Monday, April 1, 2013

Steven Moffat Answers Burning Question After 50 Years: Doctor Who is God.

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- This weekend brought scads of exciting news to fans of "Doctor Who," BBC's venerable, long-running science fiction franchise. Despite its inauspicious beginnings in 1963, when the premier of the series was overshadowed by the assassination of President Kennedy the day before, "Doctor Who" quickly captured the imagination of British viewers and built a global cult following. Now, as the show's Golden Anniversary approaches, executive producer and head writer Steven Moffat has given devout Whovians a lot more to celebrate with Monday's announcement of major developments. BBC executives promised that the groundbreaking news would be enough to make both hearts in a Time Lord's chest flutter. But if Moffat's leaks are to be believed, the answer to the 50-year-old question "Doctor Who?" might create a divisive and painful crisis of faith for religiously pious followers of the show.

As Moffat's first surprise, he revealed that David Tennant, the tenth Doctor, and Billie Piper, who portrayed one of the show's most iconic companions, would join the current cast with veteran actor John Hurt for the 50th Anniversary special. But "Doctor Who" fanatics suspect bigger secrets await. They have speculated publicly for months that this season would mark a major revelation for the series, predicting the Doctor's real name to be disclosed for the first time.

Moffat, normally aloof and guarded about plot points, uncharacteristically admitted that the Doctor's identity would be unveiled once and for all, if not his actual name.

"To be very frank," Moffat told the press this weekend, "the Doctor is God. The Creator, the Maker, Jehovah, Yahweh, whatever you want to call it. The Doctor created humans in his image, lords over their destinies, and influences their lives."

The gravitas in Moffat's tone abolished any doubts about his sincerity, despite his slurred speech, ruddy complexion and frequent stumbling. After several minutes of stunned silence, the questioning began. Moffat appeared surprised at the level of discomfort and incredulity expressed by reporters as they probed for explanations.

"The signs have been there all along," Moffat snapped, nearly laughing. "This was the logical destination at the end of a very obvious path."

Moffat and his writing team then highlighted key moments from past episodes to illustrate.

One glaring example was "The Satan Pit," first aired during the June 2006 season. In the episode, the Doctor and Rose float helplessly toward a black hole in the TARDIS after discovering a race of beings known as the Ood on the planet Krop Tor. The Ood have been possessed by a malevolent force called The Beast. Communicating through the Ood, the Beast explains that he is the epitome of evil across countless religions in the universe, and has been sealed in the planet's pit since "before time" by the Disciples of the Light. The creature itself resembles the archetypal depiction of Satan as a horned demon.

Moffat pointed out that the concept of the devil as a member of an alien species conforms to the show's continuity. Several iterations of the Doctor had previously discussed the mythology of Earth's Satan as being inspired by ancient races of horned demons. In "The Satan Pit," however, the Doctor goes further by alluding that his race invented black holes as a way of capturing and containing these monsters, referring to them as "killers of his own kind."

At the end of the episode, in a fashion, the Doctor's actions suggest a Christ-like attempt at sacrifice and the harrowing of Hell.

Moffat's team then described the Doctor's involvement with various aspects of cloning and interactions with parallel dimensions to make the case for creating humans in "his image."

But it was 1979's "City of Death," penned by Douglas Adams, that Moffat cited as the definitive moment in the Doctor's non-linear ("wibbly wobbly timey wimey") history where his role as humankind's Supreme Being became established.

The episode concerns an alien named Scaroth, the last of the Jagaroth race, who becomes stranded on Earth and fragmented through time after the explosion of his spaceship 400 million years earlier. Scaroth has devoted his life to advancing contemporary human technology to develop a machine capable of transporting him back in time to prevent the extinction of his species. However, the destruction of the Jagaroth -- caused by their vessel's explosion -- accidentally served as the ultimate event responsible for facilitating the origins of life on Earth.

Through the Doctor's intercession, Scaroth's attempts to rewrite history are thwarted. The ship still explodes, giving rise to the first stirrings of biological life on our planet -- and the eradication of the Jagaroth, a culture ostensibly deemed unworthy of continuation by the practically unassailable judgment of the Doctor.

A famous shot toward the episode's closing scene shows the Doctor standing over a pool of primordial ooze as organisms form. And in this moment, Moffat contends, the Doctor becomes God -- the progenitor and protector of humankind: "the only reason we exist at all."

Christian and Jewish leaders in Britain have voiced outrage at Moffat's "flippant" endeavors to discount the otherworldly miracles of creation by attributing them to bickering aliens, the scientific achievements of highly intelligent extraterrestrials, and indiscriminate evolutionary progress.

Moffat said he finds his version of cosmogony no more ridiculous than those predicated on talking snakes, incestuous forebears, 700-year-old men, winged people, giant floating zoos, and deified rabbis who can resurrect the dead but not get fig trees to bear fruit -- which, according to most farmers, does not require divine intervention.

"If God can be a petty old man in a robe, with a long white beard and magic staff, who exists in all time at once, and who lounges about in the clouds while magically listening to everybody's complaints and requests, then why can't he be a silly fop in a police call box with a really boss surveillance system and a sonic screwdriver?" Moffat asked.

2013. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. See disclaimers.

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