On The Doctor and Strategies.

TV Just a short note.

One of the running themes of reviews of last night's episode of Doctor Who, Before The Flood, including mine to be fair, is how the Doctor's solution to returning from the dead, hiding in a box for several centuries, has been used as a plot device before, notably in the shape of the Pandorica and by Captain Jack in Torchwood. Oh and the passing of a message via a hologram resembled Blink.

This is a common complaint you see about the programme. That the Doctor uses such and such a device, or the narrative takes such and such a familiar turn and isn't that boring and repetitive and why couldn't the writer have tried something new.

Well now, and I'm including myself in this, stop.

One of the inherent problems with a television narrative, especially if it resolves itself around a single protagonist, is that their arc has to be more fluid than it would be in a more self-contained text like a film. To an extent, the characters have to remain relatively static or at least change more slowly than they would over ninety minutes.

Doctor Who has been running for over fifty years and it's only in considering last night's episode that I realised that the Doctor going out of his way to find another solution to the problem for the purposes of narrative originality would be have been illogical and frankly unrealistic.

In fact, a strength of Doctor Who, his way of "learning" if you will, is that he's gained the ability to repeat game plans across time, to know when a survival strategy or approach to repelling an alien invasion works and being able to replicate it when the situation requires or the opportunity arises.

As with so many things, this was even turned into a character point during the Eighth Doctor novels when he and Sam Jones actually gave such strategies numbers, rather like the Eleventh Doctor's "rules". When she left he was somewhat bereft because he'd shout a strategy number at the new companion who wouldn't have the slightest clue what he was on about.

Most often the Doctor does have to utilise bespoke solutions in unique situations.

But when we talk about how the Doctor uses similar approaches for dealing with Bootstrap paradoxes it's because he's realistically realised how best to deal with them and is making the necessary arrangements. Blowing the dam in Before The Flood to create that piece of expected history in the same way as The Fires of Pompeii, albeit with a smaller death toll.

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