happening. “Did you kill them?”

“No,” laughs the Doctor, “that’s your way of doing things. I’m a Doctor and I cured them.”

One of the newly cured comes up and wraps her arms around the Doctor who smiles and embraces her with joy.

“It’s a brand new form of life,” he explains, “. . . kept in the dark, fed by tubes, are now completely, completely alive!

“Life will out! Ha!” he shouts in joy.

I was moved. Carmen was moved. Go to her blog and see what she has to say about the why of it.

BTW, I had my doubts at first (due to my favoring Eccleston as the Doc), but Tennant is doing a wonderful job, and I'm enjoying him as our favorite Time Lord. He has a boyish quality that can just emanate pure, unadulterated joy in the most wonderful way. And he can be quite dorky, which fits the character. (Catch his feminine body language when he's possessed by vain Cassandra, who appeared in a previous season's episode that was one of my faves cause she's hilariously wicked.)

Note: The Face of Boe makes a reappearance, and that, too, is rather touching and riffs off the themes. And the ending is beautiful and touches on one of the classic "time travel" paradoxes.

This episode brims with hope, compassion, mercy, and redemption. And it makes a statement about at least two current moral-medical issues. "New Earth" is the episode's title, and that term is loaded with Christian meaning, some of which flows through the script.

Yes, this "New Earth" has a Christian heart.


Anonymous said...

This was one of my favorite Dr. Who episodes. From the pro-life statements, comments on cloning, and the fact that he saved the clones rather than kill them. Most shows would have had the "hero" kill them.
My son and I are big fans of Eccleston's Dr. but we are very happy with the job done by David Tennant.

Mirtika said...

Oh, absolutely. Tennant has totally won me over. He's a delight!


Carmen Andres said...

mir, thanks for the hat tip, and i'm beginning, like you, to like tennant. heh, in fact, i told my husband that when i think about that scene in "new earth" i can easily interchange eccleston and tennant (which, imho, says much for tennant's acting ability, to keep a character in character). blessings.

Mirtika said...

Eccleston and Tennant are both pros. I was so used to seeing Eccleston in serious, dark, intense roles (Elizabeth, Shallow Grave, Jude (the Obscure), Crackers), that watching him be the lonely-goofly-lifeloving Doctor was just grand.

BTW, Tennant was really adorable in the tiny bit of CASANOVA I caught on Masterpiece Theater last night before I conked out on the couch. He's boyish, smart, and hyperactive. (I was too tired to watch more than 15 minutes or so, but I liked what they were doing with the story. )


UKSteve said...

I thought a new Doctor so soon was going to be horrible...

But I'm tellin ya, give it a few episodes, you'll forget there was ever another Doctor.