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Tuesday, 20 September 2011


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Ark in Space has some interesting takes on the nature of 'alien' but does not tap into the historical thing (also the world's worst fx, really (obviously discounting things like Plan 9)). The Masque of Mandragora has a historical setting (not many did in the Tom Baker era).

Adam Kaiserman

Which Action Comics #1 are you teaching?


Victorix: That's creepy. I was leaning toward "Ark in Space" because I found a panel that Davies and Moffat were on in which they agreed that it was the episode that influenced them most. I think your comment just sealed it.

Adam: The original. It provides historical coverage and is free.

Rich Puchalsky

I like Doctor Who more than I like Superman, but this is a very Doctor-Who-heavy lineup.

I suggest a few covers from Superman Is A Dick. Maybe with the Batman: Brave & the Bold episode where they basically animate all the most well-known Silver Age images from the Web site, and there's a scene where Jimmy Olsen angrily says "Superman has become a real di--" and Lois interrupts him and says "--different person!" That's Silver Age -> fan labor -> commercial TV product, and it's a good illustration of how the whole concept is becoming at once more metafictional and more nostalgic.


Some of the best Baker-era stories, all involving aliens with some sort of interesting twist:

Genesis of the Daleks
The Pyramids of Mars
City of Death
Full Circle

Of course, you will need to cope with groan-inducing special effects, which might not go over so well with students. Genesis of the Daleks might be the worst culprit in this respect (think, giant, man-eating clam obviously constructed out of styrofoam).


This sounds like a very interesting class. You seem to be going for a very Superman/Dr. Who mix.
I don't know if it would fit with the structure you have planned, but I recommend John Sayles' film _Brother from Another Planet_ as a counterpoint to the "Superman comes down and saves everyone" myth. The film brings up issues of race and immigration associated with the term "Alien." I don't know if that's outside the scope of the curriculum you have planned, but I thought I'd mention it as a suggestion.

Adam Kaiserman

Yes, _Brother from Another Planet_ is a nice coutnerpoint. Also, what about Ziggy Stardust? He saves the world with the power of rock!

robert wood

Remembrance of the Daleks (actually a McCoy era story) has an interesting narrative, linking the xenophobia of the Daleks with racist elements of English society.
The Silurian episodes of the Pertwee years are also quite interesting.
But I really think that the Genesis of the Daleks is the most interesting choice if you're focusing on the Superman angle. Both Davros and the Doctor are posed with the possibility of genocide to further their particular ends (very different ends to be sure)and the episode explores those ethical implications. There is once again some interesting material on the construction of race and xenophobia contained in the civil war that spawns the creation of the Daleks. You could probably bring out some of the arguments in the problematic Peter Paik text to think through some of the ideas of the 'demi-urgic creator.'

robert wood

One other note about Remembrance of the Daleks. The episode is set in 1963 for the 25th anniversary of the show.


Yet another vote for "The Brother from Another Planet" - its wonderfully good.

There ought to be an episode from "The Outer Limits" that works, but I can't think of anything in particular at the moment.

I think the list is a little heavy on the Doctor Whos, but on the other hand, if you want to push the alien savior angle, then Tom Baker's final episode "Logopolis" (<>) is certainly the one to use.

Gary Farber

Hey, I have fond memories of THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET, too, although I haven't rewatched it in many years.

But gotta love the Sayles.

Fred Fnord

I agree that Logopolis is a pretty damn good choice.

You could also consider almost any Pertwee episode (Pertwee is pretty much England's tame alien savior for his entire career), or, if you'd prefer Baker, one of the first after his regeneration was Robot, where he was still in Pertwee's situation.


Since pretty much any post-1966 episode of Doctor Who fits with the title of the course, I didn't wander why there was so much Doctor Who but I did wonder why so post-2005.Ark in Space? Yeah, it's Russells favourite and it's pretty good stuff but..we can do better. Let's see.
Robot's an interesting choice in that yes while it shows the more 'alien', iconoclast new 4th Doctor as the square peg in the round hole of UNIT, as a deliberate way of contrasting him with the old Doctor, part of the effect comes from knowing how the 3rd Doctor behaved in the same role. It does lead nicely into The Ark in Space, indicating the move away from earth based stories and back towards a wider canvass in time and space.

I would suggest the slightly later story 'Pyramids of Mars' as it rather strongly makes a point of showing the Doctor at his most alien, and features one of Baker's best performances in the cosmically aloof mode in the role, plus it's set in 1911 and has, tangentially, something to say about colonialism. Its also about 1000 times more entertaining than Vampires in Venice, despite a slightly underwhelming climax. Logopolis meanwhile is a good thematic choice but it is dull as ditchwater to anyone not steeped in the mythology of the show, with its funeral atmosphere and mysterious portents.
Masque of Mandragora's in interesting choice given its authorship (the writer held a Phd in renaissance studies), but if you're interested in popular representations of history in Dr Who I would suggest Talons of Weng-Chiang to be an essential text.
From later Baker I would suggest, hmm, The Sunmakers (a political satire set in the future but including a wide range of present day and historical references),The Androids of Tara (a parody of the Prisoner of Zenda) and, unquestionably, the Douglas Adams co-scripted City of Death in which we all history is filtered through the splintered ego of Scaroth, last of the Jagaroth.

For Pertwee I would second the choice of The Silurians, or indeed any of 1970s 7-parters, but these are three hours long each. The two other stories are Ambassadors of Death, which may be hard to get hold of, and Inferno both of which are outstanding sf and show the 3rd Doctor in his own early iconoclast phase, an anarchist-ecologist-scientist-alien in a hostile, aggressive human environment, before he started to settle in to his exile there.


I'd also second the suggestion of The Brother from Another Planet, one of my favourite films.

Angela Wu

Hey Scott,

Can I retake your class by any chance?

Jasmine Domingo

The first time I visit your blog in a while, and I've missed this. Can I borrow the TARDIS and sit in that class?

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