Celestial Toyroom issue 516 is currently being distributed and Alan Stevens' Guest Editor's Blog is now online:
Well, I’m back again…
This edition is crammed with Silurians, Sea Devils, Sontarans, and War Machines. We take a detailed look at Ben and Polly, and then dissect showrunner Steven Moffat’s affair with The Time Traveler’s Wife. There’s a character study of Taren Capel, while, finally, we say our goodbyes to actor David Bailie.
All this is ably brought for your delectation by writers Paul Driscoll, Matthew Kilburn, Fiona Moore, Ian Scales, Jez Strickley, proofreader Ann Worrall and page designer Nicholas Hollands.
Further thanks should go to Andy Lambert for his awesome, wrap-around, full colour cover and to JL Fletcher for providing us with yet another in his series of collectible Doctor Who postcards.
When I prepare my editorial for Celestial Toyroom I look for a theme that ties everything together, and then later, for the Guest Editor’s blog, I search for a fresh angle on the issue’s contents.
This time I’m focusing on the notion of duality.
Monsters in Doctor Who frequently represent the hostile “other”, intent on invading or manipulating our planet for their own nefarious ends.
As the series was created and has existed for the most part during the Cold War, it’s not really surprising that foreign invasion should feature so heavily in its stories.
Then there is the fear of new technology, with the Post Office Tower, a centre of civilising communications, providing the headquarters for the murderous computer WOTAN, enslaving us through mind control.
When we come to the Silurians and Sea Devils, things become a little more complicated. Their advanced cultures inhabited the Earth when we were still apes, but it should be recognised that three out of four of their TV adventures end with that particular cell of Homo Reptilia being destroyed, while their last major appearance had them return to hibernation for the next thousand years. A voice-over tells us that “common ground” was finally achieved with the “race known as Humanity”, but we never actually find out how this was done.
The only Aliens to date we have seen successfully coexist on Earth with humans are the Zygons, and even then this was only accomplished by them concealing their true identities and shape-shifting into human form — with the fear of genocide hanging over them if their presence in society was ever detected.
Possibly the most sophisticated monster in the series was Taren Capel: a man whose mind was twisted out of shape from being raised as a child exclusively by robots.
Indeed, Dask, nee Taren Capel, with his dual identity, one calm and measured, the other a boiling cauldron of confused and conflicting emotions, may reveal the quintessential core of Doctor Who:
that trying to slay the “monsters from other worlds” is ultimately futile, as they are simply projections of our own fears made manifest.
From which we have to conclude that all the darkness in the universe stems from the darkness in the hearts of Ben and Polly.
Alan Stevens (with thanks to Marianne Williamson)