Saturday, April 14, 2007

Dr Who: Gridlock

I really enjoyed tonight's installment of Doctor Who:

The episode centred around The Doctor's return to New Earth, a generation after he last visited with Rose (something that did not overly impress his new companion, Martha).

This world is very different to the one he left; oh yes the futuristic skyscrapers and spires of New New York still tower ominously over the landscape... but this time, the Doctor and Martha spend most of their time trapped below the surface in the lower levels of the city. Martha gets kidnapped and the Doctor gets stuck in the ultimate traffic jam from hell (it has been going on for 20 odd years and it takes a decade to travel as many miles in floating cars stacked vertically and laterally in every direction). Outside, the fumes are toxic and far below an old devolved enemy awaits to prey on the careless.

There is a very moving sequence where we see the various characters we have met, singing along to part of an old hymn - namely "The Old Rugged Cross", that comes across the radios to comfort the weary travellers (very appropriate considering we've just had Easter). Update as of 18th April - somebody very kindly uploaded the sequenceto YouTube, so here it is along with some of the lyrics:

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

It was a nice bit of foreshadowing, as towards the end of the episode we find out that the Face of Boe engineered the traffic jam by shutting down the city in order to prevent people contaminating themselves and dying (everybody else was dead).

As the Doctor struggles to open up the city, he realises he can't release the city's energy due to a technical hitch. It is the Face of Boe who in Christlike manner, lays down his life by giving up the last of his life energy to ensure the Doctor's success.

The world of lost sinners far below, are finally able to make their escape into the city skies above.

There seemed to be a lot of religious symbolism in the episode... two hymns and a tale of a higher being sacrificing himself for people far below, who had no means to save themselves from the perpetual cycle they were trapped in.

We also had the tantalising prophecy of the Face of Boe, to the Doctor - "you are not alone."

It was good to see the Doctor humbling himself and being honest about his feelings for the family, friends and home he lost in the Time War. It was very moving... especially as "Abide With Me" was softly sung in the background. Update as of 17th April, somebody has uploaded a clip of this sequence... so you can see the sequence:

If you saw the episode and have not really understood Christianity before... if you can, watch the episode again and look once more at that hymn. Understand that the reason Jesus Christ died, was to release us from the cycle of the sinful nature... that we just go round in circles in this planet, disobeying God until we drop down dead. Jesus opened up "crack in the sky" for us... so we wouldn't be subject to the darkness, toxicity and the perils of death any more. Jesus came in order that we may have life. Take it!
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Doctor Who continues on BBC1, Saturday evenings.


  1. Anonymous5:46 am

    Thank you for your comments, and especially the words to the hymns. I had our song book out...I had "oh Lord, strengthen me" in my head as possibly the last words to the hymn, and knew they were wrong. I am ashamed, as I am the daughter of a fundamentalist song leader in the US. The tunes and most lyrics are ingrained in me.

    We were so happy about the episode being so Christian and moving. My 12 yo dd and I both got misty-eyed at the end.
    God Bless!!

  2. Thanks for the comment Laura.

    Try not to beat yourself up too much about getting mixed up over a few words. I think I read that even William Wordsworth once misquoted his own "Daffodils" poem. So you are in good company.

    Also sometimes there are variants of the same songs. "Be thou my vision", "How Lovely on the Mountains" to name but two classics that share this fate.

    Besides I'm sure you'll agrre, it is more important to understand what the song is evoking, than to be able to know it off by heart... and I'm sure you do.

    I don't necessarily believe the episode was intentionally Christian (I think the writer is an atheist), but nonetheless there was certainly a lot of powerful imagery and allegory in there.

    God bless


  3. Great look at a great episode. Russell T Davies is a great writer and often incorporates religious thoughts into his stuff, one of this best TV plays starred Christopher Ecclestone and was called 'the Second Coming' and posited what might happen if the Messiah came again as an ordinary bloke and that as he realised who he was what would happen to the world. Very thought provoking.

    Thanks for comments on my blog, by the way, which of your blogs should i link to????

  4. too many greats at the start of that last post, sorry...


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