Sunday, March 6, 2016

Josh's Doctor Who: Stories

 Third in a four part series of what I do if I ran Doctor Who.

Part One: Concept
Part Two: Stories

Since I’m the autocratic jerkass showrunner, I think I’ll continue the tradition of shitting all over everything that bothered me about my predecessor’s tenure.

The Lake Silencio workaround and Moffat’s claim that the mere act of writing something down will fix it in time are both so incredibly moronic that I feel that they need to be refuted as absolutely as possible. To steal something I like, I give you a hacker koan to illustrate the point.

In the days when Sussman was a novice, Minsky once came to him as he sat hacking at the PDP-6. 
 "What are you doing?", asked Minsky.  
"I am training a randomly wired neural net to play Tic-tac-toe", Sussman replied.  
"Why is the net wired randomly?", asked Minsky.  
"I do not want it to have any preconceptions of how to play", Sussman said. 
 Minsky then shut his eyes. 
 "Why do you close your eyes?" Sussman asked his teacher. "So that the room will be empty."  
At that moment, Sussman was enlightened.
Similar to traditional Zen koans, this koan has a possible concrete and correct answer: just as the room is not really empty when Minsky shuts his eyes, neither is the neural network really free of preconceptions when it is randomly wired. The network still has preconceptions, they are simply random now, and from a random rather than a human source. 
To put it another way, events happen for a reason, and the universe doesn't care if you know why things happen or not. The Doctor will quote Pascal to make his point. “The human being is only a reed, the most feeble in nature; but this is a thinking reed. It isn't necessary for the entire universe to arm itself in order to crush him; a whiff of vapor, a taste of water, suffices to kill him. But when the universe crushes him, the human being becomes still more noble than that which kills him, because he knows that he is dying, and the advantage that the universe has over him. The universe, it does not have a clue."

"All our dignity consists, then, in thought. This is the basis on which we must raise ourselves, and not space and time, which we would not know how to fill. Let us make it our task, then, to think well: here is the principle of morality.”

The Doctor observes that  humans and even Gallifreyans observe a pitifully small portion of the universe, and it’s hubris of the highest order to imagine that seeing something at the wavelengths of 390 to 700 nm will lock into place for all eternity. Nothing is fixed. Some events are simply more difficult to unravel than others, and some fear the consequences. It’s just a lie. And not even a clever one.

We’ll delve into some of the ethical elements of what the Doctor has done, such as infinite torment for a finite crime, and he asks why a Rube Goldberg plan to get to Daleks to destroy themselves is morally any different than doing it directly.
Daisy: The had a choice.

Doctor: Not an informed one. Are you familiar with the magician’s choice?

Daisy: No.

Doctor: (Placing two cards face down) Pick a card. Any card.

Daisy: Why do you sound so needlessly sinister when employing the most mundane phrases? (Pointing to a card) That one.

Doctor: (Smiles) All right. I’ll take that card. You get the other one. (Pause) Do you know what I would have said if you had pointed to the second card?

Daisy: “You take that card. I’ll get the other one”?

Doctor: Yes.

Daisy: (Silence)

Doctor: Would you care for some lemonade? (Pours some lemonade from a glass decanter)

Daisy: (Quizzical expression) Sure. (Picks up glass, drinks it)

Doctor: That was poison. You’re dead.

Daisy: (Puts glass down)

Doctor: You made your choice, and you're dead, but that wasn’t suicide. It was murder.  Have I made my point? I’m thousands of years old. I am the most brilliant mortal mind you’ll ever meet. I move freely through time and space. A good barrister knows never to ask a question without knowing what the answer will be. I’ve allowed the kabuki because the illusion salved my conscience, but I don’t need that crutch any longer. I’m doing the same thing I have always done. I just don’t smile anymore.
Daisy: (Profoundly sad, reaching for his face, but stopping before she touches him) No, you don't, do you?
He and Daisy go back and forth, she protesting that he used to believe everyone deserves a chance, and just this once, the monsters might back away from their self-destruction, he assuring her that he never believed they would accept. “But you still gave them that chance!”

We’ll play a little with time travel with the Doctor coordinating teams across three different time periods. Dorothy needs a sonic screwdriver in 2015, so Hex drops it in a safety deposit box in 1963.

Over the course of the season, the Doctor becomes more manipulative, distant, and remote. Early on, he becomes reluctant to leave the TARDIS, and this eventually progresses to the point where he won’t let the others into the TARDIS in order to speak with him face to face.

The Doctor wants to prevent the mistakes of his past. No more enthusiastic would-be-companions jumping in front of him and taking the death ray meant for him. He’ll leave behind even long-time companions who fail to obey him.

In one episode, Hector steals the TARDIS and gets in mortal peril almost immediately. The Doctor gets on the com and says “You misjudged the type of story you’re in. I believe you thought it was ‘A young man has a jolly romp and returns the TARDIS before the Doctor knows it’s missing’. It’s actually ‘Young man dies to show his friends how dangerous the situation is.’”

The Doctor saves him anyway, but leaves him behind as soon as Hector steps outside the TARDIS, before Hector can get more than five lines into his thank you. Dorothy does not take this well. She leaves him the next time the doors open.

Throughout the season the Daleks are still forces to be feared. Several times, the Doctor has to abandon nearly completed operations because the Daleks have discovered his machinations. At one point, they arrive when he is moments away from victory, and just as Daisy is telling Lysandra to prepare for departure, the Doctor uses the power of the TARDIS to blast them with the Eye of Harmony obliterate them outright.

Afterward, he and Daisy speak.

“I can stop the Daleks by my strength alone. I have become the mightiest thing in Mutter’s Spiral.” 
"Yes. You have named yourself; you have become a thing." 
“Time was of the essence. I could not spare any to trick them into drinking the lemonade." 
"Goodbye, Doctor."
She leaves the TARDIS. She’s working out the best way to get back to Gallifrey, he hears the sound of materialization and turns to see the familiar blue police box fading into normal space. She’s prepared to tell the Doctor to take a flying leap when the doors open and Hector and Dorothy run out and hug her. They’re followed by a handsome young man that Daisy does not recognize. “It’s the Doctor!” Dorothy gushes “From the future! He’s better now!”

“And we’re going to stop my past self” Future Doctor says.

To be concluded!

No comments:

Post a Comment