Mr Lawrence Miles published a review of last weekend’s Doctor Who, only to RECANT very quickly and remove it from his diary. Nevertheless, like all the words of Mr “Mad Larry” Miles, it has made a bit of a SPLASH.
Basically, he said that when gay daddies write for Doctor Who, if they AREN’T Russell T Davies then they have a problem writing for attractive young women. Not older women, older mumsy women are fine, just the young ones. And Mr Larry implies that it must be because young women must do K.I.S.S.I.N.G!
This is the CORE of what he had to say:
“But every gay writer in Doctor Who, other than Cuddly God-Bear Russell T. Davies himself, seems determined to turn each new female character into a mother-figure, a hate-object, or a human sacrifice: see also the “work” of Mark Gatiss and Matthew Jones, who routinely bump off the girls and let the mothers live.”Of course, by “every gay daddy” he actually means “the THREE gay daddies who aren’t Mr Russell”. (Or, as daddy puts it, of the twenty scripts by gay daddies we will ignore sixteen.) This is not what you would call a STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT sample.
In the first year, this means Mr Mark Gatiss, since Mr Rob Sherman, Mr Paul Cornell and Mr Steven Moffat are all pretty much married to pretty much ladies. Mr Mark wrote “The Unquiet Dead” – a story that Mr Larry has been not uncontroversial about before – which DOES feature the young woman getting exploded though, to be fair, everyone else who isn’t Charles Dickens has ALREADY been killed and turned into ZOMBIES. In the second year, he contributed “The Idiot’s Lantern” where the female characters were the downtrodden mummy who finds some backbone and the evil television lady.
Now at FIRST GLANCE that might look like a perfect correlation with Mr Larry’s stereotypes. But in order to do that you have to look at, say, Mrs Rita Connelly and say she is Tommy’s mummy and that is all we need to know. In fact, as Daddy Alex points out, almost none of her story is about her being Tommy’s mummy. In actual fact, it is about her being abused by her husband, and then standing up for her own mother and for herself. Far from JUST being a “mother”, she steps out of that ROLE to become her own person.
Alternatively, look at the MALE characters in those stories. Mr Dickens re-discovers his love of his family (father-figure); Mr Sneed is a weak man who gets killed off to become a Gelth zombie (human sacrifice); and Mr Eddie Connolly is revealed as a bully and a sneak (hate-figure). It is EASY to put people into BOXES, isn’t it? In fact, all three of these men are more complex than that too: Mr Sneed, for example, has a rather wry sense of humour, and though he may sometimes appear to bully Gwyneth it turns out that he is also rather generous with her pay.
You might also look at what the other (non-gay-daddy) writers do with THEIR lady characters. The only lady in “Dalek” is Ms Diana Goddard – named after Mr Rob’s WIFE! – who turns out to be a bit naughty at the end where she takes over from her evil boss. The attractive young woman in Mr Paul’s “Father’s Day” may not be a human sacrifice, but her wedding goes a bit up in smoke when everyone ELSE gets eaten by the Reapers, and the WHOLE of “The Empty Child” two-parter hinges on Nancy being a MOTHER FIGURE.
So being sneery about Mr Mark Gatiss’ work may not actually stand up.
But what about Mr Larry’s other evidence: “The Impossible Planet” where the pretty, young woman was killed by a pretty, young man (who is a bit possessed by the devil), and this week’s “The Shakespeare Code” where a pretty, young man was quickly killed by a pretty, young woman (who then turns out to be an evil ugly witch).
If we just brush over just exactly how much of “The Impossible Planet” was REALLY written by him and how much was written by Mr Russell – because that’s a WHOLE other can of WORMS – then Mr Matt Jones is the new gay daddy writing in Doctor Who’s second season. Though, we do not really know about Mr Toby Whithouse or young Master Tom MacRae. But we do know that Mr Matthew Graham has talked about his sons: Sam Tyler in “Life on Mars” is named after one of them (that’s right, he’s Tyler Graham).
In fact, the one most obvious “mother figure” in the new series so far is Trish Webber in Mr Matthew’s “Fear Her”, who has nothing to add to the plot other than her “concerned mother” acting. That’s the OTHER problem for Mr Larry’s theory: if the non-gay-daddy writers do the thing that he says only the gay daddies do it looks less like a pattern and more like he’s just picking evidence to support his attack.
But back to “The Impossible Planet”, the thing about killing off of an attractive young lady character is that it is IMPLICITLY a threat to kill off the Doctor’s best friend Rose, who funnily enough is an attractive young lady character. And this is especially true in “The Impossible Planet”/”The Satan Pit” where the Beast pretty directly threatens to do exactly that to Rose too!
