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The Orange Couch, Episode 2 of Doctor Who: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, September 10, 2012 9:34 EDT
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The thing that keeps bringing me—and probably most adult fans—back to Doctor Who is that despite it’s kid-friendliness and its propensity towards wizard-did-it plots, is that the character of the Doctor is just so fascinating. You go through the same journey with him as his companions: First, all wide-eyed wonder. Then the growing and uncomfortable realization that his genius has led to an entirely predictable recklessness and enormous ego. And that his long life and ability to go anywhere in time he pleases has led him to keep people at a distance, treating them like pets. Which they are, in a sense. As Marc pointed out to me, the Doctor’s relationship to a companion pretty much has to be like our relationship to our pets, since we adopt them with the full understanding that we’ll be watching them grow old and die in the same amount of time that we just change a little, relatively speaking.

Then you have the realization that you can forgive all that and love him anyway. We’re like River Song, clucking in disapproval at the way the Doctor just created an obsession with himself in young Amy Pond that he could collect on later, but we want to marry him anyway. Nifty trick.

This episode played mostly with those themes, as we discuss in the video, and in the end, touched on an even more uncomfortable aspect of the Doctor, which is that he has come around to thinking of himself as deserving the power over life and death. We’ve grown used to characters on TV shows dispatching bad guys like it was no thing, but in the Doctor Who universe, life is supposed to have  more meaning than that. Indeed, Solomon is genuinely surprised that a stand-up guy like the Doctor would murder him, even after he’s been captured and is helpless without his robot protectors. With all the moral certainty that the Doctor throws around, it’s particularly upsetting to see that. We explore the Doctor’s motives in the video.

But it makes sense that the Doctor would start to treat life as if it were cheap, honestly. If time has the same meaning to you as space—and you can travel both by snapping your fingers—-then the lives of those who live in linear time would start to feel less momentous than they would if you were living in linear time, too. You often visit places where the people you loved are dead already. It’s sad that Amy Pond will die, but in the very  year this episode takes place in, she’s been dead likely a couple hundred years. But he can, as mentioned, always go back and visit. All people are alive and dead to him, all at once. That would have to cheapen your attitudes towards life, I’d have to think.

That’s a lot of weight for an episode that, upon first viewing, seems like a light farce designed to make the kids happy with all the dinosaurs.

Opinions? Thoughts? Predictions on how the Ponds will make their exit? I fear, after that episode, Amy will not survive the series.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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