There’s an article in today’s Guardian (or is it ‘on today’s Guardian’? Or ‘on the Guardian website today’? I never know any more) which has made me cringe.
Look. I know these things are subjective. I know that if you asked ten different people to name their favourite villains you’d get ten different answers depending on whether they were my son’s age (Weeping Angels), or my age (1980s Cybermen) or my father’s age (anything with Hartnell, whom he maintains was the best Doctor, even after almost fifty years). And at least there are a couple of nods to Classic Who, althoughI am baffled (if nonetheless thrilled) by the inclusion of the Zygons, who (despite resembling enormous penises) are a firm favourite in our house, but who only appeared in one serial (and their share of audio dramas and novels, which the Guardian usually chooses to ignore). All the same, the whole article smacks of a homework piece that was scribbled down over breakfast on the Monday it’s due in. You can practically see the milk stains.
Let’s start here.
“First played by Roger Delgado, he debuted in a 1971 episode called Terror of the Autons. Since then, he’s been played by six different actors, his initial suave demeanour eventually collapsing into theatrical insanity when John Simm (pictured here) took on the role between 2007 and 2010.”
The Master appeared in at least twenty of the Classic Who serials in some form or other – about eight as Delgado and eleven or twelve (depending on how you count) as Ainley. And what do you use for a picture? Bloody John Simm in that bloody tracksuit. (And if we’re nitpicking, ‘Terror of the Autons’ is a serial, not an episode.)
“Steven Moffat’s most recent addition to Who mythology (thought by some to be too scary for children) are terrifying not only to look at, but psychologically too. With their ability to erase themselves from the memory of anyone who’s seen them, they have been able to control humans from the shadows. The show’s creators have had fun with this idea. For instance: was the thin, faceless form of the Silence inspired by Edvard Munch’s The Scream – or was he, subconsciously, inspired by them? A brilliant, frightening creation… Wait, was I saying something?”
Oh, please. Spare me. The Grauniad’s relentless fawning to the Silence – who were, as I’ve said before, hyped to death – is one of the reasons I find them so tedious. They were derivative (from Moffat’s own work, no less, and self-borrowing in Who is usually pretty dull) and simply not particularly evil. You might as well embed ‘BBC press release’ as a watermark.
“Russell T Davies’s tenure as show-runner didn’t exactly blow minds in terms of new villains – the farting farce of the Slitheen, anyone? But 2006 two-parter The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit (written by Matt Jones) changed all that with the introduction of the Beast, an imprisoned demon that claimed to be the basis of the devil as he appeared across all religions. It was a bold idea, and one that dragged the show to much darker places, challenging not only the Doctor’s own faith in logic and reason, but the profound mystery of religious origins in general.”
Which would suggest, perhaps, that you haven’t seen ‘Pyramids of Mars’. Or ’The Daemons’.
Elsewhere (and again see the comments section) – the Daleks and Davros as separate entries? The Time Lords and the Master? Seriously. Must try harder. See me after physics. (Hmm, physics. Physics. Physics…I hope you’re getting all this down.)
Perhaps lists like this – due to the aforementioned subjectivity – are fundamentally pointless, simply because they’re the opinions of one person (or perhaps a straw poll taken on a Friday afternoon in between games of Angry Birds), rather than a newspaper. And a newspaper’s supposed to give facts or informed opinion from its commentators – but this is just a laundry list, and a rather poor one at that. I know the hype machine needs to keep grinding on with less than a fortnight to go until ‘Asylum of the Daleks’, but perhaps a better use of the Grauniad’s time would be a list of ‘monsters we’d like to see in Doctor Who’. It would at least be fun.
And in which case, you could probably do a lot worse than this…
Enjoy your Sunday.