And this, of course, is where Mr Larry’s theory falls completely to pieces. Because quite obviously EVERY episode has an attractive female character who is (as seen in the first twenty seconds of “Rose”, and loads of times since) not above a bit of K.I.S.S.I.N.G. And yet, whether she is Rose or Martha, she is a rounded character with strengths and flaws.
Mr Larry picks up on one line of Martha’s in “The Shakespeare Code” where she asks what Bedlam is – as an intelligent medical student, says Larry, she should know that. And he is RIGHT, she should. It is one of those difficult moments for the writer: someone needs to ask on behalf of the audience, so that the audience can know that Bedlam is (a) where mad people go and (b) supposed to be a hospital. It can’t be Shakespeare because he’s local and OBVIOUSLY knows what it means; it cannot be Dr Who either, because he is an ALIEN GENIUS who knows everything. So it has to be Martha asking the “What’s that Doctor?” question.
Of course, you COULD have scripted it better – had the Doctor explain it to Martha automatically and have her say “yes, I know!”. But that risks ALIENATING your viewers from their identification figure by having her be Ms Know-It-All.
The problem is that, based on this one slip, Mr Larry then throws up his arms and says: “woe, woe the smart cookie of ‘Smith and Jones’ has been dumbed down by the nasty gay daddy!” But to do that he has to overlook the fact that within seconds of coming out of the TARDIS after her first trip, Martha is asking intelligent time-travel questions; that she consistently throughout picks up on the important clues that the Doctor gives her and improves the way she interacts with 1599; and that in the end, she – not the genius Shakespeare, not the genius Doctor – comes up with just the right word to finish the “spell” that banishes the Carrionites again. (And remember – earlier the Doctor complained that she was a novice because, unlike Rose, she didn’t know the right word to say.)
A lot of people have written already about why Doctor Who is apparently very popular with gay daddies. They often say it is because Dr Who does not do LURVE – which made the series surprisingly ASEXUAL, in a way that the MACHO, MANLY American Sci-Fi really isn’t – everything from “Knight Rider” to chromium-era Battleham Galacticake, to the definitely-NOT-gay daddy of them all, “Star Trek”.
Well, the re-invention of the series by Mr Russell has kept remarkably many of the things from the first twenty-six years of Doctor Who – Daleks, Cybermen, Venom Grubs – but one thing that it has NOT kept is that “no hanky-pancake” rule. Dr Who himself has fallen for a GIRL. And not just any girl, but one with a whole LIST of people that she flirts with (Mickey, Adam, Captain Jack, the Face of Boe…) all of them BOYS! Now, unlike all those American series I just mentioned, Doctor Who does not present boy/girl romance as the ENTIRETY of human experience – Captain Jack on his own covers so many other bases. But there are still very, very few gay daddies to be seen on the show. And even then, they are a bit UNDER COVER: Rickey and Jake on the alternative Earth of Pete’s World (keep very quiet about it thanks to dialogue being snipped); Tommy Connolly in “The Idiot’s Lantern” (one allusion to being a “mummy’s boy” and one remark about being allowed to “love who you choose”, neither of which might meet anything); a couple of “rather severe” ladies who now live in Elton Pope’s childhood home (whom we don’t actually meet).
One of the EASIEST ways to cause a fuss on the Outpost Gallifrey forums is if anyone suggests that anything more… OVERT should be put on screen. “Why do you NEED to see BOYS kissing BOYS or GIRLS kissing GIRLS?” is the usual cry. “Well, because GIRLS kiss BOYS all the time, in this new series!” seems a fair enough answer.
To try and suggest that the gay daddies writing for Doctor Who have some kind of PLOT to portray girls as ICKY is seriously to overlook all of the very pro-girls-who-like-boys-who-like-girls-ness that now comes fitted as standard.
Okay, so this week – for the first time in thirty episodes – we had a “kiss the girl and she turns BAAAAD” moment. So what’s the big fluffy deal – “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” did “kiss the girl and she turns BAAAAD” in its OPENING SCENE ("Hello, Darla!"); they did “kiss the BOY and he turns BAAAAD” as a major theme for the whole second year. Did people make a fuss that “nasty” non-gay daddy Joss Whedon had some anti-straight agenda? I think they did not.
And anyway, as Doctor Freud WISELY puts it: sometimes an evil cackling witch is JUST an evil cackling witch.
Please check you OWN agenda at the door.