Tuesday, 6 August 2013
Meet the 12th Doctor!
Ok - so Doctor Who is not a legal tv series - BUT it does consistently play with the seemingly complicated and sometimes inconsistent 'laws of time travel' (eg can history actually be rewritten or not?) and on that tenuous connection I wanted to share the news of the 12th Doctor!
With much speculation in recent times about who would take over from Matt Smith as the newest incarnation of the Doctor, it was revealed this week that Peter Capaldi will assume the role.
See the official announcement and a brief interview here.
Previously guest-starring in a 2008 episode of Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi will appear in 2014 after Matt's Smith's departure in the Christmas Special. Apparently, at 55 he is the oldest actor to take on the role of the Time Lord since William Hartnell was the First Doctor in 1963.
After getting used to the bowties and the quirkiness of young Matt Smith, it will be interesting to see how fans will respond to a return to a more mature Time Lord. Let me know what you think about this choice? In the meantime....
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I love Doctor Who. Ever since Christopher Eccleston introduced himself to Rose Tyler as “The Doctor.”ReplyDelete
“Yeah,” she replied, “Doctor what?”
“Just The Doctor.”
I was hooked.
Most of us have grown up with the Doctor, watching him save the Earth each week by travelling through time to stop evil masterminds and alien invasions from ever taking place. When thinking about how the Doctor’s universe interacts with the law, it is clear that the law is time. It is flexible and evolving. As Matt Smith’s Doctor puts it, “People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly..timey wimey…stuff.”
So we see that the law (time) can change, and that the Doctor can change it. The Doctor’s character is different and unique from his companions. He is an alien, and more importantly, is the last of the Time Lord race. His isolated and immortal existence suggests that, in a legal sense, he acts as Plato’s Philosopher King in the Doctor Who universe. Through the use of reason, the TARDIS and an enviable moral code, the Doctor interacts with time to create an outcome that is always “right” – evil is thwarted, the innocent lives of predominantly Earth are saved, and all is well again.
What is of particular interest in a Law and Pop Culture approach to this text is the idea of “Fixed Points in Time” – those events that act as immovable monuments in the time vortex that even the Doctor cannot change. He constantly reminds us that he cannot interfere with certain events – Pompeii, and the tragic death of a human space expedition to Mars by a water virus monster. Nevertheless, faced with the imminent death of human astronauts on Mars (“The Waters of Mars, 2009), the Doctor cannot help himself, and he interferes, with tragic consequences.
He saves three humans, after explicitly telling them at the beginning of the episode that they must die and that there is nothing that he can do. When confronted by Adelaide, the Doctor says:
Adelaide: But you said we die. For the future. For the human race!
The Doctor: Yes, because there are laws. There are laws of time. Once upon a time there were people in charge of those laws but they died. They all died. Do you know who that leaves? *Me!* It's taken me all these years to realize that the laws of time are *mine* and they will obey me!
The Doctor’s attempts to take the laws of time into his own hands fails: Adelaide kills herself, ensuring that history remains unchanged. The Doctor is then confronted by his own mortality, when a bell rings to symbolise his impending death.
I think that fixed points in time are best explained when analysed through natural law theory. First theorised by Plato, Cicero explained that, ‘True law is right reason in agreement with nature’.
Fixed points in time fit best into Medieval natural law theory. St Thomas Aquinas argued for a tiered natural law: an “Eternal Law” and “Natural Law.” As he explained of eternal law, ‘The whole community of the Universe is governed by divine reason’, whereas ‘participation in the eternal law by rational creatures is called the natural law’. Therefore we can see that the laws of time operate as an eternal, unchanging law. The Doctor’s participation in time travel (interpreting the eternal law as Plato’s Philosopher King or Aquinas’ “Prince”) and his interaction with the laws of time are the natural law.
Many natural law theorists debated what action can or should be taken in the event of a law that does not conform to the eternal law. Doctor Who illustrates Cicero’s viewpoint, where, ‘it is a sin to try to alter this law…and it is impossible to abolish it entirely.’ The Doctor’s attempt to subvert the eternal law fails, and he is punished for it.
What will happen in the new series? I’m so excited to see a mature Doctor! Fun times ahead!
I agree with Emily that the laws of time are made to represent something higher than the laws of the societies that the doctor to visits. In particular I think that The Doctor’s actions seem to suggest to us the need to be critical of our law, with various instances of unjust and oppressive laws being presented to us, creating a stark contrast to the justice that The Doctor employs and enforces through his actions.ReplyDelete
Along with this, I think that the development of The Doctor in his various regenerations reflects a lot about Justice, and particularly its non-fixed definition. For instance in the first and second seasons of the modern version of the show, we saw a change between the Eccleston and Tennant incarnations of the doctor from a lonely individual scarred by war, with a more retributive and revenge focused approach to doing justice, to one influenced by Rose, who was that was more compassionate, idealistic and critical of violence. This again changed again with the end of Season four, with the doctor not only losing Rose (again) and Donna, but once again travelling alone. From this, I believe that the doctor’s feelings of loneliness and powerlessness created the man that Emily discussed in ‘The Waters of Mars’. Rather than seeking to be the doctor and simply fix what is wrong within the ‘natural’ laws of the universe, the doctor seeks to re-write them and create domination over them by changing a ‘fixed point’ in time. I think it’s very fortunate that Adelaide grounds him, or we would have seen our Doctor take one step closer to the sort of aggressive use of the laws of time and space that The Master employed to achieve his own personal view of justice and natural order in ‘The Last of the Time Lords’.
Given all of this, I like the way that the writers of the show seem to demonstrate that even for a supposedly enlightened and almost god-like being like The Doctor, justice is a subjective and not always a clear or stable thing, presenting him with feelings of helplessness due to the limits that the laws of time place on him, and also retribution tied to revenge. Importantly, both these are common for individuals who have dealings with the law and justice in our world, so maybe the challenge of defining justice is another constant in the ‘wibbly wobbly’ realm of time and space.
In light of this, and the dramatic and past altering events of ‘The Time of the Doctor’ and ‘The Day of the Doctor’, I think that it will be very interesting to see the manner and approach to justice that the new doctor brings. We’ve seen the way that personal events have affected his approach to justice in the past, and it’s hard to believe that a new body and the removal of one of his biggest pains and regrets from the Time War won’t make a new Doctor in more ways than one.