I love writing these Doctor Who reviews. Here’s a piece from my upoming review, which you can find over at Reel World Theology sometime this month. Follow me on Twitter @Laura_Fissel, or Reel World Theology @ReelWorldTheo to make sure you catch the whole thing when it’s released! BE WARNED: SPOILERS GALORE.
CHILD [OC]: Mummy? Mummy? Please let me in, mummy. Please let me in, mummy.
(A little hand comes through the letter box.)
DOCTOR: Are you all right?
CHILD [OC]: Please let me in.
(Nancy throws something that breaks, and the hand withdraws.)
NANCY: You mustn’t let him touch you!
DOCTOR: What happens if he touches me?
NANCY: He’ll make you like him.
DOCTOR: And what’s he like?
NANCY: I’ve got to go.
DOCTOR: Nancy, what’s he like?
NANCY: He’s empty.
This is the fulcrum of the story. Our “big bad” here (Whedon reference: check) is this child, once a little boy named Jamie. Nancy warns the Doctor that though the boy looks alive, he is actually a hollow, dangerous thing that can pass his condition to others by touch. Throughout the episode, we watch as this “empty child” searches for his origin (“are you my mummy?”). Each time he instinctively reaches out to connect, he only manages to spread his emptiness. The Doctor discovers a whole hospital full of people to whom this has happened. They all bear the same head-trauma, scar on their hand, and gas mask that is not covering their face as much as it has become their face. They are an extension of “Jamie,” who unwittingly controls them all.
What better setting to explore real-world brokeness than WWII-era London, at the height of the London Blitz? The city is dark and dust-covered. Sirens are wailing, warning people to get to bomb shelters. The troubled Nancy is surrounded by starving kids. The four-year-old Jamie, now our “empty child,” was killed. Even as Moffat takes us into a fictional story about aliens and time travel, the historical setting presents the undeniable reality that mankind’s brokenness has catastrophic consequences.
Today’s writing project combines two of my greatest loves: the Gospel and Doctor Who.
I am especially thrilled with how this review is shaping up for the next in my Who-ology series. Here I offer a rough rough rough cut of a couple of paragraphs from the piece. Look for the finished whole sometime towards the end of the month over at Reel World Theology. In the meantime, enjoy!
…there is Someone [who] is trustworthy to cause “all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
If you’re like me, that verse has long lost its potency, thanks to the years and years of being quoted at when struggling through painful life circumstances. But let’s hold its truth up to something that we can’t accuse of being touchy-feely or hypothetical. Contrarily, it is raw and tangible (and God knew we needed it): Jesus willingly put himself into experiences just as dark, painful, and inexplicable as the ones we are facing. Not only did he experienced ultimate physical and emotional pain, but spiritual as well: “Why?” he agonized to God in the Garden of Gethsemane, literally sweating blood. And then again on the cross. But Hebrews tells us that he trusted in the end goal, the eternal perspective, and saw suffering through “for the joy set before him.” The Joy–that’s us.
Christmas morning, I ripped back festive wrapping to reveal the brilliant blue of heavy, hardbound Doctor Who: The Vault by Marcus Hearn. From the moment I cracked the cover, this book enthralled me in a way I did not anticipate.This lexicon for the first 50 years of Doctor Who is impressive in its scope and riveting in its presentation. Beginning in the 1960s, each page is bursting with text and visual artifacts that tell the story of the show’s development from year to year. For a fan, it is thrilling to see sketches of costumes, memos between producers, and photographs of the first show-related merchandise. But as an artist, this book has captivated me on another level.
Whatever else it is, Doctor Who has always been a collaborative effort. Combining the passion, skill, innovation and daring of countless people (many of them unlikely in their time in terms of age, ethnicity or sex), Doctor Who is an amalgamation of people’s creative dreams and efforts. And not only within the production of the show! Artists of all kinds from across the years have created beautiful things of their own in response to a show that has moved and inspired them. Hearn’s well-crafted book showcases this inspiring aspect of Doctor Who–once simple and unassuming, now a far-reaching cultural phenomenon.
This book reminds me that ordinary people can create extraordinary things; that art can be powerfully uniting; and that whatever the reach of my creative legacy, every artistic act has impact.